If you think Tony Blair has purged the loony left from the British Labour Party, think again.
Not only is the loony left alive and twitching, but is running a serious candidate to take over the Labour party leadership when Tony Blair steps down next year.
The left’s favoured son is MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell.
According to Wikipedia;
McDonnell was born the son of a docker and shopworker. He attended Brunel University and received his Masters’ degree from Birkbeck, University of London.
In 1981, McDonnell was elected Greater London Council councillor for Hayes and Harlington. He was also Ken Livingstone’s deputy leader, but the two had a spectacular disagreement in 1985…. Livingstone removed him and his supporters from their posts.
In the United Kingdom general election, 1997, he was elected to Parliament with 62% of the vote and a 13,000 majority.
He has voted against controversial Government policies such as the 2003 Iraq war, Foundation hospitals, student top-up fees, Trust Schools and anti-terror laws.
In May 2003 he praised the IRA, saying “It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA”.
He later said that the “deaths of innocent civilians in IRA attacks is a real tragedy, but it was as a result of British occupation in Ireland. Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.”
McDonnell appeals to the large segment of the British left that still believes Labour is still salvageable for socialism. That segment emcompasses not just leftist Labourites and trade unions, but also several of Britain’s Marxist-Leninist organisations.
According to Wikipedia
McDonnell chairs the Labour Representation Committee, a left-wing group of Labour activists, local parties, trade unions and MPs which campaigns for the adoption of a raft of socialist policies by the Labour Government. The group was founded on Saturday 3 July 2004 and currently has over 800 members and 90 affiliates.
The aim of the LRC is to set up socialist groups at every level of the Labour Party to confront “New Labour”, oppose the war in Iraq, and resist privatisation and job cuts.
On 14 July 2006, McDonnell announced he would stand to be leader of the Labour Party when Tony Blair announces his resignation. He called for “a challenge to the present political consensus” and a “a real Labour government based upon the policies that our supporters expect from us
On 22 July 2006, the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee unanimously endorsed John McDonnell’s leadership bid. The conference was attended by 400 Labour Party members and trade unionists.
McDonnell is setting his campaign as to give the Labour Party back it’s ‘soul’. He is relying on party members and Trades unionists affiliated with voting rights to the Labour Party to back his idea of ’21st century socialism’.
McDonnell wants British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and form closer links to other socialist countries. McDonnell’s first stated policy would be to renationalise British Transport.
McDonnell’s call for “21st Century socialism” echoes that of Venezuela’s Marxist President, Hugo Chavez. This is not surprising as McDonnell is open about his socialism and even his ties to the Marxist-Leninist left.
McDonnell is openly backed by the hardline Communist Party of Britain.
According to a recent statement on the CPB’s website;
TUC general council member Anita Halpin (CPB Chairwoman)insisted that the labour movement needed an election not a coronation.
She said that unions should cast their block votes on the basis of a membership ballot and that they should not support a candidate who doesn¹t back their union policies.
‘On these grounds, the only candidate to support must be John McDonnell,’ she said.
McDonnell is also supported by the even more hardcore, pro North Korean, New Communist Party of Britain, which is an is an affiliate of McDonnell’s Labour Representation Committee.
The third main British Marxist-Leninist group, the Communist Party of Great Britain is also showing a strong interest in McDonnell’s campaign.
From the October 26th 2006 issue of Weekly Worker.
Owen Jones of the campaign to elect John McDonnell to succeed Tony Blair spoke to the Weekly Worker…
This election will be decided on the votes of the Labour Party and the trade union movement. I will give you an idea of how things stand with the unions. Weekly Worker readers may well be aware that a poll of delegates at the TUC – conducted by the electoral reform society, I emphasise, not us – found that 59% of them supported McDonnell and only 9% supported Gordon Brown.
Trade union branches up and down the country have been passing resolutions backing the campaign and encouraging their members to either sign up to the affiliated political fund or, better, to join the Labour Party, which they have been doing in very considerable numbers.
T&G Broad Left have also been organising the campaign in their union quite effectively. So, overall, in the trade union section, we are doing very well indeed. In terms of the party itself, we have been addressing branches nationally. Huge numbers of one-time and never-before members have been contacting us to say they are joining up in order to vote for John…
So it looks as though this campaign is increasingly gaining momentum and has a groundswell of support – and not just from the people coming back to the party. Despite the haemorrhaging of socialists from our ranks over the past period… Labour Party councillors are among those who have been organising meetings across the country for John – they are acutely aware they face electoral defeat if the government continues to alienate Labour voters through the disastrous policies of war, cuts and privatisation.
If this is a successful campaign, it will provide a massive opening for the left. An opening of the sort that we have not seen for an entire generation. It will take place in the situation where the political leadership of the labour movement has swung so far to the right, in which the balance of forces have been pushed so far in favour of our enemies, that even the very notion of an alternative to capitalism has been discredited, especially since the collapse of Stalinism.
After three decades of reaction, where our movement has been broken and demoralised, in this situation, if this campaign gains momentum, it will be an historic victory for the entire left. The first victory of any significance for a generation, I would go as far as to say.
I doubt that McDonnell will win. I am even more doubtful that he could lead Labour to victory over the Tories in any general election.
What McDonnell’s campaign has proven however is that Labour’s left is far from dead. It has also shown that it has no qualms about co-operating with Britain’s most extreme Marxist-Leninist elements.