Labour Young Socialists held a London-wide rally yesterday evening, November 11, at which around 100 students and young workers assembled to discuss what left-wing youth should do now that Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party. Unfortunately John McDonnell, who was due to address the rally, had to pull out at the last minute but sent a statement of support in which he raised the “huge opportunity for change within the party and across wider society that we’ve never quite seen before”. He also said, “We’re certainly going to need your support over the coming months and years.”
One important way in which Corbyn and McDonnell will need the support of grassroots members is in the on-going battle with the right-wing of the Labour Party, which currently constitutes the vast majority of the Parliamentary Party and much of the leadership of Young Labour. The right of the PLPhas shown it has no reservations about publicly attacking Corbyn’s leadership, despite the historic mandate he won in the leadership election in September.
The suspension of Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s policy adviser, on Friday November 6, over his supposed support for an anarchist ‘Class War’ candidate, represents an escalation of efforts by a cabal of right-wing MPs and party bureaucrats to undermine Corbyn’s leadership by picking off his allies. The allegations against Fisher, based on a tweet from August 2014, completely ignore the fact that he has no known history of disloyalty and actively campaigned for Labour in the 2015 General Election. Given that right-winger Simon Danczuk has repeatedly attacked the party leader in the Tory press without consequence, Fisher’s suspension is an obvious strategic move by the National Executive Committee against Corbyn.
If these attacks are allowed to go on unchallenged, the result will be Corbyn’s isolation and eventual removal as leader before the general election in 2020. This would be a disastrous loss for the labour movement, transforming all the enthusiasm and support generated during the Corbyn leadership campaign into rage and disaffection and placing the very future of the Labour Party in jeopardy. This must be prevented at all costs. In the light of the seriousness and urgency of this issue, it is vital that all sections of the Labour Party interested in defending the gains of the past few months come out clearly against the actions of the Labour NEC.
Josh Holroyd, of Walthomstow CLP, proposed a motion to the meeting (see below) condemning the suspension of Fisher and calling for his immediate reinstatement. Josh argued that the LYS should take a firm stance of this issue, as the fight to defend Corbyn’s leadership against right-wing attacks is intertwined with the fight for democracy and socialist ideas within the Labour Party and wider society.
Joe Attard, of the LYS steering committee, linked the suspension of Fisher with the expulsion of several LYS members from the Party, on what appear to be dubious grounds. He called on the London-wide meeting to endorse both the motion proposed and a statement released by Red Labour condemning the expulsion of left-wing activists from the Party.
Although the content of the motion received support from a number of speakers from the floor, the chair explained that the rally was not allowed to take a vote as it was not advertised as a “democratic meeting” at which decisions could be made. Accordingly, the chair explained, no opportunity had been given for motions to be put forward before or during the meeting and so it was not possible to take a vote to pass the motion or even determine the attitude of the room to its content. This is of course disappointing, and leaves open the question as to how the LYS can build an organisation capable of fighting for socialist ideas without democratic decision making.
We believe this was a missed opportunity for an all-London meeting of Labour Young Socialists to stand up for Andrew Fisher and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Such a motion would have sent a clear message to all Corbyn’s supporters that the newly-formed LYS is on their side.
Those who support the reinstatement of Andrew Fisher will continue to campaign on his behalf in the LYS and all other Labour Party bodies, as the supporters of the Marxist Tendency did on Tuesday night at the Sussex Labour Society, which adopted a similar motion.
Already, since the motion was raised it has continued to garner support from LYS members. If you would like to endorse the motion and add your name to the list of signatories below, please firstname.lastname@example.org. Further, we would encourage our readers to take this motion into their local CLPs, Young Labour groups, Labour Clubs and of course LYS meetings in their local areas.
Defend Corbyn! Reinstate Fisher!
Labour Young Socialists notes the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn’s aide, Andrew Fisher, by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party pending a report on his conduct. Fisher has been suspended for a tweet that has been interpreted as support for another party. Fisher has apologised unreservedly for his actions and made it clear that he supports ‘the election of a Labour government and a successful and united Labour Party’. He is a long-term member of the Labour Party.
Labour Young Socialists believes that members of the Labour Party should not give support to other political parties. However, we also believe that it is important to maintain a sense of proportion. Fisher’s was a single harmless remark on social media which was not a serious blow against the Party.
We note that the membership of the Labour Party has doubled since the General Election in May. We believe that the overwhelming majority of these new members have joined because of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies, and that many of these new members would have supported other parties before Corbyn’s election. It is in this context, therefore, that we believe Fisher’s suspension sends the wrong message to those new members who have supported other parties in the past.
We believe that this action is part of an effort by the right-wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who do not accept the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, to undermine him with a view to eventually removing him as leader. The suspension of Andrew Fisher in the context of this effort is an act of provocation against the democratic will of the party and against Corbyn as leader, who has been given the biggest mandate in our Party’s history.
Labour Young Socialists moves to condemn the action of the NEC, to wholeheartedly support Fisher’s reinstatement to the Party, and to call on other Labour Party groupings to do likewise.
Josh Holroyd, London Young Labour, Walthamstow CLP
Algar Epps, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Jed Birch, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Liv Marshall, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Hannah Smith, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Guy Howie, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Ali Arslan, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Timur Dautov, London Young Labour, UCL Marxists
Yasmin Ibrahim, London Young Labour, KCL Marxists
Emily Cosentino, London Young Labour, LYS steering committee
Joe Attard, London Young Labour, KCL Marxists, LYS steering committee
Andy Southwark, Camberwell & Peckham CLP
Adam Booth, Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP
James Kilby, Islington North CLP