Labour’s expulsion of Ken Loach has been decades in the making

Ken Loach looking at Tony Blair and Hugh Gaitskell
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The Labour Party’s expulsion of acclaimed director Ken Loach has been met with fury on social media. But the story represents a decades-long fight between factions in the party. Except this time, it may well be the end for the left wing as we know it.

Loach out of Labour

On Saturday 14 August, Loach tweeted news of the party expelling him. He said:

Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled…

I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch hunt… Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity.

It was predictable that Labour would expel Loach. This is because he sponsored a group the party recently banned. Labour said that the four proscribed groups were “not compatible with Labour’s rules or [its] aims and values”. As some people on social media pointed out, Labour saying Loach isn’t compatible with the party’s values is jaw-dropping.

Mixed reactions

A handful of Labour MPs tweeted in support of Loach. But as the Times‘ Gabriel Pogrund noted, the party seemed unrepentant. A “source close to Keir Starmer” told him:

When Keir was elected leader he said he would work tirelessly to make the party a welcoming [and] safe place for Jewish people. He remains totally committed to doing exactly that

Read on...

Other people on social media were saying that Labour was right to expel Loach because of comments he made in 2017. People accused him of supporting Holocaust denial. But this wasn’t actually true. As The Canary‘s former editor-at-large Kerry-Anne Mendoza previously wrote:

he is accused of Holocaust denial. Did he deny the Holocaust? No. Did he advocate for denying the Holocaust? No.

Loach himself has cleared up the situation. But the party’s expulsion of him is part of a wider campaign.

Destroying real opposition

The Canary has been documenting the ongoing purge. It seems that the Labour machinery is intent on destroying the left wing of its party. As journalist Jonathan Cook wrote, this is part of a wider agenda to maintain the corporate, capitalist status quo:

Loach and [Jeremy] Corbyn’s demonisation as antisemites – and parallel efforts across the Atlantic to silence Bernie Sanders (made more complicated by his Jewishness) – are evidence of a final public purge by the western political and media establishments of this kind of old-school class consciousness

He added that their:

grassroots activism is the antithesis of a modern politics in which corporations use their huge wealth to lobby and buy politicians, who in turn use their spin-doctors to control the public discourse through a highly partisan and sympathetic corporate media.

And this kind of attack on left-wing thinking by the party machinery is nothing new.

Nothing new

As The Canary wrote back in 2016, attempts by the centre-right of the Labour Party to destroy the left wing have been happening for decades. As New Socialist wrote, it goes back as far as the 1950s with the election of Hugh Gaitskell as party leader and his “social-democratic revisionism”. This was, as New Socialist described:

calling into question the very fundamentals of Labourism as an ideology…

In other words, Gaitskell was trying to move the party away from socialism. Another example is from the late 1970s, when a Constituency Labour Party (CLP) tried to deselect its less-than socialist MP Reg Prentice. As author Hilary Wainwright wrote, the party machinery’s smear campaign kicked in:

overnight those who wanted Prentice to go were described as ‘extremists’, ‘bed-sit revolutionaries’, ‘members of the Trotskyist Militant’, ‘unrepresentative of the Labour voter’ and ‘enemies of democracy’. These descriptions, with the term ‘hard left’ added as a useful catch all, have stuck for any group in the Labour party which challenges established (especially parliamentary) power.

Prentice was eventually deselected. He went on to defect to the Conservatives, serving under Margaret Thatcher in her cabinet.

Things coming to pass

Fast-forward to 2016, and as The Canary predicted:

If [Corbyn] fails, then you can forget the idea of Labour ever leaning to the left again. His rise and fall will be cited forever as the reason why the party cannot try the “hard-left” experiment.

It will also have a knock-on effect on the whole of the left, more broadly – as his fairly polite form of social democracy will forever be painted as that of “Trots”, a “rabble”, and “militant”. Anyone beyond that sphere of thinking will be seen as positively Maoist from then on.

So Labour has been here before. And now, the left wing could be facing eternal marginalisation from the party. But where next for Starmer’s regime?

The Tories’ B-Team?

As Novara Media‘s Aaron Bastani tweeted, the party:

is on a precipice.

