Saturday, September 12, 2015

Letters: 'Corbyn for Leader?' & 'Blacklisted' (2015)

Letters to the Editors from the September 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

Corbyn for Leader?

Dear Editors,

There are several good reasons why World Socialists should welcome the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the role of Labour Party Leader or Her Majesty’s Opposition Leader in the UK, if in indeed me makes it beyond any dirty tricks from his opponents in the party. Corbyn win or lose, his success now marks the end of the long ‘politically repressive’ Thatcher period.

Bill Martin’s little piece on Corbyn (Socialist Standard, August) rather missed the points, unfortunately!  Sure, Corbyn’s socialism is not our Socialism and that’s not the point either.

In the USA Obama was called a socialist (laughingly!) and now there is a candidate Bernie Sanders, A self-described ‘democratic socialist’ on a Corbyn-like ticket doing well so far in the US Presidential Election Party Primaries. If he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination he’ll force Hillary Clinton leftwards to beat him, much as Corbyn here has done with both Burnham and Copper. Most would agree that for a person in the USA (of all places) to be doing well in a national poll and openly calling himself a ‘socialist’, of any kind, is pretty good progress for politics there. Not since Upton Sinclair in the 1930’s.

What has that got to do with Corbyn?

Well ‘Socialist Standard’ regulars (World Socialists) know that Corbyn’s socialism is not ours, but his popularity and success and should he win here will definitely (no doubts about it) legitimize and popularize the word ‘socialism’ again in the UK politics. This word since Thatcher has all but been banned and junked by the media (TV, radio and newspapers) and these outlets are where most of the public/voters still get their politics. Also junked by Labour Leaders.

Therefore, the same effect as with Sanders in the USA will likely happen here in the UK. But more again will happen here as it will likely happen in the USA. What? The word ‘socialism’ being currency again (sorry for the association) will lead some to research socialism and they’ll come up with the SPGB & WSPUSA (World Socialist Party of the United States) in their results page!

There is another reason in that World Socialists welcome working people getting a better share of the wealth in the meantime and Corbyn as British Prime Minister will achieve this for workers.

A third reason will prove that the left cannot solve the problem of the disintegrating capitalist society - a society to which the term ‘impossibilism’ is better now applied to than to World Socialism. Thus Corbyn is merely a prelude to much more meaningful discussions about capitalism and socialism.

Finally, Bill Martin, a more positive outlook is required from you sir, and not to stick to ‘political elitism’ which is exactly the outlook of British Labour Party leaders now in their tirade against Corbyn!

WILLIAM DUNN, Glasgow

Reply:

We were careful in choosing our description of Jeremy Corbyn as being 'Harold Wilson' warmed up.' In the 1960s policies very like the ones Corbyn is advocating were tried. They didn't aid the course of socialism; they led to disillusionment and workers voting for Margaret Thatcher.

It is no good getting the word socialism back on the political agenda if it is again to be associated with statism, taxation and nationalisation. If there has been one consistent theme to the Socialist Party's campaigning it has been that we need to be clear about what socialism is and what is needed to achieve it, and we cannot welcome anything that will create confusion and muddle, however well intentioned.

We recognised that much of the ‘Corbynmania’ phenomenon is that 'the desires of workers (however misinformed and locked into the logic of markets) will have forced their way into the halls of power.' What that means, though, is that we have to continue to work hard to put forward and explain the socialist case to dispel the misinformation. There are no short cuts, and whether the workers support Thatcher or Corbyn doesn't change the need for clear socialist agitation.

That is not elitist at all, it is the democratic approach. – Editors.

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Blacklisted

Dear Editors,

In the mid-1970s the Mail and the Sun attacked the ‘left’ in my union branch of the CPSA (now PCS), Department of Environment and Transport HQ, for 'concealing' their political views before standing for election to the Branch Committee. They could not charge me with dissembling' – because I was an open Communist and the papers' report noted this, without naming me. In fact, against trusted and CPSA ‘Moderators’, Janet Daly of the Tory Party, and Militant Tendency, I won three successive elections for Branch Secretary.

In 1984 Gordon Leake of the Express (a self-confessed ex-BOSS member-turned-journalist) claimed that the CPSA branch at GCHQ did not exist. In fact, Diane Green, its branch secretary, a member of the BL84 faction (the one in which Communists and Socialist caucuses and non-Militant members participated) was elected to CPSA’s National Executive.

In 1996, the GCHQ Staff Association (formed after Thatcher had barred GCHQ unions), lost its appeal to the Certification Officer (a Thatcherite creation), for funds from the Thatcher fund for union postal ballots. The reason was the heavy dependence of the 'union' on Peter Marychurch, the GCHQ director, for facility time, accommodation and telephone.

D. SHEPHERD, London NW4

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