"We want a leader who will help ensure the members decide policy"

Submitted by AWL on 8 January, 2020 - 3:11

We are proposing this text as a basis for discussion on the questions activists should raise during the leadership contest. Please post comments or ideas below or email us at awl@workersliberty.org


We want to make the leadership contest an opportunity to raise the level of political discussion on the left. We call on members and affiliates to press the candidates for clear commitments on continuing the party’s democratisation, above all making conference sovereign; on defending, developing and crucially campaigning for left-wing, pro-working class policies; and on standing up for free movement and migrants’ rights.

We reject moves to the right, however they are dressed up. But what we’re looking for is not a leader who will hand down left-wing policies from above, but one who will help create a democratic party in which the membership decides the policy.

Labour has failed to convince people we are serious and reliable about our policies, because we didn't debate and argue for those policies over months and years – rather than just days – and left them as a catalogue of good ideas instead of tying them together into a socialist message. Because we haven't taken the opportunity since 2015 to begin to rebuild the labour movement and its support, by helping our membership become a well-rooted campaigning force on the streets, in workplaces and communities; or used our support among young people to build active youth and student movements. And more immediately because we have came across as unclear and evasive on hot questions like Brexit and antisemitism.

We want:

A democratic, campaigning, working class-based party

1. Maintain existing democratisation, including to conference (more motions, abolition of the 'contemporary' rule) and disciplinary due process (the suspension of auto-exclusions should be made permanent).
2. Extend democracy. A sovereign conference which actually decides policy and direction. Governance by elected bodies and officers, not unelected officials. (The Leader's Office, dominated by Stalinists, needs reorganising and restaffing.) Open selections for MPs.
3. A democratic Young Labour movement with its own constitution; central support for building a regularly-meeting YL group in every constituency. A democratic Labour Students movement.
4. The party should organise demonstrations and visible campaigning on issues like the NHS, housing and Universal Credit. Active support for workers' struggles and building unions. Defeat Johnson's new anti-strike law; demand repeal of all anti-union laws, in line with conference. A real campaign to reverse council cuts.
5. Make the union link a living force once again, particularly at local level.

A socialist party

6. Labour should argue for the goal of replacing capitalism with a new society based on democratic collective ownership – socialism. Radical policies should be steps on this road.
7. The climate crisis makes this even more necessary and urgent. Minimally, campaign for conference's "Socialist Green New Deal" policy in full – including net-zero by 2030.
8. Labour should adopt TUC Congress 2019’s unanimous policy for democratic public ownership of banking and finance.

An internationalist, pro-liberation party

9. Brexit will likely happen, but there is no obligation for Labour to deny Remain would be better, facilitate the Tories' plans, or fail to take advantage of their difficulties.
10. Unequivocally advocate defence and extension of free movement and migrants' rights, in line with conference. "Build unions, not borders". Advocate cross-border labour solidarity, and a united, democratic, socialist Europe.
11. A strong stance against all bigotry and oppression – including Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-gypsy, Roma and traveller racism, and transphobia. A strong stance for women's liberation. Extend abortion rights.
12. To sort out the mess on antisemitism, we need a leadership which knows what it is talking about, and serious political education. This must include discussing antisemitic reactionary anticapitalism, and the implications of demonising Israel and "Zionists" and offhandedly dismissing complaints as right-wing or Israeli conspiracies - which, also, hurts rather than aids the Palestinians. Actively campaign for the party’s position of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.


Submitted by Janine on Wed, 08/01/2020 - 18:57

There is nothing in the statement that I disagree with, but I think it omits important points.

Labour has failed to convince people not just because of mistakes made in the last five years, but also because of its abandonment of the working-class particularly in the two decades before that. The much-used word, 'trust', was lost during the Blair and Brown government, and has been undermined by the actions of many Labour councils. The last four years have not recovered that trust, due to the mistakes that this statement rightly lists.

This is why it is important to resist moves to push Labour to the right, and the statement would be stronger and more rounded if it explained that.

Also, I find it odd that the commitment to liberation politics doesn't mention disabled people or homophobia.

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