Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) Emergency Meeting as Weekly Worker calls for new “mass Communist Party”.

with 11 comments

Stan Keable LAW Secretary at this week’s NEC Protest.

Also Stan was for many years the Labour Party Marxist and some say still it.


The CPGB-PCC (Note – the Weekly Worker group) stood Stan Keable against New Labour’s Ken Livingstone in Brent East in the 1997 general election; Keable stood on the CPGB’s programme but was listed as an SLP candidate after Scargill had disowned the contest. The CPGB-PCC kept a token presence inside the SLP right up until the early 2000s, essentially to report the internal goings on. 

The far left inside Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party Lawrence Parker July 2021.

General election 1997: Brent East[Votes

Labour Ken Livingstone23,74867.3+14.5 Conservative Mark Francois 7,86622.3−14.3 Liberal Democrats Ian M.C. Hunter2,7517.8−1.1 Socialist Labour Stan E. Keable4661.3 New ProLife Alliance Andrew J. Shanks 2180.6 New Rainbow Dream Ticket Claire M. Warrilow1200.3 New Natural Law Dean Jenkins1030.3 NewMajority 15,88245.0+28.8 Labour hold Swing+14.4

Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

July 24, 6pm:
Emergency LAW members’ meeting

All members of Labour Against the Witchhunt will receive a Zoom invite in the next few days – if you join LAW before July 24 here, you may attend. If you are unsure if you’re a member, you can check your status here – login with your usual email address, then make sure to select ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ from the drop down list (a few groups use membersmojo and your email address gives you access to all your memberships managed by that system). You can of course also email us and we’ll check if you are a member. 

We totally understand if you wish to attend the meeting with your camera switched off or by using a false name (but please email us if you do so: info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org).

Please be assured that the Labour Party has of course no access to our membership lists.

Please send any motions or proposals in writing asap to info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org) 
LAW’s sponsors include:Alexei Sayle, comedian Ken Livingstone Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of MatzpenIan Hodson, president of the Bakers Union Ken Loach, film director Noam Chomsky, author and activist LAW’s honorary president is Moshé Machover

Weekly Worker.

more by: ‘derek james

Sir Keir’s road to Brighton

Organisations can be banned, but powerful ideas still live and flourish. Derek James of Labour Party Marxists reports on the growing opposition to the latest stage of the witch-hunt

This latest attack is just part of Starmer’s strategy to prove that his Socialist Alternatives past as a Pabloite deep entryist is truly dead and buried. 


It is not enough to simply defend the left and oppose bans and proscriptions. We also need to pose an alternative to these anti-democratic restrictions that raise the wider issues of building a militant working class movement to transform society. It means that we have to take the Labour Party seriously and not play with lowest-common-denominator projects of left regroupment outside the party – the only worthwhile project here is one that has the potential to become a mass Communist Party, not a micro version of the Labour Party.

LPM comrades are countering Starmer’s bans and proscriptions with the demand that Labour be refounded as a united front of all socialist and working class organisations. All should be able to affiliate and take part in the battle of ideas.

The Labour Party remains an important site of struggle for a Marxist programme, and we should not easily abandon it. Comrades should take elementary security measures to guard their membership. Making oneself an easy target for the witch-hunters is pointless. Inevitably secretaries and editors will be fingered. But we have a very wide rank and file and, of course, organisations such as LPM can recruit, recruit and recruit again. More than that, we can fight the battle of ideas, whatever the Starmer leadership says and does. They can ban organisations, but they cannot ban ideas – crucially the ideas of Marxism.

Thus, we urge the militant left not only to stay and fight back against Starmer’s latest attacks, but also to use the opportunity he has given us to deepen the struggle to win the working class movement to the Marxist programme of republican democracy, ecological sustainability and universal human liberation.


, ideas of republican democracy .ecological sustainability. and human liberation do not need a ‘mass communist party’ one which in any conditions, is not going to be created by the Labour Party Marxists of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee -aka the Weekly Worker) and factionalists, amiable though they may be. like Stan Keable.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 23, 2021 at 11:58 am

11 Responses

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  1. In the end which is more important, getting elected or practising some obscure political theory ? Because the further Labour goes down the Red Road of Marxism, the less chance they have of being elected to government. Starmer knows this all too well, after the disaster of the Corbyn years.

