(supported by a 1/3 minority of members of the LLA Organising Group)
Capitalism in crisis
i) Conference meets during a serious political, social, economic and environmental crisis of the ecologically destructive, wasteful and polluting social system of capitalism. The catastrophic economic downturn brought about by the coronavirus pandemic will see further unemployment and falling living standards. In Britain, the situation has radically changed since the December 2019 general election, and it is clear that the pre-Covid-19 ‘normality’ will not return. Despite the Tory government’s rhetoric of a new direction and a rejection of policies of austerity introduced after 2008, the response of the capitalist class will be ultimately to make the working class pay for the crisis.
ii) In an increasingly unstable hierarchical world system of competing capitalist states, US imperialism remains thoroughly dominant and is attempting to reverse its relative decline through confrontational diplomacy, trade wars and ‘America first’ nationalism, which points to a future of continuing international tension and wars.
iii) The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated once again the inability of the capitalist system to resolve social problems in the interests of humanity, and the necessity of replacing the rule of the capitalist class with world socialism – the rule of the working class – which can then start the transition to a stateless, classless, moneyless society that embodies the principle, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”.
The failure of Corbynism
iv) The dismal failure of Corbynism to transform society in the interests of the working class, or even to democratise and transform Labour into a socialist party, exposes both
a) the illusion that British capitalism can be governed in the interests of “the many, not the few”, and,
b) the disastrous strategy of seeking left-right unity in the party, and of appeasing the ‘fifth column’ of anti-working-class career politicians who represent capitalist class interests within the working-class movement.
Keir Starmer’s ‘constructive opposition’ to the Johnson government makes no challenge to capitalism. The Starmer leadership wants to demonstrate to the ruling class that Labour is once again in safe hands – a reliable second eleven for capitalism.
v) Corbyn’s election defeat in December 2019, the victory of Starmer in the Labour leadership election and his continued use of the witch-hunt have had a demoralizing effect on the Labour left, with many members either leaving the party or lapsing into inactivity – a process accentuated by the complicity of Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro- Addy, promising never again to attend a meeting with victims of the witch-hunt. The miserable response of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs to the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from Starmer’s shadow capitalist government – begging for party unity with the pro-Zionist, pro-capitalism, Labour right – shows that they have learned nothing from the failure of Corbynism and are intent on continuing the failed strategy of appeasement.
vi) Socialists campaign for what workers need, not what capitalism can afford. We must stand firm for the defence and extension of democracy and freedom of speech in the party and in society, and combine building the struggle for economic and social demands with winning the working class for a political programme for the supersession of capitalist class rule by working class rule internationally. No gains of the working class can be permanently secured under capitalist class rule.
vii) That means prioritising the fight for democracy in every sphere of life, not least the state itself. Our immediate demands must include:
- abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, and a single-chamber parliament with proportional representation, annual elections and MPs’ salaries set at the level of a skilled worker;
- end the presidential powers of the prime minister; an end to prime ministerial appointment of ministers and all forms of prime ministerial patronage;
abolition of the standing army and the police, and their replacement by a popular militia;
- disbandment of MI5, MI6, special branch and the entire secret state apparatus;
a radical increase in local democracy: service provision, planning, tax raising, law
- enforcement and allocation of funds to be radically devolved downwards as far as practicable and appropriate, to ward, borough, city and county levels.
- disestablishment of the Church of England, and a secular state;
- the unity of Ireland and the voluntary unity of England, Scotland and Wales in a
federal democratic republic, with the right of Scotland and Wales to secede;
- a highest quality publicly owned national health service;
- nationalisation of land, banks, financial services, public transport, electricity, gas, water and the pharmaceutical industry;
- a massive council and social house building programme to end the housing shortage, with low rents and life-long secure tenancies;
- freedom to organise in trade unions, without state or employer interference, and their democratisation: full-time officials must be elected, accountable, recallable and paid the average wage of those they represent;
- a maximum 5-day, 35-hour working week, and a net minimum wage sufficient for a single worker and one child to live a full life, and state pensions and unemployment pay set at the same level, and,
- full citizenship rights for migrant workers and ethnic minorities after 6-months residence; an end to all forms of discrimination by state or private bodies – turn formal gender equality into genuine equality.
viii) Such a democratic programme can only be achieved by the conscious, active support of
the majority of the people and Labour should only form a government on this basis.
For a democratic Labour movement – the fight goes on
ix) The fight for democracy in society goes hand in hand with the fight for democracy in the Labour Party and trade unions. The LLA will continue to fight for full party democracy and free speech, mandatory re-selection and the sovereignty of party conference. The defence of comrades attacked during the witch-hunt will remain a priority for us.
x) We call on socialists to remain inside the party. However, membership of the LLA remains open to comrades who have been expelled or suspended from the party, or who have recently left in protest at the actions of the Starmer leadership (provided they are not striving to encourage more to leave the party or to support other existing or emerging parties in standing candidates against the Labour Party). Despite the triumph of the Right and the collusion of many erstwhile former Lefts in the witch-hunt, Labour remains an important site of struggle for socialist politics and a battlefield which should not be abandoned.
xi) We must not trim our politics in search of a spurious ‘centre -left’ unity. The history of Momentum and the complicity of some so-called left-wingers in the witch-hunt show the dangers of that approach. The electoral manoeuvring and secret deal-making exemplified by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance must end. We need left candidates, chosen openly and democratically, accountable to the membership and committed to fight for socialism and democracy within the party.
xii) To build a strong organisation capable of carrying out the serious aims we have set ourselves, the LLA Organizing Group will propose to conference a constitutional amendment that replaces our current federal structure of local groups of supporters with a membership organization of local branches and a national leadership elected by a sovereign national conference.
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