Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Labour Right-Wing Factionalism, Labour First.

with 6 comments

This, circulated yesterday,  is causing a stir.


Labour First is increasingly behaving like the ‘factionalists’ is derides,

Labour First

Labour First, founded in 1988, is a pre-Blairite pressure group seen as the voice of the party’s traditional right. Headed by campaigner and former councillor Luke Akehurst, this faction supported ABC (Anyone But Corbyn) in the leadership election, while Akehurst himself backed Yvette Cooper. In the deputy race, it emphasised its ties to Tom Watson. The group made headlines during the leadership contest by urging fellow centrist group Progress to promote the other non-Corbyn candidates as well as its first choice, Liz Kendall. The groups have since held events together espousing moderate Labour values. Labour First says it “exists to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard while the party is kept safe from the organised hard left”.

Before going further it is important to note that the AWL is not, how shall I put it, at the forefront of Momentum.

Next I would point out that, Lord Hattersley notwithstanding,  there are not large real factional divisions in the Labour Party, but differences on policy issues.

Such as this:

Or this,

Just a suggestion, but if Labour First is going to go in for factionalism, they should consult the real classic studies not just do a bit of ‘organising’.

Such as this book:


Trigger-warning: factionalist activity in meetings is not universally appreciated. 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Can someone tell me what is the significance of the Alliance for Workers Liberty? What are they, what influence do they have and what is the point of them? I really would like to know.

    Dave Roberts

    December 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

  2. There is always a niche on the far left for a grouping which distinguishes itself by taking a line on certain key questions completely at variance with the one most of the rest of the far left takes. BICO occupied that niche in the 1970s; in the 1980s it was the RCP, these days it’s the AWL. Another grouping will surely emerge to pick up that baton before too long.


    December 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm

  3. I knew a couple of BICO people in east London in the 70s. They must have constituted a large part of the membership and spent their time in endless nitpicking debates about nothing. Any change since? Not as far as I can see.

    Dave Roberts

    December 10, 2017 at 5:59 am

  4. Well-established rumour has it that Nick Cohen is joining Labour First, (Fisherite Faction 2).

    Andrew Coates

    December 10, 2017 at 1:37 pm

  5. Why would Blairites want anything to do with Cohen? When they were on top, he had the knives out for them. Now another faction is on top, Cohen has it in for them instead. The only consistent thread in his politics is a moralising, carping hostility to the left as a whole – concern trolling masquerading as journalism.


    December 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm

  6. Francis! You’ll have to imagine a Frankie Howerd accent there! The great thing about Cohen is that he is critical, something the left in its various forms are incapable of being especially about themselves. In ” What’s Left”, essential reading, is that e is able to take apart the pretentiousness of Blairism and the utter lack of any principled position whatsoever from the left. The book stands the test of time and is relevant today.

    Dave Roberts

    December 10, 2017 at 7:18 pm

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