Questions for the left …

… as John McDonnell’s Labour Party leadership bid fails.

Linked with Alex Callinicos – England.

Published on Socialist Worker online, by Alex Callinicos, 22 May 2007.

Something historic happened last week. It wasn’t Gordon Brown’s coronation. That – and the inability of the Blairites to mount a serious challenge – was entirely predictable. No, the historic thing was the inability of John McDonnell, who has been campaigning for a year as the standard bearer of the left, to get enough nominations from Labour MPs to run against Brown …

… Radica: The party structures have now been drastically re-engineered to prevent that happening. But the membership has also changed. It has, of course, shrunk drastically under Blair. Moreover a process of selection has taken place. Thanks above all to Iraq, disillusioned activists – not just from the left but from the old social democratic right – have dropped out, while the suits have stayed.

So now, in a historic reversal, it’s the unions, which used to be the party leadership’s bulwark against a more radical membership, that are now the main source of pressure for more left wing policies. In the last few days, union leaders have been trying to justify their failure to support McDonnell and to explain that their project to “reclaim Labour” still has life in it. They are clinging to the hope that their candidate, Jon Cruddas, can win the deputy leadership.

These are illusions, however well or badly Cruddas does. Labour has never been an instrument of radical change but the left used to provide powerful counter-pressures to its tendency to betray its supporters. But now that mechanism is broken.

So is the Labour Party – and it can’t be fixed. (full text).

Link: Growing disillusionment and fury at lack of Labour party democracy, by Matthew Cookson, May 22, 2007.

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