The Labour Party conference and subsequent events have seen many retreats by the Labour lefts because of pressure from Cameron, the Labour right and union bureaucracies. Yet many left and revolutionary groups are running to the Labour Party as their saviours, and if they are denied membership they say they will seek to work very closely with them. The majority support Corbyn uncritically and have forgotten the bourgeois nature of the Labour Party.
Labour remains a reformist, bourgeois-workers party as demonstrated by the right-wing MPs pro-war and austerity positions, and the abandoned promises and actions of the left-wing, some of which we discuss below.
Many believe Labour should not now be challenged, that suddenly it has become the party of the working class and can lead the fight against austerity and for socialism under Corbyn. However there is silence on any policy retreat by Corbyn.
We believe it is essential to identify and analyse any step back. Corbyn made many promises during his election campaign and already many have been abandoned to the Party policy forums — which can take many months or even years to agree policy.
The promise to scrap university tuition fees formed a major part of Corbyn’s appeal to young voters and young people on the left. At the Labour Party conference, on tuition fees no concrete proposal was made, just, “nothing is ruled in, and nothing is ruled out”.
-Staying in the EU
Corbyn was pressurised into declaring his full support for Britain staying in the EU, during his election campaign. A series of negotiations between Corbyn, the GMB union, Hilary Benn, and the shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden, left the Party committed to campaigning to stay in Europe.
Corbyn said housing was a number one priority and repeatedly said there would be a tough stance against house builders who sit on their land – so-called land banking. Yet on 29 September shadow housing minister John Healey announced that Labour’s review of a decline in home ownership would be chaired by Peter Redfern, CEO of Britain’s biggest house builder Taylor Wimpey.
-People’s Quantitative Easing
John McDonnell’s “People’s Quantitative Easing”, was dropped after the election.
Corbyn abandoned plans to nationalise the “big six” energy companies. MP Lisa Nandy, shadow energy secretary, told the Labour Party conference, “Jeremy and I don’t want to nationalise energy. We want to do something far more radical. We want to democratise it.”
A position similar to the Green Party who do not mention nationalisation of the big companies.
The only way to democratise the big trans-national companies is to nationalise them under workers control. Corbyn will never go as far as demanding nationalisation under workers control. “Democratisation” does nothing to change the balance of forces that the big companies, finance capital, the stock exchanges, and the banks have today.
The promise of rail nationalisation is hugely popular but Corbyn’s policy will only be addressed when private contracts come to their end. And only then could rail services be taken into public ownership, which means that by 2025 only 25 per cent of the network could be in public hands.
Trident was not even discussed despite Corbyn having campaigned against Trident renewal for many years.
Corbyn allowed MPs to have a free vote – see article on Momentum* in this issue.
All policy is for discussion but we need action now
We can already see that what was said during the leadership campaign is not automatically policy. There will be a long policy making process, and “all policy is up for discussion and there is a review of how we will set policy in the future,” Corbyn’s spokesman to the Financial Times, 1 October.
This means that the Party remains a block to the struggles of workers. We cannot wait, the new Labour leadership is trying to deceive the fighters and the working class with false promises and saying nothing when promises are abandoned, except to wait until 2020 for a united Labour Party to save the working class – this is a false unity.
But the Government is fighting a capitalist war, a war of austerity against the working class and an imperialist war that is devastating Syria and the Middle East.
2016 will continue with austerity, cuts and war. The world crisis of capitalism is far from over, oil prices and mining commodities slump and the world economies are competing to export a production crisis, such as with China. The International Socialist League continues to advocate the need to fight now — for a programme and mobilisation against war, austerity and cuts and above all building of a revolutionary party.
Originally published on Socialist Voice 23, Jan 2016