A tale of two manifestos

A tale of two manifestos

Simon Hannah compares Tony Benn’s 1983 and Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 contributions

VIRTUALLY EVERYONE now accepts that Labour’s 2017 manifesto For the Many not the Few was a remarkable success. Almost as soon as the draft was leaked and summarised in the entire bosses’ press and broadcast media, in the belief that it would embarrass and undermine Labour, it became clear that, far from this, it was immediately popular. On the issues of free university tuition, scrapping the bedroom tax, giving workers guaranteed hours, restoring nurses’ training bursaries or bolstering collective bargaining, opinion polls registered big margins of approval. These main points spelt out a complete rejection of Tory and Coalition austerity since 2010. Since the result, Theresa May has evidently told her MPs that austerity is over. This is because her own manifesto, which singularly failed to win popular support, was precisely yet another austerity manifesto.

For the Many not the Few presents a clear set of policy differences that mean that Labour could no longer be accused of being Tory-lite. People on the doorstep could not say, “They are all the same”. With its promises to renationalise certain important service industries (water, rail and the post); create municipal energy production companies and reverse the sell-off economy we have endured since the Thatcher era, the programme represents not only a decisive break from Osborne or Cameron but, more importantly, from Brown and Blair, too.

Naturally, under the most left-wing leader since 1945, Labour’s manifesto has been compared to the last left-wing manifesto Labour issued, that of 1983. That manifesto, The New Hope for Britain, mainly drafted by Tony Benn, was the product of a long struggle for left-wing policies that had radically shifted the balance of forces in the party and started to democratise it in 1980-81. In the general election of 1983, however, Labour suffered a catastrophic defeat and the right wing of the party blamed this on the manifesto, a myth perpetuated by Gerald Kaufman’s memorable quip that it was “the longest suicide note in history”.

The anti-Corbyn right would undoubtedly have thrown the same charge at For the Many, if the predicted disaster had occurred. Now they are silent or actually praising the 2017 document. Nevertheless, it is worth comparing the two manifestos and trying to learn the lessons from the past.

The fire last time

In 1983, Labour was led by Michael Foot (1913-2010), a veteran of the party’s left wing; editor of Tribune and biographer of Aneurin (Nye) Bevan. In fact, in the 1970s, Foot had distanced himself from the new radical left, supporting Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan’s incomes policies (named the Social Contract, and nicknamed the social con-trick). He became Party leader in 1980, performing a precarious balancing act for the next three years between the right wing, led by Denis Healy, and the left, led by Tony Benn.

At the same time, the left, based in the constituencies and the trade unions, managed to win conference to a series of left-wing policies and democratic reforms. The high point came in 1981 with Tony Benn’s challenge for the Deputy Leadership, which Healy won by only the narrowest of margins; 50.4 per cent to 49.6 per cent. Predictably, the response of the right in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) was to try to wreck the party.

Faced with the threat of re-selection by the rank and file in their own constituencies in Spring 1981, the so-called Gang of Four (Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rogers), broke from the party. Eventually, 28 Labour MPs left to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which quickly allied with the Liberals and eventually fused with them to create today’s Liberal Democrats.

This desertion, plus the threats by many remaining right-wingers in the PLP to follow suit, frightened the left. Wedded to what they called the “Broad Church” of Labour, that is, the belief that they could never win office without the right wing, they went for what they thought was a “temporary” or “tactical” compromise.

In 1982, a gathering of senior trade union leaders and Labour politicians, including Benn, signed what became known as “the peace of Bishop’s Stortford”, after the union venue where they met. The principle agreed was acceptance of “the existing leadership and the existing programme”. Blackmailed by scarcely concealed threats by the PLP right to join the Gang of Four, the left also agreed to hold back on further attempts to de-select right-wing MPs or challenge for the leadership in return for left-wing policies appearing in the next Labour manifesto.

When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas) on on 2 April 1982, Michael Foot, although a lifelong antiwar campaigner and CND member, positively provoked Thatcher into a launching a war. In the Commons on 3 April, he accused Thatcher of betraying the Falkland Islanders:

“The responsibility for the betrayal rests with the Government. The Government must now prove by deeds—they will never be able to do it by words—that they are not responsible for the betrayal and cannot be faced with that charge.” (Hansard, April 1982).

The “deeds” of the British task force included the sinking of the Argentine Navy cruiser General Belgrano with 323 lives lost, although it was sailing away from the war zone; but eventual victory in the Falklands was the turning point for Thatcher. Until then, she had been incredibly unpopular and, according to The Guardian, “appeared a weak, broken leader”. Victory in June saw her poll ratings soar above Labour’s for the first time since 1979. She later wrote in her memoirs:

“It is no exaggeration to say that the outcome of the Falklands War transformed the British political scene… The so-called ‘Falklands factor’… was real enough. I could feel the impact of the victory wherever I went”.

Thatcher’s election victory in 1983, with 397 seats to Labour’s 209, was the complete opposite of May’s situation today. It was Labour’s worst election result since the disaster of 1931, when Ramsay MacDonald betrayed the party to join with the Tories in a National Government. Labour’s share of the vote was 27.6 per cent, a mere 2 per cent ahead of the SDP–Liberal Alliance and 15 per cent below the Tories.

Understanding the cause of that defeat is perhaps the most important lesson for today. The argument that Labour lost because it went too far to the left has been repeated so frequently by the right that it has become accepted wisdom. It has two elements; one is the “longest suicide note” jibe that focuses on the election manifesto; the other, most closely associated with Neil Kinnock who was elected leader after Foot’s resignation, blames the activity of “Trotskyist entryists”, principally the Militant Tendency, for making the party “unelectable”. But the cause of the defeat did not lie in a manifesto that was “longest suicide note in history”, that is in the left-wing policies that were adopted by conference and drafted into Labour’s manifesto 1982 by Tony Benn. This was a myth fashioned by right-wingers like Roy Hattersley, Gerald Kaufman, and Denis Healey. In fact during the election campaign they several times made clear their disloyalty to the manifesto.

Neil Kinnock, the new leader elected after Foot’s resignation on a so-called dream ticket with Hattersley, centred his “explanation” for defeat on “Trotskyist entryists”, and specifically on the Militant Tendency. Thus, cautiously at first, he began the process of witch-hunting the left and reversing the policies included in the 1983 manifesto.

It was neither the manifesto nor the doings of Militant that lost Labour the election. It is certainly true that the disloyal criticism of the manifesto by the likes of Kaufman, Hattersley and Healy provided ammunition for the tabloids to attack Labour as a divided party during the election campaign. Nonetheless, it was the combination of the Gang of Four’s desertion, the votes lost to the SDP–Liberal Alliance and the boost that Thatcher gained from the Falklands War that really lay behind the defeat.

Even after the defeat, however, the left remained unbowed at constituency and trade union branch level, and very active at a local government level; in Liverpool under the Militant Tendency’s Derek Hatton, on the Greater London Council (GLC) under Ken Livingstone, in Lambeth under Ted Knight and in Sheffield under David Blunkett. They continued to expand services, build council housing, aid the then huge numbers of unemployed and made important innovations in anti-racism and on women’s and lesbian and gay rights. It was in his campaign against all this that Kinnock targeted the “Trotskyists”, and the expulsion of Militant signalled the victory of the right which, after Kinnock himself had lost another two elections, opened the way to Tony Blair and New Labour.

Labour’s “socialism”

The overall stance of Labour by the early 1980s was based on the need for “socialist reconstruction”, counterposed to the free market models of Thatcher and her gurus Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. The 1983 manifesto echoed Labour’s 1974 manifesto’s claim that “our aim is nothing less than to bring about a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families”.

Such bold positions are absent from For the Many not the Few. The party’s strategic goal in 1983 was openly described as a socialist economy, by which it understood national ownership of key parts of the economy plus regulation of the private sector. Some on the left may welcome the absence of such grandiose phrases, which, with the partial exception of Clement Attlee and Herbert Morrison’s nationalisations and controls in 1945-48, were never actually carried out. Others will recognise that it shows the lack of ideological depth and any clear goal for the political project.

In 1945, Clement Attlee’s manifesto, Let Us Face the Future, promised an entire “new social order” to replace the two decades of war and mass unemployment with which capitalism was unavoidably identified. It famously declared:

“The Labour Party is a socialist party, and proud of it. Its ultimate purpose at home is the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain.”

The hitch lay in that little word “ultimate”. Labour did indeed establish the welfare state, whose centrepiece, the National Health Service, was pushed through by left-winger Nye Bevan. It also nationalised the railways, road haulage, electricity supply, coal and, after a big struggle, the steel industry. But it justified each nationalisation in terms of the need to refurbish and rationalise failing private enterprises.

They ensured that the nationalisations not only benefitted the former owners, by paying generous compensation, but then also provided cheap inputs to other, still privately owned industries. Meanwhile, workers in nationalised industries were denied any element of control over management. Labour was able to achieve these major social reforms and nationalisations between 1945 and 1951 without determined opposition because, taken as whole, they were in accord with the interests of British capital; the bosses wanted unprofitable but still essential industries nationalised.

Neither separately nor altogether did these nationalisations represent steps towards the implementation of Clause IV of the Labour Constitution, that was on the back of every membership card until 1995:

“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

The 1983 manifesto’s pledges to nationalise were no more radical than those of 1945, but the situation was profoundly different. What the rich and the business elite wanted was not the socialisation of their own losses through nationalisation of bankrupt capitalist industries, but privatisation of potentially profitable state ones. They backed Thatcher, because they hoped she could break the resistance of the big industrial unions, decimating them and waging an ideological attack on the left to force them to abandon nationalisation, council housing, any major extension of social reforms let alone any talk of an “ultimate” socialist commonwealth.

After the 1983 election disaster, Neil Kinnock, Michel Foot’s chosen successor, was elected leader on a so-called Dream Ticket with Roy Hattersley, a leading figure of the right wing. They set about investigating and launching a witch hunt of the Militant Tendency and other “Trotskyist entryists” but their plans were hugely disrupted by the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85. Kinnock infamously attacked the miners for “violence on the picket lines” when they were subjected to unprecedented police violence and repression. Their ultimate defeat encouraged Kinnock to resume his offensive on the left.

By the 1985 conference, Kinnock was also ready to launch his assault on the Labour councils that had refused to implement Tory cuts to local services, house building etc. He picked on Liverpool City Council, in which Militant were powerful, which had set a “deficit budget” that could have forced Margaret Thatcher’s government to come up with more money as they had the previous year. This was actually a mistaken calculation because Thatcher had made the concession only to avoid the Liverpool struggle coalescing with the that of the miners. With the miners defeated, Thatcher had no reason to back down and Kinnock was in full cry at Labour’s Bournemouth Conference:

“I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.”

Kinnock’s vicious attacks, while praised by the press, did nothing to restore Labour’s morale, and he lost the 1987 election, leaving Thatcher with 376 seats to Labour’s 229. But Kinnock’s counter-revolution rolled on. This time he was determined to dump all the remaining policies the left had achieved in 1980-83. In September, 1987, a major Policy Review was launched with the goal of encouraging “enterprise and wealth creation” and lowering the burdens of taxation and social security.

The first results of this, adopted in 1988, dumped left-wing policies such as nationalisation and high income tax rates for the top earners, as well as unilateral abolition of Britain’s nuclear weapons and opposition to Trident. In the same year, Tony Benn’s challenge for the Labour leadership was crushed, with Kinnock winning with 88.6 percent of the vote. The Labour conference also endorsed the Policy Review by five to one. The following year, all the Policy Review documents were endorsed with huge majorities, effectively completing the counterrevolution against the left’s gains of the early 1980s. Subsequently, Blair really only had to put the icing on the cake with his symbolic replacement of Clause Four and his real endorsement of pro-market policies.

Weaknesses in For the Many not the Few

The weaknesses in For the Many start with issues of international politics, defence and the state. In this respect, it is very similar to the 1983 manifesto.

Clearly, the issue of immigration has recently been as toxic as it was in 1983, although with different details; then it was “Commonwealth immigration”, now it is European Union (EU) migrants. Successive governments, most newspapers and right-wing demagogues have all whipped up hate and fear over immigration to excuse the crimes of the rich and the establishment. In the context of Brexit, the fight over anti-racist policies is as acute as it was in 1983, when the rise of the National Front had been checked both by mobilisations on the streets led by the far left, and by the Tories moving to the right, “stealing the clothes of the NF” and introducing controls that that would reduce immigration year on year. The 1983 Labour manifesto conceded that Labour was in favour of immigration controls, but would repeal the most recent Tory immigration acts and restore the “right to automatic citizenship, if born in Britain” and a right of appeal to the Home Secretary for those threatened with deportation.

For the Many similarly makes a concession to the right of the party by clearly stating that it will end freedom of movement on leaving the EU, though still seeking access to the EU market. It does oppose arbitrary targets for immigration (which can never be met anyway – ask former Home Secretary Theresa May), but by putting a strong economy first and looking at where skill shortages are, it clearly sets employers’ needs as the criterion for immigration.

Labour in government will work with business and trade unions to establish “employer sponsorship, work permits, visa regulations” for foreign workers, similar to the US system. This would be worse than the present situation in that it would increase employers’ power to coerce their workers by threatening withdrawal of work permits, which would mean repatriation. Even more worryingly, the manifesto says that “We will replace income thresholds with a prohibition on recourse to public funds”. What does that mean? That immigrants won’t be able to access any welfare at all in the UK? Is such discrimination even legal?

On the issue of defence, the present manifesto falls short of 1983’s The New Hope for Britain which, although it also retained membership of NATO promised to work to dissolve both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. It also appealed for a non-nuclear NATO and “condemn[ed] the doctrine that nuclear war can be limited” in an appeal for unilateralism. In the foreword to the 1983 edition, there was an appeal to get rid of the “nuclear boomerangs” and stop the nuclear arms race. Interestingly, it condemned the Tories for pursuing “the Trident programme for the expansion of the British-controlled nuclear forces [which] has been accepted without reference to the possibilities of disarmament”.

In the context of the previous year’s victory in the Falklands, and the mounting tensions around a renewed the Cold War and arms race between the USA and the USSR, Labour’s manifesto and Michael Foot’s record as a Member of CND left the party open to attack as dangerously pacifist and unpatriotic, a “weakness” which the Tories ruthlessly exploited.

Labour itself has helped to foster this pro-militarist, pro-war attitude throughout its history. After 1945, the Attlee government was the architect of NATO and secretly developed nuclear weapons, ensuring that Britain could continue its military role as a global power. Indeed, part of the trade-off for the apparently radical domestic programme of the 1945-51 government was that it had to demonstrate complete loyalty to the interests of British capitalism abroad. It fought wars against national liberation struggles in Malaya and supported the Tories doing so in Kenya. It joined with the USA forces in Korea and gave tacit support to their war in Vietnam. That attitude has, overall, not fundamentally shifted.

The 2017 manifesto tries hard to avoid the accusations of military weakness. Corbyn’s personal record, of course, is one of opposition to militarism, imperialism and nuclear weapons; he has said that Britain has not fought a single progressive war since 1945, and he voted against all of them since he entered parliament. The manifesto, however, reflects none of this. Page 12 contains a full throated declaration of loyalty to NATO, to maintaining a “strong and versatile military” and sustaining Britain’s commitment to fulfil its international obligations alongside other military powers. This is certainly Corbyn’s biggest compromise, a section that could have could been written by Tony Blair, Neil Kinnock or Ernest Bevin. Here is the point at which the Labour left has humbly bent the knee to the establishment.

In fact, Labour in 2017 appeals to the old right-wing position of “multilateralism”, meaning that, at some point in the future, somehow or other, all countries will abandon their nuclear weapons at the same time. Considering Corbyn’s political history this is a huge concession to the right of the party, as well as to unions with workers in the defence industries like GMB and Unite. This “strong state” policy is also behind uncritical support for 10,000 more police, more prison warders and border guards.

This view is part of a Labour tradition dating back at least to 1914; support for the British imperialist state, with its pro-war policies and the arming of dictators in the Middle East on the grounds that they “may be SOBs but they are our SOBs”. The Labour Party, even when it has been at its most radical domestically, has rarely wavered in its support for British imperialisms’ interests, and never whilst in government. Indeed, Herbert Morrison, the man who pushed through the nationalisations of the 1945 government, famously stated in 1946 that Labour would never “preside over the liquidation of the British Empire”, and that, “as a matter of fact, we are great friends of the jolly old empire”.

