Sunday, 31 May 2015

Maybe what we need is a movement not a party

It seems to me that all the values that the Labour party once had are long gone.It comes to something when an old left wing warhorse like Dennis Skinner is more concerned about where he sits in the House of Commons than who he aligns his politics with.
Of course the SNP are not a socialist party,but its about five decades at least when the Labour party could claim to be a socialist party.The last leader I heard describe the party as such was Attlee after his election victory in 1945.
The SNP are however a party of a different type.They are predominantly young, they mostly don't come from the 'political class' of special advisers, political groupies,party hacks or London based mediocrities who once,decades ago,worked on a trade union journal for a few months!
The SNP are also a mixture of folk like those who elected them, and they are exuberant and irreverent and do things normal people do.
When someone says something they agree with-they clap-they don't say 'hear hear'.They are disciplined and they are prepared to argue for what they believe in with a passion.
last week there was a debate ob zero hour contracts,albeit it was about such contracts in Scotland,but it was about an issue that during the election we were told the Labour Party cared about.I don't remember them putting geographical limits on zero hours,we only care about them in England!
So in the debate, 56 SNP MP's were there, 8 tories and believe it or not the people's party managed to turn out a whole half dozen!  
now I invite my few remaining friends in the Labour Party to explain this curious situation.Perhaps they were all spending more time with their families,maybe they had an important PLP dinner to attend,but one thing is for sure, they didn't give a flying fuck for their constituents on zero hour contracts!
Interestingly the SNP left a space for Dennis Skinners arse, and it is possible that he did later occupy it.But where were the rest?
I was thinking of trying to rejoin the Labour party as a £3 member,if only to write 'none of the above' on the ballot paper.
The candidates on offer are a sorry apology for the leadership of any party that claims to be left of centre.Right from the start they have conceded the ground to the tories, they all prate on about reducing the deficit,about making welfare cuts,about limiting migration and about continuing the privatisation of the health service.
Yet we have a possible parliamentary and extra-parliamentary movement emerging that is at the very least social democratic in outlook and potentially an even larger activist base that will move people in emulate what has happened in Scotland.
But its not just Scotland where there is movement, In Madrid and Barcelona it would appear that they are electing mayors not of a traditional party but from a broad anti-austerity movement.

I read a piece by John McDonnell, the left Labour MP arguing that there needs to be a mobilisation of all the left forces in this country if we are to take on this government.
I think he sees clearly that the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to make a fight that could involve thousands if not millions, that could re energise the trade union movement, bring young people into the battle and assist the dispossed to fight for their rights.
Strangely in his piece he made no mention of the SNP, perhaps he'd seen the letter from Labour's head office expelling a member in Scotland for urging support for the SNP.
It seems to me the traditional party model is as dead as King Henry, and we on the left need to understand clearly that the issue is no longer about selecting photogenic stooges to mutter platitudinous rubbish about aspiration and empowerment and hard working middle classes.
The Labour Party must change-or simply die.

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