I’ve just left the Labour Party, again. I wasn’t at all active but did pay my sub, contribute to policy fora, and did some foot slogging and door knocking in the 2017 and 2019 general elections.
I originally left in disgust when Neil Kinnock announced the embrace of nuclear weapons, yes weapons of mass destruction, after years of association with CND. After that, things went from bad to worse with Kinnock’s sell-out of the miners, and then the years of what came to be called neoliberalism under Blair and Brown. I rejoined when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, a decent man but not a great choice to lead a mass party while undergoing attacks from both outside and inside. He of course is suspended from the parliamentary party’s whip after making the factual statement that anti-Semitism in the party has been greatly exaggerated. (I am not denying its existence within the party, by the way – it is there, just as it is there across the whole of society).
Why leave now? I despair of the current leadership, not just Starmer but most of his team, taking the party to the right, purging leftists on pretexts, purging members, interfering in selections of candidates, affirming support for NATO and nuclear weapons, and Britain’s role as international cop, and taking the line of the Board of Deputies as the only legitimate viewpoint of the Jewish communities. Its economic policy has become unimaginative and timid, and it has failed in its duty of opposition to the Tories’ mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, which has led to some 130,00 excess deaths, and counting. I had reservations about the “Green Industrial Revolution”, and the “Green New Deal” on which it drew, but at least it was an attempt to address the climate emergency through transformational actions. I can see little of that in Labour’s current offerings. I cannot realistically see this situation improving in the near future, even if and when Starmer, trailing the Tories in the polls despite the carnage, gets replaced.
I could stay and fight but I’ve never been one for political parties’ internal struggles and I’ve other things to focus on. I wish those that stay and continue to work for a socialist Labour Party all the best but I seriously doubt whether that is a feasible proposition. Labour has always worked largely for mitigation of capitalism, not for its replacement. The current predicament of humanity, with the pancrisis that combines climate change, biodiversity loss, a pandemic and an economic crisis (to mention just four of its headline features), makes that project futile. Capitalism has to go or it takes us with it. I don’t know how you make that happen but, despite my respect for many party members, including many dedicated councillors and some MPs, I can no longer see the British Labour Party as part of the solution.