The executive committee of Lancaster University Labour Club (LULC) is set to expel all Marxist Society members in advance of the upcoming term. This follows the proscription of Socialist Appeal and three other organisations by the Labour NEC last month.
There is no reason that the NEC’s decision should apply to student clubs. There is no national body of Labour Students. In this respect, university Labour clubs are effectively independent of the party itself.
But the LULC executive claims that a clause of membership of their society is that one follows the ‘aims’ and ‘ideals’ of the Labour Party. They argue that any affiliation with proscribed organisations – such as Lancaster Marxist Society’s connection with Socialist Appeal – fails this requirement.
So what was Socialist Appeal’s ‘crime’? Ostensibly, Socialist Appeal was proscribed on the grounds of being a political organisation other than an official Labour group or another unit of the party. Furthermore, comrades have been deemed ‘guilty’ of working with an international organisation, the International Marxist Tendency.
If these activities are considered worthy of proscription, then why do so-called ‘centrist’ groups like Labour First and Progress remain untouched, even though they aren’t officially affiliated with the party? Are these not equally punishable offences to those of Socialist Appeal?
The fact is that the proscription of Socialist Appeal is a political attack by ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer and the right wing of the party on the grassroots left; an attempt to purge the party of socialists and Marxists.
Effectively, according to the Labour right wing, and now scandalously by the LULC executive committee, being a Marxist is deemed incompatible with the ‘aims’ and ‘ideals’ of the Labour Party.
Marxism in the Labour Party
From its very inception, however, Marxism has always been a current within the Labour Party. In fact, Marxism was part of the British labour movement long before the Labour Party was even established.
The Labour Party was born in a period of intensifying class struggle. Growing pressure from the working class and the trade unions forced the question of independent political representation.
So it came to be that, in 1900, several groups came together and voted to pass Keir Hardie’s motion to establish “a distinct Labour group in Parliament”. Amongst these groups was a Marxist party called the Social Democratic Federation.
Countless figures throughout Labour’s history have also paid tribute to Marxism and Marxists – from Nye Bevan and Clement Atlee, to Tony Benn and Michael Foot.
To argue that Marxism is incompatible with the Labour Party is therefore ridiculous.
Marxists will always have a place in the movement; and that won’t change because Starmer’s in charge. No matter how many Marxists the right wing expels, they cannot cut off Marxism from the labour movement.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the right wing won’t try. The goal of Starmer and his Blairite gang, since the day that he became leader, has been to make the Labour Party a safe pair of hands for British capitalism. They are the representatives of the ruling class within our movement.
This is why they’ve been waging war on the left of the party. Attacking grassroots members; shutting down party democracy; suspending Jeremy Corbyn and Howard Beckett: the right wing will stop at nothing to secure their domination of the party.
And now they are coming after the most determined and most militant class fighters in the party – the Marxists.
Fight the purge
Thankfully, the comrades on the LULC executive committee do not reflect the mood of rank-and-file Labour members. Recently, for example, a motion opposing the purge – and offering solidarity to Socialist Appeal – was passed at Lancaster & Fleetwood CLP.
And across the country, numerous CLPs, trade unionists and Labour left groups have passed similar motions. Clearly, grassroots members recognise a purge when they see one, and are choosing to fight back.
Comrades of the LULC executive committee: perhaps you naively believe the Labour right wing’s excuse for proscribing Socialist Appeal, and feel under pressure to follow suit.
Or perhaps you actively support the expulsion of Marxists from the party, and have chosen to join the deplorable ranks of the McCarthyite witch-hunters.
We hope that it is the former; that you will see sense and realise that it is not too late to change course. Make a stand against Starmer and the right wing, and remain on the right side of history.
Whatever the reason behind this decision by the LULC executive, we call on grassroots activists – in the Labour clubs, in the CLPs, and across the left – to defy the right wing, join the Marxists, and fight the purge.
By Lancaster Marxists