Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Long-Bailey Says Labour Should Hold Public Meetings and Organise for a ‘Democratic Revolution’.

with 30 comments

Image result for rebecca or leader

“Democratic Revolution” against “Unaccountable Elites”.

Keir Starmer is emerging as the unity Labour candidate, bringing together different wings of the party around a radical programme.

As Paul Mason says,

Labour can win again if we make the moral case for socialism

Starmer has now made this welcome statement, , “As the leadership race stepped up a gear, Sir Keir called for an end to Labour “factionalism” and insisted he was best placed to unite the party.”


The factionalists are in mobilising in full gear.

The campaign for Long-Bailey got off to a stumbling start with the endorsement of Momentum, in an ‘election’ in which you could only vote yes or no to back her, and Angela Rayner.

These were the sole names on the online ballot.

Now she is going for a “movementist” strategy melded with an appeal for a “democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.”

It looks as if Long-Bailey is offering a left populist strategy for Labour.

This  has been described (2018) by its ideologue Chantal Mouffe (For a Left  Populism. Chantal Mouffe.  Verso. 2018) in these terms,

In Britain, as in the rest of Europe, the way to answer the rightwing populist offensive is the construction of another “people” – through the articulation of a project that can link together various demands against the status quo. A project in which both leavers and remainers could feel that they have a voice and that their concerns are taken into account. One signifier for such a project could be a Green New Deal – which articulates multiple environmental and economic struggles around a demand for equality and social justice.

To be sure, such an “us” will never include everybody. It does, of course, require a “them” and the drawing of a political frontier. But we can have a frontier that makes democracy more radical – one that pits the people against the oligarchy, and the many against the few.

Centrist politics will not defeat Boris Johnson’s rightwing populism

Another struggle is possible

Some of these themes, free of Mouffe’s abstract jargon,  are all too visible in Long-Bailey’s latest declaration.

Labour must stir up democratic revolution to win power, says Long-Bailey

She said that after the EU referendum in 2016 Labour should have spent less time trying to “win procedural games in parliament” and more time holding public meetings outside Westminster.

In the accompanying  article  Giving power to the people is Labour’s path back to power the Labour contender says that after the referendum,

Instead of winning procedural games in parliament, we should have used the aftermath of the referendum result to go around the country, holding public meeting after public meeting to stir up a movement for real change – pledging to take on the political establishment and raise up the people’s demands beyond our institutional arrangements with the European Union.

That way, our manifesto could have become a set of popular remedies to deal with the three linked crises our country faces: of democracy, the economy and the environment. A joint agenda could have brought people together. Instead, we tried to compromise between the two extremes on Brexit, neither of which could deliver the change the British people need.

Leaving aside the preposterous assertion that anybody could bring friend and enemy together over Brexit, what now?

We need a popular movement to turn the British state against the privatisers, big polluters and tax dodgers that have taken hold of our political system.


 Much of Labour politics should take place far away from Westminster, as a movement helping people take charge in their workplaces, homes and communities. In this way, we will develop and win support for policies that start a democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.

There is no evidence that a political party can conjure a vast popular movement into existence.

Amongst recent examples of popular movements, the anti-austerity  Indignados in Spain are associated with the birth of Podemos. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the radical left alliance, did not “stir up” a movement, he emerged with it. The idea of a party running the Plataforma Democracia Real Ya! would have been unwelcome. To say the least.

Since that time Spain has seen  return to – successful – electoral politics by Podemos  and the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE. The “populist” moment has passed, democratic politics have returned. The breakaway Más País led by Chantal Mouffe’s ally,   Íñigo Errejón whose politics centred on a version of a Green New Deal,  got 2.40% of the vote in the November Spanish elections.

Another popular movement (whose democratic credentials are mixed) , the French Gilets Jaunes were born of a dislocation between both the government, existing parties and people’s demands. Efforts to channel them into a single political direction, by, for example La France insoumise (LFI)  and the far-right Rassemblement National, have conspicuously failed.

The leader of LFI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  own democratic revolution, the “la révolution citoyenne” got 6,3% of the vote in last year’s European elections in France.

What of the present Long-Bailey strategy?

Hold a rally, hold a demo, that will get the people moving!

What leverage on political institutions – elected bodies – is there in movements? There is no evidence of a grass roots surge in the direction Long-Bailey wishes for. There is even less visibility for the kind of radical strike and factory occupations that most radical would dream of.

After walking the streets, banners held high, we need people to put policies in place.

Public meetings are not a substitute for political power.

This ‘democratic revolution’, led by Momentum browbeating the Labour membership into backing Long-Bailey, does not look a good place from which to begin one either.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2020 at 12:41 pm

30 Responses

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  1. I do generally tend to agree with and trust the judgment of Paul Mason, so if he’s backing Starmer maybe he’s right?


    January 17, 2020 at 1:07 pm

  2. That’s what I meant by criticism, but I find Long-Bailey and her crew hard to put up with, and all they offer is a lot of wind.

    Starmer is a serious type, with a serious left wing background – you can explore it on this Blog – in his 20s, (not teens) on the same part of the radical left that I and my friends come from.

    No doubt he is not the same, but he has good central principles, and his main opponent looks flimsy.

    Andrew Coates

    January 17, 2020 at 1:31 pm

  3. Can you be a “Sir” and a socialist?

    Surely if you were a socialist you would tell them where they could stick their title? Possibly even send them a diagram.

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 1:36 pm

  4. The 5 hopefuls seems pretty much of muchness. Neither of them will trouble the Tories.

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 1:46 pm

  5. Made this comment on the post below and before this one went up:

    “There’s a bit of a test here for RLB – should she accept such an endorsement made on such a blatantly undemocratic basis?”

