The decision by Laura Pidcock to resign from the Labour Party’s national executive is very significant. She spoke of a “hostile territory for socialists” and the leadership being “devoid of ideas”.
It is a rejection of the Labour left’s mantra to “stay and fight” in the hope of eventually restoring a left leadership.
Central to that—doomed—programme is securing leadership positions in the party. The national executive is near the top of that list.
All the Momentum supporters will be dismayed by Pidcock’s move, but I’m heartened by it.
I particularly enjoyed that she said “some people seem to think that we can negotiate our way to justice by appealing to the right of the party to do the right thing.
“That has never worked and certainly will not work in the current circumstances”.
That’s spot on—and taken to its conclusion it means abandoning the “broad party” Labour model and the domination of electoral politics.
The immediate trigger for Pidcock’s move was the national executive’s 23 to 14 vote against a motion to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.
It was a comfortable win for the right, and major unions Unison, GMB and Usdaw came out against Corbyn’s return.
That probably extinguishes his hopes of returning as a Labour MP unless he makes a grovelling apology and agrees never to deviate from Keir Starmer’s line.
So for Pidcock and Corbyn the issue is what to do next. They are both admirable socialists, but I hope they will move beyond urging us to take part in various campaigns.
With due respect to the Socialist Workers Party, we need a bigger revolutionary left to be effective.
That task can’t be postponed. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a group of 20,000 or more that bases its politics on resistance in the workplaces and our communities.
It could have a big effect at times of crisis like now. Pidcock, Corbyn and all the revolutionary left have a duty to work for this.
Carolyn McGrath Bristol
There was much that I agreed with in Nick Clark’s article “Will a New Left Party Challenge Keir Starmer?” (Socialist Worker, 19 January). He showed the problems and dangers in forming an electoral alternative to Labour.
But I was surprised that there was no mention of Respect—just a vague reference to “various attempts at similar projects in Britain and France”.
In fact between 2004 and 2007 the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) devoted much of its energy to building the Respect alliance.
As an SWP member at the time, I certainly put a lot of effort into Respect.
There were positive achievements. With one MP and 19 councillors we made an impact on the political line-up, and gave a voice to the socialist alternative to Tony Blair’s Labour.
But there were also serious problems, some of which are covered in Clark’s article. Surely the SWP should make a serious assessment of the Resect experience, both positive and negative aspects, and the reasons for the mistakes that were made.
Socialists learn from history, but we cannot learn without acknowledging the facts.
Ian Birchall North London
The article about mandatory vaccination in the NHS (Socialist Worker, 26 January) is quite correct. But we need to include a stronger statement about the fundamental right to refuse medical procedures.
This right was accepted by the United Nations after revelations about Nazi atrocities in the Second World War.
But it is now being revoked in a number of countries with potentially devastating consequences.
The return of enforced sterilisations, supposedly in the public interest, are but one practice that could be rendered legitimate by this move.
At the same time a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is under threat. This further undermines the right to “physical, moral and psychological integrity”.
As in other areas, the pandemic is being used to undermine civil, worker and human rights. We need to be at the forefront of a principled opposition to all such moves.
Craig Brandist Sheffield
The management of Sheffield Hallam University recently suspended a course taught by PhD student and associate lecturer, Shahd Abusalama over claims of antisemitism.
Anti-Palestine groups have repeatedly attacked Shahd’s campaign work for Palestinian liberation.
This is a clear attack on those campaigning for Palestinian liberation.
Under pressure, Sheffield Hallam reinstated the course. Though it says the complaints are still being investigated.
How does this assault square with Sheffield Hallam’s claims to be actively decolonising the curriculum?
It was great to see many student bodies signing a letter that says, “Sheffield Hallam University has now made itself an accomplice in the unrelenting targeting of Palestinian academics and students on UK campuses.
“Shahd Abusalama has not only been an incredible campaigner, she has provided immense support for us as students, working closely with many of us as we were beginning to get involved in student activism.” It’s important that university workers, students and others take action.
On Friday Shahd said she had been reinstated. But she added, “Continue writing letters demanding investigations are dropped, recognising the university’s mishandling, the wrong foundation onto which the investigation came about.
“Continue writing letters demanding a public apology recognising the immense distress it’s inflicted in the process on me.
“Demand that Sheffield Hallam University reviews its adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism that is designed to protect a racist settler-colonial state and distract from its crimes, and listen to the UCU and staff opposition.”
Fran Yepes South London
To support Shahd, follow @ShahdAbusalama on Twitter and email protests to Sheffield Hallam’s vice chancellor Sir Chris Husbands at [email protected]
Copy messages to [email protected]
The killings in Yemen (Socialist Worker, 26 January) are exacerbating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Arms manufacturers profit from the war. But the World Food Programme has been forced to reduce food assistance to eight million people in need in Yemen because it is running out of funds.
Companies such as Raytheon UK and British Aerospace enrich their shareholders at the expense of the human rights of the people of Saudi Arabia and the peace of Yemen.
John Wake Harlow
When Tory MP Christian Wakeford joined the Labour Party he was welcomed with open arms.
A few years ago, I tried to register with Labour. But without question, or them even knowing who I am, was told I did not uphold the aims and objectives of the Party, and was rejected. I am a socialist, Wakeford is a Tory. Sums the Labour Party up really.
Anne James Chesterfield
Socialist Worker’s centre-page feature (19 January) on two inspiring strikes mistakenly reported that “the legal maximum” number of pickets is six.
In fact, no law states this. The latest government code of practice on picketing (2017) merely advises that “pickets and their organisers should ensure that in general the number of pickets does not exceed six at any entrance to, or exit from, a workplace”.
Dave Lyddon Keele, Staffordshire
When governments are in trouble they start to beat he war drums. Make sure we don’t get fooled again.
Freedom of expression under threat again
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Plus Hong Kong Palestine protests