Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Respect has split: set back or new opportunity?

The split in Respect - The Unity Coalition has been well documente elsewhere. I've no intention of going over the details here. (See http://www.socialistunity.com/ for the major documents of the split).

The fact is there are now two Respects. Respect-SWP, which is exactly that, the SWP, and maybe a hand full of their friends, and Respect Renewal, which is George Galloway - the sole MP, Salma Yacoob, most of the Tower Hamlets Cllrs, Linda Smith, Ken Loach and virtually all the independents.

The SWP's control freakery was a barrier to Respect developing. Key sections of the socialist and labour movement, as well as numerous individuals with negative past experiences of the

SWP, were clearly put off from joining it. Others joined and then left it again fairly quickly when the SWP acted to silence critical voices or were too domineering. As the largest component by far within Respect the SWP had a responsibility to tread carefully, to act in an ultra-inclusive and democratic fashion, and in doing so to prove their doubters and critics wrong. They failed to do this in quite some style.

So what next?

The Respect-SWP is not going to attract anyone to it. It is not a coalition in any way, just an SWP electoral front.

Respect Renewal (RR) on the other hand does appear to be looking outwards towards new forces. They also stand by the idea of building a pluralistic and democratic party.

One problem RR faces is that it is very small, maybe 800 members when the dust settles and the organisations are fully seperated. The SWP did provide most of the activists, especially so outside of Birmingham and East London. So RR will need to attract new members, and new organised forces, if it is to develop branches and activists across the country.

Another problem is the question of accountability, and specifically, George Galloway. He is a controvercial figure on the left to say the least. True, he is a fine speaker. And true again, he was the most outspoken critic of the war on Iraq.

However, there are some issues where most of the left and George Galloway clearly do not agree. This would not be such a problem if Galloway was democratically fully accountable to the organisation. His comments to the press, in parliament, his actions, income, business dealings etc. should be inline with the organisation's democratic decisions and appropriate for a socialist MP. He is such a dominant figure that this may not be easy. How would he respond to any attempt to make him fully accountable?

Democratic accountability would also need to be applied to the Respect Cllrs. Would they attend local branch meetings? Would they adhere the collective democratic decisions reached at? Would they act inline with national policies and decisions?

These questions are unknowns. The fact that Respect has not seemingly been able to hold its representatives fully accountable in the past does make sections of the left, the trade union movement and individual activists warry of joining it. If RR can quickly prove that it will operate in a different way to the past, and that the elected representatives will be fully accountable, then maybe these doubts can be overcome and more forces can be attracted on board.

There are also political issues that need to be resolved. It's absolutely crucial that RR turns away from opportunism. It must appeal to all sections of the working class, whatever race, sex, religion or nationaloty, on a class basis. There can be no hint of appealing to people on a religious, ethnic of national basis.

Of course, defence of religious and ethnic minorities from attack, defence of civil liberties and opposition to racism must be key policies and areas to campaign on. But this is entirely different to deliberately highlighting the religious beliefs or ethnicity of a particular candidate. Likewise, the support of religious leaders or scholars should not be sought after in an attempt to deliver more votes.

RR must be clearly a party for the working class, the oppressed, and for socialism. It's public material needs to contain far more class content and, at the very least, to mention what socialism is and why we struggle for the creation of a democratic socialist society.

If RR can overcome these problems, if it takes an outward looking and welcoming approach, then it could potentially grow, attract new forces on board, and play an important role in the creation of a new mass party of the working class and for socialism.

As a first step RR should open discussions with other forces including the RMT, FBU, PCS, CNWP, SP, CPB, Bob Wareing MP, LRC, AGS and others. RR should also invite these organisations to send visitors to their conference on November 17th.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

RMT and PCS unions must take the lead

The objective conditions exist to successfully launch a new working class socialist party.

- Brown is no different from Blair. He has been thoroughly exposed to those who harboured illusions in him.

- Industrial struggle is on the increase. A whole wave of public sector strikes now looks likely.

- The democratic channels within the Labour Party have been closed down. The Labour left is now undergoing a discussion on the way forward.

In these conditions one thing is absent: leadership!

