Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour Leadership Ballot left factionalists attack.

with 45 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, possible text that says 'm 20% Tweet 05:49 @KJ_Pnoenix1o Replying to @andrewfeinstein Starmer was the main reason we we lost the GE So if we want to win the trust of the Heartlands and ex Lab Leavers, there's no way on God's earth we will win a GE with Starmer as Leader (nor Thornberry nor Phillips) And even MORE leavers will leave the Party! #Richard4Deputy Tweet your reply'

Guilty Man Starmer.



As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour leadership ballot his left factionalist opponents are upset.

Some Corby supporters refuse to accept that Corbyn “really” lost.

Many think that Labour’s defeat was largely due to the media.

A  popular theme amongst the movementist supporters of Corbyn is that Labour failed because it stopped being an “insurgency”. He had become (how is not explained) seen as “just another politician”.

Labour apparently could, by an act of will, stop playing at being politicians and launch itself on the barricades.

Now, as the Tweet heading today’s Tendance post above indicates, there are voices claiming that the election disaster was caused by …..Starmer.

The site of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire, offering advice to the Labour Party, carries this article.

If Labour wants to win back the working class, it has to reject Keir Starmer.

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg.

Electing a man whose chief political actions, during the past five years, have been to try to defenestrate Labour’s radical leadership, and to try to turn Labour into a Europhile party. If Labour aims to fight as a radical vehicle for working class interests, then its members need to reject Keir Starmer.

Faced with these reactions. the small circulation – relaunched – Tribune,  writes on Starmer, why is winning support (including from left wingers like Simon Fletcher) and the problems his possible victory could pose.

The Starmer Illusion  Tom Blackburn

Blackburn makes some important initial points.

What is the core of Keir Starmer’s pitch for the Labour leadership? It is, essentially, that as leader he would uphold the bulk of present Labour policy, using something like the 2017 manifesto as his baseline. The implication is that Starmer would be able to take the current Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) with him, reconciling them to these left-wing policies by providing them with a more conventionally acceptable and presentable leader – a sharp-suited former Director of Public Prosecutions at that – than Corbyn.

Clearly, there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who might well be receptive to such a pitch. Contrary to common misperceptions, there are very few Labour members who relish internal factional warfare purely for its own sake, and Labour members could be forgiven for being tempted by someone who comes along apparently offering them most of the policies they want, and the chance to implement them, without even more years of upheaval and aggravation.

The Tribune writer warns,

However, this appeal is a fallacy. The unfortunate reality is that a substantial proportion of the PLP is likely to be either outright hostile to any left-wing platform, or lacks the will and determination to reliably defend it in opposition and carry it out in government, in the face of the relentless press attacks these policies would inevitably attract. The popularity of existing party policy, as the recent polling already noted has indicated, is not the issue. The bind Labour finds itself in is that anyone advocating such a programme can expect to be vilified in Britain’s overwhelmingly reactionary press.

The first sentences have the ring of truth.

There is a battle to be waged, by the left, to defend radical democratic socialist policies and party democracy.

But is the “press” the problem, or is it that the stream of policy promises that put off the electors?

Michael Walker in Novara media (repeating unsubstantiated claims by his local opponents) makes more dramatic claims about Starmer’s claim to unite the Party.

The simplest route for Starmer to “end factionalism” would be to freeze out the left. His opposition in the parliamentary party would be weak, and Labour’s leftwingers wouldn’t be offered slots on Britain’s TV screens as liberally as Chuka Umunna or Jess Phillips. It would certainly be the path of least resistance in Westminster, and given a new leader would shift the balance of power on the National Executive Committee (NEC), if the membership were to object, there would be little opportunity to protest.

There is evidence that this is a route Starmer would consider. Some leftwing members of his local party complain he’s organised to exclude Corbynites from positions of influence, and his appointment of Labour First’s national organiser to his team will do little to assuage any fears he’d seek a nationwide purge.

