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Friday, 7 March 2014

The Socialists and The Labour Party

The following is a letter submitted to the News and Star:

A recent reader's letter praised the Carlisle Socialist Party for consistently fighting the bedroom tax and all the cuts to jobs and public services, but said we should join the Labour Party. Yet it was Labour which introduced the bedroom tax in the private rented sector and which is now going to destroy another 600 jobs in Cumbria, cut living standards further, take bus money from 16 year old students, effectively isolate the poorest and in Carlisle even snatch away our bairns' playgrounds.

Whether governing alone or in bed with the Lib-Dems or even with the Tories (!), apart from the rhetoric there is no longer any substantial difference between Labour and the older parties of the rich. That's why people are leaving Labour to join the Socialist Party.

And it will be no better under a Labour government than now. Balls and Milliband have repeatedly made clear they will not reverse Osborne's austerity attacks on working class people but have pledged to carry on his policies. What part of that pledge do LP members not understand?

The LP is not a vehicle for the poorest to fight the unfair cuts, nor for workers fighting to regain lost living standards nor for the lost generation of young people facing a future of debt, low pay or unemployment. Why would any public sector worker join a party committed to cutting her pay, pension or job? Why would any young private sector worker fighting against exploitation and inequality join a party which is firmly on the side of big business by maintaining a low investment, low wage, deregulated and globalised economy with the longest hours, worst employment rights and worst anti-union laws in Europe?

Anyway, Miliband won't tolerate any democratic and effectively organised opposition from socialists in the party. The few councillors who have stood up for socialist values and refused to meekly carry out Osborne's and Pickles' cuts are being expelled. And its impossible to go back to the democratic rules which allowed working class people to influence policy, since the Blair-Brown-Miliband corporate takeover. Even the biggest workers' organisation in the country, Unite, was publicly humiliated and bogusly reported to the police for the "crime" of recruiting workers to the party to let them have a democratic say.

On March 1st this abusive relationship will be cemented when a stitched up party conference lasting just 2 hours will formally destroy the collective, class voice of the trade unions which built the party in the first place. Democratic conferences have already been replaced by American style fan club conventions and "Policy Forums" undemocratically selected by a self-perpetuating careerist elite who have never worked in a factory in their lives.

Trade unionists will be atomised and isolated under "one member one vote", getting their information about party leadership candidates from the millionaire media moguls, with MPs having an effective veto over the shortlist to prevent any socialist or workers' champion getting a voice. As from next week "Labour" will completely cease being a workers' party in any sense, its relationship to trade unions being that of the Democrats in America - they hand over their members' money over but have zilch influence on policy.
We therefore need to build a new, mass workers' party based on unions, anti-cuts campaigns and socialist parties to represent the majority of society. As such the Carlisle Socialist Party will be supporting candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (led by the railway workers' Bob Crow) in the coming local elections, and I urge those who support the traditions of the real Labour Party to join us.

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