Simon Hester’s letter in the January SR Labour Left the Building takes us to task for exaggerating the Labour Left’s resistance to Corbyn’s expulsion and ‘taking a toothcomb to the EHRC report on antisemitism instead of looking at the broader political objectives of Starmer’. However, he has underestimated the level of anger at the Labour Party grass-roots. Almost 20% of CLPs voted to express solidarity with Corbyn and/or no confidence in Starmer. But the number who have registered anger at the actions of Starmer and LP General Secretary David Evans is far higher than the 130 who have passed motions. Many more would have acted similarly if they hadn’t been blocked by the new Stalinist regime controlling LP Head Office. Nevertheless, according to Labour insiders, more than a further 100 CLPs have bypassed Labour’s ban on solidarity motions by writing directly to Starmer to express their anger and demand that he and Evans respect the party’s rules and members’ right to free speech.
Moreover, it was important that SR dismantle the highly flawed report of the EHRC which has been weaponised against Corbyn. Seeking to defend Corbyn against the attacks of the Labour Right is both necessary on principle but also is part of the process of building a united front of potential common activity with the rank-and-file of the Labour Left and with those who have left the LP. In our companion piece ‘Is There a Future for Activists Outside the Labour Party?’, we interviewed leading LP activists about the sidelining of Corbyn and the purging of the Left by the new authoritarian regime. Moshe Machover stated “What is needed is a mass revolutionary socialist party.” As Jaqui the former LP member in Bristol West said: “The left outside of the party is… quite small… if it grew… I’d definitely join.” Asa Winstanley left the LP a year ago following attempts to silence his support for Palestinian rights. It was important that SR give a voice to these Labour activists. Their conclusion seems clear: the future for activists lies outside Labour. Simon’s letter is wide of the mark.