A new party wont come out of thin air. Individuals and / or organisations need to take action. The organisations which would have the most authority and the most ability to launch a new party at the moment are the trade unions.

Clearly, most of the unions are still led by the right, by Blair-Brown apologists or open collaborators who will never take this action. But there are some unions led by the left. The leaders of these unions have already declared themselves for a new party. Chief amongst these left-led unions are the RMT and PCS - also the FBU might be included in this group.

If the RMT and PCS were to lunch a serious initiative to create a new party then undoubtedly they would attract towards it many left-wing union leaders and activists from all the major unions, as well as other organisations and individuals.

What are the leaders of the RMT and PCS doing?

The RMT has, to be fair to them, organised a conference on the question of working class political respresentation. They are also reportedly discussing launching a new party for the London Elections. As soon as this is passed by the union themselves, they need to open up discussions with other unions and left-wing union activists, as well as working class and socialist organisations, with a view to launching a new party as a matter of some urgency.

What about the PCS? This union is led by the left-wing - Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, has been a supporter of parties to the left - including the Socialist Alliance and Respect. The NEC includes a large number from the SP.

Unfortunately the union have not taken any initiatives. True, a large number of the NEC have signed up to the CNWP declaration. In these circumstances however this is not enough - they are leaders of an entire trade union. Have they organised or sponsored any meeting or conference to discuss the question of a new party for the working class?

The PCS should now, at the very least, approach the RMT and others for discussions on jointly launching a new party. If those on the left in the PCS leadership cannot pass motions on the NEC for lack of support, there is nothing stopping them as individuals launching an intiative or discussing with others - they need to be pro-active leaders on this question.

Whether they like it or not, the prime responsibility for launching a new party currently lies with the leaderships of the RMT and PCS. These left-led unions have the authority and resources to pull together thousands of activists as well as different organisations into a new party.

Why is it left to them?

Unfortunately there are currently no other forces that are capable or willing to act. True, mass struggles in the future will throw up new leaders or push existing ones into action. But as we are at the moment, then I'd suggest that the RMT and PCS leaderships have by far the most important and decisive role to play.

There are other left-wing union leaders, but they are less cemented in position and some are in fact isolated. They must still act in a personal capacity to help build any new party or any initiative towards a party.

What about the Labour left?

Undoubtedly somebody like John McDonnell, or any of the other respected socialist MPs, would have the authority to launch a new party and draw towards it thousands of activists and some entire unions. Unfortunately, despite some soul searching and discussion on the way forward, the Labour left are highly unlikely to take the initiative to launch a new party themselves.

A large section of the Labour left would probably jump to something new once it was established. They are either not prepared, or have not yet drawn the conclusions at this stage, to actually take a lead and launch something themselves however. I would of course still encourage them to break with New Labour and lauch a new party. Possibly they could be forced into this action by future events, such as de-selections or even expulsions from the Labour Party. The best way to encourage them to break with New Labour would be a sucessful intiative by the left-led unions that leads to the creation of a new party.

What about Respect?

The fact that Respect is apparently going to approach the RMT, CPB, Bob Wareing MP and others for open discussions is a positive sign. However, given the factional crisis within Respect, which may threaten it's very existance, I would seriously doubt its ability to attract new forces on board at this stage.

It must also be said that many in the labour and socialist movement are critical or wary of the methods of the largest component within Respect, the SWP, as well as their MP George Galloway. How the crisis will play out I've no idea, but I think it unlikely that Respect can go forwards from this.

Any initiative from the RMT and PCS should definitely invite Respect to join with them. Hopefully the best elements, if not the entirity of Respect, would opt to join forces. Any new party or initiative must ensure that it is truly democratic, open and inclusive to avoid the worst mistakes of Respect, as well as having a clear working class and socialist perspective.

What about the CNWP?

The CNWP has attracted a few thousand union activists and leaders to sign up to its declaration. I'm sure that the CNWP would join any new initiative from the RMT and PCS. On it's own however it does not have the same weight as two entire trade unions - an obvious point which I'm sure most CNWP signitories would agree with. It can still play a positive role in developments. What the situation demands now though is conrete initiatives.

What next?

