A new network has been set up to bring together socialists in the Labour Party who want to argue the case for socialism and democracy in the Labour Party.
On Saturday 2 July 2016, 36 socialists met to discuss how to do this. A further 25 sent their apologies. The meeting agreed the following proposal with one vote against and one abstention.
“A PROPOSAL: To establish a democratic socialist current to advance socialist aims, ideas and policy within the Labour Party; to campaign for the democratisation of the Labour Party; to fight for the abolition of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society. The network will encourage comradely discussion and debate to further the cause of socialism.”
Those attending included leading officials and activists in the Fire Brigades Union, junior doctors centrally involved in their dispute, leading members of the Labour Representation Committee and other experienced independent socialists, plus members of the existing Socialist Network.
We now ask you to join us.
The network will fight for socialist ideas and policies in the Labour Party and generally and fight to democratise the Labour Party and the wider labour movement. In the immediate struggle we will, of course, be doing everything we can to support Jeremy Corbyn and to stop the coup against him.
We aim to bring together all those who want to advance socialist policies and democracy in the Labour Party. We aim to provide useful help and assistance about how the Labour Party works and to share information from across the country.
We agreed two documents as the basic political underpinning of the new group which will be called Labour Party Socialist Network. One is the “We Support Corbyn – Fight for Socialism” letter signed by Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, other leading trade unionists and more than 1,200 others.
As it says in that letter:
“Labour must immediately go on the offensive to win back voters across the country by vigorously campaigning for an immediate improvement in working-class living standards and democratic rights. This is the only way that Labour can begin the process of winning back large sections of its working class base.
“Every Labour Party member should be drawn into campaigns to show the electorate that it is serious about addressing their problems. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell should lead from the front with a bold campaign going into every town and city, especially the most deprived areas. This should involve all Labour MPs and members, and take up the following issues:
- An end to austerity and cuts.
- Full funding for local and national services.
- Renationalise the NHS, remove the market, and make it publicly funded, publicly run, and accountable.
- All workers in Britain, including migrant workers, to be paid at least a minimum wage of £10 an hour, to be enforced by criminal sanctions against employers who pay less.
- An end to zero-hour contracts and precarious work, and any undercutting of union agreements.
- Affordable housing for all. Build council housing, implement rent control, to be enforced by criminal sanctions against rogue landlords.
- Ending Free Schools and Academies. Bring education into democratic control.
- A decent pension for all in retirement.
- Defend the rights of all migrants and refugees.
- Democratic public ownership of transport, energy, construction, pharmaceuticals and other industry.
- Democratic public ownership of the banks and finance industry. Make the bankers and the bosses pay for the crisis, not the rest of us.
“Labour must set out its aim of a society in which the obscene gap between the super-rich and the rest of us is ended; where there is no poverty, austerity, exploitation or discrimination. That will require a fundamental change in the way this society is run. It means campaigning on a socialist programme.
“This society is rich enough to provide for all. But a tiny minority owns almost all of the wealth and the means of producing it.
“Labour must stand clearly for a society in which the resources and wealth are owned in common by all, so that we can plan the economy democratically to meet the needs of everyone – not to make a profit for a few.
“Labour must inspire its voters with a vision of a society fit for our children and all future generations.
“The battle must commence now.”
The political demands set out in the letter are meant as the beginning of a discussion about the sort of socialist policies that Labour should campaign on. We welcome debate and ask for contributions to it.
The position taken in the letter on a second referendum about EU withdrawal is a tactical issue. Differences on that issue would not preclude participation in the network.
In addition to the letter, the proposal document set out some basic principles to guide our work as socialists. We want to end the current system of exploitation and to replace it with one based on need not profit. The first point is therefore direct and to the point: “We stand for the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by socialism.”
You can read that document in full here.
Anyone who is a Labour Party member who shares our approach can join the network, as can those who are not in the Labour Party so long as they do not support candidates against Labour. This is in line with the approach of Momentum.
Those in organised groups which practise what they call ‘democratic centralism’ are not permitted to join.
However, we also agreed that we would approach other socialist groups in the Labour Party to work with them to promote socialist policies and democratic objectives within Momentum and the Labour Party.
We support Momentum and are all active participants in it. We want to build Momentum. We believe that there needs to be a rapid move to build democratic structures within Momentum in order to improve the coordination of campaigning. We support a greater emphasis on socialist policies in its aims. We support Momentum giving a strong lead in the internal battles inside the Labour Party.
The Labour Party Socialist Network wants to work with everyone interested in building a bigger, stronger Labour Party, with socialist policies, which reaches out to the huge reservoir of working-class voters and youth.
If you want to get involved, please complete the form on this website.
Membership of the network is £2 per week for workers and £1 per month for all others. Of course, you can pay more if you wish.
We look forward to working with you.