Labour Sees Revival In UK

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Sep 2018 10:52:26

By RICHARD BURGON,

 

The global economic crash of a decade ago and the ongoing stagnation in living standards show that the need for such radical change is stronger than ever. Britain is the most unequal country in Europe and the old ways of doing things no longer work in politics or economics.


LAST year’s Labour Party conference was the busiest, best and most optimistic that I’ve ever attended. And this year’s conference promises to be even better, with important debates and votes in the conference itself and a better than ever conference fringe, the fantastic The World Transformed festival and the Liverpool Left events.


At the Liverpool conference, let’s remind ourselves what brings us together — a desire for a socialist Labour Government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. Let’s make no bones about it — our goal as socialists is to achieve a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth, power and control in favour of working people and their families.


Our agenda is far more ambitious for our communities, our class and our country than a mere tinkering about with a rotten system that hurts so many. As Tony Benn said, “We’re not here just to manage capitalism — we’re here to change society.”


And as socialists, our agenda doesn’t stop at the English Channel. In Government, we are determined to use power to fight for a world for the many not the few — a world in which war, poverty and exploitation have been eradicated.
Social transformation is our goal, but we can only achieve it if we are united as a party and with wider social movements. There will be powerful interests, who have always seen the Conservative Party as essential to defending their privileged position, that will be united in opposition to a Socialist Labour Government.


Now no movement of millions can agree on every single policy or issue. The only movements that can agree on everything are movements small enough to hold their annual general meetings in a telephone box — and sometimes even they can’t reach agreement! The Labour Party has always been a coalition of trade unions, socialists and social democrats. This diversity is a great source of strength for our party. By uniting all those forces, we can not only overturn the social damage and destruction that Theresa May’s Government and her predecessors have unleashed, we can set about radically transforming our society in the interests of the many, not the privileged few.
The global economic crash of a decade ago and the ongoing stagnation in living standards show that the need for such radical change is stronger than ever. Britain is the most unequal country in Europe and the old ways of doing things no longer work in politics or economics.


That is clear across Europe, where social democratic parties have suffered terrible results since the onset of the crash. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn secured 40 per cent at the last election, reversing a near 20-year fall in support that saw the party lose five million votes after the 1997 landslide.


In contrast, the Spanish and German Socialist parties won not much more than 20 per cent of the vote in their elections and the French and Dutch parties struggled, achieving only single-figure levels of support. We should be proud that Labour, with its anti-austerity measures and plans for radical reforms, is bucking that trend, along with our sister party in Portugal which won with its own bold alternative. Such bold ideas are essential to stave off the threat from the far-right. Progressives cannot leave criticism of the failing status quo to extreme right-wingers like Trump and his pound-shop imitators in Europe.

They may pose as allies of working people, but in reality they scapegoat the powerless and vulnerable on behalf of the super-rich. It is Conservative Party policies that are leaving far too many of our towns and our communities hollowed out. And it is the mess Theresa May is making of Brexit that further threatens jobs and living standards. In contrast, Labour’s policies to boost earnings, tackle the barriers to securing a place to call home, remove the albatross of student fees, call time on the zero hour contracts culture and return public services to being about serving communities not shareholders are all about solving the practical problems of the hard-pressed majority. Those policies allowed us to reach out to millions more people. At this year’s conference, we will be showcasing our ideas to reach out to millions more in order to secure a Labour Government Our agenda is even winning support from unusual sources, where there is now a recognition of the scale of the challenges that Britain faces. Jim O’Neill, a former chair of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and former Conservative Government Minister, told the FT this weekend:

“The Labour Party has stepped into the vacuum left by the Government and appears to be offering the radical change that people seek.” Across all of Jeremy’s shadow Cabinet teams we are looking at how we can reach out to win over even more voters. In my own brief, for example, we are preparing the ground for better legal support for communities so that they can fight back against dodgy landlords, unscrupulous bosses or cruel State policies which the Tories have deployed against migrants, people in receipt of social security or people living with a disability.


But our bold vision for change can’t be achieved and defended by the Labour leader, the shadow Cabinet or a Parliamentary Labour Party alone. We have to have bases of support right across society who will defend our radical vision. Trade unions act as a vital bridge between the Labour Party and the concerns of millions of people in the world of work. Likewise, organisations like Momentum can be a bridge between the Labour Party and layers of wider society such as women’s groups, the anti-racist movement, migrants’ groups, climate activists, tenants’ associations, student groups and people fighting fuel poverty or running food banks.
Without close links to all such movements, the potential reach of the Labour Party would be far narrower. But together, we can continue to build a vibrant party that reflects the millions not the millionaires.
So let’s keep moving forward together as the greatest progressive coalition in our country’s history — the coalition of trade unions, socialists, social democrats and social movements — and rebuild Britain for the many not the few.
(The writer is the Shadow Justice Secretary of the Labour Party)
Courtesy: Morning Star