The bickering, backstabbing and pseudo-intellectual debate of student socialism.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Brown Bounce

With McDonnell’s failure to get on the ballot just reaching the ears of leftwing students the Brownite leadership of NUS had already released 5 “demands” on the new Prime Minister. Demands that fail to mention the small questions of fees, war, racism let alone free education…

· Health - NUS calls for prescriptions, dental care and eye test exemptions to be extended to cover all students.

· Travel - NUS calls for a commitment to ensure concessionary bus travel for all students.

· Debt - NUS calls for the current interest rate on student loans to remain linked to inflation.

· Skills - NUS calls for the extension of free entitlement to level 3 qualifications to all adults.

· Work - NUS calls for an equal minimum wage to protect our most vulnerable workers and give them a fair and equal position in the workplace.

With no left candidate on the ballot paper the debate on what a new Government should do will be silenced as the “legacy” of Blairism is passed on. What will be presented as a defeat for the whole left should be seen clearly for what it is – the death of any attempt to reclaim Labour. That McDonnell could only scrap 29 nominations (with another 13 left MPs stepping down at the next election) is a sad testament to the state of the labour left. NUS’ intervention in no small way demonstrates the capitalisation rightwing leaderships will make of it to push forwards a New Labour agenda that the left needs to be prepared to fight.

If we’re not to be marginalised during the “Brown Bounce” we need to fight for our own 5 demands and attempt to reorganise those who could have looked to a left challenge on the need for a struggle from bellow.

  • War – Bring the Troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; stop the Imperialist disaster that is Blair’s “war on terror.”
  • Education – Reverse New Labour attacks on education. No fees, privatisation or city academies. Bring back Free Education.
  • Work – Break the public sector pay freeze; invest in our teachers, nurses, civil servants and firefighters. For a living minimum wage.
  • Racism – Stop the vilification of Black, Asian and Muslim communities stop the demonisation of asylum seekers.
  • Welfare – stop the privatisation of the welfare state bring back benefits, accessible public health and local support.

What ever the demands the student left adopt the focus will have to be the stop the war protests attempting to force Brown to abandon Britain’s imperial ambitions in the Middle East by putting the question of war centre stage. But within these mobilisations a more subtle debate needs to be waged with those who look to the labour left on the class nature of the Labour party and the historic role of its leftwing. Labourism retains a working class base and has always been committed to managing the capitalist system but its commitment to neo-liberalism is straining at this contradiction. The acceptance of neo-liberalism of has almost completely marginalised a left inside the party committed to a slightly milder program (represented by Meacher) and almost destroyed the campaign group opening a real space to the left of labour. Respect must try and play the role john4leader could have played in debating a real alternative for labour representation as well as building a popular organisation outside the labour party. Building on the logic of the stop war mobilisations we can put forwards a series of demands that can unite those outside Labour and appeal to those that committed their hopes to McDonnell.


At 3:06 PM, Blogger Chris said...

The Liberal Democrats:
- Voted against the war in Iraq.
- Voted against tuition and top-up fees.
- Voted against foundation hospitals.
- Voted against Trident renewal.
- Voted for increasing various benefits.
- Voted to increase LEA control over single-faith schools.
- Voted against the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act 2006.

Whatever party you support ideologically, it's pretty clear that if you are opposed to Labour's various attacks on many fronts, change is more likely if you support the Liberal Democrats than Respect (after all, George Galloway didn't even turn up to some of the votes regarding top-up fees).


At 12:29 PM, Blogger Cliffite said...

Maybe so - but the Lib Dems support the attacks on public sector workers and accept the logic of running society within the limits set by the current limits of Neo-Liberalism.

Galloway has attended all the key votes on Fees and everyother issue key to the Respect agenda but that is not really the point. The lib dems support for such policies is tokenistic as seen by their role in local government overseeing cuts and attacks on Unison members and what is likely to be their shameful role in the scottish parliament. Respect not only votes for these polices but mobalises broad support and active campaigns for them in the Unions and wider society. I don't see Lib Dems joining NUT and UCU members to defend education or PCS members to defend social provision...

At 5:38 AM, Blogger DJN said...

Didn't the LibDems really suck after the war started? What did Mark Steel say about that - it's like being a vegetarian between meals.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Chris said...

"accept the logic of running society within the limits set by the current limits of Neo-Liberalism."

Could you explain what you mean by that? I'm not contesting your point - I'm just not sure what it means.

"Galloway has attended all the key votes on Fees"

He really hasn't. He was absent for the motion to move what was the Higher Education Bill to a third reading (one step closer to becoming law), which every single Liberal Democrat MP attended.

"The lib dems support for such policies is tokenistic"

That's a baseless accusation. One of the reasons we opposed the war in Iraq was due to it being an illegal war. There's nothing tokenistic about obeying international law. You can easily see that we've voted on our principles by seeing that we've voted with the government when they've proposed liberal measures (like the equalisation of the age of consent) but voted against them when they haven't been liberal (ID cards, etc.). You are being disingenuous.


At 9:17 PM, Blogger el Tom said...

"That McDonnell could only scrap 29 nominations (with another 13 left MPs stepping down at the next election) is a sad testament to the state of the labour left."

Name me a reformist alternative.

Preferably one that doesn't sneak in loads of bits of policy only actionable through revolution.


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