Socialist Worker

Will Labour's manifesto ignore members’ votes to support radical policies?

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2680

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Diane Abbott launching her campaign (Pic: Diane Abbott/Twitter)


Labour’s ruling body was set to meet on Saturday to finalise its election manifesto.

The national executive committee (NEC) will have the final say on what’s in and what’s out.

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised that the manifesto will be “more radical” than Labour’s 2017 one.

Yet right wing NEC members and trade union bureaucrats can use Saturday’s Clause V meeting to remove or water down more radical policies.

One Labour candidate said the manifesto will only be “as radical as Unite and the GMB will let it be”.

Left wing Labour members fear that the party’s policy to defend and extend freedom of movement—agreed at its conference in September—will be ignored.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has repeatedly refused to back the policy. Labour politicians believe that looking “soft” on migrants will cost it votes, and union bureaucrats wrongly argue that immigration has a role in lowering wages.

Repeal

Abbott has stuck with Labour’s previous immigration policy which is simply to repeal the Tories’ 2014 immigration act and “end the hostile environment”.

She has previously backed a skills-based immigration system similar to the one the Tories propose.

Under such a system, migrants will only be let into Britain if they can do certain jobs. Party members rejected that system at the conference in September.

They oppose “any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps/targets”.

Abbott is also at odds with party members over immigration detention centres. Members at the conference agreed that all detention centres should be shut down.

Yet Abbott says Labour will close just two, Yarl’s Wood and Brook House.

And it seems unlikely that the manifesto will commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

That’s a bare minimum step to stand a chance of avoiding the worst-case climate disaster, and was overwhelmingly backed by party members in September.

Yet many trade union bureaucrats—particularly in the GMB union—oppose this.

They believe defending the fossil fuel industry is the best way to protect their members’ jobs.


Left fails in deselection bids

Right wing Labour Party activists celebrated that the left in the party have failed to deselect a single MP.

Left wing Labour Party members have fought for the right to choose their parliamentary candidates through selection processes.

This is an opportunity to replace right wing MPs with candidates who are closer to members’ left wing views.

Yet the right wing faction Labour First celebrated that “not a single Labour MP was deselected!”.

Undermine

Meanwhile other right wing Labour and former Labour politicians used the first days of the election campaign to undermine Corbyn.

Margaret Hodge—who has pandered to Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism—refused to say she supported him.

Ian Austin and John Woodcock—who quit the party after refusing to cooperate with an investigation over accusations of sexual harassment against him—called for a vote for the Tories.

Austin—who has also made racist anti-migrant arguments—said he quit Labour to “fight racism.”

Instead, he said he would back notorious Islamophobe Boris Johnson.


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