Britain: recall conference campaign launched – let the members take back control!

Left-wing groups and trade unions in Britain have come together to launch a united campaign for an immediate recall Labour conference, to fight back against the right wing's attacks on party democracy. We say: Put power in the membership's hands!


A ground-breaking initiative has been launched today, demanding that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party immediately organise a special recall Labour conference to resolve the crisis that is threatening to engulf the party.

This initiative has widespread support from the Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) of Labour MPs, alongside a range of Labour NEC members and trade unions, such as Unite, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), and the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU).

The recall conference campaign is also backed by left-wing groups such as Momentum, ‘Don’t Leave, Organise’, and Labour4Clause4. Given today’s announcement, many more organisations are also now likely to come on board.

The aim is for this demand to be discussed at the upcoming Labour NEC meeting in March. This gives Labour members and trade union activists one month to build up pressure on the NEC, in order to ensure that they take heed of this call. 

Fightback

Starmer JC Image Socialist AppealThis demand is an important milestone in responding to the attacks of the right wing / Image: Socialist Appeal

Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood stated that:

“Hard-working Labour members are being unjustly suspended, while CLPs have had their rights and freedoms undermined. A national recall conference will give us the opportunity to put a stop to this and ressert the democratic principles on which our Party was founded.”

Labour NEC member Nadia Jama, meanwhile, asserted that:

“The very fabric of our party democracy is being ripped apart. Conference, our sovereign body for decision making, is the only way out of the mess we find ourselves in. I’m fully behind this call to reclaim democracy by calling for a recall conference.”

Richard Burgon, secretary of the SCG, has also added his support for the idea of a recall conference. “This is a grassroots campaign we should all support,” the left-wing MP commented. “We need democracy not diktats,” added Jon Trickett MP, underlining the point

John Taylor, who represents BFAWU on Momentum’s leading body, stated:

“Most importantly, tens of thousands of the rank and file are united in the demand for democracy in the Party. A national recall conference of the Labour Party should be convened immediately, with the express purpose of dealing with this escalating crisis.”

The campaign is calling on local Labour parties and affiliated organisations to pass emergency motions over the next month, calling for a recall conference.

Socialist Appeal wholeheartedly supports this initiative, which we first raised a month ago. This is an important milestone in responding to the attacks of the right wing, which have been stepped up over several months. Now, at last, the gloves are off and the left is fighting back!

‘New management’

Starmer Nandy Image Socialist AppealSince the election of Keir Starmer, the right wing have gone on the offensive / Image: Socialist Appeal

Since the election of Keir Starmer, the right wing have gone on the offensive, attempting to demoralise and drive out the left-wing membership. They acted swiftly to clear out the lefts from the shadow cabinet. Left MPs such Rebecca Long-Bailey were removed, replaced with right-wingers who had been in the forefront of attacking Corbyn and the mass membership.

Then – in an unprecedented move – they suspended Jeremy Corbyn. After being forced to readmit him, the leadership then arrogantly suspended Corbyn as a Labour MP. The right wing are clearly going for broke, with the aim of purging the left from the party. So much for the idea of party “unity”, which is nothing but a sick joke.

They are the very people who undermined the Corbyn leadership and criminally sabotaged Labour’s general election chances. They preferred a Tory government to a left-wing Corbyn government. This reveals their true colours.

The right wing are nothing more than Tory infiltrators within the Labour Party, who want to make the party safe for capitalism and feather their own nests in the bargain.

Starmer, declaring that Labour is “under new management”, has pushed the party to the right: supporting the Tories through “constructive opposition”; abstaining on policies allowing war crimes and police spying; and now embracing the Union Jack and ‘patriotism’. What charlatans! Keir Hardie and the pioneers of the Labour movement must be spinning in their graves.

Starmer and the right wing want to make the Labour Party an establishment party, as it was under Tony Blair. They want the party to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ for capitalism. On economic policy, public ownership has been jettisoned, replaced with lavish praise for the International Monetary Fund. This is the road to disaster.

