what use an abbott in a ‘broad church’?

As Diane Abbott wins sufficient nominations to stand for Labour Party leader, Taimour Lay looks at her and her party’s credentials.

What use is a ”broad church” when the pews are empty, the foundations are subsiding and the high priests at altar turn their backs on any shout of dissent? The Labour leadership election, far from being ”saved” by the  inclusion of Diane Abbott, has merely continued to go to form – token ‘left’ candidate takes on four former cabinet ministers of varying degrees of conservatism, ”enlivens” the hustings with some maverick, contrarian and media-populist rhetoric before the vote concludes with a Miliband, Balls or Burnham promising to lead Labour back to ”electability”.

Abbott’s candidacy is theatre designed by the New Labour establishment to present a democratic, inclusive party. For misguided Bennites, it’s also part of their message: come home to Labour, disillusioned socialists, in opposition we will rebuild and steer the party left. Continue reading “what use an abbott in a ‘broad church’?”

Advertisements

8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and Labour left MP John McDonnell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?”

ten days that shook new labour

an article on the refinery strikes by John McDonnell MP

Large numbers of workers taking spontaneous direct action have not only shocked this New Labour Government but have also disoriented some sections of the Left.

I have been off the scene largely because of the 3rd Runway announcement two weeks ago. When the Government announces that 10,000 members of your community are about to lose their homes and you are their MP you have a responsibility to focus your attention on their deep felt cares and concerns. So in the last couple of weeks I have thrown myself into organising meeting after meeting in my constituency, speaking to over 1500 people and contacting by various means nearly 20,000. Their response has been feelings of fear, insecurity, anxiety, anger and sheer determination to fight back. Continue reading “ten days that shook new labour”

report: conference on working-class political representation

by Chris Kane

About 120 people attended Saturday’s conference, which was called by the RMT rail union.  It was much smaller than a similar event held a few years ago and unfortunately clashed with the anti-war march and the Socialist Workers Party conference.  The event itself was not built widely with a clear agenda or purpose.  The contrast between the vibrant militant youth of the anti-war mobilisations and this conference could not have been greater: it was veterans of the left, mostly over forty, male and white.   But there was an open and extensive debate and plenty of time was allowed for contributions from the floor.

RMT leader Bob Crow opened the event by responding to criticism by a 90 year old communist who said that “this is just a talking shop”. Crow defended it on the basis that “there is a need to talk to break down the barriers of the past”.  He said that if New Labour were to found itself as a political party today there would hardly be a “trade union which would affiliate”.  It was in his view a thoroughly capitalist party and could not be reclaimed: he praised John McDonnell MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP, and pointed out that when they are gone, there will be no similar people to replace them. Continue reading “report: conference on working-class political representation”

photos of the last of our forums on 1970s class struggle

Last night (Monday 8th December) we held the last of our first series of “uncaptive minds” forums. The subject of the series was the 1970s class struggle, and we held meetings on struggles such as the Grunwick strike, the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders‘ occupation and the Leeds women clothing workers’ strike as well as discussing the organising methods of the time and focussing on debates in the movement such as the issue of workers’ control.

30 people attended the last of our seven fortnightly meetings, which was on the subject matter ‘Where did it all go?’. A few photos are featured below.

Liam comments: “earlier this evening I went along to a meeting organised by The Commune at which John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn very vividly brought to life politics and class struggle in the 1970s. John mentioned an example of a factory in his area in which the management removed the phone from the union office. The shop steward walked to the phone box at the end of the street and brought 250 workers with him. He got his phone back. Jeremy described his time as an organiser for NUPE when he would walk into school kitchens and recruit all the non members into the union. Contrast this to the contemporary situation. The young workers in my local branch of Woolworths yesterday were energetically recreating the 1974 Bulgarian retail experience. It hadn’t crossed their mind to strike, occupy the shop, hold a public meeting. Stoic acceptance that they were losing their jobs and the hope that something else would turn up seemed to be their attitude.”

A new series will begin in the New Year, looking at wider aspects of capitalism and the working class today. More information to follow shortly. Continue reading “photos of the last of our forums on 1970s class struggle”