After Fightback Thursday, a change of direction for Labour?

If the write-up in the Financial Times is anything to go by, yesterday’s co-ordinated fightback was a success. Quoth the FT:

A wave of industrial action hit the UK on Thursday, closing or disrupting a third of all schools in England and Wales as the first national teachers’ strike for more than 20 years coincided with stoppages by street cleaners, college lecturers and the coastguard.

The Socialist Worker gets to the heart of the dispute:

The issue of pay has united workers from several trade unions to fight back together. But pay is just one factor fuelling growing anger across the country.

The strike takes place as the government is in disarray, after its attacks on working class people have produced a level of anger that means today is the biggest blow yet to the attempt by Gordon Brown impose below inflation pay on millions of public sector workers.

As John McDonnell says, the Brown administration is in a position of weakness:

It is becoming increasingly clear that this Government is close to a political tipping point. New Labour continues to alienate section after section of our support and the political situation is now perilously close to being irretrievable. By turning on its own movement and supporters New Labour is handing government over to the Tories.

McDonnell and the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs are usually alone in opposing New Labour, but the threat of losing office has given the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party a shock, and more are willing to resist New Labour’s unpopular policies.

If Labour does badly in the local elections next week, there could be a crisis within the Westminster party. Already bruised by the doubling of taxes on low-paid workers, the leadership be forced to give up on plans to introduce 42 day pre-charge detention for terror suspects, something which is entirely counter-productive to combatting terrorism.

The crisis would be as much within the New Labour clique as the wider party – the possibility exists that those who were loyal to Blair during his tenure as Prime Minister will field a candidate against Brown in a leadership contest.

In which case, would the socialist and social democractic factions of Labour be able to overcome their differences and field a pro-worker candidate?

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4 Responses to “After Fightback Thursday, a change of direction for Labour?”

  1. Dan Says:

    In the event that Labour were to hold a leadership election, the real question is: would the ‘social democratic faction’ of the Labour Party support an alternative to Brown at all?

    The so-called social democrats around Compass effectively crowned Brown leader, by refusing to back either of the candidates from the Left. Given how clear he had made it that he was as “New Labour” as his predecessor, they had no excuse to suppose that he would be more radical than Blair, yet they still deprived Labour members of a vote.

    Isn’t it likely that, in the event of another leadership contest that these suddenly concerned Labour MPs would somehow find the nerve to defend Brown all over again, and cut the ground from under socialists’ feet?

  2. charliemarks Says:

    Last time round Compass broke their agreement with John McD over backing his bid to have a contested leadership election, at the very least. Back then, Brown was being talked up on account of him getting a post-Bliar bump.

    Last year, it was possible for Compass to argue that they could wait and see what Brown would be like – we all knew he’d be just as bad, perhaps worse than Blair, but so it goes.

    I’d like to think they were capable of learning that Brown isn’t even a social democrat, let alone as Roy Hattersley was claiming all those years ago, “a secret socialist”.

  3. Dan Says:

    All good points. I’d just say, don’t underestimate the heights of self-deception to which people will go.

    Of course, the next time where is a leadership election, if McDonnell runs (as he said he would in the event of a contest this year) would Compass be shamed into supporting him this time round, or would the Left be back to square one arguing over who is ‘electable’ and how is too ‘extreme’.

  4. Ray Pairan Jr. Says:

    The driving force that propels the unrelenting march of the global economic society across a wasted expanse of Africa, food depleted poor regions, inadequate or no healthcare, exploitation of workers basic human rights, repressive governments that disregard the will of their citizens, ecological destruction, religious conflicts resulting from a conflict of different forms of economic society is the gospel of greed.

    Doomed to failure the current economic society continues to reduce consumption (spending) as a direct result of disenfranchising or exploiting the majority of the global citizens. The realization of this mal-distribution of income if it is apparent to the exploiting business elite will not inhibit them from their continued short sided extraction of global wealth at the expense of the citizens of this world. This is because greed becomes an addition that blocks out all reality even to those who are able to see through the illusory shroud of unreality that they’ve created. Their drive is a continued beat of wealth accumulation that is a hunger more intense than any primal desire.

    The working class must rise up against a totalitarian economic society that debases the most basic human rights. We must educate, protest, take back our governments, organize, infiltrate existing institutions of power, expose reality, disregard the placating unreality conveyed through the media, and coordinate our efforts across the numerous divides that separate our common desires. Our action must begin today not tomorrow – tomorrow is too bleak to consider.


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