Labour politicians feel tremendous pressure to “bend the knee” and prove that they are loyal to the military and, therefore, imperialist, interests of the UK. That is why the media will not allow Corbyn to forget that, in the 1980s, he condemned the violence of the British state on the Northern Irish question.

Socialism or social ownership?

As we have seen, For the Many is much more limited in its commitment to nationalisation than was the case with The New Hope for Britain. The latter made the following pledges. Labour, it said, would:

“Return to public ownership the public assets and rights hived off by the Tories, with compensation of no more than that received when the assets were denationalised. We will establish a significant public stake in electronics, pharmaceuticals, health equipment and building materials.”

These would have included British Aerospace and Cable & Wireless, Jaguar cars, British Telecom, Britoil and British Gas. These were in fact all profitable and, moreover, had been sold off at a song so that their buyers could make a packet out of them. Later, British Steel, British Petroleum, Rolls Royce, British Airways, the water and electricity companies and finally British Coal and British Rail were sold off in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The New Hope for Britain, in the spirit of Tony Benn’s 1975 National Enterprise Board, proposed “to create new companies and new science-based industries, using new public enterprise to lead the way, and supported by the development of industrial democracy” and to “give generous encouragement and help to worker co-operatives and local enterprise boards. We will establish a Co-operative Investment Bank”.

The 2017 manifesto, with its emphasis on the need for a “fairer society”, focuses on redistribution rather than on control of production. While condemning the growth of inequality, it gives no explanation of its causes. It mentions “globalisation” once but otherwise is silent on any analysis of the socio-economic system. This means that it lacks any deeper, strategic argument for what should replace this system. Unlike the 1983 and 1974 manifestos, let alone 1945, socialism is not mentioned even once, while “fairness” occurs over 20 times, and this despite John McDonnell’s 2016 conference speech in which he claimed we could call ourselves socialists now.

Compared to the 1945 manifesto, which railed against the “hard-faced men” who had profited from the war, and identified the main problem as “bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State”, and which sought to remedy this through state ownership, For the Many is conspicuously silent about the nature of our society, riven by increasingly more extreme class differences. Although Occupy popularised the concept of the super-rich “1 per cent” and the fat cat bankers and industrialists, these terms do not appear.

In fact, the philosophy underpinning the manifesto is much nearer to the so-called Revisionism of the Labour Right in the 1950s, promoted by Anthony Crossland and Hugh Gaitskell, which rejected further nationalisations and any talk of socialism as a replacement of capitalism. Indeed, in the first chapter we find a statement that could have come straight out of Crossland’s The Future of Socialism (1956):

“Labour understands that the creation of wealth is a collective endeavour between workers, entrepreneurs, investors and government.”

This is a return to the corporatist model of a mixed economy where workers, bosses and a Labour government work together to balance the economy in the interest of all. The Labour government in this model acts as an arbiter and conciliator between capital and labour, seeking to reconcile differences for the good of the nation. Now, this is certainly a break from the Tory talk that entrepreneurs are “wealth creators”, or the infamous Peter Mandelson’s remark that we should be “intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich”; but at its best, For the Many only paints a picture of society in which there is some limited wealth redistribution away from the richest towards wider society. So far did Thatcher and Blair shift the political narrative that it is now the reddest socialism to toy with redistributionist policies.

The 2017 manifesto does include re-nationalisations of post, rail and water and a state-run energy company to undermine the market cartel that currently exists. But compare this the 1945 government’s taking into state ownership of 20 per cent of the economy. By contrast, when For the Many surgically targets some industries to bring them back in-house, this is pitched as a pragmatic move, not an ideological one concerning the nature of economic ownership. On the question of regulation, For the Many proposes regulation of the NHS (which since it is in public hands already is surely not an urgent priority?), fostering agencies, local buses, Department for International Development contractors and taxis. Banks will be regulated through imposing a clear “ring fence” between the commercial and private wings – a proposal that the Bank of England itself has already introduced and which is due to be implemented by 2019.

