Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Morning Star, “recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.”

with 9 comments

Image result for ultra leftism in britain Betty reid

Be Alert: Keep a Copy of this Handbook Close at all Times!

The leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography. Nick Wright.



The former Straight left stalwart writes in the Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op.

This article may be seen as a response to the Guardian column, The Labour leadership contest has exposed new factions in the party ( ).

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth was this section,

 The orthodox left still basically wants to implement the Communist party’s 1951 plan, The British Road to Socialism, with its vision of socialism being implemented in one country by a strong, centralised national government. They lean heavily towards a pro-Brexit position, while tending to interpret support for Brexit among working-class voters as incipient class consciousness rather than tabloid-inspired xenophobia.

Followed by,

The radical left is still a very new, fragile and inexperienced tendency that has a long way to go before emerging as a mature political formation. It brings together the more libertarian strands of the hard left, the more radical strands of the soft left, and a new generation of activists from outside the traditions of the Labour party.

Wright makes a clarion call for the whole of the left to support Long-Bailey, and follow the doughty progressive patriot for better reasons than the (official) left who back her, “mainly out of sheer loyalty to her mentor, John McDonnell, that most of the radical left have supported her.”

He aims to dampen down this deviation:  “Privately, many on the radical left agree with former MP Alan Simpson that the dogmatic and authoritarian tendencies of the orthodox left smothered the creative and democratic potential of Corbynism, contributing to its eventual downfall.

The Communist Party of Britain sage writes of Labour’s General Election Campaign.

The disparate elements that Corbyn’s election united has ended and the wide legitimacy that Labour’s radical programme commanded is now challenged by people who attribute the election defeat to “socialist policies” which must be abandoned.

With the help of ace-reporters Wright discovers that Labour was, at one point, on the brink of victory,

…. a wave of popular participation, an effective social media operation, skilled targeting of swing seats and a bold manifesto (along with the divisions in the Tory ranks and a weakened Liberal Democrat Party) produced a surge in support that eroded a 20-point Tory lead and took Corbyn within a few thousand votes of No 10.

We may not have noticed that, but he did!

The fault lay in a failure to respect the decision to respect the Brexit vote, something which Wight and his comrades tirelessly campaigned for.

Instead of becoming a springboard for a further assault on a divided ruling class — this itself apparent in a highly conflicted Tory Party in government — this hopeful prospect was dissipated as Labour’s activists and mass base were sidelined by a parliamentary party intent on subverting the clear decision to respect the referendum result.

Worse was to come,

Labour (was)  corralled into an increasingly Get Brexit Undone policy, the way was open for Labour’s manifesto to be driven to the margins of public discussion.

The People’s Vote campaign, a middle class mass movement, had sown confusion in Labour ranks.

The success of the Remain camp in conflating “internationalism” with a kind of shared European privilege to travel, study and work freely threatens to undermine the deeper internationalism that found an expression in the mass movement against neoliberal trade deals, in the Stop the War movement, the anti-racist and solidarity action with refugees and migrant workers and the Palestine solidarity movement.

The kind of internationalism that has stood by while Assad, Russia and Iran,  attack Idid in Syria, in short.

Remain, unlike Boris Johnson and the ERG, had a “neoliberal project.”

Worse the pro-EU side has  echoes of fascism, foretold in  ” manifesto of Oswald Mosley’s postwar racist revival”.

He cites Gilbert (above), without mentioning (surely an oversight),  the passage of the British Road to Socialism,

It is to Jeremy Gilbert, professor of cultural and political theory at the University of East London, that we owe the insight that the leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography and that the only way for Labour to win is to ditch “Labourism.”

Writing about Labour’s so-called “soft left,” he writes: “Despite the failures of both Kinnock and Miliband, their default assumption remains that progressive government can be achieved by selling moderate social democracy to the electorate, led by a guy in a smart suit.”

Worse is to come….