    Jeff Smith

    July 23, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    • Why would anyone who wants to change society, join a party, whose purpose is not to change society, but exists just to get a tiny proportion of its more privileged members elected to parliament so that they could enjoy all the privileges that entails? I’d rather read a book.


      July 23, 2021 at 3:10 pm

  2. It is self-indulgent, for apparent Labour Party ‘members’, to put their extreme ideas of Marxist purity above basic common-sense. Sulking in corners during the NEC, with angry little counter-debates will achieve nothing. Except perhaps to bolster the already considerable egos of those on the far-left, who are never happier than when, microphone in hand, they can shout their Marxist indignation to a captive audience. While basking in the reflected glory of their own ideological purity. The general public have no interest whatsoever in Marxism, or indeed Communism. Which they see as evil systems leading to dictatorship.
    As shown by the misery and final collapse of the Soviet Union, the repressive dictatorship in Belarus, and indeed everywhere where communism has thrown its dark shadow.

    Jeff Smith

    July 23, 2021 at 3:20 pm

  3. Close to 50 people have joined Labour Against the Witchhunt in the last few days – a brilliant and heartening act of solidarity in these very difficult times! We want to discuss with as many of you as possible the next steps of our important campaign. Clearly, we have been a very painful thorn in the side of Keir Starmer and his right-wing chums – this shows how important it is for us to continue with our campaign!

    All current members of Labour Against the Witchhunt will now have received their Zoom link and copy of the agenda for tomorrow’s emergency meeting.

    If you believe you are member, but have not received your link, please can you:

    a) check your membership status here: https://membermojo.co.uk/labouragainstthewitchhunt (sign in with your usual email address)
    a) email us: info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

    If you renew your membership or become a member by tomorrow 12noon (click here), you will be able to attend and will be sent a Zoom link to register.

    Please be assured that the Labour Party has of course no access to our membership data.

    We will be running this meeting as a webinar, which is slightly less ‘democratic’, but provides more security for comrades. Participants can not be seen by others, as their camera is off. If somebody wishes to speak, they can either do so with their camera switched off or on. Also, do feel free to chance your name when registering for this event (but please do send us an email if you do so: info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org)

    Draft agenda

    1) Political situation and the history of bans and proscriptions

    2) ‘Defend The Left’ campaign
    July 20 rally and situation at Labour Party conference & Resist Event

    3) Practical questions: What does proscription mean for LAW members?
    Online safety, future of Facebook group, cadre names etc

    4) General strategy, motions and debate

    Hope to see you tomorrow!

    In solidarity,

    Jackie, Tina, Kevin, Tony, Stan and Steve
    LAW steering committee

    Andrew Coates

    July 23, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    • Published comments were also selective or misleading. For instance there were repeated references to haemorrhaging membership. In fact the paid-up total was still over 430,000. This is above the figure in November 2019 which had steadily declined since peak Corbyn, and more than double the level from 2002 to 2015 when membership stayed below 200,000 throughout. Of course we should work to attract and keep members, and find out why they are joining and leaving, but why run our own party down?

      As usual there were questions about the much-delayed Forde inquiry into the 2020 leaked report, and David shared our frustration. The Forde panel had agreed in principle to release its findings on the report’s contents and on party culture and practices, while deferring the section on the circumstances of the leak until the information commissioner’s office completes its own investigation. David hoped for “early autumn”, but don’t hold your breath. The unconscious bias training undertaken by NEC members had raised disturbing issues about internal party culture which must be addressed. Also as usual there were questions about Jeremy Corbyn’s position, where regrettably the impasse continues. A letter from the previous chief whip had set out three conditions, none of them met, though David Evans acknowledged the extent of concern. He declined to comment on the continuing or lifting of suspensions in other cases.