The leaders of the RMT and PCS need to be encouraged / pushed into action. Clearly those active within these unions have the most opportunity to do this. In the wider movement we can help by discussing and debating the strategy needed to launch a new party and trying to engage the leaders of these unions in this.

If a new party or initiative is launched, that's when we can all really get to work, using all the networks we can to help build support and make it a success. The launch of a new party, one backed by entire trade unions from the start, a party that brought together thousands of activists to organise as well as discuss ideas, would be a massive step forwards for the working class and the struggle for socialism.

What do you think? Add your comments!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

London Elections 2008: a test for the left

If a new viable party of the left is not created within the next few months, then can the various components of the left at the very least create a united front to stand ONE list in the 2008 London elections?

Recent history suggests not. But maybe, with recent developments in the Labour Party and in the unions, the drive for a united challenge of the left may finally gain enough momentum to succeed.

Can the largest sections of the left, the RMT, Respect, left trade unionists, possibly former Labour lefts, the SP, the CNWP, CPB and others, agree to a united front, based on an agreed programme, and a single slate?

Being presented with numerous 'left' slates, all of which look similar and receive relatively low votes, will only demoralise those looking for a viable left alternative to Labour. This can only help the New Labour and the parties on the right - including the Fascist BNP.

Respect is best placed to get the highest left vote. But Respect alone cannot unite sections of the left, as well as individuals, who are currently warry, skeptical or critical of it. Respect has also been engulfed in a factional dispute recently - plunging it into crisis. This is documented at length elsewhere on the internet. However, a recent Respect NC Resolution suggests that it is about to turn outwards towards other forces in an open non-preconditioned manner, and this should be welcomed. What develops will be of great interest.

There are no sizable left-wing or working class parties in existance in Britain. There is a huge vacuum to the left currently unfilled. This is the background.

If, for example, we had a mass social-democratic party, a mass communist party, and maybe a medium sized radical left or Trotskyist party, and they all had serious levels of support, and assuming that they all had different programmes and strategies to promote, then it would be entirely understandable that they stand against each other in elections. They would be fighting for the leadership of the working class no less. It would still be entirely correct to fight for united action of all the parties and their members in the class struggle, and against the repressive actions of the state and against fascist parties. Maybe even some electoral collaboration would be possible depending on circumstances. But this is an entirely different dilema - far removed from today's situation.

In the current circumstances the main aim must be to create a viable left-wing party that can attract many thousands of members, bringing them together to organise as well as discuss and debate strategy and ideas. Such a party could become a pole of attraction to millions. The differences between the various components on the left are not unimportant. Many of these differences centre on the best way to build a new party and what programme it should stand on. But these differences are not so important as to justify not fighting for a united front of the left, especially at this stage.

Surely, all the components can at least agree on some key policies to fight an election around? True, this would be a compromise and would likely be a fairly basic programme. It might not explicitly fight for a socialist society even, although I'd hope it would do. Certainly there is no reason for it not to do so. Some contentious issues may have to be left out, for example, the question of the EU, or even the entire issue of standing for Mayor against Ken Livingstone.

A united front of the left does not mean that the various components are not free to propagate their own views. They can raise whatever criticisms they like. They could, for example, stand for Mayor seperately from other components of the united front if they so wished, or alternatively, they could call for a vote for Ken. They could all critique and supplement the policies with their own - and argue them openly.

A united front would mean a compromise. All components would have to make concessions. But this is necessary to present a unified left-wing challenge to the capitalist parties. A good vote for a unified left-wing slate, even on a very basic working-class socialist programme, would be a far greater step forwards than modest to poor votes for a few left-wing slates. Who knows, a successful electoral united front that attracted thousands of workers towards it could even lead towards greater unity and the creation of a new party of the left.

Respect, the RMT, current and former Labour lefts, the CNWP, the SP, the SLP, the CPB and others should start discussions straight away.

Surely these components and others can agree on a programme that includes policies such as; a massive building programme of affordable and social housing; no to privatisation of the tube - bring all public transport back into public ownership; an end to all privatisation in the public sector; for the renationalisation of the railways and the other privatised utilities; massive public investment into the NHS; complete and immediate withdrawl from Iraq and Afghanistan; no to war on iran; for a decent minimum wage of at least £7 an hour without exemptions; for trade union freedom - repeal anti-union laws; defend civil liberties - no to ID cards; against racism, sexism, homophobia and all discrimination; tax the super-rich and big business to increase funding for public services; and many more besides...

Sure, this is very basic - and just my own unworked out suggestions. But you get the idea. Key demands that all components agree to are more than possible. They could go much much further than those above and be far more detailed. This is for negotiations and discussions to agree on.

I would hope that they would all be able to agree on wording to the effect of 'for a democratic socialist society in britain and internationally'. Yes, that's really vague. The components have different ideas about what socialism is, how you get it, whether it's a break from capitalism or not, and so on. They can all debate this is their own propaganda, at meetings, on the door-step or wherever they like. But the point of a socialist 'clause' in any programme is to acknowledge the fight for an alternative form of society - namely socialism. At least this would make a start at re-promoting the notion and the very word socialism - after so many years in decline.

A united front is necessary, especially at this stage when there is no viable left-wing party and we are struggling to establish one. To borrow a well used phrase, the forces of the left need to unite and fight around the 80% we agree on, whilst discussing and debating the other 20%. The more sucessful we are in developing a mass party of the left - the more people we will be able to discuss and debate the 20% with! It's well worth remembering that ideas only gain material force when they are accepted by a mass of people. The fight for ideas in a mass party will therefore be of vital importance for those who want to achieve a socialist society.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Break with New Labour - build a new party of the left

"The rule changes bounced through the conference this week removing the right of Labour members to determine the party’s policies at the conference mean the event is now little more than a trade fair and media platform for speeches from the leader and ministers."

John McDonnell MP - extract from his blog post 'Business as usual'

Surely now, after this year's party 'conference', the left still inside the Labour Party will finally consider making the break?

The Labour Party is now even more undemocratic, the unions have less influence, and Gordon Brown is moving the party yet further to the right in order to attract Tory voters ahead of a possible snap election.

So just what is the point of remaining within the Labour Party now? The faint hope that it will shift left in maybe 10 years time? Even this prediction would seem unlikely. Can we afford to wait another 10 years to find out?

The need for a new party is not just something for politicos and leftists to discuss and debate, its not just something that's a 'nice idea' in theory. Its actually something needed urgently to help organise and give political voice to the working class and socialist movement.

Without a party to organise around and campaign for, any defensive struggles against neo-liberal counter-reforms, imperialist war and occupation or environmental destruction are weakened. These struggles are then tactically restricted to strikes or direct actions, but with no real political strategy available.

The greatest example of this was the massive anti-war movement in 2003. With no serious left-wing party in existance, the Liberal Democrats were allowed to benefit from the huge anti-war mood. A party that in reality supported the war once it started, and that supported the war against Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, was the main beneficiary. What a wasted opportunity for the left.

And now, with public sector workers facing what are in effect pay cuts (below inflation pay rises), and with industrial action looming, there is no party to support them, to take on the establishment parties, to argue the corner of the strikers, and no party for those involved in the struggle to join or support.

If a serious party of the left were to exist it would encourage workers in struggle. It would provide them with a more coherent set of political arguments as well as taking up the propaganda of the government and right-wing media.

The party nationally and in local branches could also organise solidarity and political campaigning is support of any struggle. The result would be a more confident and politicised working class as a whole.

John McDonnell and other left-wing MPs, together with those socialists still active within the Labour Party, could potentially attract tens of thousands to join a new left-wing party if they were to make such a call. Even if just a few of the left MPs were to make a break and launch a new party they could expect a huge response.

Undoubtedly many unions, either those which have disaffiliated already or those under pressure to do so from their membership, would respond possitively to a new party. Certainly the RMT, FBU and PCS could be won over - with more to follow as the new party took shape.

However, a party is far more than just MPs. A party with nothing at the base isn't really a party at all in fact. A new party of the left might not win MPs to start with, or it may just win a few. This purely electoralist argument is used by some on the Labour left to justify staying put.

