Greetings from member L0093001 of Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP. Yes, after devoting most of my political energies for over a decade to arguing and actively working for a new political party of the left – even writing a book making an extended case as to why such a party is essential – I last year decided to rejoin the Labour Party.
That’s right, the same party that sent British troops to Iraq; the same party that scrapped student grants, in what must rank as the single most socially regressive piece of legislation introduced by any UK government since 1945; and the same party that has produced a succession of racist semi-Stalinist and fully-Stalinist home secretaries that continue to rein in civil liberties.
And let me make it clear – and I really must, because I am a former Trotskyist – that I haven’t taken out a card in the expectation that New Labour can eventually be converted into a revolutionary party, or that a revolutionary tendency can be built within it. Both those ideas so evidently infantile as not to be worth a moment’s consideration.
Nor will I be trying to ‘reclaim New Labour from the Blairites’, because that cannot be done, either. The changes within Labour’s internal structures have sealed off, once and for, any possibility of re-running the late seventies and early eighties. More’s the pity; the rock music of the period was infinitely superior to anything being recorded today.
Every single one of the criticisms Peter Tatchell levels at New Labour in ‘Green is the new red’ is unarguably correct. Blair and Brown have indeed thrashed the last vestiges of labour movement democracy, and on many issues, out-Thatchered Thatcher. None of this is in dispute.
It’s not even that I am particularly in tune with majority thinking on the much reduced Labour left, which still conceives of socialist utopia as a nationalised gas industry. For most of these people, it is as if globalisation, the collapse of communism, political Islam and global warming had never happened.
As a result, they automatically fail politically, because their backward-looking bureaucratic outlook condemns them in advance to fail. Small wonder they were unable to mount a serious fight against Blairism; it is because they couldn’t advance a viable alternative set of ideas.
That brings me to the reason I ate humble pie and filled out the standing order form to New Labour. Developing that alternative set of ideas strikes me as the most constructive thing democratic socialists can now be doing.
And the party that still commands majority support among the progressive electorate and the affiliation of the majority of the trade union movement is the best place it can undertake this task.
Obviously I regard leftwing Greens such as Peter and principle male speaker Derek Wall as comrades, on the assumption that one is allowed to use such a term in this context. It’s just that I do not think the Green Party can ever become a popular front for the achievement of socialism by stealth.
It remains small, and displays no sign of an ability to attain the critical mass it needs to become a serious factor in British politics, or even to build a base of support in the working class.
What’s more, historical experience shows that where Green parties do take off, they leave their radicalism well behind. The Realos take over from the Fundis, and the one-time soixante-huitard peaceniks end up cheerleading Nato bombing campaigns from the comfort of their ministerial limos.
Let me draw an analogy between the current situation of the serious left and that faced by the intelligent free market right in the 1950s, the hey-day of Keynesianism. At that time, it looked as if all argument over political economy was over for good.
The reaction by the most far-thinking devotees of the Austrian economists was to form think tanks and slowly propagate their world view from within the Conservative Party. It took about 20 years to come to fruition, but ultimately, the strategy worked.
Our ideas – including expanded trade union rights, public ownership and workers’ control, left libertarian social policies that would cause instant myocardial infarction among Daily Mail leader writers, a foreign policy that consistently promotes democracy and sustainable development, and the realisation that the environment is the most important issue facing humanity today – are relevant.
Indeed, they offer the only way out of the impasse. But before they can be put into action, they have to be rearticulated into policies geared to today’s world. That is, of course, a limited horizon, especially compared to preparing for world revolution. But then, these are times when limited horizons surely trump strategic dead ends.
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The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
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For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
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A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
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Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
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Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
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Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
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Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
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Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
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The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill