Socialist Worker

Demand more than this Labour leadership contest

Issue No. 2456

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham is no left wing candidate (Pic: Flickr: The BMA)


Millions of workers look for relief from the Tories’ latest onslaught. But activists looking at the Labour Party’s leadership election will despair.

Every day the candidates compete to prove they are friends of business. They brush over the plight of the working class people they should be representing as if it is an embarrassment.  

So candidate Andy Burnham makes much of his campaigning over the NHS but declares, “In my Labour Party, the entrepreneur will be as much our hero as the nurse.” 

The bosses’ paper the Financial Times is relishing such talk. 

An editorial last week said Labour needs to “treat the private sector as a potential ally in the delivery of public services rather than spinning horror stories of profiteering and abuse”.

And Burnham has said he would advocate welfare cuts somewhere “in between” zero and the £12 billion the Tories want to drive through. 

There is no candidate of the left as none could secure the 35 nominees needed to take part.

Despite this, left Labour MP John McDonnell argued, “We do have the intellectual resources to dominate the ideological and policy debate in this leadership election.” The reality is that the right is shaping the debate. 

 The Labour left says that “the main forms of effective resistance will be on the streets, in occupations and on picket lines”. 

Yet this is still in the context of winning people to Labour. 

Instead we need to offer a credible alternative to the left of Labour. Right now the left is too divided to provide such an alternative. Socialist Worker has consistently argued for unity to build effective opposition to Tory attacks. 

We see the organised working class as having the potential power to defy Tory rule. 

The problem is that many union leaders have been unwilling to lead effective action, or have retreated at key moments when strikes could have pushed forward and won. 

The priority for socialists today is not picking the best of a very bad lot in the Labour leadership election. 

Instead we need to build every fight that can challenge the Tories over austerity, racism, union rights and all the other attacks.

The People’s Assembly demonstrations on 20 June will see thousands descend onto the streets of London and Glasgow to march against the Tories. 

This can bring together trade unionists, welfare campaigners, school students, anti-racist activists and everyone else who was gutted to see the Tories win.

If they are big it can give confidence to many workers that a fight against the cuts is possible. 

The Tories face many problems in pushing through their programme with a small majority.

We need to build the sort of resistance that they can’t ignore.


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