This argument is totally false. Even with no MPs, a new party that brought together tens of thousands of activists, some entire trade unions, and both independent and organised socialists would have a huge impact. It would enable coherent campaigning by the forces of the left in all the major towns and cities. It would also attract much wider media attention than the remaining Labour left gets, helping a new party to become a household name in a short space of time.

A new party should not limit itself to just elections, but should campaign on all the major issues of the day, in support of industrial struggles and international solidarity appeals.

Elections, votes, MPs and Councillors are of course important. A few good votes, a few electoral victories, at any level, would give confidence to wider layers of the working class to support a new party. This would attract thousands of new members.

New elected representatives that acted in a principled socialist manner, resolutely standing up for the people who elected them, would bring credit to the party and gain even wider support still.

The aim must be to create a thoroughly democratic party with a massive activist base, a party where the base is in control of policy as well as the actions of elected representatives and party workers. A new party should aim to be an improvement on the Labour Party as was, not a direct replica.

The objective conditions exist for a successful party of the left to be launched, to achieve victories and to build itself. What's needed is a catalyst to create a new party, or at least the beginnings of it.

Those consistantly left-wing Labour MPs, and the left-led trade unions such as the RMT, PCS, FBU and others, have the most authority amongst the wider working class and within the socialist movement, and therefore, it's primarily down to them to act. They have the weight to bring together the widest and numerically greatest number of activists needed to acually launch a new party and start the process of building it.

If they cling on to the rotten corpse of the Labour Party they are neglecting their responsibilities as leaders of the workers' and socialist movement. They need to act now - and take the steps necessary to establish a new party for the working class and socialism.

Friday, 21 September 2007

RMT may initiate new party to contest London elections

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, has expressed his view a number of times now that the Labour Party is finished for working class people and cannot be 'reclaimed'. Bob Crow is well known for his left wing views and as a militant union leader and so his comments are highly signifficant.

The RMT union has been disafilliated from Labour for a good few years now - oppening the way for the union to back other candidates or parties.

However, given the lack of any credible left-wing party to support - the RMT is considering standing its own slate in the London elections in 2008. This development should be welcomed by those who wish to see a credible new party of the left emerge.

A fighting union of 75,000 members deciding to enter the political fray could be a major step towards creating such a new party. This step would also help politicise the rank-and-file of the union as well as those in other unions and workers in general.

It's not yet clear what the RMT leadership intends, and less so what will eventually be decided. To stand a single-issue 'Campaign Against Tube Privatisation' slate, a campaign which exists only for the elections, and does not draw in broader forces, would be a missed opportunity to put it mildly. Such a narrow campaign, with no real structures at the base, would not involve as wide a layer of activists and would not be as likely to attract support.

Hopefully the RMT will avoid this mistake and decide to actually launch a new political party. Fighting against privatisation, and for the renationalisation of the railways and the entire public transport network should of course be key policies. A range of other policies, such as trade union freedom, withdrawl of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, new affordable council housing etc. etc. should also be developed to give the new party broad working class appeal. (See Neasden RMT Branch ammendment below which makes this point very well).

If the RMT do launch a new party, and appeal to wider forces to join it, then potentially it could draw in left-led unions such as the PCS and FBU (both unaffiliated), thousands of left-wing union activists, ex-Labour Party members, community and NHS campaigners, independent socialists, the Campaign for a New Workers' Party, the Socialist Party and other socialist groups.

Given the current state of the Labour Party such a new formation could also attract sections of the Labour Left and potentially even some Socialist Campaign Group MPs such as John McDonnell. Bob Wareing MP, recently deselected by his CLP, could also be attracted to the new party.

If the RMT do initiate a new party, then all those who want to see a new party of the left created should get involved and help to build it - not just in London, but across the whole country.

If a new party adopts democratic and inclusive structures, and develops a manifesto of key labour movement and socialist policies, then it can succeed in becoming a major pole of attraction for the millions of socialists, workers, trade unionists, ex-Labour members and others who have been abandoned by New Labour.

Motions to RMT's London Transport Regional Council on 27th September.

Preamble passed by Neasden RMT branch:

This branch believes that changes in both the policy and internal structures of the Labour Party over the last decade and a half have been a major set back for working-class political representation in this country; and that in this situation, it is left to the unions to begin to reconstruct a working-class political force.