This would be a disaster, not just for the left, but for Labour. Unless Labour kowtows to the demands of our billionaire press, Starmer will, like Corbyn, Miliband and Brown before him, get a hammering. And just as 2019 shows a mobilised membership isn’t enough to win an election, 2010 and 2015, and even 1987 and 1992, show the traditional soft left strategy of presenting a professional image with a social democratic message, detached from social movements and oppositional demands, is also doomed to defeat.

Keir Starmer’s Call to End Factionalism Must Not Mean a Return to the Status Quo

This speculation – and we would like evidence that Labour, with its present structure, could be absed on “social movements”, or that this would be a plausible route to power in Britain today – however in the air.

The issue that remains is that If people reject Starmer what of his main contender?

Blackburn looks at Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation.

In her combative opening pitch, written for this publication, Long-Bailey rightly acknowledged popular discontent with “the British state’s distant and undemocratic institutions”, but the labour movement has some distant and undemocratic institutions of its own. She is also on record as having previously expressed scepticism about open selection of MPs, for fear of reselection battles “diverting their attention away” from their work at Westminster.

This is an opinion Long-Bailey would do well to reconsider in this leadership contest. In any case, diverting MPs’ attention away from Westminster – and all the stultifying chumminess and fetishism of ritual contained therein – is part of the point. Open selection is necessary both to allow for greater harmony between the party leadership, the membership and the PLP, and more importantly to ensure that these MPs are held effectively to account by their constituency party, one of the few ways working people can exercise some semblance of genuine accountability between elections.

So, if Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation does not extend to his plans for ‘open selection’ (a process which most doubt would bring any form of  harmony) what are her merits?

Blackburn is a champion of the Triumph of the Will,

Though some have derided her for it, Long-Bailey is right to insist that complex, long-term processes of deindustrialisation and consequent class recomposition have made a crucial contribution to weakening the party in many of its old, now former post-industrial heartlands. Only a drastically changed, campaigning Labour Party with bold and firm socialist leadership can hold out any serious hope of addressing these weaknesses, and in doing so pave the way for the far-reaching social, political and economic transformation which is so badly needed across Britain.

As if any but the most purblind fails to recognise the changes in British class structure, as if the Labour Party does not ‘campaign’ and as if more of this will turn the tables…




On Labour factionalism this is an important article.

Social movement or factional machine? Momentum’s future hangs in the balance Sabrina Huck


Momentum’s aim to consolidate Corbyn’s leadership and tighten the grip of the left on the institutions of the party was fairly successful. But on the flip side this meant that the ‘Labour left’ never really defined itself politically. Most of us who have been active in Momentum at some point, either locally or nationally, will be aware that it is a broad church within a broad church.

Membership ranges from revolutionary socialists, Morning Star devotees, middle of the road European-style social democrats, social liberals, old-school trade unionists and ex-anarchists turned radical reformists drawn to a left populist agenda. The one thing that united this coalition was its belief that Corbyn was the best bet to achieve a turn in British politics to put us on the road to socialism and a better world.


Momentum’s failure to become a social movement, and not just a factional machine, is the reason why the swing of the former Corbyn vote to other candidates is now so unclear. Momentum never became the member-led organisation it promised to be. Internal democracy and opportunities to debate ideas were shut down and replaced with a centralised organisational structure. For example, the national coordinating group (NCG) made decisions on what policies to endorse at last September’s party conference without giving members the opportunity to submit ideas or vote online on priorities.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm

45 Responses

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  1. I think the Rightwing smear campaign and media misrepresentation played a part in Labour’s defeat under Jeremy Corbyn, but mostly it was because of Brexit, that and the fact that people are suckers for an entertaining and engaging personality rather than actual substance.


    January 21, 2020 at 12:48 pm

  2. No it didn’t. Don’t be so patronising and insulting to the voters. They knew what they were voting for and what they were rejecting.

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

  3. Excellent? We’ll be the judge of that pal. As it’s written by a momentum activist it’s rubbish.

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm

  4. If Corbyn was our answer to Hugo Chavez, who would Starmer be the equivalent of?

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    • Harold Wilson, hopefully.


