[Marxism] The UK Labour Party Elections

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 30 18:10:44 MDT 2016

There is a very set pattern to the events in the UK.  Corbyn travels
throughout the land attracting record crowds. His opponent speaks to fewer
and fewer. The media probes endlessly for a weakness and the abuse from
inside the Labour Party of their leader escalates.  The Labour Party
secretary, Iain McNicol and the Deputy Leader Tom Watson have put all their
energy into purging the party of Corbyn supporters. The scale of the purge
necessary is likely to be too much even  for their efforts, but they still
keep trying.
Some commentators are puzzled as to why the purge is so relentless when the
latest poll shows it is clearly likely to be ineffective. I myself think
that it is because when we are in a crisis, as Tom Watson and the
Parliamentary Labour Party are, one reverts to what one is good at.  Watson
has been excellent in the past at purging Young Labour of the Militant
tendency and he is having another go now. When the election is over and
Corbyn wins, what then?

The key is the September Conference when a new NEC that is more sympathetic
to Corbyn takes over. Will there be a counter purge of the Old Right and
the Blairites? It is a pure guess, but I think that Corbyn's instincts are
towards peace and forgiveness.
But some of his opponents have gone out on a limb so far that it is
difficult to see them put away their weapons. Watson and McNicol have also
made so many enemies, that even Corbyn might not be able to save them. As
well, if the power shifts to the branches with the support of the new NEC,
then some of the Blairites will be in danger of deselection.

There have been blood curdling threats from among the anti-Corbynites of a
renewed leadership challenge next year. This time they say they will have a
better candidate than the woeful Owen Smith. The latter has performed
poorly, but any candidate against Corbyn would run up against the same
obstacles. Corbyn is overwhelmingly popular with the grassroots of the
party and with those who long for change. Contesting leadership elections
is what Corbyn does well and forcing another election will just make him

So the options for his enemies are either a split or continued sniping.
Taking either option is fraught with danger for the PLP.  The sensible
option would be to go along with Corbyn's moderate Keynesian program and
some of them will do that.  But the problem seems to be that a hard core is
reluctant to believe that Corbyn represents a rejection of the neoliberal

That resurfaced in a tweet from George Eaton, the political editor of the
New Statesman when he wrote
"Two pieces endlessly written since 2008: 1. Neoliberalism is dead. 2.
Political realignment is coming. Neither true nearly a decade on/"
My tweet said
"Look up 2nd law of dialectics. You'll wake up one morning and
neoliberalism will be residual not hegemonic. Read Heraclitus."
My point is that the circumstances which produced Corbynism have not gone
way.  Indeed, the current stagnation in the international economy will
drive more and more people to seek relief from neoliberalism.  Politics is
in  a state of flux.  Yet, the Blairites are incapable of change. Like the
Bourbons, they will learn nothing and forget nothing.  The Old Right will
still want to go on hunts for Trots, as you do.  I have no idea how many
parliamentarians that represents.  It is though a good deal smaller than
the figure of 172 who passed the notorious motion of no confidence in
Corbyn. As for the rest of the PLP, the membership will forge a PLP which
is more in their image, through deselection and/or sudden conversions.

Dramatic surprises await us all.



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