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Red Line TV (‘Continuity’ Labour Briefing, Canal Historique) in Crisis as Tina Werkmann Resigns.

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Red Line TV Faces Uncertain Future as New Controversy Erupts, this time over Climate Action Vanguardists.

Labour Briefing (Labour Representation Committee), one of the best known journals of the Labour left dating back to the Benn years, has not been published for some time.

Yet it has continued, some assert, through the medium of ‘Red Line TV‘.

Now, after a series of scandals (following giving a platform to Iranian regime supporter David Miller) Red Line TV is facing a crisis as key animator Tina Werkmann has resigned from the LRC and Labour Briefing Board that runs it.

It is alleged that a certain JW (!) felt that Tina, somebody one can assure readers is pretty polite and respectful, had made some climate direct action vanguardist person feel ‘unsafe’.

One can strongly disagree, as this Blog does, with Tina Werkmann’s politics, though she a serious leftist with both commitment and brio.

One can, as most of the comrades from the old Briefing, including leading figures, have done, go to other pastures, such as the excellent, Labour Hub.

But Tina Werkmann has been treated shabbily by the shrinking group of people that’s still around the LRC.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 3, 2023 at 2:41 pm

Labour Leads in Suffolk Coastal as Seaside Turns From Tories.

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Huffington Post.

Voters in Britain’s coastal towns have abandoned the Tories in favour of the Labour Party, a new poll has revealed.

Research by YouGov and the Fabian Society revealed that support for the Conservatives in seaside constituencies has collapsed since the last election.

In 2019, when Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority, 51% of voters in so-called “sea wall” seats supported the Tories, with just 29% backing Labour.

But according to the new poll, support for the Conservatives has slumped by a staggering 19 points to 32% since then, with Labour now ahead of them on 38%.

The poll also found that 55% thought the Conservatives did not understand people in their area, compared to just 23% who think they do.

And 52% believe the Tories do not share their values, with only 28% believing who do.

*****

More:

Keen East Anglian readers of this map will notice the long red line of constituencies along the Suffolk and Norfolk Coast. This goes from Yarmouth, something of a stronghold for UKIP at one point “In the local election in 2014, UKIP had taken 41% of the vote..10 of the 39 councillors”, down to Suffolk Coastal.

The Suffolk Coastal constituency (which has not greatly affected by the recent round of boundary changes, except for the loss of Halesworth to a new seat), which extends down to the borders of Ipswich, is the home of Thérèse Coffey. At present the MP is Minister for Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The one-time best friend of  Liz Truss, was Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and Deputy Prime Minister, between 6 September 2022 and 25 October 2022 and Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions between 8 September 2019 and 6 September 2022.

Tessy is known locally for her love of pubs, and a good Scotch Egg- she has been Beer Parliamentarian of the Year and has visited every hostelry in her manor at least once, if not more – and her methods of training pooches, which involve electric shock collars.

The map extends northwards to cover Lowestoft (a new constituency centred on the town) and Yarmouth, but not far Westwards where a part of Waveney, with new boundaries and called Waveney Valley, extending across the border to Norfolk, (Bungay, Halesworth, Eye and Stowupland and bringing in towns from Norfolk , Diss and Harleston.)is said to be a target seat for the Green Party. Looking at the cartography it is probable that it is based on existing borders, which suggests that is not clear on Labour support in the battle for that constituency.

The last time the area covered by much of Suffolk Coastal, then known as Eye Constituency, (named after the town of Eye) had somebody who was not a Tory was in 1950. [Just to complicate things, Eye is at present in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Constituency].

PartyCandidateVotes%±%
LiberalEdgar Granville17,76237.27−1.19
ConservativeHarwood Harrison17,13535.96+0.57
LabourLeslie George Emsden12,48126.19+0.04
CommunistLee Chadwick2770.58

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Morning Star, Andrew Murray, Goes Palme Dutt, “the most eminent Marxist theoretician of his time”.

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“Most eminent Marxist theoretician of his time” – Andrew Murray.

“The Social Democratic leadership first betrays the workers to Fascism, and then passes over to Fascism.