Purge

Stop the Witchhunt Image Socialist AppealWhen local parties dared challenge these attacks, the new general secretary David Evans banned all discussions, threatening members with suspension or expulsion if they persisted / Image: Socialist Appeal

When local parties dared challenge these attacks, the new general secretary David Evans banned all discussions, threatening members with suspension or expulsion if they persisted. When this diktat was ignored in many parties, dozens of local chairs and secretaries were bureaucratically suspended.

This was a declaration of war on the left by the very people who had sabotaged Corbyn’s leadership. “Accept the new regime, or be kicked out!” is their demand. It is clear they are intent on carrying out a counter-revolution against the membership.

As part of this, they are pursuing a campaign to demoralise and drive out as many as possible. Angela Raynor, the deputy leader, relished the fact that thousands could be expelled.

Along with this, Labour’s Regional Offices have begun to step in and bureaucratically take control of different CLPs, stifling all opposition. The right wing are carrying out a scorched earth policy, hell bent on destroying the left.

Enough is enough!

Return to Blairism Image Socialist AppealWe have to defeat this right-wing offensive and turn the tables / Image: Socialist Appeal

It is about time these arrogant ladies and gentlemen were stopped in their tracks and shown the door. Their attacks are producing a massive backlash throughout the party. The call for a democratic recall conference of the party is a firm statement from the rank and file: “Enough is enough”!

We have to defeat this right-wing offensive and turn the tables. They have been getting away with murder. And the left has been far too passive in face of these attacks.

This campaign can be a real turning point, which can revitalise and galvanise the left. It can fill the grassroots with a fighting spirit. This call for an immediate recall conference should be taken to every corner of the labour movement!

Tony Blair called his own special Labour Party conference in the spring of 1995 to get rid of Clause 4, the party’s commitment to socialism. We need our own special recall conference to stop the right wing in their tracks: to restore Labour Party democracy; to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn and all those unjustly suspended; and to clear out the right wing.

The rank and file of the party needs to ‘take back control’. It is the membership – not careerists and charlatans – who should decide what can and cannot be discussed; who and who is not a Labour MP.

We need to take back control of the party by introducing open selection for all Labour MPs. Only in this way can they be held accountable.

And given what has happened, we need conference to decide who the general secretary should be, as well as who should lead the Labour Party.

We are fed up with broken promises and sabotage. Let the members decide! This must be on the agenda of such a recall conference.

Demand a recall conference!

Starmer conference Image Socialist AppealAll forces to the point of attack! Demand an immediate special recall conference! / Image: Socialist Appeal

But couldn’t we be accused of rocking the boat? Let us be clear, it is not us who is rocking the boat and threatening to sink it. The right wing are seeking to destroy the left.

We must use this opportunity to turn the tables. Let us remember: the right wing had no qualms in the summer of 2016 in passing a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn and launching a leadership challenge. They embarked on a campaign of sabotage against the party at every turn.

We must not simply get angry, but get even! If we are to succeed, we need to be just as determined as the right wing. There is no room for compromise or backsliding.

As Ian Hodson, President of BFAWU, explained: “We have a real battle on our hands. We are fighting for the very soul of the party and are confident we have the bulk of the membership behind such a move.”

All forces to the point of attack! Demand an immediate special recall conference!

Originally published 8/02 at socialist.net

Recall conference campaign model resolution

Corbyn Starmer Image Socialist Appeal"We therefore demand that the NEC organises an immediate national recall conference of the Labour Party" / Image: Socialist Appeal

This meeting notes the escalating crisis within the Labour Party concerning freedom of debate, freedom of speech, and interference in the workings of our CLPs.

This meeting believes that the party’s crisis needs to be addressed urgently.

This meeting recognises that the supreme policy-making body of our party is our national conference, composed of delegates from the CLPs, trade unions, and other affiliated organisations. We believe that this is the only body with the necessary authority to resolve this crisis.

We therefore demand that the NEC organises an immediate national recall conference of the Labour Party, under rule Clause VI:1 of the Constitutional Rules*, with the purpose of ending the impasse, restoring party democracy and achieving genuine unity as the only means for the party to achieve victory at forthcoming elections.

*“The work of the party shall be under the direction and control of Party conference, which shall itself be subject to the constitution and standing orders of the Party. Party conference shall meet regularly once in every year and also at such other times as it may be convened by the NEC.”