Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Liz Windsor's TB Script and John McDonnell

So, His Majesty TB's 'legacy' plans were set out yesterday by Mrs Windsor and did not contain many surprises - basically a roll call of Daily Mail/Daily Express Dog Whistle issues and a concerted attempt to paint New Labour as the Nasty Party in contrast to an allegedly "wet liberal" Tory party. In short the Blunkett/Reid pugilistic thug line. In doing this the New Labourites seem to be playing a very dangerous game, as it was the perception of the Tories as the Nasty Party by a significant section of the voting public that led to their last few defeats. The Climate Change element was as toothless and detail free and lacking meaningful yearly targets as we expected.

Elsewhere the would be left wing Labour leadership challenger John McDonnell set out his alternative Queen's Speech - reasonably good as far as it went, pushing all the buttons to meet the immediate demands of the current movements and campaigns of the left. McDonnell also had an interesting and quite revealing interview by members of the AWL on this blog.

McDonnell's campaign raises various issues regardless of what we think of his chances of getting on the ballot paper or getting a majority if he does. Dave Osler raises some of these on his blog. Whatever we see as a route to a Britain, or even a Europe that is closer to socialist, green, anti-militarist and anti-imperialist ideals, the key questions of how we deal with the inevitable attacks of both international capital and the security and possibly military apparatus of the international (and particularly US) ruling class will raise its head at some time. Likewise, in a shorter time frame, the issue of what kind of movements and structures are needed at both a national and crucially international level is one that must be addressed.

By some accounts certain members of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and others on the soft left would prefer Michael Meacher standing to Mc Donnell as they would see him as more likely to have a broader support base. Meacher has set out his stall on an environmental footing, but has not yet declared leadership intentions as was suspected. However, for many on the left he is irreparably damaged by the Mark Thomas programme that focussed on his multiple homes.

Many of us are in the Green Party without regrets because we could not see any defeat of New Labour within the Labour Party in the foreseeable future. At the moment defeat of New Labour by the Tories seems more likely. The Union argument is also much weaker now that some of the most radical unions are outside the Labour Party, and those that remain are afflicted with some of the same problems as the Labour Party itself. The argument over whether to back McDonnell or a more "realistic" challenger like Meacher does not inspire much confidence in the labour left either.

Those of us who organise outside of Labour are also aware that we can spend our time campaigning, organising and getting our ideas across rather than fighting interminable procedural and legal battles with bureaucrats and rightists in the Labour Party that are largely irrelevant and incomprehensible to ordinary working people. John McD in his article says he is in Labour because pragmatically you can at the moment only get to be an MP through one of the main parties in FPTP elections. Whatever we may think of Galloway, he gives the answer to this. Similarly Greens and the SSP have shown that they can get elected in Assemblies and EU elections run under PR as well as District and County Council elections under FPTP.

If the campaign of John McDonnell helps to pull together the decent labour left again, then great - the more unity and organisation on the left the better, regardless of what organisations people are in. What is needed is the presence of mind across the left to have a broad strategy that seeks maximum numbers of elected members from all the parties and internal groupings of the left, as well as renewed international links and organising. Our strategy must combine electoral and non-electoral, direct action and community and workplace organising.

The coming interlinked crises of climate change, energy, imperial overstretch, nuclear proliferation and rise of China to challenge US domination demand a united response. The ruling classes of Europe, having hacked away at social protection and gradually increased the power of the surveillance state are preparing to make the ordinary working people of Europe pay - big time - for these crises. Given the risen aspirations of large numbers of Europeans and their wider awareness and interlinked nature due to new technology, a classic J-curve situation may well arise.
The left and broader labour movement in Britain needs to regroup and prepare - hopefully Green Left can play their part in this process of debate and networking.

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