A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

More about the LRC

I'm grateful to a commenter for explaining that the reason why Labour NEC Member Christine Shawcroft is shown in the list of the Hard Left "Labour Representation Committee's" (LRC's) National Committee with NUM Nottinghamshire Ex and Retired Miners' Association next to her name when she is not a retired miner.

Apparently you don't have to be a member of the affiliate that nominates you. In which case why do they have a separate affiliates section?

The full list of affiliates is great reading as a kind of A-Z of the ultra left (with similarities to a certain Python sketch about Judea) but suggests the LRC has a generous interpretation of the word "Labour" as it includes organisations actively hostile to the Labour Party: http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/about/affiliates

Highlights:

FBU - chose to disaffiliate from the Labour Party

RMT - disaffiliated from Labour for allowing branches to affiliate to the Scottish Socialist Party

A World to Win -an organisation whose manifesto (http://www.aworldtowin.net/Manifesto/International.html) states that "Revolutionary political organisations of a new type should be built internationally", "Now that the credit-induced boom has ended, the epoch will once again reveal itself as one of wars and revolutions. Conditions for revolutionary change are increasingly favourable." It advocates a "revolutionary government in Britain" and talks about replacing liberal democracy with "national, regional and local People’s Assemblies" (AKA soviets...)

Alliance for Workers Liberty - a self-avowed Trotskyist grouping formerly known as Socialist Organiser, which was proscribed by the Labour Party in the late 1980s

Morning Star Readers' Groups - readers of a newspaper previously the organ of the official Communist Party of GB and now describing itself as "close to the Communist Party of Britain" (i.e. close to a hardline Stalinist Party)

Group of International Communists - this lot say "Communist revolutions cannot succeed without mass self-organisations of workers, and the leadership of organisations of revolutionary workers and the oppressed. We are a network whose aim is to contribute to the development of such a movement in this country and internationally."

Hands Off Venezuela - supporters of the authoritarian Chavez regime and its Bolivarian revolution

New Communist Party - a Stalinist party (see this tribute to Uncle Joe: http://www.newworker.org/ncpcentral/JVS.html) that split from the CPGB because it (NCP) supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Newrad Communist Collective - " group of communists who share a common view of the world and a common history forged in the struggle against revisionism"

Socialist Appeal - the Trotskyist organisation founded by former Militant leader Ted Grant after Militant expelled him for continuing to advocate entryism into the Labour Party

TGWU Broad Left - includes activists from the Labour left in Unite but also from the Stalinist CPB, Leninist SWP and Trotskyist SP


The LRC doesn't seem to have an adequate, indeed any, definition of the left boundary of what it means to be a democratic socialist or social democrat. By definition, self-professed revolutionaries, Trots, Stalinists, Leninists and Communists are not democratic socialists and I would be interested to know why the Labour activists in the LRC are open to their participation.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Labour Party member for 30 years plus and Morning star reader

The Morning Star is not Stalinist and has always called for a Labour vote

its outrageous to undermine one of the few papers that back Labour dispite ultra lefts wish they didnt

If anything the star is a TU paper these days ie POA GMB Unite etc even Community

Luke your usually spot on wrong on M Star

12:07 am, January 07, 2011

 
Anonymous tim f said...

Some of these criticisms are a bit desperate.

Whatever you think of the RMT and FBU's politics, they are bona fide trade unions for their sectors. You should be pleased they still have some connection to the Labour Party. We are supposed to be a broad church representing all workers, after all.

You could make the same criticism you've made of TGWU Broad Left of any national trade union that's affiliated to the Labour Party - should the LP refuse UNISON's affiliation because there are SWP, SP and CPB members in UNISON?

Notice you didn't mention the CWU, BFAWU, NUM or ASLEF.

12:46 am, January 07, 2011

 
Blogger Democritus said...

