Socialist Worker

As the Labour right holds its ground, the left has to look beyond the bureaucracy

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2531

Labour members cheered for Corbyns re-election. But not many are inspired by bureaucratic wrangling inside the party

Labour members cheered for Corbyn's re-election. But not many are inspired by bureaucratic wrangling inside the party (Pic: Neil Terry)


The Labour right has defeated the left in recent battles inside the Labour Party—ensuring it holds its grip on party structures.

Candidates backed by the right won all leading positions at a meeting of the party’s National Policy Forum last Saturday. Its policies shape Labour’s manifesto.

It followed right victories at regional conferences and annual general meetings of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).

The London regional conference saw right winger Ellie Reeves win the vice chair position, backed by 85 percent of London CLPs.

Her win came despite reported opposition from the Unite union, a powerful voice in Labour.

The right also beat left-backed candidates in the Walthamstow and Lewisham CLPs, which are seen as left strongholds.

The left’s defeats show that the right has stronger organisation inside Labour. It still controls Labour's internal structures even though the leadership—and the bulk of the membership—are further left.

Luke Akehurst, secretary of the right wing Labour First, said that after a “positive few weeks” for the Labour right, they should continue to “organise very hard” to hold the left at bay.

Danger

There is a danger that the defeats could encourage the Labour left to step up its attempts to win internal battles.

Labour left group Momentum has focused on winning more seats for CLP representatives on the party’s national executive committee (NEC). The NEC had been set to meet on Tuesday to debate changes to its rules and make-up.

Momentum had focused its efforts on an online campaign in the weeks running up to the meeting, calling on its members to demand more CLP seats.

FBU union general secretary Matt Wrack recently called on all Momentum supporters to back the campaign. He warned, “Time is running out to transform Labour”.

But late on Monday evening the proposed changes were removed from the NEC’s agenda—meaning the left was defeated before the meeting even began.

The recent victories for the right show that the left is at its weakest when fighting internal battles against Labour’s right wing bureaucracy.

Weeks of campaigning can swiftly be quashed by backroom manouvering. And Labour’s new mass membership clearly has little enthusiasm for getting bogged down in internal battles.

But the left is stronger when it looks outwards. Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election campaign was successful because it drew tens of thousands of people to energetic rallies that promised a fight for a radically different society.

The right didn’t stand a chance.


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