      January 21, 2020 at 2:44 pm

  5. “We’ll be the judge of that pal”: really? REALLY? Since when have you, Mr Johnson, – as a Brexiteer and ignorant irrelevance to the class struggle, got to be the judge of *anything* beyond your own wet dreams of power?

    Jim Denham

    January 21, 2020 at 2:45 pm

  6. Harold Wilson, who failed to reduce unemployment and under whom, inflation increased.

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    • So there’s been no unemployment or inflation in the last 40 years then Steven?


      January 21, 2020 at 3:28 pm

  7. Are you part of the Keir Starmer cult of personality Jim?

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 3:18 pm

  8. You got it Trev, so nobody runs capitalism. Why do you and your friends in the Keir Starmer fan club think he can?

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 3:49 pm

  9. From Corbyn to Keir, blimey, you Trots are certainly lowering your expectations.

    but you are very naive if you think that politicians are in control of capitalism. I know Das Kapital is a bit of plod but there are shorter works by Marx. Where he clearly states they don’t

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    • So what are you proposing? You scoff at Socialism, you say you’re not a Tory, what system do you want or think would work? No system? Or perhaps you favour Schumacher’s theory?


      January 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

  10. Who me? I’m no liberal, I mean the welfare state was their invention. Nowt to do with socialism. But I’d give ’em bread and circuses. I’m sure you’d approve.

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm

  11. Andrew Coates

    January 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    • I thought Nandy is a Rightwinger, or Blairite.


      January 21, 2020 at 6:51 pm

  12. I don’t think they need any help there Andrew. But with friends like the GMB…

    Steven Johnston

    January 21, 2020 at 6:17 pm

  13. Join Rebecca Long-Bailey and guest speakers this Tuesday night, for a special announcement, at her first event in London since she launched her campaign to become Labour leader, to hear her vision for the Labour Party and our path back to power.

    Where: Oslo Hackney, 1A Amhurst Rd, Kingsland, London E8 1LL

    When: 6.30pm arrival for 7pm start – 8.30pm


















    Andrew Coates

    January 21, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    • Food sounds good if nowt else, made me hungry! Dunno about “small plates” though, I want a bloody big dinner plate piled right up, with extra bread.


      January 21, 2020 at 7:46 pm

  14. So, when they ask Keir Starmer “how will you unify the party”. Trev, he should answer “kick out the moderates and the Blairites and promote the hard left”

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 10:43 am

    • He should kick out the Rightwing, the neoliberals masquerading as ‘Centrists’ who are effectively a ‘fifth column’ who seek to undermine from within and steer the party away from its Socialist principles and origins, but not true moderates. It’s not about the “Hard Left” , it’s purely about Socialism.


      January 22, 2020 at 12:31 pm

  15. I guess from what I’ve been reading here. If any of the (snigger) hopefuls, states “I’ll build a broad team…blah…blah…blah…” Then they are not the right person to the lead the party?

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 11:11 am

  16. But he won’t do that and will build a broad team to (snigger) win the next election.

    So where does that leave you know trev?

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    • I guess I’ll just have to live with it, either hold my nose and vote Labour to get rid of the Tories, or not vote at all, or vote Green. I’ll stick with Labour as long as I can as they represent the best chance of replacing the Tories, whereas the Greens for example don’t stand a chance of being elected. But if the Labour party moves too far to the Right, as they did under Blair, then I won’t continue to support them. Unfortunately the Labour party isn’t perfect, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
      You seem to take a great interest in my Political views, options and preferences Steven but remain very guarded about your own, so come on, tell us, which Party would YOU prefer to see in Government?


      January 22, 2020 at 12:58 pm

  17. I know the labour party isn’t perfect. Every time they come to office, they leave power with higher unemployment.

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    • Unemployment is unavoidable and can only continue to grow under any government. Jobs are lost to technology, the population continues to grow, jobs are lost to foreign industries. Which Political party do you favour Steven?