We therefore advocate that the RMT takes the initiative in the creation of a slate of independent working-class candidates in the upcoming GLA and London Mayoral elections, to give working-class Londoners a chance to express their opposition to the various political representatives of business and vote for a positive alternative.

Section passed by both Neasden and Camden No 3 RMT branches:

To be effective, such a slate would need to

a) Draw in, or at least attempt to draw in, broader forces than just the RMT, by approaching other unions, anti-privatisation and cuts campaigns, tenants' organisations, socialist groups and so on.

b) Develop a manifesto which speaks to the many different issues facing workers, working-class communities and oppressed groups in London, such as education, the health service, housing, a living wage and trade union rights - while of course making the demand for a 100% publicly owned, democratically controlled, integrated and cheap public transport system central. A broad focus will make the challenge stronger.

This branch therefore asks that the union issue a call for such a slate of candidates and approach other unions and campaigning groups in London.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

New Labour 'conference' may become even more pointless

Evidently the New Labour leadership under Brown can't tollerate the prospect of facing any defeats (or even debates) at future party conferences.

The leadership have been defeated a few times in recent years, Foundation Hospitals, renationalise the railways, earnings-pensions link etc. Of course these decisions were promtly ignored anyway, but they did embarass the Government and give the left some encouragement.

New Labour did 'avoid' a debate on Iraq though, evidently some issues are just 'no go' areas.

If the rule changes that are proposed go through, then everything is set to become a 'no go' area!

If the changes pass, then motions on comtemporary political issues will be banned. Some of the affiliated unions are not even going to oppose this. Effectively they are reducing themselves, even more so, to being lobbyists, not affiliated organisations with a powerful influence on the party and government. These union leaders talk ocassionally about 'reclaiming' Labour - but they backed Brown for leader, and in reality they act as collaborators with New Labour - holding back the workers' movement in the process.

If these changes to the conference are accepted it will be yet another key moment in the rightward drift of New Labour. Maybe even a decisive qualitative change, a moment that might just force some on the left, and maybe even a few of the more militant unions, to decide that enough is enough - and break with the new New Labour Party. The GMB have recently threatened disaffiliation it should be noted.

As the name of the blog suggests, I think the left and the unions should break with New Labour. Of course, many fine socialists still within Labour will disagree with me on this, and I respect their views and discuss and debate with them frequently.

But in my opinion, the party is firmly in the grip of the right wing -and crucially, hundreds of thousands of socialists, trade unionists and working class people, millions in fact, will not be persuaded to join or rejoin the New Labour Party - only to then enter into a war of attrition against the right, to become demoralised or be bureacratically blocked. This is especially true of younger people who have only ever known New Labour.

All these people are politically homeless and without a voice. They could only ever be persuaded to join a new party, to make a fresh start in a genuinely democratic socialist party.

Such a party, with the backing of the more militant unions, and hopefully some of the well respected left Labour MPs, could be a major pole of attraction, drawing towards it the politically homeless to fight for a better, fairer and more equal socialist society.

Read My last real conference? by Tony Benn from today's Guardian (extract below).

"If the new proposals - now endorsed by the NEC and apparently some major trade unions - are accepted, delegates will only be allowed to identify issues they want looked at by the policy forums, and the manifesto that emerges will be put to a referendum of party members to accept or reject in full, with no possibility of amendment. This would complete the New Labour project under which the conference becomes a platform for ministers and a few handpicked delegates - and, of course, a big trade fair. There would be no point in joining the party locally or affiliating as a union in the hope of discussing policy."

Tony Benn

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Bob Wareing MP to stand as independent - media links

“The party leadership (under Blair and Brown) have regarded me as a thorn in their side as I rebelled against their betrayal of the basic principles of the Labour Party.

“Anti-Labour policies, such as privatisation, tuition and top-up fees for students and the stock-transfer of council houses, with the threat that no repairs would be carried out if they remained under council control, forced tenants to concede to New Labour’s wishes.

“Worst of all has been the disaster of the invasion of Iraq, an illegal war in defiance of the United Nations.

