Two developments concerning the future of the Labour Party and its relationship with progressive forces outside that party, including the Communist Party, have been reported this week. First, at the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) AGM there was a motion, remitted to the EC, calling for the establishment of a new party affiliated to the Labour Party, much as is the Co-operative Party, to represent the left within the party. The second development was that Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the Unite union, speaking to parliamentary journalists this week, suggested that if Labour lost the next general election on a programme of cuts, a new workers party might gain his union’s support.
The CLPD pretty well represents the last vestige of socialist organisation within the Labour Party. There are, of course, still a few individual socialists in the Labour Party and there exists the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) which aims to build support across the left inside and outside the Labour Party. The effectiveness of these efforts is, however, hampered by Labour’s prohibition on organising a party within the party and on members who are also members of a party that stands candidates against Labour. The Communist Party has always taken a principled stand on this. We stand in elections, where we can, not because we have any realistic prospect of being elected under first past the post elections dominated by a capitalist mass media, but because we think a truly democratic party, which we are, should be prepared to put its views before the electorate where it can. We also recognise that Labour’s prohibition on membership of parties that stand against it was and is directly targeted at the Communist Party. Unlike many other parties on the left, we refuse to bow our knee over this. Entryism may appeal to some on the left but it is not our style of working.
It is difficult to see how we might gain from the CPLD’s idea for a new, tame party affiliated to Labour even if the Labour Party were to approve such an affiliation, which seems most unlikely.
Whether there might be an opportunity for the Communist Party in the new workers party envisaged by Mr McCluskey remains to be seen.
Elections are expensive. That is why the Communist Party does not currently stand in as many as we would like. We will, however, by standing in three wards in Croydon at the local government elections on 22 May: Broad Green, Selhurst and Bensham Manor. Support, financial and physical, would be very welcome.
Election Agent for the Communist Party in Croydon