Still life

A latent radicalism still exists in the Labour Party, says defeated Labour deputy leadership contender Jon Cruddas. Now the left must tap it

September 24, 2007
3 min read

Alex Nunns\’ analysis of the state of the left makes a compelling case, and identifies some of the key issues that need to be tackled over the next few months.

He is especially right to say that it was only after my campaign had made the ballot (by securing the support of over 45 other MPs) that we managed to tap into the deep reserves of support for a new agenda. This raises concerns about both the threshold and strategies for the future in generating support within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). The fact that I managed to secure the largest vote in the first round was despite only just managing to avoid last place among MPs – almost all of my support came from grassroots members and trade unionists.

There are two lessons here.

First, the left in Parliament is weak. There’s no point pretending that’s not the case. But I think the very fact that I got onto the ballot – mainly through the strength and organisational capacity of leading Compass MPs alongside elements within the Campaign group and old Tribune group – is a positive sign for the future. How is that prospective coalition in the PLP to be constructed in the future?

Second, by using new technology and energetic open campaigning, we managed to reach out to huge numbers of new supporters – many of whom, if I am frank, had never even heard of me before the election started. Questions arise about how to tap into this latent desire for change amongst the membership and the role of new technology.

The larger question here is how we build an agenda that will appeal across the broadest range of the party, across both the centre and left. Moreover, how is this to be linked to broader movements outside of the party?

To my mind, as reflected in the analysis supplied by Alex Nunns, there are no ready-made answers. We need space to deliberate in terms of policy and organisation in a transparent, non-sectarian form within and outside of the federal architecture of the party. Recognising that ‘we are where we are’ and trying to develop ideas – and new techniques for campaigning around these ideas – is the challenge that confronts us.

That much is self evident. My experience over the last year is that the party is not irretrievable; that there still exists a radicalism, albeit latent. As such, it should not be beyond our political will or ability build a coalition to articulate it and organise to achieve it.

Join the debate


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

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

Secrets and spies of Scotland Yard
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh

#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

How progressive is the ‘progressive alliance’?
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank

The YPJ: Fighting Isis on the frontline
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava

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'

Confronting Brexit
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

Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
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

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant