Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Labour Party

The recent campaign to try to get John McDonnell a chance to contest for the leadership of the Labour party brought up the question of whether it was possible for the left to reclaim the Labour Party.
Since the 1997 election Labour has lost thousands of members, as of the last council elections the party had been wiped out from 90 or so councils across the country. Furthermore it has sent troops into several countries including most obviously Iraq and Afghanistan, carried through cuts and privatisations as well as passing draconian anti-terror laws as well as pissing off most young people through the introduction of ASBOs.
Of course, CWI members left the labour party earlier than this, with many leading members of the tendency expelled, the labour party moving increasingly to the right and most importantly the labour party failing to lead struggles at that time, most prominently the poll tax. The removal of clause four effectively sealed this degeneration.
Those still in the labour party tell us that the masses will come flooding back to their traditional party. What masses?
It's obviously not young people, if young people were to go en masse anywhere at the moment it would probably be the greens! even the tories can seem to be more appealing than labour. as mentioned before two wars, asbos, a lack of decent jobs has put paid to any want of you people to join that party.
It's not community campaigners either who see there effort ignored or hijacked by labour party members and end up either campaigning or standing against them.
It's not trade unionists, who see their leaders giving millions of pounds to labour and get nothing, and see action taken to protect their jobs and conditions interfered with because it'll make Labour look bad.
It's a disappointment that John McDonnell didn't get on the ballot as this would have really exposed the trade union leaders of UNISON, UNITE, TGWU and others and might have started a debate within society about the ideas he was standing for, instead we are shown what weakness the Labour left has been reduced to, very little influence at all.
All in all I very much doubt there is anything worth reclaiming, and even so the left in the labour party are far too weak to do that.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Coming Soon & Other Thoughts

As people may have noted I have slowly being trying to add more blogs and other links to the side bar, so I think the most recent additions were the further left forum, the red mantis, socialist party teachers and the red knight. Hopefully I'll get round to posting on left (idealist and realist) criminology and put up some links about that. In addition I'm intending on posting on rioting, lev vygotsky, the labour party and why i don't think it's worth socialists being in it, some more book reviews and maybe some film/music reviews too. I may delve into latin america, the irish elections and other stuff, depends what happens over the next few weeks.
As an aside I wondering if I can get some feedback from people on which articles people have liked best on this site, what they'd like me to blog on etc. and also on how i can improve the look of the blog (i have a rough knowledge of html).

Anyway, apologies for the lack of posts it's cos I was in North Wales for the last few weeks scouting out stuff around the masters course i want to do, so fingers crossed with that.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Review - Why I Write by George Orwell

Why I write is a collection of four essays of various sizes published in 2004 by Penguin as part of their Great Ideas collection. Of the four essays, A hanging is the shortest, which describes an execution during Orwell's time in Burma. Why I Write is another short essay dealing with the motivations of writers and journalists when they put pen to paper, intermingled with a brief depiction of Orwell's life. Politics and the English Language is not much longer, but in it Orwell discusses the quality of writing in 1940's political material. This is a piece which I think is still highly relevant today, particularly the points Orwell makes of the overuse of metaphors, lack of clarity of writing and using more words to ake a point than is necessary. The Lion and the Unicorn is by far the longest, larger than the previous three combined. Writing this during the Blitz, Orwell comments on the situation in Britain at that time. Despite, in my opinion, his misconception of situation leading him to support patriotism and wanting a form of utopian socialism (a misconception more than likely due to his middle class background), Orwell makes several good points. The first is a condemnation of the Stalinists (which of course Orwell makes in other writings) for their crying out for pacifism and their pro-Hitler behaviour. Secondly the ineptness of the British ruling class in their foreign policy, which shows how much of a brake on development they were (and still are). Thirdly the need for a complete break with capitalism, which was missed by the very Labour Party Orwell canvassed for in 1945 along with the Social Democratic and Stalinist parties of Europe who saved capitalism from revolutionary overthrow. There are better accounts of the political situation during the second world war, but Orwell demonstrates the three above poiints excellently. This book isn't a must for socialists but it is a worthwhile read.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

2007 Elections in Kirklees

Where do I start. Perhaps by taking the good point, the one good point, the BNP failed to gain any more seats, even in their stringhold of Heckmondwike, although their vote increased in some wards they didn't make any electoral breakthrough.
The great disappointment was not getting a second Save Huddersfield NHS councillor, Ian Slattery got a commendable 1,184 (18.64%) votes taking second place but Labour managed to retain their seat. In Ashbrow ward where Mel Mills was standing for the first time as an independent Save Our Services campaigner, she got a respectable 251 votes (5.67%). Not to forget them, Respect got a paltry 169 votes (3.36%), 9 votes less than the by-election they contested in 2006 in the same ward and 70 votes less than the 239 (4.16%) the same candidate got standing for Save Huddersfield NHS in the 2006 local elections (albeit in a different ward).
Labour despite being slaughtered nationally have managed to win back control of Kirklees council (after being led by the Tories last year and the Lib Dems the year before), part of the reason why this was acheived was Labour's opposition to the Liberal-Tory-Green cuts budget that was due to cut weekly bin collections, nurseries and other services (even though Labour's alternative budget was more cuts, just of different less emotive services), another reason was the party's succesful positioning itself as not being the Labour party, instead having 'Save Weekly Bin Collections' or 'The People's Choice' as the tag lines on their banners during the elections.
After speaking to several lecturers of mine who live in the Crosland Moor & Netherton ward, many appeared to have voted for Labour as a vote against the BNP, believing the vote recived by Ian was incredibly good and as a factor which may convince more people to back the campign in the future.
From my point of view, we did seem to have a lot of support in the run up to election day and it was disappointing to lose by so many votes in that ward, however, we have come out of the election campign much stronger. We've had much more active support during the campaign with various people living in the ward helping with the election campaign and several people interested in joining the Socialist Party. We've also seen the emergence of the nurseries camapign into a fledgling political party, contesting an election and receiving a decent vote. Given the short timescale they had, to leaflet the whole of Ashbrow for the election is a commendable achievement and the fact that the candidate is speaking at the Campaign for a New Workers Party conference this weekend is even more significant, a fighting left alternative in Kirklees has definitely had it's foundations set.
Although Labour have won the council on promises of stopping cuts, they as we have already noted will only make cuts in other areas, the party is wedded to Blair's neo-liberal project so thyinsg we found large opposition to such as building schools for the future programme of privatising education and building academies will continue as will other cuts. Only a new party of the working class in the immediate future can fight these cuts as all the main parties stand for these cuts.