WHAT MUST LABOUR DO NOW?
The key question for Labour members and socialists outside the Party is; in the new situation what is the best strategy for ridding us not only of the Tories, but also their acolytes and little helpers in the Labour Party?
The next key battleground will be the local elections in May. If these elections are seized upon as an opportunity to take forward the fightback and consolidate the gains made so far, it will be a victory not only for Labour, but for all working people.
It was a real shame, then, that Corbyn sent a letter to councils on 17th December saying they must NOT set "needs budgets” - that is, budgets designed to meet the need of local citizens, rather than Tory policy.
In the same letter he said that Labour is now an anti-austerity party. But how so - if all that means is a purely verbal opposition? What is the point of a Labour council if all they do is wring their hands and pass on Tory service cuts and closures?
Labour’s 7,000 councillors control 120 councils up and down the country - what a massive potential base that could be for building real resistance - backed, as it would be, by 370,000 Party members; by trade unions, community campaigns and other left organisations such as Momentum!
But surely we must not sow illusions about the fighting determination of careerist Blairites.
It is plain wrong and potentially disastrous to lead anyone to think that Labour is worth voting for, constituted as it currently is, and with the vast majority of its MPs and councillors utterly hostile to everything Corbyn stands for - as made clear daily in the press!
Of course some council candidates and existing MPs will be worth campaigning for. But it is regrettable that these are a small minority at present.
There are two Labour Parties; Corbyn’s and Blairs. And we do a disservice if we conflate them and blur the distinction. We should not present Labour as having been utterly transformed. It hasn’t; although a very serious and hopeful start has been made. (See HERE, for example).
We must tell it as it is. Look for example at what was reported in the Financial Times (5th January) about Liverpool - a right-wing Labour Council with a right-wing Labour mayor.
Mayor Anderson was reported as saying, “It is not my fault that we have people with massive adult care needs. It’s not my fault we have a low council tax base. If we had had the average grant cut for councils, we would be £82m better off.”
As it is, the FT said, "Liverpool has lost £340m of its annual budget since 2010, a reduction of 58 per cent, and has laid off 3,000 staff". This is disgraceful. Sow illusions in these people?
Labour’s right-wing whine constantly that everything is the Tories’ fault. This is largely true of course (leaving aside the damage done by Blair’s Labour when in power...). But to then say there is nothing we can do is totally false.
Are we to plaintively lament to struggling workers looking for a lead that we must wait until the Parliamentary elections in 2020?! The further damage done by then, unless Labour fights back, will be unbearable for millions!
TUSC will not stand by. Wherever this happens, NO MATTER WHO IS IMPLEMENTING CUTS, they will be opposed by us - even if that means standing against existing right-wing Labour councillors.
We will be writing more, soon, about what is happening in Croydon and Sutton - where change is in the air....