The media have been having a field day over the ugly confrontation between Sir Keir Starmer and a publican in Bath. The row between the Labour leader and the anti-lockdown landlord who claims to be a life-long Labour voter has gone viral. One could almost feel sorry for Sir Keir if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s utterly useless at campaigning on the street, or indeed anywhere else it seems.
The Blairites said that all that was needed to revive Labour’s fortunes was to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers. But thousands upon thousands flocked to hear Corbyn speak on the campaign trail. Few, if any, particularly want to hear anything Starmer’s got to say these days. But it’s not just a question of leadership. The Tories are nine points ahead of Labour in the opinion polls largely because the Starmer leadership is not prepared to fundamentally challenge the Tory austerity regime.
Labour was founded by the trade unions to give workers their own voice in Parliament. But the Parliamentary Party leadership has been dominated by the middle class intelligentsia since the days of Ramsay McDonald. Nevertheless the working class element within the party remained strong, with figures like Nye Bevan and even Harold Wilson giving it credibility among the working class.
The Labour leadership contest, under new rules designed to undermine Labour’s organic links with the unions, opened up the ballot to individual registered supporters that played a decisive role in the surge of support, especially among young people, for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election in 2015. His victory was a brief but serious challenge to the minions of the ruling class who have dominated the highest levels of the Labour Party for decades.
Though the Labour Party is dominated by the class‑collaborating right wing in the parliamentary party the possibility of their defeat exists as long as Labour retains its organisational links with the trade unions that fund it. The defeat of the right‑wing factions in most of the major unions in recent years demonstrates this possibility.
The New Communist Party supports the affiliation of unions to the Labour Party. We must fight for affiliation in those unions that are presently not affiliated and we must demand that the Labour Party reflect the wishes of the millions of its affiliated union members.
The fight for a democratic Labour Party is linked to the fight for a democratic trade union movement. In the unions we must struggle to elect genuine working class leaderships, who are prepared to fight for the membership against the employers and the right wing within the movement.
We want a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates. A Labour Party whose policies reflect those of a democratic union movement would become a powerful instrument for progressive reforms that would strengthen organised labour and benefit the working class.
At the same time we must build the revolutionary party and campaign for revolutionary change. Social democracy remains social democracy whatever trend is dominant within it. It has never led to socialism.
The NCP’s strategy is the only way to fight for the communist alternative within the working class of England, Scotland and Wales. We want day‑to‑day reforms and they can only be achieved by the main reformist, social democratic party in Britain, the Labour Party. We want revolution and that can only be achieved through the leadership of the communist party.