England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Diane Abbott blocked: Now she should stand against Labour!

The Labour leadership’s apparent attempt to stop Diane Abbott from standing is the latest stage in the purge of the left from Labour. Over her time as an MP, Abbott has stood against war in Iraq and the oppression of Palestinians, supported abortion rights and been a tireless opponent of racism in capitalist society. Such politics are completely alien to the right-wing leadership of Keir Starmer.

By Connor Rosoman, Socialist Alternative London

Following the expulsion of Jeremy Corbyn, the ex-Labour leader has announced his intention to run as an independent. This is an important step – many people will be looking to mobilise to defend an anti-war, pro-worker candidate in this election. Abbott should follow suit and stand against Labour, mobilising the large base of support in her constituency and beyond. Alongside Corbyn and other left campaigns, this can give working-class, young people and all the oppressed a real focus in the general election, cutting through the uninspiring choice between Tory and Tory-lite which currently dominates.

Build a fighting resistance to the Tories and Starmer’s Labour

Independent campaigns to defend Abbott and Corbyn’s seats would allow for a crucial left-wing opposition to a Starmer government. But on its own this is not enough – we must use these campaigns as the launchpad for a new left party that stands with workers and young people.

Despite indicating that she will stand as an independent if the Labour Party does not allow her to stand, Diane Abbott has said she “will be campaigning for a Labour victory”. But staying attached to the Labour Party, or merely acting as an individual independent would be a huge missed opportunity to build the fighting resistance that will still be needed under a pro-capitalist Labour government.

In supporting Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn has said that “the Labour Party ought to be a broad church” – but the Labour leadership clearly disagrees. In the last 5 years, the right-wing leadership has launched an all-out attack on left-wingers in the party, with MPs barred from standing on picket lines, speaking out against NATO and British imperialism, and now a number of Labour-left MPs being deselected from above as Labour candidates in the upcoming elections.

Time for a new party

While Starmer and Sunak compete over who can best represent the interests of the ruling class, neither party has anything on offer for those of us struggling with the cost of living, stuck on NHS waiting lists, or fighting for an end to the British-backed genocidal war on Gaza. We need to build a genuine political challenge to an incoming Labour government that can fight for a real alternative to this crisis-ridden system.

This could start with a conference of resistance, bringing together activists fighting to defend left-wing candidates like Corbyn and Abbott, those who have taken part in the historic mass protests in solidarity with the people of Gaza, junior doctors and other workers out on strike for a real pay rise, and all others looking to build a fighting resistance, to lay the basis for a new party.

Such a party would need to be firmly rooted in the struggles of workers and young people. This means being completely independent, standing against any pressures of ‘lesser evilism’ or other forms of compromise with Starmer and the political establishment.

A new left party would also have to put forward an uncompromising socialist programme to pose a real alternative to this crisis-ridden system and its political lackeys. For a start, this could mean fighting to:

  • Stand against war and imperialism – no to national service, end all arms exports to the Israeli state
  • Tax the rich to fund a mass programme of green jobs, and retraining for workers in the arms and fossil fuel industries. Take the big polluters into public ownership for an immediate transition to green energy
  • Reverse all anti-strike and anti-protest legislation
  • End the right wing ‘culture war’ agenda of both the Tories and Labour. For the right to self-identify, and for trans-inclusive health care as part of a fully-funded, publicly-owned health service!
  • End all attacks on refugee rights! For the right to work and join a union for all
  • For free university education and an end to marketisation. Write off all student debt
  • Public ownership of rail, mail and utilities, as well as the banks and key sections of the economy, under democratic control, to lay the basis for a socialist society based on need rather than profit!
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