Editorials

The bosses and the Establishment have dreamed of this:

Starmer wants to destroy the party that the working class has built

The closer we get to the Labour Party’s Annual Conference, the clearer the scope and nature of the Starmer leadership’s course, in a situation where workers will face an even more brutal offensive than the one they have experienced over the last 18 months.

Working people are already familiar with the continuing push to drive down wages and impose worse working conditions (including “fire and rehire”), with wage-freezes and real-term cuts in public sector wages (including for nurses and other NHS staff), with in-work poverty and a growing reliance on food banks, with massive cuts in local government budgets, to give just a few examples.

In Issue No.17 (April 2021) of Labour Internationalist, we highlighted the fact that in its “Red Flag Alert” report for the first three months of 2021, corporate insolvency company Begbies Traynor pointed to the likely collapse of hundreds of thousands of UK businesses when the government’s financial support schemes (direct grants, loans and “furlough”) end this month. At that time, Begbies Traynor identified 723,000 businesses across 22 economic sectors around the country that were in “significant financial distress” and facing a high risk of going bust, potentially triggering mass unemployment counted in the millions.

This scenario has been confirmed by the Tory government’s determination that the hundreds of billions in debt it has accumulated during the pandemic – as it handed out cash freely to its capitalist friends – must be repaid by working people and the youth one way or another, beginning with wage-cuts and job-losses.

In this situation, Starmer told the Financial Times in an interview (5 August) that his “first tasks” include “rebuilding the relationship between the Labour Party and business” and developing a “partnership” between business and an “active government”. He also he vowed to “turn the Labour Party inside out”, urging activists to embrace New Labour’s pro-business legacy (courtesy of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) to help today’s LP win the next election.

In the context of US President Biden’s visit to Europe, when he came to tighten the screws of a world economy on the verge of collapse, Starmer has proved to be a staunch defender of the capitalist system by calling for a second Brexit referendum thanks to Jeremy Corbyn’s capitulation (abandoning his lifelong opposition to the EU, refusing to fight against the slanders), and then propping up the Johnson government in the so-called “national interest”. Starmer is now saying to Biden, the capitalist institutions and big business: “I am a safe pair of hands, I will do the job you need to be done”, and he is acting accordingly right now.

Let’s not be distracted by promises of “jam tomorrow”, such as Angela Rayner talking about future improvements to workers’ rights and employment statuses, and Andy McDonald telling anyone who will listen that the next Labour government will repeal the current anti-trade union legislation. Based on the Starmer leadership’s consistent betrayal of the workers’ interests over the last 18 months, why would anyone take its promises seriously now? Never mind the odds of Starmer forming a Labour government in 2023 or 2024… The crucial question is: what happens before then?

Right now, the working class is resisting, as shown by the strikes and disputes around the country in the last 18 months, and the prospect of more strikes (e.g. by the nurses) in the coming period. The more resistance there is, the more tightening of the screws is needed, and the more collaboration by the Labour Party (defined by Lenin as a “bourgeois workers’ party”) is needed.

This explains the rigging of the London Labour Conference, where the Regional Office summarily replaced an in-person conference in November with an online conference in July at just a few weeks’ notice (thereby disenfranchising 96 percent of the London party membership), and then literally pulled the plug on the conference in the middle of the speech by the outgoing Conference Arrangements Committee Chair, because she was speaking critically of Starmer and the party apparatus’s anti-democratic conduct.

It explains the rigging of delegates to September’s Annual Conference by the party apparatus around the country, either through direct intervention by Regional Officers (e.g. Truro & Falmouth CLP) or manipulated party processes (e.g. Bristol West CLP and elsewhere).

It also explains the decision by the party’s NEC on 20 July that four left-wing internal party groupings are deemed to be “self-excluded”.

Beyond left-wing individuals and groupings, it is the Labour Party as a whole which is being targeted, and beyond the party, the real target is the trade unions that are affiliated to the party. In order to facilitate his policy of “national unity” with the Tories, Starmer wants to destroy the Labour Party as the political representation of the organised labour movement.

This is why the 19 July statement by Unite (see page 6) is so important. Describing the move to proscribe the four groupings as “another disheartening move by a Labour leadership whose priorities could not be more different from those of working people and our members”, the statement clearly links the offensive against the party with the workers’ demands.

While this does not mean endorsing everything that Unite does or does not do, Labour Internationalist fully supports and echoes this clear condemnation of the witch-hunt, which is preparing the ground for the coming offensive by the capitalists, who need to get their debt paid by the working class.

