Britain: Starmer’s ‘Militant moment’ – labour movement fight-back needed after Corbyn suspension

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn (seated), December, 2019. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jeremy Corbyn office)

Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from membership of the Labour Party for saying that antisemitism within Labour has been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

He has broken no rule and has always opposed antisemitism. He merely referred to the self-evident truth that the issue of antisemitism was used by the pro-capitalist Labour right as a weapon to undermine his leadership.

This is virtually ‘thought control’. Starmer has shown a level of intolerance never before seen in the history of the Labour Party.

MPs who vote for benefit cuts and war are welcome in the Labour Party. So are those who voted for privatisation of public services, or for the right of state agents to commit crimes while spying on trade unionists and socialists, as are those who campaigned for a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants.

Jeremy Corbyn, who as Labour leader in 2017 achieved the biggest vote gain in a general election for any party since 1945, is not welcome.

Peter Taaffe, editor of the Militant newspaper and now political secretary of the Socialist Party, commented:

“Comparisons have been made with Neil Kinnock’s witch-hunt against us in the 1980s. They are accurate.

“The expulsion of Militant – now the Socialist Party – from Labour was a vital precursor to the capture of the party by the Blairites.

“Let’s remember that Thatcher considered her greatest achievement to be the creation of ‘New Labour’, a party that could be relied on to protect the interests of the capitalist class.

“Keir Starmer is determined to show that Labour under his leadership can be relied upon to act in the interests of the elite – the 1% – the few rather than the many.”

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party general secretary, and former Labour Party NEC member, added:

“By suspending Corbyn, Starmer has laid down a clear challenge to the workers’ movement. The choice is clear – accept having no party that represents the interests of the working-class majority, or stand up and fight! A month ago Unite, the biggest Labour-affiliated trade union, cut its funding of Labour by 10%, as a warning to Starmer not to move Labour to the right.

“What clearer indication could there be that Starmer is doing just that, and has no intention of sticking by Corbyn’s manifesto promises on nationalisation, free education, or repeal of the anti-trade union laws? Starmer and the other pro-capitalist MPs will never represent the interests of the working class.

“Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the union, has rightly condemned Corbyn’s suspension but it is not enough – as he has done – to call on Starmer to ‘find a fitting and unifying way forward’.

“The left trade union leaders should now institute an immediate conference, to be a council of war of the workers’ movement – inside and outside of the Labour Party – to fight this attack and to discuss how to ensure workers have a vehicle that does fight for their interests.

“In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s – with unemployment spiralling and children going hungry – a mass socialist voice, including at the ballot box, is desperately needed.”

Dave Nellist, leader of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Socialist Party member and expelled former Labour MP (1983-92) warned:

“If this step is not taken from the top, there will be many workers and young people who will be prepared to do so.

“The Socialist Party is fighting for that. Thousands of people who joined Labour to support Jeremy Corbyn are tearing up their Labour membership cards.

“We appeal to them to join us in that struggle. As a starting point, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), involving the transport workers’ union, the RMT, the Socialist Party and others, is back in action and preparing to stand in elections next May.

“The rest of the labour movement – the left union leaders in particular – must act. The determination of the right to make Labour safe for capitalism could not be clearer.

“If now is not the time for similar determination from the left to fight for a mass workers’ party – when is?”

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