Thursday, 27 April 2017

Job Done?

Paul Nuttall is going to stand, but he will not say where.

I am amazed that UKIP is contesting this General Election at all.

Accepting its definition of itself as the legitimate continuation of the Communist Party of Great Britain, this will be the first General Election in its 97-year history that the Communist Party of Britain (which is the Morning Star one, although there is no formal relationship) will not have contested any seat.

Like the CPGB before it, it has always held that its aims could be attained entirely within the British parliamentary system, with no need of a violent revolution. That was also Lenin's view of Britain.

Moreover, the CPGB always held, and the CPB has held since its inception, that the principal means to that end was a Left-led Labour Party.

Well, there now is a Left-led Labour Party. Not a Marxist-led Labour Party, but then there would not have been that under Tony Benn, either. But one whose Leader is a columnist on the Morning Star.

So that newspaper does not have to call for a Labour vote "where there is no CPB candidate", which was always the case in most seats, so that, unlike The Guardian, it has always called for a Labour overall majority at every General Election.

Rather, it is calling for a Labour vote absolutely everywhere, as is the CPB, in spite of pronounced differences with many, and indeed most, Labour MPs.

That is perhaps disappointing in relation to Manchester Gorton or North West Durham, although see below.

But the Labour Party is now being led from the Left. Therefore, in the view of the Communist Party, job done.

Bringing us to UKIP, which in its history has secured the election of precisely half as many MPs as the CPGB ever did.

Both of the men who have ever been elected as UKIP MPs regard UKIP's job as done, as do most people who have ever voted UKIP.

Not that the United Kingdom has left the European Union. But that was never the point.

In stark contrast to the very specific blueprint for Brexit set out in the eternally anti-EU Morning Star as its reason for wanting Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister, UKIP supporters hardly even cared whether they won the referendum, although of course they did want to win it.

They cared that the referendum be held at all. And now, it has been. Job done.

Therein lies another difference. The Communist Party exists to do certain things, and those cannot be done inside the EU, so it has always wanted to leave the EU.

It may not be standing for Parliament against Corbyn's Labour Party, but it has no intention of departing the electoral field, and it would not dream of dissolving itself.

UKIP, on the other hand, has only ever existed in order to secure withdrawal from the EU, or at least victory in a referendum, or at the very least the mere holding of that referendum.

There has never been any vision beyond that. And as far as most people, including most UKIP supporters, are concerned, we are now beyond that.

The main name in the frame for the Labour nomination here at North West Durham is still that of my friend, Laura Pidcock.

Laura is a candidate whom the CPB could support without equivocation. Her speech to the Momentum Northern Conference was very much in line with its current philosophy and programme.

If asked the straight question, "Are you a Marxist?", then I have no doubt that she would give the straight answer, "Yes."

And, of course, there have always been Labour MPs like that.

Whereas if asked the straight question, "Are you a Marxist?", my straight answer would be, "No."

Like Cornel West, I have never been able to reconcile dialectical materialism with Christianity, and it is the Christianity that is non-negotiable.

Like Michael Foot, Tony Benn or Jeremy Corbyn, I find that Marxism asks many of the right questions, but that it also gives many of the wrong answers.

Like Benn, Corbyn and George Galloway, I can work with its adherents within and beyond the Labour Party in the common pursuit of economic equality and international peace, but I will never be one of their number, and they know it.

This all makes me rather like Laura's own MP, Ronnie Campbell, whom she had been expected to succeed, but who is not retiring after all, necessitating this consolation prize even though she is only about 30 and could easily wait a few more years.

Here in North West Durham, the old Labour stalwarts, the Old Labour stalwarts, need to ask themselves whether they would be better represented by an undeniably articulate and energetic representative of the kind of Marxism that obtained in universities about 10 years ago, a representative brought in from outside.

Or whether they would be better represented by, for all his faults, dear old David Lindsay, backed by Alex Watson and all that crowd.

In their heart of hearts, they know the answer to that one.


  1. Yep, in its history the CPGB got twice as many seats as Ukip has ever got. Makes you think, doesn't it?

    As you have often adumbrated, the Left has delivered the election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London in 2000, the election of George Galloway as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, Galloway's election as MP for Bradford West in 2012, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, and Corbyn's re-election as Leader of the Labour Party in 2016, mass popular movements in every case. Through the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation, Militant brought down Thatcher, as set out in a whole chapter of her memoirs with no pretence that it was somehow about Europe. The Stop the War Coalition organised by far the biggest demonstration in British history over Iraq and then successfully used social media to force Labour to vote against war in Syria, resulting in the defeat of David Cameron on that issue.

    But the Tory Right? It couldn't even get a candidate onto the ballot for Leader, so there was no contest. And what has Ukip ever delivered? It wasn't even allowed in the official Leave campaign last year. Its swansong today is hardly worth reporting. The Left, on the other hand, is going strong, with Galloway on course for yet another parliamentary seat come 8th May. You're going to win, too, I reckon.