In the same way, we unconditionally support the conclusion of Rochdale Trades Council’s recent statement (see page 7): “we will continue to be faithful to our mandate, which is to defend the demands of our members, whatever the attacks and wherever they come from”.

Unite’s statement is a rallying point for all workers, and should be widely circulated in LP-affiliated trade unions, LP branches and CLPs. At the same time, we do not condemn those comrades who have left the LP, any more than we condemn those traditional Labour voters who chose to abstain in the recent elections. The responsibility for this lies completely and exclusively with Starmer and the Labour leadership.

We call for the broadest unity of the workers’ movement in defence of democracy, in defence of total freedom of expression, and against the witch-hunt. Experience has always shown that behind the declared “enemies” in a witch-hunt, it is the whole of the working class that is targeted.

We call for the broadest unity of the workers’ movement in defence of the tools – the trade unions and the Labour Party – which the working class in this country has built in order to assert its rights and fight against capital.

12 August

Imperialism sheds crocodile tears over Afghanistan

As images of the panic in Kabul after the entry of the Taliban were broadcast around the world on 16 August, US President Biden spoke from the White House. He shed crocodile tears, saying “how painful this is to so many of us”, and even having the nerve to refer to the fate of “women and girls” in Afghanistan. He said that as US President, “the buck stops with me. I am deeply saddened by the facts we now face”, but then tried to blame the Taliban’s swift entry into Kabul on NATO’s puppet regime: “Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. (…) American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”

  As if the puppet regime in Kabul was not a creation of the US Army and NATO! And as if for 20 years, Bush and then Obama, Trump and Biden had not sent thousands of young American soldiers to die in a war that was not theirs. A war to provide Wall Street with profits, a war against the Afghan people, as the anti-war coalitions in the US have stated clearly and constantly for 20 years!

  During the session of the reconvened House of Commons on 18 August, the so-called “special relationship” between US imperialism and UK imperialism was exposed for what it is: Washington has unilaterally decided to make an agreement with the Taliban and leave Afghanistan, and the UK – together with the other NATO powers – will simply have to fall in line. Which Johnson duly confirmed, saying: “The west could not continue this US-led mission – a mission conceived and executed in support and defence of America – without American logistics, without US air power and without American might.

  Starmer also toed the line, supporting Johnson’s position before criticising his government for being “complacent” and badly organised. In other words, Starmer yet again assured Washington and the capitalists that his Labour leadership is a reliable supporter of imperialism’s interests around the world: Afghanistan, Palestine and everywhere else.

  It took a Labour back-bencher to point out the blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Tory government – with its tendency to demonise asylum seekers, particularly arrivals from Muslim countries – as it made a lot of noise about a formal commitment to grant refuge to 20,000 Afghans, but somehow expecting people to ignore that fact that a maximum of just 5,000 will potentially be admitted in the first year after the bureaucratic scheme is eventually implemented. At a stroke, this choice condemns thousands of Afghans to persecution, torture and death.   “Freedom fighters” one day (when they were opposing the Soviet Union’s troops), “terrorists” the next, respectable interlocutors the day after…the Taliban are a prime example of the “variable geometry” practised by imperialism. The same people who in 2001 used the fate of Afghan women to justify their military intervention are today opening the doors of power to their executioners. Biden, Johnson, Macron, Merkel and others (including the UN) bear responsibility in advance for the crimes that will be committed. The duty of the workers of the world is to organise active solidarity with the Afghan people and to demand the unconditional reception of all refugees.

19 August

We need a workers government that will fight for the specific demands of working people and the youth_28 June 2021

Two kinds of logic which cannot be reconciled_28 April 2021

There is political fakery and there is what the workers need_23 February 2021

We need united action by all of the unions against the same attacks and same class enemy_29 March 2021

We are ready and willing to fight back_No more support for the government in the national interest_26 January 2021

We dont just need a change of government_We need real change from top to bottom in our society_18 December 2020

Lets organise the fightback_For a workers government_27 November 2020

Defend working-class interests_No to national unity collaboration_27 October 2020

Sick and tired_Now is the time to fight back_24 Sept 2020

A workers government would ban job-cuts_27 July 2020

Organise the resistance against subordinating the trade unions to the government and the bosses_29 June 2020

It is only by breaking with the interests of the banks and big business that the impending disaster can be avoided_20 May 2020

The working class must defend its own interests_27 April 2020

Thinnng out the herd_austerity kills_17 Mar 2020

Continuing the struggle in the new political situation_28 Jan 2020

The general election_what happened_22 Dec 2019

Editorial Statement_19 Nov 2019

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