Despite the fact that John McDonnell made it a big pitch of the “Corbynomics” event in 2016 that the co-operative sector would be greatly expanded to challenge the big boys of monopoly capitalism, the manifesto is almost silent on this. The section of the 1983 manifesto dealing with public and workers’ co-operatives was much more detailed and offered a structure for more clear provision of support for co-operatives, including “new rights to workers to convert their firms into co-operatives” that is decidedly lacking from the economic arguments in For the Many.

This relates to the fundamental problem that any reforming Labour government would have in Britain today. That government, acting against the interests of the super-rich and the 1 per cent elite that dominate our economy and society, would face sabotage and resistance.

Corbyn’s manifesto has to be seen in that context. For instance, although it commits Labour to repealing the recent Trade Union Act, it does not propose any new rights for trade unions regarding the right to strike, or other measures that would seriously increase their industrial strength. If implemented, it would only take union rights back to the 1980s, still a long way from where we need to be. McDonnell talked several years ago about a Trade Union Freedom Bill that would grant unions new powers, but that has been abandoned.

The call to return some sections of the economy into public ownership is welcome, though it is pitched firmly in the old-fashioned position that it would be more efficient and fairer, not that it is a stepping stone to a qualitatively new economy. The 1983 manifesto pitched it as a socialist emergency plan and reconstruction aimed at ending mass unemployment; in 2017, it is about “fairness”.

Conclusion

The 2017 manifesto is pitched as a push to rebalance the economy away from the kind of bare-knuckle neoliberalism we have been pummelled with in recent years. In this sense, as a tax-and-spend manifesto with more economic regulation, it has a lot to commend it. It stands against the current of mainstream opinion over the last 30 years. However, in order for it to be adopted in time for the snap election, it made serious compromises with the right over Britain’s imperialist role in the world, and on immigration.

The argument will be that these were necessary sacrifices for party unity and to avoid another “long suicide note” slur after the election if Labour lost. Clearly, the balance of forces in Labour, and the short time frame, meant that there was give-and-take on both sides to secure a manifesto. What this means, however, is that there will now have to be a campaign on some key policies to shift them to a more socialist position.

Ultimately though, Labour is itself a compromise; that was how it was established and how it has always operated; a compromise based on the ideological struggles within the workers’ movement. How far the stick can be bent either way depends on a wide variety of factors, including the trade union struggle, campaigning popular social movements and the wider politicisation of society. If there is a vibrant movement from below, then the left in Labour is empowered and compelled to fight for a more radical programme. Without that, the pro-establishment moderating tendencies of the right come to dominate.

Going forward, we need active campaigns and mobilisations around such popular policies as free education and the £10 minimum wage. Labour might be in opposition, but on such issues it is in a powerful position against the Tories.

We must also continue the momentum of the election campaign, turning it into something more tangible that can mobilise young people and working-class communities to take action themselves. If Labour wins at some point in the next few years, on an even more thoroughgoing radical manifesto, it will undoubtedly face economic sabotage at home and abroad. It will also face political attacks from the ruling class via the permanent coercive parts of the state machine, the judges, the police chiefs and heads of armed forces.

That is when it will be crucial to have already organised massive support from a mobilised workers’ movement and campaigning youth organisations if a Labour government is not to collapse as Alexis Tsipras and Syriza did in Greece in 2015.

In fact, the Labour left’s Achilles heel has always been its failure to build extra-parliamentary movements. Whilst Left MPs have been willing to grace their platforms, this is a task usually left to the trade union militants, to the Communist Party when it was still strong or to the far left like the Socialist Workers Party or Militant (now the Socialist Party). These forces tend to “monopolise the resistance”, like they did in the Stop the War Coalition, rather than support the building of organisations that are democratically accountable to their own members and activists.

Can the left in Labour break with the habit of a lifetime and itself create a dynamic social movement that can transform the politics of the 2017 manifesto into a living campaign beyond election time? That is the challenge we face.

Simon Hannah is a Labour Party member and trade unionist. His latest book A Party with socialists in it… A history of the Labour Left will be published by Pluto books in early 2018