At a Communist Students’ Exec meeting on the 13th of December, a decision was made to affiliate to the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). This statement was issued by members opposed to this decision, and we republish it here in the interests of debate.
The driving force behind this was Ben Lewis of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB, which has recently adopted a set of theses on the Labour Party. Some points of which would get support within the ranks of the LRC, for example the democratisation of the Labour Party. Crucially important though for the issue at hand is the dangerous conception of a permanent united front between Communists and the Labour Party contained within the theses. Where the CPGB’s contradictory perspective of simultaneously organising a political force independent of social democracy and at the same time trying to transform the Labour Party into a “real party of labour” and putting the Labour Party into office in order to expose its leadership, is made.
The LRC was set up in 2004 to act as a pressure group within the Labour Party; It now boasts 150 affiliated organisations, including six unions and 1,000 members. It is clear by the noises that it makes that it seeks to “rebuild” the Party. The LRC is committed to “restore (sic) the operation of a fully democratic Labour Party”, “encourage people to rejoin Labour” and the “election of a Labour Government”. Membership is barred to all those who belong to a party which stands candidates against the Labour Party. Communist Students should not support any of these aims and by joining the LRC and accepting its constitution we are not helping to win workers away from social democracy but doing the opposite – implying that there is something worthwhile at the root of left-labourism and reinforcing its politics. Worse still, we are contributing to the socialist cover that the LRC provides.
Those who support affiliation argue that Marxists should use the LRC to argue for communist politics, as they have attempted previously. This is a typical position taken by the Weekly Worker, that of an orientation towards ‘the left’. Those present at LRC conference will either be members of various socialist groups or similarly committed followers of social democracy. While it is necessary to win people away from such politics – it is idealist to think this can be achieved through work within the LRC because it fails to understand that its membership corresponds to particular ideas and consciousness that expresses the politics of a certain section of the labour bureaucracy.
In response to our opposition to LRC affiliation we are characterised as taking a sectarian position, not wanting our revolutionary credentials to become muddied by mixing with the dirty reformists of the LRC. However, this treats affiliation and engagement with LRC members as mutually exclusive. The LRC members who are most likely to be won to Marxism are those whom we shall meet on demonstrations or work with in anti-cuts groups, LRC affiliation does not affect our contact with these layers.
The CPGB thesis implies that the labour left wing is an ally. This is an error, LRC councillors in London have already admitted that they will by implementing the cuts agenda. This clearly shows that the Labour left wing is not an ally in the struggle against all cuts.
For a group of such meagre resources, affiliation to the LRC sends out a message about our priorities and orientation. The LRC makes up some of the working class, but not all of it. Our immediate aims should be to engage with our peers and work colleagues, newly politicised students on demonstrations and workers on picket lines. Affiliation to the LRC is at best a distraction from this struggle.
Mark Harrison (CS Exec)
Ronan McNabb (CS Manchester)
Sebastian Osthoff (CS Manchester)
James O’Leary (CS Manchester)
2. Ibid, point 18.
3. D. Lewis, ‘Good start made’
6. At the founding conference of the Socialist Youth Network (youth section of the LRC) CS was able to pass a motion calling for ‘open borders’.
7. ‘Draft theses’, point 24.