As the left pushes forward, raise the “difficult” issues

By Robyn Banks

After the left’s decisive victory in the election for three new places on Labour’s NEC, we are being blackmailed to act as if we had lost.

Both the press and the pronouncements of the Labour right are full of demands that the left should not capitalise on its victory.

Much of this is couched in oh-so-reasonable language. The Times, however, demonstrated the brutal reality underlying the rhetoric when it called, in an editorial, for any Labour MP deselected to resign and trigger by elections in which they stand against the party.

The whole character of Labour as a living, democratic movement is at stake, and with it the possibilities of reviving the labour movement and rejuvenating working-class and socialist politics.

Labour members have every right to push forward the transformation of our party. If we allow ourselves to be blackmailed about democratisation – which must include the right to choose freely who our candidates are – then we will be blackmailed about any issue which the representatives of the ruling class, their press and their echoers on the right of the party pick on. They will decree that Labour must not go too far.

That will surely include pressure not to readmit expelled socialist activists, a basic test for the left as it takes control of the NEC’s disputes system.

On numerous issues from repealing the anti-union laws to reversing cuts and privatisation, let alone bigger socialist demands, Labour’s position is chronically unclear. On others, for instance free movement and Trident, it is actively wrong. Much of the time the leadership seems to have forgotten even the core demands of the 2017 manifesto. The pressure to tone down further will only grow. We need strong pressure the other way.

The Clarion exists precisely to raise the “difficult” issues which need to be raised and to help generate the ideas and organisation necessary to bring pressure to bear. That is why, while working within Momentum, we have been so sharply critical of its political trajectory.

A year on from the coup which shut down its internal democracy, Momentum is very successful at mobilising for elections of various kinds, but it often indifferent and sometimes actively hostile to a transformative left-wing, let alone socialist, agenda within Labour.

We need to win the arguments for a democratic, educating, transformative left. If you agree, get in touch and get involved.

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