      January 22, 2020 at 1:29 pm

  18. So your message to those that lose out under capitalism is…suck it up and vote labour?

    But re the unemployment, surely your socialist hero, Jeremy, could have created jobs?

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    • I think far too much emphasis is placed on unemployment, we should just accept that it exists and always will do, so pay people the State Benefits they need without delay or conditions. Shut down all the Jobcentres, stop funding third party Providers, abolish Sanctions, end all back-to-work schemes. Yearly signing either by post or online is all that is necessary.


      January 22, 2020 at 3:21 pm

  19. Anyway Steven, how about addressing some of my questions? All we’ve heard from you is criticism of the Labour party and its supporters, criticism of Socialism, but no criticism of the Rightwing, and no answers or alternatives suggested. If not Labour, then who do we support and vote for, in your view? If not Socialism then what alternative system would work in terms of creating a more equal and just Society? Or do you share Boris Johnson’s views that “greed is good” and that “inequality is essential” ?


    January 22, 2020 at 3:27 pm

  20. Steven sometimes claims to be a Marxist, but demonstrates no signs of ever having read – let alone understood – Marx. Eg he appears to have no grasp of the political economy of the working class, saying that all struggles within and under capitalism are, essentially a waste of time.

    Whereas, in his Inaugural Address to the International Working Men’s Association, Marx celebrated the first victory of the political economy of the working class, the passage, in 1847, of the Ten Hours’ Bill:
    This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.
    This passage tells us what we most need to know about the political economy of the working class. It is founded upon “social production controlled by social foresight” in opposition to “the blind rule of supply and demand laws.” The “most notorious organs of science” had predicted and “proved” that “any legal restriction of the hours of labor must sound the death knell of British industry” and, of course, they were subsequently proved absolutely wrong. Not ‘merely’ wrong, but the exact opposite of apposite.

    The first victory of working class political economy Marx spoke of occurred 17 years before his inaugural address, 20 years before publication of Das Kapital and a year before The Communist Manifesto. It would be anachronistic to give credit for that outcome to Marx’s analysis or agitation. Moreover, Marx says that the victory culminated 30 years of struggle, which would make the political economy of the working class at least older than Marx.

    Why does this even matter? It matters because the alternative between “social production controlled by social foresight” and “the blind rule of supply and demand laws” cannot be reduced to Marxism vs. non-Marxism or socialism vs. capitalism. It is instead a contest between collective wisdom and a very peculiar sort of solipsistic, motivated passivity. If there ever was such a thing as “laws” of supply and demand, they would only be self-enforcing to the extent that market participants were not aware of them. As soon as those regularities are observed, they will be gamed.

    Not, btw, my original thoughts but those of “Sandwichman”.

    Jim Denham

    January 22, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    • Well Jim that is a very educated and enlightening comment, and is probably correct. All I know is that the Tories are a set of bastards, every job I’ve had has been dreadful in one way or another, and most of the bosses I’ve ever had have been total c****. And I expect to most probably live in poverty for the rest of my life.


      January 22, 2020 at 5:38 pm

  21. All struggles let by Trots & the Labour party are a waste of time, I know that for sure.
    I know, like Marx, that you can’t reform the capitalist system to work in the interests of the majority. Anybody else know that? Oh, he also said it was futile, yes, futile to try and that those attempts were doomed to failure.

    Steven Johnston

    January 22, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    • So what do you propose as an alternative to that struggle then Steven and how might it be achieved?


      January 22, 2020 at 6:26 pm

  22. You could waste a lot of time arguing with Steven. He puts forward nothing constructive, but is all over the Left blogosphere. Speculation is that he is a spiked troll. Sorry, if you’ve something to put forward that contributes to discussion, Steven, then please make a start. With Brexit on its way and a very right-wing government firmly in power, you seem to have what you want.


