The SP (Socialist Party) and TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) do not appear to understand that the Labour Party is a reformist, pro-austerity party whose leadership is committed to maintaining the Labour Party as a “broad church”. Broad means that Corbyn has no intention of getting rid of the warmongers, privateers, and strikebreakers in the party, or Corbyn supporters and Labour councils who vote for and implement cuts.

International Socialist League statement

 

TUSC are conducting a survey to see if right wing or Corbyn supporting councillors will be in control of councils. In Camden for example they report that, “every single sitting councillor who wanted to stand again has been selected to do so, in a process that started in September. The Local Campaign Forum is firmly controlled by the right-wing, for example excluding a known Corbyn-supporter with 40 years party membership from the candidates’ panel.”

However, this approach creates false hopes. All the councillors who voted for Corbyn’s re-election have also voted without exception in England and Wales, for austerity and cuts with no attempt by them to mobilise public opposition to the cuts. The official position of Corbyn has been to instruct councils to set legal budgets.

Both he and John McDonnell remain on record as praising local Labour leaders who have carried out cuts consistently and attacked workers on strike – for example the Liverpool on the Metro workers. Is allowing strikebreakers to remain in the Labour Party part of the Corbyn’s “socialist plan”?

Corbyn’s instruction to Labour Councils is capitalist – set a legal budget. At the same time he opposes PFIs as a major source of privatisating for local services, but he is not calling a halt to Labour council support for PFI. All Labour councils should be instructed to fight against PFI and end all current contracts.

Corbyn could have used his platform in parliament and his profile in the official labour movement to build a fight against cuts, appealing over the heads of those who oppose him in parliament, the councils and elsewhere, to those new to political activity and those returning to it.

That would mean splitting the Labour Party and leaving those who support capitalism and war. However, Corbyn has no intention of leading a socialist struggle from the Labour Party and the so called ‘left’ outside Labour has simply provided cover for him, which includes the Socialist Party.

Not standing in elections?

A TUSC conference will be held in February with the stated aim of “Building support for Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-cuts policies in the 2018 local elections”. This perspective helps the right-wing prepare a further betrayal of workers and provides further cover for Corbyn’s lack of principles.

In an attempt to create more confusion TUSC state, “Responding to the new situation our policy since …has been to not field candidates in local elections against Labour councillors who vote against cuts in the council chamber.” For 2017 perhaps the SP could provide a list because the TUSC website does not identify any Labour councilllors who voted against cuts.

“Politicians of whatever party who support austerity, however, are another matter and TUSC has been prepared to contest local elections against right-wing Labour councillors carrying out Tory cuts. But should that now be reviewed?”

Is the Socialist Party and TUSC calling for a vote for right-wing Labour simply because they are Labour?

The Socialist party website advertises the conference without comment: “Building support for Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-cuts policies in the 2018 local elections – should socialist anti-austerity candidates stand in May?”.

The role of a Trotskyist party is to lead and to stop the retreat into and acceptance of reformism.

***

Originally published @ Socialist Voice #30.