The need for a determined left
The UNL (Under New Leadership) Labour policy offering is shrinking fast. Starmer is shedding leadership pledges at the same rate as U turns from beleaguered Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
It is difficult, given that there was no effective party conference in 2020, to know what Labour now stands for beyond supporting his General Secretary in removing democracy from the Party.
So, it is for the left to continue to argue for the radical, socialist agenda which proved both popular under Corbyn but, just as importantly, is needed more than ever in this post Brexit, Covid depressed world.
Sheffield’s right-wing Labour Group has failed abysmally to put forward any vision for the city after a decade of austerity so what should the determined left be campaigning for?
Signs are that union membership is increasing in some industries – partly as a response to the torrent of job losses in the post Brexit & Covid affected economy. But Unison has just elected a right-wing leader and the crucial battle for Unite’s top role is one to watch.
The Unions might be a block at a national level, but the jury is out on whether they can be a platform for activism and more radical movements at a local level.
Many of those disillusioned enough to leave the Party have yet to find a home for their political activities while the “soft” left are still reeling from the right’s assault under Starmer.
At a national level, Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project has begun with a promising launch but where this will go – a party, a campaign organisation or a lobbying voice – is as yet unclear.
Locally, Sheffield Labour Left appears now to be the only body in the city acting as a rallying point for the determined left and a source of information on what is really going on in the Party.
Sheffield Momentum has been disbanded with barely a whimper while the local elections – due in May but increasingly looking like being delayed again – may see Labour lose control of the council.
Meanwhile, the Evans (help us!) reorganisation of the Party is gathering pace, and will no doubt see more comrades realising that not only will their voice not be heard, but they will also have little role in the Party beyond delivering leaflets and phone banking.
So, the challenge for the determined left is to keep active, argue for a class based socialist agenda and keep exposing the anti-democratic actions of the right.
In the short term, activism will coalesce around urgent causes but continuing to fight within the Party while the right flounder both locally and nationally will be a game of patience and continuing solidarity.