Haven't changed much over the past couple of decades have they? Besides the disintegration of the millies, most of these are still as per 'as soon as this pub closes'!
http://tinyurl.com/38kw6ec

1:22 am, January 07, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Communist Party - a Stalinist party (see this tribute to Uncle Joe: http://www.newworker.org/ncpcentral/JVS.html) that split from the CPGB because it (NCP) supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Tsk, tsk Luke. They left in 1977 over the "revisionist" "British Road to Socialism". Previously the pets of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia who didn't like the CPGB much either.

9:39 am, January 07, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is mentioned by Anonymous at 9.39.

In the west, that invasion was cynically used to justify an intensification of the Cold War that had been planned some time previously.
Indeed, we also now know that the Carter administration had actually wanted the Soviet Union to invade that country and had set a trap for it.

The original Nouvel Observateur article can be seen here.


http://contreinfo.info/article.php3?id_article=1403

A translation appears in the Wikipedia article on Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Advisor.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Zbigniew_Brzezinski

The United States set the trap and the Soviet Union fell for it. However, I think that we have all suffered in some way or another from such cynical and dangerous behaviour.

12:07 pm, January 07, 2011

 
Blogger Patrick said...

Bit harsh on the Morning Star there. As Anonymous 1207 points out, they've always called for a Labour vote (at least, this has always been the case in my adult life) and have been at pains to expose the Liberals for what they are, when the likes of the Guardian were enthusiastically backing them. And with regards to disaffiliated unions, as much as I dislike the politics of their leaderships (defining myself as I do on the Labour soft right), I'm glad there are parts of the broader L/labour movement they still engage with. I think it's a tragedy that movements such as theirs chose to disaffiliate and I'd dearly like to see them back in the fold.

1:31 pm, January 07, 2011

 
Blogger RJT said...

Luke's point was that the term 'Labour' is misrepresentative in this context, because half of these affiliates have nothing to do with our Party and, indeed, are revolutionary, anti-democratic crazies. They should be allowed no where near the mainstream Labour Party, and any CLPs, BLPs etc who put their name alonside these people should be ashamed of themselves.

2:50 pm, January 07, 2011

 
Anonymous witch-hunter-hunter said...

In which case why do they have a separate affiliates section?

So that affiliated bodies can nominate people to sit on the National Committee. What's so confusing about that?

As for the rest of the post: jesus wept. And o think some people accuse the left of being stuck in the 1980s! Grow up, Luke.

3:47 pm, January 07, 2011

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Oh come on Luke. I thought you'd put this petty sectarianism behind you. The ConDem government is savaging the poorest (natural Labour voters you might say) and you waste your - and our - time with a pathetic attack on members of your own party.

8:37 pm, January 07, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"witch hunter hunter" - I am reminded of the time in the 80s when a friend was accused of being a witch hunter by a cadre of the Revolutionary Socialist League. His reply was accurate and to the point: "I have nothing against witches, it's you bastards I am out to get"

Leninists, assorted apologists for the Soviet dictatorship and Maoist rabble have no place in the Labour Party. And where we find them we will get them out.

1:10 pm, January 08, 2011

 
Blogger Otley said...

Regarding nominations by affiliates, I notice that in your NEC campaign you were nominated by an impressive selection of CLPs from across the country. You are only a member of one of these CLPs, so I think perhaps using your logic we should question why Glasgow Central, being a fittingly impressive geographical example, amongst others nominated you when you are clearly not a member. Then again these are all CLPs, not an assortment of various affiliates.

Ed Miliband was nominated by the NUM. Last time I checked he wasn't a miner. Ed Balls is no postman and David Miliband is certainly not a shop worker. Isn't it suspect that these organisations nominate people who aren't actually their members for elections to positions within the Party that they are all affiliated to?

I trust that you will be taking a principled stand and rejecting any nomination or endorsement from organisations that you are not actually a member of. Oh wait, that would invalidate you standing for almost any position within the Labour Party.

5:06 pm, January 08, 2011

 
Blogger Edward Carlsson Browne said...