It is to this inspiring standard that the recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.

The Morning Star writer has a warning to them:

While it might suit some to reduce much of politics to the clash of cultures, no-one should underestimate the political potency of questions of nationhood, patriotism and identity.

As in progressive patriotism.

Cde Wright ends with a stirring call for unity behind the banner of the “Orthodox Left”-  including these “recycled fragments”, supporters of a neoliberal project, who admire something with the odour of Oswald Mosley “?

A dog-eared copy of Betty Reid’s, ‘Ultra Leftism in Britain’, (1969. CPGB) would surely show the dangers of the “ultra left” in their true light.

9 Responses

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  1. Wright: “Brexit reconfigures the ground on which domestic economic policies, social legislation and labour market rules are decided. The rather limited social protections that EU membership entailed — already curtailed by Treaty revisions and European Court of Justice rulings — have less purchase.

    “These questions are transparently now the business of a largely unmediated contest between entirely domestic protagonists. It is them and us. Tory government and labour movement. Ruling class and working class”:

    After the Tories, us!

    The third Period, revisited.

    Jim Denham

    March 6, 2020 at 2:50 pm

  2. In the EU they are using live ammunition on migrants.
    I wonder who on the left would line up with that?

    Steven Johnston

    March 6, 2020 at 3:52 pm

  3. I suppose the EU are to blame for Assad’s murders, his Russian and Iranian military supporters, the Syrian civil war itself and Erdogan.

    Andrew Coates

    March 6, 2020 at 5:55 pm

  4. For a wet weekends reading, there is a PDF copy of Betty Reds magnum opus on the web; https://splitsandfusions.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/betty-reid-ultraleftism-in-britain.pdf

    David Walsh

    March 7, 2020 at 9:17 am

    • Thanks, I read it a long, long, time ago….

      Andrew Coates

      March 7, 2020 at 1:32 pm

  5. Dave Walsh,

    Having read it, first time in decades, I find Betty Reid is rather more moderate than frothing Wright,

    “Marxists have to explain that ultra-left bravado and adventurism is basically a failure to believe in the
    possibility of winning a conscious majority to the understanding of the need to change society. As always the other side of the coin of ultrarevolutionary rhetoric is the lack of confidence in the possibility of mobilising the great potential power of the working class. ”

    The CPB ,ay have looked to other more robust sources,

    Defects in Party Work and Measures for Liquidating Trotskyite and Other Double Dealers:

    “First, the wrecking and diversionist-espionage work of agents of foreign countries, among whom a rather active role was played by the Trotskyists, affected more or less all, or nearly all, of our organizations-economic, administrative, and Party.

    Second, agents of foreign countries, among them the Trotskyites, penetrated not only into lower organizations, but also into certain responsible posts.

    Third, some of our leading comrades, both at the center and at the periphery, not only failed to discern the face of these wreckers, diversionists, spies, and killers, but proved to be so careless, complacent,and naive that at times they themselves assisted in promoting agents of foreign states to responsible posts.”


    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2020 at 4:59 pm

  6. I’m just disgusted and angry at the way the EU is treating refugees.

    Nobody said anything about them being responsible for the war in Syria, so please, no more straw-man arguments.

    What is it you lefties say about refugees again?

    “The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they would get away with it”

    – Tony Benn

    Steven Johnston

    March 7, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    • I am disgusted at the way you and other ‘left’ national populists are using refugees, the victims of Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, against the EU.

      Andrew Coates

      March 8, 2020 at 11:46 am

  7. Andrew Apropos Betty’s booklet, I was impressed with its breadth. Everyone in the Trot section., from the four lovely old boys who ran Socialist Current from a 2 up 2 down in Leyton to the might of Healey in his prime (via Pablo and Posadas) get a mention in despatches. But the elephant in the room never made a real appearance, but you have redressed this by quoting him …..

    David Walsh

    March 8, 2020 at 8:58 am

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