Colin Foster (Solidarity 349) still seems to be struggling to understand what I am driving at in my “stream of letters of complaint about John Lansman’s article in Solidarity 343”. I am sorry if I am being unclear. Let me try and clarify.
I objected to the article not because it was wrong (it wasn’t) or because it was right wing (which it was by dint of what it didn’t say) but because it was pointless.
It was not a programme for action, it didn’t raise any points that would be contentious or even interesting to Solidarity readers and it didn’t inform. So why am I concerned by it? Because, it seems to me, to mark a further drift towards a right wing Labourite focus by the AWL.
Having comment pieces on the machinations of the parliamentary Labour Party, which is surely all it was, is not something a revolutionary paper should do. I have asked repeatedly for an example of where we have done this before. I haven’t been offered any examples. We didn’t run articles defending Brown against the Blairite coups. We generally didn’t comment, that approach would be appropriate in this case too.
In our correspondence, Colin and I have touched on two other issues, which I think require further comment.
I asserted in my original letter that it would be a coup in the Parliamentary Party, which would remove Miliband. Colin argued that the MPs couldn’t topple a leader, yet. Now he recognises that “a right-wing surge to make Miliband resign and ... install a more right-wing leader” is what we are talking about.
Secondly, there has been a discussion about whether a left campaign for the leadership of the British Labour Party is possible. I would simply point out that there hasn’t been a genuine left candidate on the ballot paper for Labour leader since Benn stood against Kinnock in 1988. You could make a case that Diane Abbott was a left candidate in 2010 but she didn’t stand for a working-class alternative to New Labour but rather a kind of identity politics. The focus of her campaign was her personality rather than her policies and she made no attempt to create a movement around her. She also relied on the nomination of Harriet Harman amongst others to get on the paper and then received only 7% of the vote.
This suggests that Colin’s view that there is a better situation for left challenges in the British Party than in the Scottish Party, where the recent genuinely left-wing campaign for the leadership garnered one-third of the vote, is simply wrong.