I'm confused by the idea that the LRC is a Labour party body. It's not. It's a body that brings together people on the left of the Labour Party with people further left than the Labour Party.

I can understand that Luke doesn't approve of groups to the left of the Labour Party, but as it's not an official affiliate I really don't see what tenable grounds he has for the whinge - the ideas that most LRC members are Stalinists or that they really have any great influence on the future direction of the Labour Party both seem unlikely to me. Most LRC members I know (and that includes the signed-up Communists) seem to regard it mostly as a discussion group and there are plenty of more moderate members within it.

I'd also add that RJT is wrong about the name - it's harking back to Hardie and at that time there were more than a few Communists who were part of the Labour Party - some later got elected as Labour MPs.

1:36 am, January 09, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Otley,

in the list of Labour Party NEC members it says the name of the organisation that you are actually from, not the name of any other body that happened to nominate you.

Edward,

If the LRC is not a Labour Party body is should stop promoting a slate of candidates in NEC elections, which it did this year, and did as part of the Grassroots Alliance in the past. Either you intervene in the Labour Party or you are a discussion group with forces who oppose Labour involved. Not both. Compass is guilty of the same confusion of role, which effectively means acting as a Trojan Horse into the party and its internal debates, in LRC's case for Trots and Stalinists, in Compass' for Lib Dems and Greens. The LRC has stolen the pre-1906 name of the Labour Party. It's as though the Social Liberal Forum called themselves the Whigs, or the No Turning Back group called themselves the Tories.

3:24 pm, January 09, 2011

 
Blogger Otley said...

My understanding of the situation with Compass is that the leadership are in favour of distancing themselves from the Labour Party, whilst the membership and in particular the youth wing are sceptical. It all goes to a head at some sort of conference, but the current situation is that to be a member with voting rights then you must be eligible for Labour membership, if not a Party member. The same is true of the LRC.

You claim that the LRC is composed of affiliates who oppose Labour. This is simply not true. Many affiliates are actively engaged with the Labour Party - for instance some national affiliated unions and also branches thereof. It is true that there are LRC affiliates not directly associated with the Labour Party such as the RMT and FBU. These organisations are no longer Labour affiliates and some individual branches associate with other far-left groups, but nationally they have no affiliation to any political party which makes them eligible for LRC affiliation. Surely we should be supporting dialogue with these unions, as they are part of the wider movement that the Labour Party is meant to be a part of. Instead we have an attack from you because they disaffiliated. How dare they question the Party line, if they disaffiliate it automatically makes them an enemy.

I understand that the Progress position is different - it seems like you have to be a Party member, and I'm sure that you can confirm this. Evidently this difference in approach is a problem for you, but I don't see it as a problem.

12:37 am, January 10, 2011

 
Anonymous Owen Jones said...

Luke,

There is an ugly whiff of McCarthyism in this post.

You cannot join the LRC if you are a member of any party that stands candidates against the Labour party. It is the same rule as the Fabian Society.

Luke is a clever bloke and he is not naive enough to think the Labour left is going to start purging itself at the behest of the right.

The majority of the national trade unions affiliated to the LRC are also affiliated to the Labour party. I am proud of the fact we have non-Labour party trade union affiliates - I'd like to bring them back into the Labour fold, and from reading previous posts, Luke does too. The LRC provides a mechanism for disillusioned trade unionists to mix with like-minded Labour activists: to be brutally honest, if they think the party is only full of people with Luke's brand of Sir-Ken-Jacksonite politics, then they will never come back.

10:29 am, January 10, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm not particularly worried about RMT and FBU, I want them reaffiliated to the Labour Party.

It's the various Trot and Communist groupings that I don't understand why you would wish to be associated with. They are not part of the same democratic political family or tradition as Labour.

10:54 am, January 10, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I also think if you are going to hob-nob with people who praise Stalin, Labour members should be made aware of it so that you pay an appropriate political price in internal party elections.

10:56 am, January 10, 2011

 
Blogger Bill said...

