Democracy is our best weapon in the struggle to defeat the right wing rebels and secure socialist policies and a campaign against austerity By KD Tait
THIS YEAR’S restrictions on Labour’s internal democratic life are without precedent since the 1980s. At a time when hundreds of thousands are joining the party, avenues for participation in political discussion and decision making have been almost entirely sealed off.
Campaigning for the local and mayoral elections followed by the EU referendum saw regular meetings suspended. This was immediately followed by the PLP-initiated coup and the NEC’s decision to close down the party – precisely at the time when there should be more discussion, not less.
Labour’s historic contest between the right and left has been punctuated by attacks on the democratic rights of members: suspensions, purges, meetings closed, CLPs shut down. These bureaucratic means of silencing debate are how the PLP and the party apparatus protect their privileges and avoid accountability to the membership.
The blatant attempt to gerrymander the election which saw the party’s officials purging and suspending the electorate in the middle of the election reveals the bankruptcy and desperation of Corbyn’s opponents. A recent meeting hosted by right wing factions Labour First and Progress saw key Blairite leaders set out their strategy in the event of a Corbyn victory: more elections, more sabotage. They are preparing to wage an open and covert war against the members.
Whilst Corbyn remains effectively a prisoner of the PLP it is vital that we do not concede ground elsewhere. Quite the opposite. We need to mount a coordinated national campaign throughout the whole party for democratic regeneration and renewal. We need a special conference to adopt a new constitution which decisively changes the balance of power in favour of the members.