No vote for Abbott

Eleven CPGB comrades dissent

Communists must base their support for social democratic candidates on whether it will have a positive effect on the struggles that we face today. Some members of the CPGB are making a tactical mistake and want us to back a candidate to gain favour with and build the Labour left.

These comrades wish our support to be unconditional, whilst our class is facing the biggest cuts since the 1930s; and facing chaos and violence across the globe, as US imperialism goes further to manage its relative decline. The capitalist crisis and the organising of resistance against the never-ending stream of attacks should be central to every action communists make. This is being overlooked by the comrades who propose tailing a section of the Labour left who have half-heartedly backed Abbott.

John McDonnell, for all his faults, leads the Labour Representation Committee and is involved in supporting strikes and the struggles we face as a class, such as opposing the third runway at Heathrow. This stands in stark contrast to the path Diane Abbott has taken. You are more likely to catch Abbott on TV or supporting tube privatisation than on the picket line or voting to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In March 2009 Abbott demonstrated her lack of anti-war credentials by voting for a motion against an inquiry into the Iraq war; which contained the clause that the House of Commons “recognises the heroic efforts of the British armed forces in Iraq, who have a continuing role”. There is no candidate of struggle and no serious left candidate on the ballot paper.

Voting for Diane Abbott will achieve nothing: she is not at the centre of organising resistance to cuts and supports wars as long as they are ‘legal’ and the British army can win. Some on the left consider a large vote for her would be a morale boost for the Labour left and workers in struggle, that she is somehow a pole of attraction for militant workers and socialists within the Labour Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of being active in fighting the Labour Party apparatus and supporting a democratic agenda, she has pursued a media career. She represents the section of the Labour Party that throughout its history, including the 13 years of Labour government, has consistently sought compromise over struggle and has led the working class to a dead-end reformism that is constantly moving to the right. Her support amongst the union leadership and membership is minimal, with most unions backing the ‘credible left’ candidate, Ed Miliband. Abbott and her supporters have not used her campaign to fight for democracy in the Labour Party and have failed to raise working class policies on war, cuts, anti-trade union laws and democracy.

Abbott’s candidacy is based on opportunism and, according to the same comrades who now want to back her, she is the pawn of the right wing who sabotaged McDonnell’s attempt to stand for the leadership. Unlike a serious left candidate, she did not consult the Labour left and was not elected, let alone regarded as a leader within the Labour left. In looking at what real impact she will have for the political struggles within the Labour Party and the fights we are facing as a class, communists cannot call for a vote for Diane Abbott.

The left should have based clear conditions on supporting any candidate in the Labour leadership election. Are they for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan? Are they against the cuts agenda? Based on Abbott’s less than clear support for troops out now and her vague commitment to oppose cuts, those with a vote should either return a spoilt ballot or abstain.

James Turley (London)
Mohsen Sabbagh (London)
John Sidwell (Wales)
Jamie Tedford (Sheffield)
Lee Rock (Sheffield)
Liam Conway (Manchester)
Caitriona Rylance (Manchester)
Chris Strafford (Manchester)
Maciej Zurowski (London)
Dave Isaacson (Milton Keynes)
Simon Wells  (London)