“I was proud to march, with nearly two million others, against that policy.”

Bob Wareing MP

Media reports:

Rejected MP Bob Wareing vows to stand as an independent, Sep 17 2007, by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post

Stephen Twigg ends career of another political stalwart, Sep 18 2007, by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo

Monday, 17 September 2007

Bob Wareing MP to stand as independent

With this de-selection it's the right that have inflicted yet another defeat on the remaining left inside New Labour. But this defeat can be turned around if it's used to rally the forces of the left to fight back.

Bob Wareing's decision to stand as an independent should be supported by all socialists. He is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, an opponent of New Labour and the war on Iraq.

Whilst it was an enforced decision, it could potentially be a very signifficant one. His independent candidacy could become a rallying point for the left on Merseyside and even nationally, for trade unionists, socialists, anti-war activists and others. His election as an independent socialist MP in the next general election would be a huge victory against the right-wing New Labour machine who have de-selected him.

As Bob himself commented "The party I joined 60 years ago is not the same party I have now resigned from."

Yet the need for a genuine Labour Party, in the sense of a party for the working class, remains as strong today.

Therefore, having drawn this conclusion, and having been effectively thrown out of the new Labour Party, Bob Wareing could potentially play a major role is helping to launch a much needed new party of the left.

Discussions could be opened up immediately, not only with those on Merseyside, but nationally with figures such as Bob Crow of the RMT, Mark Serwotka of the PCS, Matt Wrack of the FBU and other leading left-wing trade unionists, with socialist groups, with the anti-war movement and with former and current left-wing Labour members. These discussions could potentially lead to collaboration in order to lay the basis for a new party of the left.

Undoubtedly if a left wing MP, together with other prominent individuals from the trade union movement (or even entire trade unions) were to issue a joint call for a new party it would be greeted with enthusiasm by many thousands of workers, socialists, ex-Labour Party members and others on the left who currently have no political home.

Rebel MP Bob Wareing axed by Labour

Rebel MP Bob Wareing axed by Labour

Sep 17 2007 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo

VETERAN MP Bob Wareing today said he was “liberated” after being ditched by his consituents after 24 years.

The 77-year-old yesterday lost his nomination for the safe West Derby seat to New Labour poster boy Stephen Twigg – the man famous for beating Michael Portillo in the 1997 General Election.

But Mr Wareing today said he was relieved to quit the party he joined 60 years ago and vowed to stand as an independent in the next election.

He described the decision to ditch him as a reaction to his constant opposition to government policy.

Mr Wareing said: “The party I joined 60 years ago is not the same party I have now resigned from.

“I thought long and hard about this, but I will not stand by and let the people of West Derby, who I have represented for 24 years, be taken over by the New Labour Mafia.”

But sources in the West Derby constituency party told the ECHO he had been heavily defeated in the vote.

It took three rounds for Mr Twigg to get the required 50% plus one vote he needed, but he got three times as many votes as Mr Wareing.

Mr Twigg said his first task was finding a house.

The 40-year-old, who lives in London, said: “I will be moving to Liverpool immediately and will be looking for a house.”

He said gun crime, in the wake of the shooting of 11-year-old school boy Rhys Jones, was among issues on top of his agenda.

The Oxford graduate said: “Bob gave a very magnanimous and gracious speech after the result and I am sure I can work with him and work in the best interests of the party.”

Sources revealed Clubmoor ward councillor Roz Gladden also got twice as many votes as the sitting MP.

Mrs Gladden said: “Finishing second to a former education minister is not bad. We must focus now on taking over from the Lib Dems at the council.”

Mr Waring claimed his high-profile opposition to the Iraq war and votes against the government on key issues prompted efforts to replace him with a New Labour “yes man”.

But now Mr Waring faces the prospect of working with his replacement as he will officially remain MP until Gordon Brown calls a General Election.

City Labour leader, Cllr Joe Anderson said: “I can imagine Bob will be disappointed, but the constituency has made a democratic choice and felt they wanted someone fresh.

“I hope they won’t be any friction or animosity –the Labour party comes first and the most important thing is improving the outlook for the people of West Derby.”