“The British Labour Party is already assisting the development of the British capitalist state in the direction of Fascism. If the time comes, it will adapt itself to Fascism, exactly as German Social Democracy has done” Rajani Palme Dutt, 1933. A Reply to the Labour Manifesto on “Democracy versus Dictatorship

Tariq Ali is in for a treat this morning. When the Communist Party of Britain’s leading strategist, and quondam adviser to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, Andrew Murray delivers his copy of the Daily Miracle he will alight on this page. The Morning Star, one of two English Language socialist quotidiens, carries an article by the paper-boy himself. Its subject is Palme Dutt (1896 – 1974) “the most eminent Marxist theoretician of his time”. What would Dutt have done about Starmer? the scion of the Slains Pursuivant asks in his call to arms. Time spent in the archives has not been wasted as Murray’s own Notes of the Month – below – demonstrate.

Received wisdom on much of the left has it that the Editor of Labour Monthly (Est. 1921) was “Stalin’s British Mouthpiece” (Jim Higgins), “The shyster lawyer” (Duncan Hallas). On his passing in 1974 John Gollan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain, better known as having been of one of my dad’s Co-op insurance customers in North London, dissented. “His books and writings on fascism, imperialism and colonialism are not only an outstanding contribution to the science of Marxism-Leninism: they alerted, inspired and guided countless thousands of working people in Britain and abroad.”

Others recall Dutt’s battles against letting Sports coverage into the Daily Worker (predecessor of the Morning Star which is now independent of the Communist Party and owned by the co-op), a 1940s fight against its renowned racing tips, and his personality, “beneath the cold logical Dutt everyone knew, there was a seething mass of nervous jealousy. He saw personal slights everywhere.” (Francis Beckett. Enemy Within – The Rise and Fall of British Communism. 1995). Above, the despicable toadying to Moscow and the Comintern, cited above from 1933, which went on to include apologies for the Great Terror, the Moscow Trials and reached a crescendo when Dutt advocated, on the CPGB Central Committee, support for the Hitler-Stalin Pact which “weakened Nazism”. He believed that the British Communist Party should be subordinate to Russia’s dictates, transmitted through the Communist International – of which he was the official representative. (John CallaghanRajani Palme Dutt: A Study in British Stalinism. 1993)

The Labour Party and Rajani Palme Dutt

In a 1950 paper by one of the Communist Party’s leading Marxist lights, ANDREW MURRAY discovers a resonance between the class questions beleaguering Labour 70 years ago and the situation today

POLITICAL life throws up plenty of new problems. It also regularly resurrects some perennial ones.

Reader, let us return to 1950. Labour had just been returned to office, but with a majority dramatically diminished from its 1945 landslide after abandoning domestic radicalism in favour of waging the cold war.

The 1950 election had also seen the Communist Party lose what has so far proved to be its last two MPs. The 100 candidates the party presented at the polls secured, in an atmosphere of cold war vituperation, fewer votes than 21 communists had won five years earlier.

Under those challenging circumstances, the communist leader Rajani Palme Dutt, the most eminent Marxist theoretician of his time, prepared a private paper titled “Notes on the Situation in Britain” for the party leadership.

A copy is preserved in the British Library, where I came across it last week. Seventy years on, it reverberates.

Get on with it Murray..

Dutt reviews the history of the Communist Party’s attitude to Labour, which had in the preceding 30 years gone through several zigs and zags.

He notes that after heavy rebuffs the issue of communist affiliation to Labour was “closed and finished” — and so it has proved through the succeeding generations.

“The Communist Party,” he wrote, “remains a small group isolated from the main body of the organised working class in the political field” — this when the Communist Party had roughly 30 times today’s membership.

….

It was “an established governing party of British imperialism, repudiating class politics…”.

However, “on the other hand, the Labour Party is still based in its organisation and structure on the trade unions … and is in consequence regarded by the majority of organised workers, as well as by a large proportion of the unorganised workers, as the mass party of the working class.”

This is the analysais of every Trotskyist paper of the last fifty, or more, years,,

“The same considerations hover over the debates of the left today. Reviewing the experience of the Corbyn years, who can doubt that the Parliamentary Labour Party in its majority and the bureaucratic party apparatus constitute decisive social props of British imperialism and a signal obstruction on any road to socialism.

Yet at the same time, they scarcely represent a party membership for the most part cherishing higher aspirations, even as it is innocent of Marxism and instead prefers a somewhat empirical reformism.”

The innocents will no doubt appreciate this description from a former senior adviser to Jeremy Corbyn…

And the trade unions are still there — rather mute and passive on Labour Party matters at present, hoping that Prime Minister Starmer will lift the legal burdens imposed on them, which Sunak is presently adding to. No breath should be held, I fear.

Fear not….

