The Laughable Left

I have always identified myself as being to the left of Labour. Well, that’s not hard these days with even Roy Hattersley coming across as a dangerous left-wing extremist!

The best characterisation of the left is the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when the People’s Front of Judaea hate the “enemy” separatist faction, the Judaean People’s Front, more than they hate the Romans

So to does it sometimes appear on the left of British politics. The number of left wing factions is laughable.

The Socialist Workers Party is largely made up of middle age men, still fighting student union battles of the 70s and 80s, with slogans to match.

Disillusioned lefties, such as Dave Hill, have left Labour yet dream of great victories by gathering in new parties such as No2euYes2democracy or the Socialist Labour Party.

Even those leaders of the left during the halcyon days of the poll tax are sidelined. Whatever happened to Richard Stanton? Sheila Hall emigrated to Spain, Jean Calder ended up writing for the Argus (although she does not seem to have betrayed her feminist and left-wing credentials), and Andy Winter  does little more than watch and write about cricket!

There are two main consequences of all this. Young people and campaigners are focusing their time and effort into single issue campaigns, with the wider Labour movement becoming increasingly moribund.

The rightward drift of Labour has created perfect conditions for the growth of the BNP. The rise of the far right is not the fault of the left. It is the failures of the Labour government that has caused division and disillusionment.

A strong “opposition” within the Labour Party could have prevented this.

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3 Responses

  1. I think the strength of practical opposition from within the Labour Party is strong. Loads of leaflets go out, and members are encouraged towards anti-fascist organisations.

    On the extent to which Labour’s desertion of the hard (or even medium left) has let the BNP gain a foothold. The soft left and centre ground undoubtably dominate policy making within Labour, but we must remember that this helped Labour win three elections and gain a new kind of voter. Without this the traditional Labour movement may have been appeased but we would still be living under a Tory government. It may have allowed the BNP to get a slight hold in the old manufactoring cities and such, but it has helped overcome a bigger obstacle, the conservative establishment and the Conservative government. The BNP are still not big enough to mould Labour policy, and we cannot let the small party dominate thinking within the Labour Party.

  2. “The rightward drift of Labour has created perfect conditions for the growth of the BNP. The rise of the far right is not the fault of the left.”

    If Labour drifting rightward contributes to the growth of the BNP, the BNP’s votes are coming from disaffected Labour supporters, and a stronger left wing of Labour would have contained the BNP, then why are they “far right?” I reckon they’re far left by your account.

  3. For the record, Sheila Hall went to Spain for a brief period of time and did not in fact ’emigrate’ anywhere. Brighton born I am still here.

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