Labour Party

Tory impasse: how can the left intervene?

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After two and a half years of negotiations, it is still absolutely unclear what will or will not happen with Brexit. Joseph Choonara looks at the scale of the crisis for Theresa May’s government, but also at the potential opportunities for the left to shape events, rather than simply spectate.

It is astonishing that, as I write this article, two months before Britain was scheduled to leave the European Union (EU), and after two and a half years of negotiation and planning, it is entirely unclear what fate awaits us.

Back in summer 2016, few people predicted that one of the greatest stumbling blocks would prove to be the Irish question — an issue fusing the legacy of Britain’s colonial past with the EU’s determination to police its external borders.

Continuity and change in the Labour Party

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First published in 1988, Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein's The Labour Party: A Marxist History was indispensible to those trying to understand the power and limitations of reformism. Charlie Kimber explains why he has contributed to an updated edition covering the period from Blair to Corbyn.

An extraordinary transformation in the image of the Labour Party happened in 2015 with Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader. A party that had acted as an efficient and loyal servant of the capitalist class was suddenly speaking about a challenge to big business, the banks, and the super-rich.

Can Corbyn's Labour grasp the moment?

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The Tories’ Brexit troubles are escalating, with talk of an early general election returning. But can Corbyn’s Labour Party take advantage of the situation? Shaun Doherty investigates.

In any assessment of the Labour Party conference it’s useful to look beyond the headlines, particularly since some of them were quite remarkable.

After Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech to conference George Osborne’s London Evening Standard ran a front page featuring a caricature of Corbyn wearing a communist hat and carrying a volume of Marx, alongside the headline, “Corbyn: United, We Will Never be Defeated”.

Labour must hold the line against pro-remain centre

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Pressure is building on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party leadership to agree to backing a second referendum on Britain leaving the EU. Several trade unions, including the GMB, are either balloting members over the issue or preparing to take motions to this month’s TUC conference in Manchester calling for Labour to adopt the policy.

In an email sent to GMB members, the general secretary, Tim Roache, wrote: “GMB wants to hear from members about your views on Brexit, and whether you think there should be a public vote when we know what the deal looks like.”

Antisemitism, the witch hunt and the left

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The accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party have continued unabated. Rob Ferguson unpicks the relationship between real instances of antisemitism and politically motivated attacks.

On 24 April, as Socialist Review went to press, Jeremy Corbyn and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) held a much publicised “crunch” meeting. A Labour spokesperson described it as “positive and constructive, serious and good humoured”. The BoD had a different take, describing the meeting as “a disappointing missed opportunity” and demanded “strong actions in order to bring about a deep cultural change in [Corbyn’s] supporters’ attitudes to Jews.”

A Party With Socialists in it

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With the Labour Party’s swelling membership amid continuing tensions between the Labour’s left and right wings, a book that addresses the fortunes of socialists in the party could not be more timely. Simon Hannah has provided a good summary of their rises and falls, going back to the creation of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1893, the formation of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) seven years later, through to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and ensuing battles with the party’s right wing.

Tories out before 2022?

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Theresa May’s government is staggering from crisis to crisis, yet no likely replacement for May is apparent. Charlie Kimber assesses the political landscape as Corbyn’s Labour Party waits in the wings.

Theresa May keeps finding new ways to have a worse week than the one before. Don’t think this process will end in 2018. New lows will be reached, regarded as the bottom of the pit — and then even deeper depths discovered.

But it’s a great danger to think this means the inevitable demise of the May regime. No Tory wants to risk Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 and the spectre of a Labour government promising change is what saves May. There is no unifying alternative to her for the Tories, and she acts as the useful scapegoat who could be replaced later on.

Gordon Brown, bless him

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In his new memoir the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown seeks to rebrand himself as a cuddly old leftie fit for the Corbyn era. John Newsinger recalls some of the evidence to the contrary.

While there were never any serious policy differences between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, the conflict between the two men and their supporters was not just about personalities, or about who should be prime minister.

1997: The Future That Never Happened

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The 1997 general election saw the hated Tories thrown out, indeed humiliated, and a bright New Labour government take office under an idealistic young leader, Tony Blair. There was widespread hope of change and improvement. It is useful to remember how enthusiastic much of the left was about Blair at this time with one former Communist Party intellectual actually describing New Labour as a “Gramscian project”!

A positive message from Scottish Labour

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Most people on the left in Scotland will welcome the election of Richard Leonard as the new leader of Scottish Labour. Clearly identifying himself as a socialist, though not as a “Corbynista”, his vote represents a major step forward for all those looking to see Labour become a party in Scotland which challenges the Tory agenda of austerity, cuts and the scapegoating of refugees and immigrants.

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