The unions’ status is diminished within Labour as compared to 1950, but it is the fact that no affiliated union has ever left to support another party. “Two-fold” still fits, and there is — and was — the conundrum.

Dutt: “For thirty years, the Communist Party has not yet been able to solve the problem of the Labour Party, which constitutes the main obstacle to the development of the Communist Party as a mass party of the working class.”

Today, it might make more sense to speak of the socialist left rather than the Communist Party exclusively, although the latter is far from immaterial, but the same issue sits squarely athwart any perspective of socialist advance as Starmer reconsolidates the grip of the right wing over Labour’s counsels and conduct.

Athwart, fear not, conundrum, I fear..has Murray been taling writing lessons by correspondence?

Dutt offered three possibilities for a change. The first was a shift over time to the left within Labour itself. This he dismissed as “utopian.” Let us allow that he would have been surprised by Corbyn’s ascension, if not by the subsequent counter-revolution.

However, Dutt’s substantive rationale for scorning this perspective remains relevant: “It assumes a degree of democracy within the Labour Party which does not exist.”

With left-wing candidates being all but totally excluded from parliamentary selection, a proscribed list of organisations resurrected in the fashion of the Vatican’s index of prohibited books, wave after wave of arbitrary exclusions hitting the membership, leadership election rules fixed to ensure PLP supremacy, and the whip withheld from Jeremy Corbyn, Labour democracy has not looked so tattered and torn for years.

(as the copyright holder of the comparison with the Index Librorum Prohibitorum one cannot but agree on this point…)

Dutt’s second possible avenue for change was a significant split in the PLP leading to a viable electoral force able over time to perhaps attract trade union support. That has never happened — all PLP splits have been by the right wing — and is scarcely on the cards now.

The new parties which have been established to the left of Labour, with the temporary and local exception of George Galloway’s Respect, have never secured the slightest electoral traction.

The only foreseeable way in which Dutt’s second option could transition from fantasy to political reality would be if the Starmer gang were unwise enough to exclude a significant number of Labour MPs from the whip on some pretext, forcing them into a new alignment.

One cannot discount the possibility of the malice and venom of the Labour right overwhelming its prudence to that degree, but it is not very probable. Most likely Starmer will tolerate the browbeaten left MPs he has, other than Corbyn, and will settle for denying them any reinforcements.

Fair point…

The third option Dutt canvassed was of the disintegration of the Labour Party altogether. By this he envisaged major trade unions disaffiliating and “advancing to a left-wing united front in the political field in association with the Communist Party.”

This, he wrote, “would represent the most advanced and favourable form of break-up of the existing reactionary Labour Party structure to go forward to a new and progressive stage of working-class political development.”

Would Dutt advocate that today? Of course it is impossible to know. Since then Bevanism, Bennism and Corbynism have blossomed and withered, trade unions have waxed, waned, shifted to the left and sometimes back again. New Labour has set a new bar for right-wing atrocity. Today’s working class is not that of 1950.

Such a split would not necessarily be either desirable or workable. However, the orientation has merit because it is plausible — unions are still democratic organisations and their members have agency. It is there that initiatives can most easily be taken to challenge Starmerism.

And should be. A Labour Party pledged to the imperialist state and repudiating class politics — witness Starmer fawning on an assembly of bosses last week — is still very much with us.

We also have trade unions more militant and confrontational than for 30-plus years. The issue raised by the great Dutt 70 years ago is essentially the same as the one invoked by Marx and Engels a century earlier — how to effect the fusion of class militancy with socialism.

That is the question which needs to be posed in every trade union in struggle today, without prior prescription as to the answer. Enough is indeed enough, but more is needed yet.

In other words Murray sees possibilities in trade union strike action developing from defensive fights by a class that exists in itself, with wage labour and capital battling over pay and conditions into a class for itself, that begins to have socialist ideas about the economy and politics as a whole.

“Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have noted only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle.”

Strikes and Combinations of Workers. Karl Marx. The Poverty of Philosophy.1847.

Murray does not explain how conditions of techno-fedualism, rentier capitalism, the present phase of neoliberalism and globalisation have transformed the political and social conditions of trade union conflicts and why, “Today’s working class is not that of 1950”.. His time, and we speak in a friendly advisory (as befits, he might say, an adviser) way, would be better spent there than on the works of Palme Dutt. But he has begun in the right place: there is, at present, even were it desirable, an electoral alternative to Labour on the left.

Above all, not with Dutt:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 14, 2022 at 1:20 pm