The coterie around Starmer have no intention of winning in 2024. They’ll lose for another decade if need be. This is about becoming the establishment’s b-team.

It’s hard to think otherwise. The left wing is being systematically and permanently destroyed. Starmer and Co have plotted a course back towards the corporate, capitalist status quo. So is now, finally, the time for anyone with socialist tendencies to leave the party and put their efforts into a more worthwhile project? The answer may well be a resounding ‘yes’.

Featured image via Channel 4 News – YouTube, ITV News – YouTube and Bradford Timeline – Flickr 

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  • Show Comments
    1. There has been a long History of Anti Socialist Right Wing Elements in The Labour Movement. Hardie knew this, sadly SM and Crowdfunding was not about when he started the movement so he needed to ‘turn a blind eye on some Right Wing involvement’ for both Experience and Funding!
      HOWEVER It was Blair who dragged Thatcher/Reagan’s Neoliberalism, with a big dollop of Neoconservativism, in behind him, when he gnawed his way through and into Parliament via the Sewers of Westminster!
      For anyone who still can’t see it there are simply no comparison between The Thatcherite Neoliberal Neolabour Party TORIES and The Democratic Socialist UK Labour Party (“The Left”)!
      The Neolabour Party TORIES ARE NOT: The Right of The Left, Liberal, Soft Left, Bogus “Centrists”, Labour, they Hijacked the NAME as their Neoliberal Corporate BRAND NAME, etc! Vote for their Brand Name “Labour” and get 42 more years of Thatcherite Neoliberal TORY Hell!
      The Neolabour Party TORIES ARE: A Parasite Party infesting The UK Labour Party (“The Left”), Anti-Socialism, Anti-UK Labour Party, Racist, Anti BLM, Anti-“Fringe & Black Jews”, Pro-War, Anti-Palestine, Anti-NHS, Pro-Privatisation, Anti-Social Care, Anti-“People on Benefits”, Anti-Freedom of Speech, etc!

      TWO Parties and TWO Completely Polar Opposite Political Factions!
      1. HOST PARTY: The UK Labour Party=Democratic Socialism=In Polar Opposition To The Thatcherite Neoliberal Government=Stands Up and Fights FOR and WITH The PEOPLE!
      2. PARASITE PARTY: The Neolabour Party TORIES=Thatcherite Neoliberalism=In FULL Cooperation with their Peers and Colleagues The Thatcherite Neoliberal Government=Stands and Fights FOR: 1. FOR THEMSELVES! and 2. The Tri/Bi/Unilateral Commissions/The Elites/The Establishment/etc. I reckon in many/most ways, NO! EVERY POSSIBLE WAY, worse than the Conservative Party TORIES!
      We better get involved in our CLPs to ensure that there are MANY UK Labour Party (“The Left”) MPs/Candidates to take seats at the next GE so that we can vote OUT The Neolabour Party TORY PARASITES at the next GE BEFORE THEY DESTROY US COMPLETELY!
      I’ll be damned before I vote for the Nasty Neolabour TORY, the Parasites who Stole The People’s opportunity to end 42 Years of Thatcherism, TWICE! I will vote for his strongest opponent whoever that may be, to tactically eliminate him from that seat and hopefully open it for a UK Labour Party (“The Left”) Candidate instead at the Next GE!
      We’ve proven with Seema/Benny/Young Labour we are still ‘The Many’ we would still be a minority Party, after the next GE, BUT we WILL ACTUALLY BE AN OPPOSITION Party and we WILL BE A Sabotage/Parasite/Conniving/Smearing/etc FREE Party FOR THE PEOPLE and able to grow at a record rate!
      VOTE Thatcher’s Neolabour Party TORIES OUT!
      VOTE UK Labour Party (“The Left”) IN!

    2. The rot in the Labour party has been ever since 1935, when Ernest Bevin led a right-wing coup against George Lansbury. If anyone was an anti-semite, it was Bevin; Jewish refugees in the refugee camp on Cyprus adopted a pig which they named “Bevin”! (it was in leon Uris’s book “Exodus”!)