    January 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm

  23. “I know, like Marx, that you can’t reform the capitalist system”: oh yeah? When and where did Marx ever say or write that? Have you ever actually read any Marx, Stephen? How do you explain his and Engels’ support for the campaign for a ten hour day? Have you read this, by Engels, *in support* of the ten hour legislation (despite calling it a “false step” and “even reactionary”)? How do you explain this contradiction? Try thinking, for once in your wretched life, Mr Johnson::

    “Thus the Ten Hours’ Bill, considered in itself, and as a final measure, was decidedly a false step, an impolitic, and even reactionary measure, and which bore within itself the germ of its own destruction. On the one hand it did not destroy the present social system, and on the other it did not favour its development. Instead of forcing the system onwards to its utmost limits, to a point where the ruling class would find all their resources exhausted, to that point where the dominion of another class–where a social revolution would become necessary–instead of that, the Ten Hours’ Bill was intended to screw back society to a state superseded, long ago, by the present system. This becomes quite evident, if we only look at the parties who forced the bill through parliament against the opposing free-traders. Was it the working classes, whose agitated state, whose threatening demeanour, carried it? Certainly not. Had it been so, the working people might have carried the Charter many a year ago. Besides, the men who, among the working classes, took the lead in the short-time movement, were anything but threatening and revolutionary characters. They were mostly moderate, respectable, church-and-king men. They kept aloof from Chartism, and inclined mostly towards some sort of sentimental Toryism. They never inspired dread to any government. The Ten Hours’ Bill was carried by the reactionary opponents of free trade, by the allied landed, funded, colonial and shipping interest; by the combined aristocracy and those portions of the bourgeoisie who themselves dreaded the ascendancy of the free-trading manufacturers. Did they carry it from any sympathy with the people? Not they. They lived, and live, upon the spoils of the people. They are quite as bad, though less barefaced and more sentimental, than the manufacturers. But they would not he superseded by them, and thus, from hatred towards them, they passed this law which should secure to themselves popular sympathy, and, at the same time, arrest the rapid growth of the manufacturers’ social and political power. The passing of the Ten Hours’ Bill proved not that the working classes were strong, it proved only that the manufacturers were not yet strong enough to do as they liked.”

    Jim Denham

    January 23, 2020 at 10:13 am

  24. So what are you saying, that I should join the personality cult of Keir Starmer?

    Steven Johnston

    January 23, 2020 at 10:27 am

  25. Do I have to give £3 a month to Momentum?

    Steven Johnston

    January 23, 2020 at 12:09 pm

  26. The ruling classes are frightened of (insert name of labour hopeful) winning the election.

    Is that who I should follow?

    Steven Johnston

    January 23, 2020 at 3:49 pm

  27. Stephen: please get it into your head: no-one gives a toss about your views on the Labour leadership election, Momentum … or anything else. You’re a Brexiteer and a pro-Tory. And an irrelevance.

    Jim Denham

    January 23, 2020 at 5:17 pm

  28. Whose Stephen?

    Steven Johnston

    January 23, 2020 at 5:19 pm

  29. Surely if I was a tory and a brexiteer, which I am not, that would make me more relevant that a remainer and Labour supporter.

    Steven Johnston

    January 24, 2020 at 12:33 pm

  30. Not to me it wouldn’t, Stephen.

    Jim Denham

    January 24, 2020 at 5:19 pm

  31. Jim, stop being bitter. It does not become you.

    Steven Johnston

    January 24, 2020 at 5:24 pm

  32. The Tories are only relevant in so much as they are (unfortunately) in Government and are Public Enemy Number One, whilst the Brexiteers have the dubious relevance of representing the racist/xenophobic third of the country who are willing to cut their noses off to spite all our faces.


    January 24, 2020 at 5:49 pm

  33. At least they are going to nationalise Northern Rail. You lefties must be so happy.

    Now wages will be doubled there will be doubled.

    Train fare will be halved.

    No one will ever get made redundant.

    I mean, that is what is going to happen right?

    Steven Johnston

    January 26, 2020 at 7:13 pm

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