Run, run, run away
Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists fears that technical reasons are being used to hide rotten politics
The Labour Representation Committee’s executive has decided to ‘postpone’ the planned June 27 online conference till some time in September. Why?
A pre-conference timetable for the submission of motions, amendments and nominations had already been announced, including the facility for any 10 members to submit motions, ensuring that small factions could find expression. True, the morning session was to be taken up by a top-table panel of speakers, discussing “the tasks facing the left”, before the actual conference began in the afternoon. But this was to consist of “discussion on the statement from the LRC NEC and resolutions submitted by labour movement bodies, affiliated organisations and LRC local groups and members”.1
So why the decision to “postpone”?
We are told that at “a national level” the LRC’s executive is busy producing Labour Briefing (online only, during the pandemic lockdown), “as well as continuing to be active in our unions, local Labour parties, a wide range of campaigns and to respond to the political issues raised by C19”. Coronavirus and “grappling with new tech”, etc, has, though, left the LRC’s executive “overstretched”:
We did not believe we were in a position to agree a statement for conference that assessed the current political situation in the round and put forward a set of political priorities for the year ahead in time for affiliates, branches and members to discuss and amend for a conference in late June. So we overwhelmingly agreed to postpone until early September.2
Overwhelmingly? So, thankfully, a minority disagreed. Either way, let us get this right. The Labour Party can hold its conference online. UK and EU representatives can negotiate online. Parliament can debate and vote online. The World Health Organisation discusses Covid-19 online. But the “overstretched” LRC cannot go ahead with its agreed date.
Frankly, we suspect that the real reason for the ‘postponement’ is political. Indeed, it is very likely that the real reason goes by the name of John McDonnell, the LRC’s president. The fear is surely that, if the conference went ahead, it would have been attended by many victims of the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt. To address such a conference could end McDonnell’s glorious political career in the Labour Party with his expulsion. After seeing what happened to fellow MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, he knows that is a real prospect.
The LRC boasts of working “closely” with Jewish Voice for Labour and Red Labour to discuss how to give “clear responses” to the “major setback” for the Labour left, constituted by the “loss of the general election, the resignation of Corbyn, and the defeat of the left in the NEC elections”.3 This “collaboration” led to the launch, on April 15, of Don’t Leave, Organise (DLO) - a “new broad, grassroots left network”.
Following the first big Zoom meeting organised by DLO on April 30, where Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy spoke, they were accused of “sharing a platform” with expellees Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein - guilt by contamination, like a virus. After a dressing down by the new Labour leader, Keir Starmer, they promised to fully abide by the regulations demanded by the witch-hunters and never again come within two metres of one of its victims.
LRC affiliates, of course, include non-Labour organisations and amongst its individual members are suspended and expelled Labour members. Being in the same room (even the same virtual ‘room’) with such people would undoubtedly get ‘comrade’ McDonnell into trouble with Starmer. So what should McDonnell and his friends do? Fight the witch-hunt and risk expulsion? Or cite technical reasons and ‘postpone’ the conference in the vain hope that the witch-hunt will be over by September?
John McDonnell has undergone a sickening political decay. He, like Momentum owner Jon Lansman, helped lever the Labour Party into adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s so-called ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism: a definition which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Not only that: McDonnell supported the reactionary “zero tolerance” doctrine in the face of the blatantly dishonest witch-hunt against socialist and leftwing activists. Such treachery, such a failure to stand in solidarity with wrongly accused comrades, whose innocence he cannot have doubted, should not be passed over in silence. He certainly should have been stripped of his position as LRC president.
In place of the “straight-talking politics” which carried Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership, he embodied cold calculation - and miscalculation at that: appease the Labour right and the Zionist lobby, allow Labour’s rank and file to be witch-hunted, bullied and cowed into silence for fear of joining the long list of suspended and expelled, in the vain hope that such acquiescence would allow Labour to slip into government and deliver the imagined benefits of For the many, not the few. In this losing ‘strategy’, comrades falsely accused of anti-Semitism, like Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker and many more (including myself, first falsely accused of anti-Semitism, then expelled from Labour for being a Marxist) were mere collateral damage.
Keeping McDonnell as LRC president, as its figurehead, is like allowing Ramsay MacDonald to remain Labour Party leader after he had defected to lead the national (Tory) government in 1931. It will guarantee the LRC’s inability to struggle effectively for socialism (which does not appear amongst the LRC’s ‘Aims and objectives’, by the way4) or even for a “fully democratic” Labour Party (which does appear, in rule 2). As Keir Starmer’s new Blairite witch-finder general, David Evans, gears up as general secretary for a purge of the left likely to dwarf what the Labour right was able to get away with during the Corbyn period, either McDonnell must be removed as president or the LRC will be forced to throw out victims of the witch-hunt from its ranks.
Dodging this choice is impossible. It is either him or us.