A new coalition of trade unions and other groups is taking up the fight for socialism in the Labour Party. Set against the backdrop of Keir Starmer’s ongoing purge of the left, the group is looking to ‘build the resistance’. And on Saturday 18 September, Unite the Union assistant general secretary Howard Beckett will take the lead in launching the group’s manifesto.
Labour Left for Socialism
Labour Left for Socialism (LL4S) formally launched in August 2021. It’s a coalition of trade unions and other groups. LL4S came out of the Don’t Leave, Organise movement. Its aims are broad. They include:
- Restoring and strengthening democracy throughout the whole of our Party
- Ending the wave of suspensions, lifting those already unjustly imposed, reversing bans and proscriptions against the left
- Committing Labour to repeal all anti-union laws, ending zero-hours contracts and “fire and rehire”, demanding fair statutory sick pay
- Ensuring that the Labour Party is actively anti-racist and supportive of international solidarity issues
The groups supporting LL4S include:
- Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).
- Labour Black Socialists.
- Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
- Grassroots Black Left.
- Labour Women Leading.
- Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
- Labour Representation Committee (LRC).
- Red Labour.
Starmer’s Labour: ‘echoing’ the Tories
LL4S said in its August statement that Labour is “not effectively” opposing the Tories. In fact, it said that on some issues the party has “echoed” the government. LL4S also called out the ongoing purge. It said:
the democracy of our own party is under threat. A growing number of local parties have been taken over by unelected officials; the Forde inquiry report has not been published; many members who have spoken out have been suspended or expelled; proscriptions have been introduced against socialist groups; Jeremy Corbyn remains without the Labour whip. As a result, over one hundred thousand members have resigned from the party over the last year.
We will not stand idly by and allow this to continue. We are, therefore, coming together in solidarity not only with the people who are being so gravely disadvantaged by this government but against the purge of the left, which is key for the Leadership to achieve its aim of reversing the socialist policies brought in under Corbyn and to make the Party a safe place for capitalism.
Now, LL4S is taking things a step further.
On 18 September, LL4S will hold a virtual meeting. Called “Building the Resistance”, it will take place on Zoom from 11am. You can register here. LL4S said in a press release that it’s:
launching a manifesto setting out an agenda of unified defiance on major issues affecting all sectors of the labour movement. It is also backing calls for delegates at party conference in Brighton later this month to reject Keir Starmer’s ally David Evans as general secretary.
speakers at the online launch on September 18 will include Andrew Scattergood (FBU) on workers’ rights, Ekua Bayunu (Labour Black Socialists) on the fight against racism, Chris Saltmarsh (Labour for a Green New Deal) on the climate crisis and Matt Wrack (FBU General Secretary on Public Services.
Barry Gardiner MP will also speak about the campaign for his private members bill to outlaw fire and rehire, which has its second reading in parliament on 22 September.
Beckett will chair the event. LL4S noted that this is in a “personal capacity”.
Fighting the “ferocious” purge
Beckett said in a press release:
This is the start of something for the whole of our movement, the result of months of work by members of left groups and unions working together to confront attacks from the Tory government and also from Labour’s right wing.
With the ferocious ratcheting up of suspensions and expulsions in recent weeks, it’s clear that delegates to Labour Party conference in Brighton next week need to follow the lead of Unite the Union and vote down Evans as party general secretary.
The right have got away with a full-scale assault on the left of the party, to rid it of socialism, to become a party of the establishment, because the left has not been united. Now we are putting down a marker that we are united and we are not going anywhere. We are calling on all socialists in the party to come together around common goals and join us in setting in motion the process of left mobilisation.
What’s also interesting about LL4S is that the Labour Party has proscribed (i.e. banned) one of its signatories. It outlawed membership or support of Socialist Appeal back in July. At the time, Dylan Cope from the group told The Canary:
We’re certainly going to fight this purge. I think the whole left needs to come together and resist this by all means
This is now what appears to be happening. But with Socialist Appeal involved with LL4S, what’s unclear is whether or not being a member of LL4S will incur disciplinary action from Labour. The party has form on this. Recently, it threatened to expel prominent member and activist Graham Bash. This was for signing an open letter from a proscribed group, Labour Against the Witchhunt. Labour’s action against Bash was despite him signing the letter around 18 months prior to the party’s banning of the group.
It appears LL4S has thought of this, though. Because it says on its website that:
Signatories demonstrate their support for the principles in the statement, not each other’s organisations.
But whether this is good enough for Labour not to try and expel people associated with LL4S remains to be seen.
Organising the fightback
The new group seems to be picking up where Corbyn left off. It also represents another attempt to operate an organised fightback against Starmer and Evans’ ongoing purge. The left-wing of the Labour Party will surely be watching closely to see where this group goes next.
Featured image via Labour Left for Socialism and Going Underground – YouTube
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