    3. All quite correct. But what’s to be done? This should not be the death of the Left but the birth of a new movement. It has never been quite possible before because, in spite of the Right’s determination to hem in the Left, it has been canny enough to give it some space. Bevan was permitted to found the NHS (he was expelled of course but found his way back in, Starmer would boil him in oil); Wilson had Foot and Benn in his cabinet; Callaghan was willing to work with Foot. This is different: it is an attempt to drive the Left into permanent exclusion and insignificance. There are now hundreds of thousands of activists and millions of voters without a home. This is the perfect moment for a new movement. It needs to be founded on these principles: it’s purpose is to reform capitalism out of existence and to replace its fundamental relationship of employer and employee by egalitarian, co-operative relationships; it will be a federation of autonomous units; power will always be with the members and though responsibility may be passed upwards, power never will, decisions will always belong to the grass roots; there will be no national bureaucracy merely local administration; there will be a hierarchy of function but not of persons; there will be absolute respect for freedom of belief and thought but no one will have the right to impose their beliefs on anyone else; the movement will campaign to make war and all forms of violence illegal; the concept of race will be rejected as meaningless and all peoples and people will be treated as of equal worth; all policies will be required to respect the planet, to prevent global warning, damaging climate change and species depletion; there will be no single national leader, anyone granted a leadership role through a democratic process will be subject to immediate recall.
      In this way we create a truly radical, egalitarian movement for genuine freedom and avoid the pitfall of creating yet another vehicle for cynical time-servers and careerists. There are enough of us to make it work. £30 a year each would fund it to get it going. And we have the commitment to do the work. We are looking for freedom not money or power. We are too many for them to be able to sideline or silence us. A new movement is crying out to be born and it will shock them to the core.

      1. A bit odd. Your ideas appear interesting but where’s the socialism? You seem afraid of the word. In many ways, it looks rather like the Green party. Perhaps you need to look at the fate of most Green parties around the world: they have mostly been taken over by right-wingers just as the Labour party has. Ireland’s party is a prime example.

        1. Airlane1979: He literally has just laid out the principles of socialism, and also advanced socialism, that also takes our planet and the other inhabitants of it seriously.

          Magicmancunian, *I’d* support such a movement and Party!

    4. It’s still the ‘Masters’ game. They want to control what you see, hear and read. What you are taught, and what you can do. They will that the working class be silent and compliant, and serve them. All for greed, and the fear of losing their power & influence.
      It’s how they are controlled by ‘distraction’, rather than people accepting serfdom. They know the workers can be made to worry about their jobs, their wages, their prospects and their families. That they can be divided by arguments around race, sexuality etc.
      Any damn thing and everything just so long as the working class are and stay divided. The best prison created is one without bars!

      To them, Jeremy Corbyn was an error. He was not controllable ( by them ). He slipped through the net ( it still had some holes big enough ). He attracted the people, both young and old, because he offered hope. His political ideas began to be popular. He wanted to change the ‘prison’. The public masses flocked to his soap box callings. He scared the ‘Masters’, for a while anyway, but definitely enough for them to engage the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. Their arguments against his views were not working with the people. No great numbers were flocking to hear Teresa May speak. And if that wasn’t bad enough Jeremy Corbyn was against imperialism, wanted true democracy, sided with the Palestinians , and damn it, wanted peace in the world! They could not allow any of that.

      If you can’t win fairly, and have no conscience, then play the man! and undermine his immediate political support base. They own the weapon of the main stream media, so they started with scares of Russian influence, then ramped up to ( the ultimate? ) accusations of anti-sematism.

      Whilst their media went into desperate overdrive. They began the ‘cuckoo’ process inside the Labour party. Those that would show a collegiate face on the outside, but who were willing to undermine on the inside. They had been in place for a long time. Alas, Jeremy Corbyn being a gentle man ( wouldn’t play a dirty trick, even if he knew how ) could not withstand the relentless onslaught. The cuckoos, pretending to be socialist, hatched their plotting schemes from the shadows, and took over, and are busy pushing out of the nest, those who thought that the nest was socialist.
      And as cuckoos do, they make the nest their own, and will never let the socialist birds back in.

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