British Labour Party
alec.grange at ntlworld.com
Tue Jan 7 08:37:44 MST 2003
First, I need to just write that given I've been labelled: " smug,
self-satisfied, middle-class type with hatred and fear of the working
class. ", "bourgeois-apologist twit", indulging in
this has no effect on me at all. At school I learned to ignore
name-calling and I don't indulge in such behaviour. When Mr Spellman
told me to shove off, I was only offended by his opting out of points I
had made, perhaps he was upset by my comments on Saddam Husayn, and
indeed his words seemed to remind me of Stalinist methods. Since then,
he has indeed come up with something worth reading and I think there is
more agreement between us than he realises.
Posing as Marxist
is an interesting one, did indeed Karl Marx pose as
a Marxist, its just possible he would be horrified at being called a
Marxist! But lets leave him out of this particular issue. No, as for me
Im not really good at being a Marxist, whatever the term means,
presumably people on this site can explain, as I made the dreadful
mistake for a long time thinking that the USSR and its allied states
were a Marxist paradise
Now, to the heart of the matter in question. The Labour Party in the UK
is of course quite unique, there are no similar structures elsewhere. As
you will know, it is of course a federal party founded by some trade
unions the Independent Labour Party and socialist societies in 1902. It
still retains that federal nature with affiliated trade unions, the
co-operative movement, Constituency Labour Parties and various socialist
groups the Fabians being the oldest and as far as I know discuss and
debate political issues; there are also amongst others: the Socialist
Education Association and the Socialist Health Association, Blair, as we
all know is horrified by the word socialist.
I have been a Labour Party member since 1970s active until 1988 and
still a member, a passive member. Never joined the Fabians, as I suspect
that locally some noisy local windbags with their own personal agendas I
know will be there. I would agree that the nature of Labour Party
internal democracy has changed. Where once activists would be able to
play a key role in formulating policy following through to annual
conference, this has now all gone to the Blairite focus groups. Blair
has indeed transformed the UK Labour Party into an amorphous mass.
Whilst each member can have a vote on electing members of the NEC, and
CLPs and branches can still discuss and pass motions and debate issues;
now are presented with glossy documents, a reminder of how the CPGB used
to operate, and treated like focus groups, the annual party conference
becomes show business and in the end Blair decides policy anyway, which
in truth is what Labour leaders always did.
A look at my local Labour Party branch agenda for this month reveals the
same old formula, and previous minutes show regularly: start at 7:45pm
finished by 9pm. What was discussed: the Councillors report we find;
civic budget, council tax, parking zones, traffic: Then the CLP General
Committee report: MP addressed GC meeting gave government line on
firefighters dispute and on Iraq. There is no further elaboration on
what discussion had taken place, but then its better for members to go
an find out. So at least there is discussion at CLP GC level. Mr
Spellman's experience maybe just that he joined a lifeless branch and CLP.
My last active political activity was to campaign in the 1997
parliamentary election and I think without doubt, many of us felt that
after 18 years of conservative government there had to be change and on
Mayday that year many of us probably thought the new Labour government
couldnt be any worse than what we had experienced before.
Disappointment crept in slowly. I couldnt bring myself round to
campaign in subsequent elections simply because I knew Blair had nothing
to offer I voted Labour as usual out of anti-Tory sentiment
There have been over the years goodness knows how many bad leaders and
bad decisions but I think at the heart of the party there are still many
ordinary, fine, genuine and capable people. Its membership has taken a
severe fall in recent years. In the early eighties there was an electric
atmosphere as CLPs throughout the UK began to see the attraction of
moving generally to the left in the years, which saw bitter social
upheaval as a result of the policies of the Thatcher government. These
were exciting years, the years in which Thatcher described the Labour
Party as being further left than the Italian Communist Party and that
wasnt difficult to prove. When Kinnock became the leader the
restoration of Labours traditional role began, this rightward direction
would of course be enhanced and solidified by the Blair Brown
coalition. One good Blair act was to sort out the membership records and
centralise its recruitment procedures, it used to take ages to sort out
Like Mr Spellman, with whom I agree with more than he thinks, I think we
have seen the Labour Party hijacked by the most blatant and astonishing
opportunism it has ever experienced. But the party does not belong to
the Blairites or Brownites, it is not their personal property and
without doubt it will survive him and his friends in the years to come.
If we say it cannot be the centre for socialist change then right now
that is probably correct and for sure there is no party in the UK that
is capable of bringing socialist change. There are indeed many groups
and fractions composed of individuals, sectarian and out of touch with
I still think it is better to be in the Labour Party than outside,
attending branch meetings and having your say is constructive, as I
wrote before the Blairites do not own the party, why make it any easier
for him. Change, clearly not in the near future, but at least its
better doing something inside than being on the outside looking in.
So from what I know the Labour Party Mr Spellman talks of must be a
different one to one I know.
Concerning Iraq. Having looked at several Iraqi opposition sites I was
interested to read a statement by the Iraqi Communist Party, which
whilst being opposed to western involvement strongly condemned Saddam
Husayn and his clique and called for its overthrow. There, I think is
the weakness of the anti-war groupings. The failure is to strongly
condemn and support the overthrow of Saddam Husayn and his clique. The
peace movement in the UK, which Mr Spellman claims is massive, is
nowhere near the scale of CND activities in years gone by.
Therefore, I see no reason for me to change my mind. Saddam Husayn and
his clique of gangsters must be overthrown. I cannot support the
anti-war protests because of this omission, some leaders are in danger
of being seen as Saddam's stooges.
The weakness of those who call themselves Marxist is often to fail to
condemn those guilty of crimes against humanity in recent years from:
Idi Amin, Slobodan Milosovic, R.G. Mugabe and now Saddam Husayn.
DMS: I have no intention of bowing down to Thatcher or kissing her skirt!
Einde O'Callaghan: For you: I am opposed to war but I openly opposed to
Saddam Husayn and his gangsters who are also apparently whipping up
Gary MacLennan: as you said: "a dictator btw who was once the darling of
the USA." But also a dictator who once invaded Kuwait!
Now, ban me if wish, I have other things to do anyway.
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