    It is even more relevant question here and one she will surely receive during the campaign. If she has the democratic instincts she claims she will surely reject momentum’s endorsement on principle.

    Boleyn Ali

    January 17, 2020 at 1:47 pm

  6. A recommendation from Momentum? Surely that is the kiss of death?

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 2:05 pm

  7. Yes, you bleedin’ well can, Steven!

    Sir Alan Sugar

    January 17, 2020 at 3:47 pm

  8. For all their faults at least the Tories know how to hold a leadership contest. Why not do likewise and hold a ‘fair and square’ ballot instead of all this anti-democratic Stalinesque one-candidate-on-the-ballot-paper nonsense? The Tories knock-out style contest is probably the fairest way of doing it. Momentum’s approach certainly isn’t.

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 3:58 pm

  9. If RBL wins on this un-democratic basis we can only imagine Andrew Neil in the ‘Leader Debates 2024’: “But Ms Bailey-Long you were the only candidate on the ballot paper, surely you had to win?” “Andrew, don’t be so silly. You know very well that Momentum is a democratic organisation”.

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 4:09 pm

  10. But you are a Lord as well Alan! Which do you prefer to be called? Sir or Lord Sugar?

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 4:25 pm

  11. I could have also pointed out that Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s citizens’ revolution, (Révolution citoyenne) with very very similar themes to Long-Bailey’s, involved an endless series of stunts, meetings and demos created “cold” by his rally-party, and flopped.

    This was when it was in full swing (2016) – people may not have noticed….

    Andrew Coates

    January 17, 2020 at 5:49 pm

  12. Get your excuses in now, if Long-Bailey loses the next election.

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    • Will you be voting Labour at the next election Steven? After all, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem, and how else are we to rid ourselves of the evil Tory menace? Better start making your excuses now if you’re not going to vote Labour.


      January 17, 2020 at 5:58 pm

  13. Andrew Coates

    January 17, 2020 at 6:12 pm

  14. Now Ricky Tomlinson IS a man I respect, if he’s onboard then that is a good sign indeed.


    January 17, 2020 at 6:44 pm

  15. Andrew Coates

    January 17, 2020 at 7:05 pm

  16. My excuse is that I will never vote for a party that works within capitalism. As that system cannot be reformed to work in the interests of the workers.
    That nobody runs capitalism, it obeys it’s own rules. You don’t subverts the system, it subverts you. Thatcher said she’d balance the books and cut welfare spending. She did neither and ended up spending more on the NHS and the welfare state that anyone before her.

    Steven Johnston

    January 17, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    • So you’re an Anti-Capitalist? Perhaps an Anarchist? No one can exist outside of the system, the system can only be changed from within, and whereas Socialism as practiced in a mixed economy is still Capitalism it isn’t rigged to purely benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.


      January 17, 2020 at 7:30 pm

  17. Here is an interesting factoid for you, trev: In his younger days Ricky Tomlinson was in the far-right National Front, would you believe.

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 9:15 pm

  18. Just checked it is on his Wikipedia page:

    “In his late 20s, Tomlinson was attracted to right-wing politics and, by his own account, was a member of the National Front for a period after Enoch Powell’s April 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech.”

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    • LoL, don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia!


      January 17, 2020 at 9:29 pm

  19. Of course I don’t believe everything I read on Wikipedia! There are umpteen reference to Tomlinson’s National Front past including the BBC: “Actor Ricky Tomlinson, one time National Front member and union activist, recently discovered he was branded a “political thug” in Special Branch files.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/true_spies/2361313.stm Do you know how to use a search engine? Do you even know what a search engine is? Anyway, I have heard Tomlinson discussing his time with the National Front out of his own mouth.

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 9:52 pm

  20. Ricky Tomlinson is also a friend of your hero, Arthur Scargill, trev. From the same article: “Like his friend Arthur Scargill” Birds of a feather can all that 😉

    Miss Brown

    January 17, 2020 at 9:55 pm

  21. “Pro-bono advice.

    Starmer provided pro-bono legal advice to the 24 Shrewsbury workers – including Mr Tomlinson – who were prosecuted for committing offences including conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray after taking part in construction strikes in the town in 1972.

    Mr Tomlinson, who worked as a plasterer, was jailed along with five others.

    The trade unionists insist they were innocent and had been set up by the establishment.

    Mr Tomlinson served 16 months behind bars before making his TV breakthrough as Bobby Grant in Brookside and has spent many years campaigning to quash the sentences.

    “We can’t make any more mistakes”
    The Liverpudlian actor said: “I first came across Keir Starmer some time ago, when he got involved in the Shrewsbury Campaign. [In the Shrewsbury scandal] … myself and five other colleagues were jailed for going on strike in the 70s.
    “Since then, I’ve watched his career grow and grow.

    “All the contestants are worthy people – but I’ve got to throw my weight behind Keir Starmer – and I’m going to ask you to do the same.

    “We can’t make any more mistakes. We just took a terrible drumming at the last election. We’ve got to overturn this government run by Boris the buffoon

    “So get behind me, join me, and get behind Keir Starmer for the next leader of the Labour Party.”

    Human rights
    In 2007 Sir Keir was named the QC of the Year in the field of human rights and public law by the UK-wide legal directory, Chambers & Partners.

    He was appointed the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours list for his outstanding contribution to pro bono work in challenging the death penalty across the Caribbean and also in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.


    Andrew Coates

    January 18, 2020 at 12:21 pm

  22. Andrew Coates

    January 19, 2020 at 2:19 pm

  23. 1978 to 1983, and 1991 to 1996, in Huddersfield, in my experience. Before the threat of Sanctions, before the unreasonable pressure of constantly providing jobsearch evidence, and before mandatory back-to-work schemes.


    January 22, 2020 at 1:24 pm

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