|Singing the Internationale at the close of conference|
By New Worker correspondent
MEMBERS of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) met for a special general meeting in London’s Conway Hall last Saturday to debate the LRC’s continuing role within the labour movement.
The modern LRC was founded in July 2004 by left-wing members of the Labour Party, trade unionists and others with the aim of restoring the party to its founding purpose of defending working-class interests, fighting for social democracy and the public ownership of the means of production and distribution. It was named after the committee that founded the Labour Party in February 1900.
That aim has largely been achieved with the election of Jeremy Corbyn – one of the leading founders of the LRC – to the leadership of the party in 2016, his re-election after a challenge the following year, a mass influx of new Corbyn supporters into the party and at the end of last year the winning of a left majority on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
It could be argued that the LRC has done its job – a task that seemed almost impossible in 2004 – but there are still battles to be fought. Some local authorities are still in the hands of right-wing Blairite Labour cliques who are wedded to Tory policies.
And the right wing is still committed to undermining Corbyn’s leadership, though so far all the plotting, slandering and double dealing seems only to have made his position stronger.
The first speaker on Saturday was Mick Brooks, the LRC’s political secretary presenting the National Executive Committee statement, pointed out that the LRC still has a vital role.
The mass organisation Momentum is doing great work campaigning for Corbyn to become Prime Minister and to counter the dirty tricks of old right-wing Labour MPs and councillors.
Mick Brooks said there was hope that the LRC and Momentum would be working together. “But,” Brooks warned, “the LRC is a properly constituted organisation; we have conference, we have elections. Momentum has a ‘democratic deficit’, which we hope will be resolved in due course.
“The LRC is not just a Jeremy Corbyn fan club. We are more about the policies and we need our own independence. For example, on the issue of Trident, we know Corbyn has always been in favour of nuclear disarmament. But currently the official Labour Party policy supports Trident so Corbyn is obliged to keep to that line.
“But we don’t have to make that concession and we can still campaign against Trident and keep reminding him until disarmament becomes official party policy.”
Mick Brooks warned that the radicalisation of the Labour Party is still in its early stages and is precarious. But the party is moving forward with the most left-wing leader it has ever had.
The debate was chaired by Matt Wrack, who is general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, about the Labour Party’s internal Democracy Review; about false accusations of anti-Semitism; about ending Labour councillors implementing Tory policies, especially in gentrification, demolishing council estates and replacing them with private luxury homes that the former residents cannot afford to live in.
A number of resolutions were discussed and voted on, including one from the New Communist Party on housing and the need to build more council homes, cap rents and raise tenants’ awareness of their rights in fighting evictions resulting from gaps in benefit payments by re-introducing the McKenzie’s friends of the successful anti-poll tax campaign. The resolution was passed unanimously.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke briefly to the conference about the work of another conference he was participating in nearby discussing the economic nuts and bolts of taking utilities and services that have been privatised back into public ownership.
He spoke of new modes of public ownership, the creation of co-operatives involving workers in the rail, water and power industries and the users of the services in a way that would make it hard for a future Tory government to re-privatise them. He also spoke of compensating former shareholders of these industries by issuing Government bonds.
The conference finished with a rousing speech from Ian Hodson, leader of the Bakers’ Foods and Allied Workers’ Union, followed by the singing of the Red Flag and the Internationale.