Luke, let's not forget the original SDF, a Marxist party was on the original LRC, and it is a predecessor organisation of the CPGB, so there is a family tree connexion...

11:25 am, January 10, 2011

 
Anonymous Owen Jones said...

I abhor Stalinism and disagree profoundly with anyone who praises it - but I'd like to see them politically smashed, not the use of bureaucratic measures to purge them (ironically, in classic Stalinist fashion). Setting the precedent of a witch-hunt (which is what it would have to be) is a dangerous thing indeed, and easily ends up being much broader than initially suggested.

Kinnock was a big fan of Eric Hobsbawm in the 80s who is often labelled a Stalinist - and Tony Blair was a contributor to the Communist Party journal 'Marxism Today', along with a lot of other pro-New Labourites. Are you going to condemn them, too?

I strongly disagree with those who backed the most right-wing US administration in modern history in pursuing an illegal war in Iraq that ended in violent chaos and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people - but, like loopy Stalinists, I want to see them politically defeated, not purged from the Labour party.

Given the current Labour leadership has renounced the Iraq war, I am pleased to see that has happened.

11:37 am, January 10, 2011

 
Anonymous Owen Jones said...

I'm also disappointed that Luke is aiming fire at the left, rather than trying to build unity against this vicious government and its war against working people.

11:39 am, January 10, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we're talking about sponsoring organisations, the below may be of interest. Progress sponsors its own slate of candidates for the NEC and has the money to send their CVs directly to every CLP free of charge (data protection doesn't seem to apply to them). Its funds are greater than all Luke's "hard of left" organisations put together. But hey, they're progressive and Luke's mates so that's OK?

GOOD POLICIES COST LESS FROM SAINSBURY’S

MEANWHILE the latest party donor figures suggest Ed Miliband’s victory as Labour leader sent the party’s millionaire donors out on strike. The only large recent donations came from trade unions. Lord Sainsbury, meanwhile, is reportedly demanding a meeting with Ed about his policies and attitude to “business” before resuming donations.

Sainsbury is still putting money into politics, however: in the same quarter that he gave the party nothing, he donated £130,000 to the Labour pressure group “Progress”.

Ed Miliband ‘may have shown a little leftist ankle’
Since 2001 Progress has received more than £2.5m, mostly from Sainsbury, with supplements from drug firm Pfizer, Network Rail and other businesses. Progress describes itself as a “New Labour pressure group which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics”. It uses Sainsbury’s cash to organise meetings, publish a magazine and run a website.

Articles in recent issues of Progress magazine give an idea of the “radical” and “progressive” policies Sainsbury is willing to fund: they suggest Labour “should not oppose” the coalition’s university fees plan because it was Lord Mandelson’s idea; that Ed Miliband “may have shown a little leftist ankle to win the leadership election” but he needs to “ditch” it now; and that “Labour councillors will have to get used to making painful cuts quickly”.

11:42 am, January 10, 2011

 
Blogger Otley said...

As for the Stalinists, I do agree that they are a totally objectionable bunch. It's a fine line between trying to unify the Labour-endorsing left and allowing nutters in, and I would have to agree with you that the LRC should certainly have nothing to do with the NCP. There is no excuse for idolising Stalin and their brand of historical revisionism over Soviet crimes.

Stalinists however do not represent the mainstream of left wing opinion in the Labour Party.

11:54 am, January 10, 2011

 
Anonymous David said...

Personally, what amuses me about ms Shawcroft is her appalling lack of scruples.

As a member in Leyton and Wanstead, from the moment our former MP announced he was stepping down, I was bombarded with letters, emails and otehr "NEC" updates from Ms Shawcroft. Would you believe, since the day after she wasn't shortlisted, I have not received a single update from her...

11:54 pm, January 13, 2011

 
Anonymous Norrette said...

Yet another blast at the LRC? I smell fear. Afraid, perhaps, of acknowledging that the New Labour project failed its membership?

10:37 pm, January 16, 2011

 

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