      A Question of Priorities

      We moved on to the issue of organisations in conflict with Labour’s values. The proposal was to allow expulsion of members and supporters of, initially, the Labour in Exile Network (LIEN), Socialist Appeal, Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) and Resist. I was unhappy with its late addition after NEC officers had agreed the agenda. I believe Labour should be hammering the Tories on the Johnson variant and “one rule for them, another for the rest of us” and setting out clear and positive policies. Instead the headlines would show not a leader taking firm action but a divided and fractious party, and stoke fears of wider moves against “the Left”, though I hope and trust that these are unjustified Defining “support” has tied us in knots even with undisputed political parties, where careless likes or retweets can lead to five years’ exclusion. Total numbers are likely to be a few hundred, and the party can already act against individual offenders.

      Meanwhile nearly 100 members are still suspended after more than 18 months, paying subscriptions but unable to participate. More than 1000 complaints are unresolved, and every week I receive despairing messages from members at the end of their tether, having to attend party or council meetings with their alleged harassers unchecked, and I can do nothing to help them. We would be loading even more work onto a system which cannot cope now, and which consumes far too much time, money and energy. There is no point in clearing the current backlog at vast expense if it simply builds up again.

      Against this, Labour is still “on probation” following the EHRC (equalities and human rights commission) report. LIEN and LAW include clearly anti-semitic statements alongside their general grievances, and failing to act would be seen as condoning them. Resist intends to register as a political party. So I took all contributions seriously, except the suggestion that Marxism is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, but including assurances that Momentum in particular has a legitimate place in the party. In the end I

      Voted for an amendment which would require the full NEC, not a sub-panel, to decide on any future proscriptions (carried 21-12).
      Abstained on the paper as a whole (carried 22-11)
      Voted for excluding LIEN (carried 22-10)
      Abstained on excluding Socialist Appeal (carried 20-12)
      Voted for excluding LAW (carried 22-10)
      Voted for excluding Resist (carried 23-9)


      Andrew Coates

      July 23, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    • “Cadre names” ? More fun ahead trying to match the pseudonym to the real person……….A CPGB (PCC) and Spiked habit from the old WRP gene pool……………

      David Walsh

      July 23, 2021 at 9:25 pm

      • I only noted that well after posting the comments. Hell, the Weekly Worker cadre names alone are a joy to behold,

        In line with Marxist tradition[citation needed !!!!!! ] the actual CPGB-PCC contributors write under a variety of assumed names. John Chamberlain usually calls himself “Jack Conrad” or “John Bridge”. This explains the multiplicity of authors but familiar sets of prose. The Weekly Worker has been estimated to have as few as 37 members as of 2007 (which is consistent with the £1,000 the party attempts to raise through the paper every month to cover printing costs). This is an increase on the 10 or so who were initially part of The Leninist.


        The Wiki entry is well out of date incidentally.

        Andrew Coates

        July 23, 2021 at 9:28 pm

  4. This won’t work you know Andrew, these hole in the corner operations. Wouldn’t it be better for people to affirm their loyalty to Keir Starmer. Perhaps by taking a mass oath of loyalty at the NEC to him as their leader ?

    Jeff Smith

    July 23, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    • Or perhaps to the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee)/Weekly Worker with weekly self-criticism sessions for backsliders?

      Andrew Coates

      July 23, 2021 at 9:25 pm

  5. […] Party but it is not going smoothly. Ipswich Barmy Bolshevik Blogger, Comrade Coates has the stoy here. Yesterday Labour Against the Wirch Hunt has an emergency meeting and there has been a call for a […]

  6. And with the inevitability of Halley’s Comet returning from its sojourn in the Oort Belt beyond Pluto, is the chimera of yet another mini-‘mass left party’ outwith Labour being canvassed. This time it was from last weekend’s zoom conference of “Labour Against the Witchhunt’ where a formal move to uniute with LIEN was greed, and where the bolder spirits, including the Brighton one-man intifada called for it to beome yet another party in the left’s alphabet soup. One for a new post ? See the meeting notes and links here; https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_io3fuZgUOdgBAMQ6bgN0z_ZUuVGo3PPS7PnMiBrpnk/edit

    David Walsh

    July 26, 2021 at 1:38 pm

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