The idea of a new Centre Party is back in the news in Britain. There is a growing realisation amongst the ruling class that the crisis of the Tory government, together with the debacle over Brexit, could soon lead to a general election that would propel Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.
A recent headline in the Financial Timesaccurately summarised the mood amongst the Establishment: “Business fears a Corbyn government almost as much as Brexit”.
How then can the bosses avert this “calamity”? By relying on the Blairites to come to their rescue, of course.
Smears and sabotage
In recent months, the preferred strategy of the Labour right wing has been to manufacture a hysteria about anti-Semitism in order to discredit Corbyn and the Labour Party. In this smear campaign, the Blairites have been joined by conservative Jewish establishment figures and the capitalist press, both for their own reasons.
Leading the charge recently has been Chuka Umunna, who asserted in an article in the Independent that the Labour Party is the home of “institutional anti-Semitism”. In 2016, however, the right-wing Labour MP said the opposite, stating that he had never seen a single example of anti-Semitism in 20 years.
“The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs did not believe he was fit to lead the party in the first instance,” the arch-Blairite writes. “In spite of the silence of most of the Parliamentary Labour Party – driven by a fear of deselection if they speak out – there is no doubt that most Labour MPs are as horrified as I am by the anti-Semitism which has been exposed in the party in recent months. Many feel that they are being pushed to breaking point”.
If only right-wingers in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) were afraid of speaking out. In fact, you can’t shut them up! The likes of Umunna and others have rushed to the media to sabotage and undermine Corbyn at every opportunity.
Umunna goes on in his article to scandalously equate the “far right” with the “far left”, before stating that: “The enemies identified by the far left tend to be America (regardless of who is the sitting president), markets, capitalism and the so-called business-owning class.”
Well, yes. The left have attacked American imperialism, markets, capitalism and the ruling class – all of which Umunna has consistently defended to the hilt. This shows clearly where his political loyalties lie. He is pro-capitalist, pro-market and pro-big business.
Party of the establishment
This is the real reason behind Umunna’s nonsense accusations that Labour is “institutionally anti-Semitic”. In reality, such ludicrous statements are part of an ongoing campaign to split the Labour Party and provide big business with a new, reliable Centre Party.
There have been dozens of reports about MPs and peers plotting to split from Labour as soon as the Brexit negotiations are out of the way. It is no accident that John Woodcock, the anti-Corbyn MP who recently resigned from Labour, has called for MPs on all sides to come together to form a new political party.
Mike Gapes, the useless MP for Ilford South, is hinting that he could go any day now. When push comes to shove, many others will likely split too. But some have pledged to stay, including Dame Margaret Hodge. They will act like a Fifth Column, continuing to attack Corbyn from within.
In such a scenario, the Blairites hope that a new right-wing leader in the Tory party might lead to a split in the Conservatives also. Remainers like Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry are good candidates to break away and join hands with Labour right-wingers. The Liberal Democrats would no doubt climb aboard too.
They would like to emulate the rise of French President, Emmanuel Macron. Indeed Macron himself seems to be encouraging such a project. But what those seeking a new Centre Party in Britain fail to mention is that Macron’s bubble has burst. Barely one-third of the French electorate now approve of the former investment banker.
Rule or ruin
The aim of any Blairite split would be to inflict the maximum damage to the Labour Party and keep Corbyn out of power. They intend to do this with the full support of the capitalist media.
Labour MP Richard Burgon has correctly highlighted the true goal of these threats.
“The formation of the SDP breakaway from the Labour Party by Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rodgers in 1981 was an anti-socialist betrayal that helped to gift the 1980s to Thatcherism and her brutal anti-working class policies.
“Ramsay MacDonald’s formation of a ‘national government’ with the Conservatives, Liberals, Liberal Nationals and so-called ‘National Labour’ in 1931 was done to push through austerity politics, guaranteeing that his name went down in history as a byword for betrayal.
“There are some now proposing to repeat these historical tragedies.” (Morning Star, 16/8/18)
Socialist Appeal has warned about this many times. The Blairite Trojan horse in the PLP will never be reconciled to Corbyn or the left. Faced with a mass membership that is seeking an end to austerity and war, they have little prospect of winning the party back to New Labour principles. Instead, their motto is “rule or ruin”.
This is why we need the mandatory reselection of MPs: to clear out the careerism and Toryism within the Labour Party.
This demand for the democratic accountability of Labour MPs has begun to gather momentum in recent weeks. A rule change to introduce mandatory reselection is due to be discussed at the upcoming Labour Party conference. It has generated a head of steam, with Unite the Union backing the proposal, together with the FBU.
With the likely backing of other unions – such as ASLEF, TSSA, CWU, BFAWU – as well as possibly two-thirds of local party delegates, this could easily be passed.
Elsewhere, Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, has also come under attack from the party establishment for organising a “democracy roadshow”, with meetings around the country in support of mandatory reselection.
This has created a storm of protest from Labour’s right wing. Lord Hattersley, the former deputy leader of the party under Kinnock, amongst others, has called on Corbyn to repudiate Williamson’s campaign.
Writing in the Guardian, Hattersley has warned that the right wing will split from the party if this measure goes through:
“Reselection and the prospect of reselection will undoubtedly split the party – led not just by sitting MPs who were deselected or fear deselection but also by MPs who think that the attempted cull of their colleagues demonstrated that Labour no longer represented their view of the good society.” (The Guardian, 28/8/18)
This threat is precisely the reason why we need reselection. What Hattersley means by the “good society” is the “good life” that MPs have become accustomed to. Rather than seeking to represent the interests of the working class, they see their privileged position as being a “job for life”.
Kick out the careerists
It is no surprise that Hattersley goes on in his letter to attack the party leadership, stating that Corbyn’s team, “because of a combination of its own incompetence and its enthusiasm for ideological claptrap, is squandering its chances of winning the next election.”This is rich coming from someone who lost two general elections in a row.
In any case, it is clearly not Corbyn who is squandering these chances, but those right-wing Labour MPs who are constantly publicly attacking the party. Without any hint of irony, they admonish left-wingers like Williamson, accusing them of risking a split in the party; yet in the same breath, they smear Corbyn and threaten to walk away over made-up accusations of anti-Semitism.
We must get rid of these pro-capitalist saboteurs within our ranks. To root out careerism, we should have Labour MPs taking a workers’ wage, in order to ensure that our representatives will for the interests of the working class.
This must go hand-in-hand with the fight for socialist policies and the return of Clause IV, to rid ourselves of the ravages of the market and the greed of the capitalist system.