Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.

INTRODUCTION

“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made Read the rest of this entry »

by Workers Fight

The recent developments on the political scene in Britain have thrown usually clever commentators and political pundits into a mild state of confusion. After all, it was one thing getting the result of the 2016 EU referendum completely wrong, but they also lost their bets on Theresa May’s “snap” election this June.

In fact almost everyone was surprised by the result, but maybe primarily by the surge in Labour’s votes, with 40% of the total, despite the Tory’s apparently unassailable lead in the polls before the election.

It should be said however, that whoever was to lead the government, whether it was May or Corbyn, or someone else, with or without alliances, this government was always going to have the job of managing the affairs of British capital to the best of its interests.

The working class, as history shows us, has never made any real gains through the ballot box and has nothing to expect from any government – because it is the capitalists who are pulling all the strings behind the “democratic” mask of a Corbyn or a May. What is more, there has been no place on the agenda of any government of the capitalist class for significant reforms which could be offered to workers, in any case not since the end of the post-war boom at the beginning of the 1970s. Since then, the world economy has been in a Read the rest of this entry »

by Phil Duncan

Well, according to the media – and there seems to be quite a consensus – the answer to the question above is a resounding ‘yes’.  According to Tim Murphy, co-editor of Newsroom, policies adopted at last weekend’s Green Party AGM have “placed the Greens on the risky side of radical. Probably just where they want to be.”

According to TV1 political editor Corin Dann, the Greens have made “a bold statement on social justice”.  On Spin-Off, Simon Wilson suggested, “For the left, which was looking like it was going to watch another election slide by, it was the most impressive statement of the year.”  Columnist Stacey Kirk argues, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, is “counting on New Zealanders to not only voice concern over inequality, but to collectively do something about it that may go against the nature of their very core.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most hyperbolic response has come from Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks

In a few short weeks, all New Zealand citizens over 18 not in prison will be entitled to cast a vote electing the country’s parliament. This modern set of rights is an undeniable step up from the first Kiwi election, held not so long ago, just 33 years before my house was built. Back then, in 1853, voters were required to be male British subjects, aged 21 or over, owning land worth at least fifty pounds. (In practice the 1853 regulations also excluded Maori land owners, as communal ownership was not recognised by the law. )

Even these restricted 19th century regulations were an advance on previous human governance laws.

During most of our recorded human history, working people have been dictated to by tiny handfuls of armed rulers. Those who worked for the nobility were not recognised as equals, not accepted as being fully human. Today there are many areas around the globe where free elections exist not at all or in name only, areas where hands reaching towards a ballot box can be literally Read the rest of this entry »

A visiting activist from Britain will be speaking on this subject in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.  The meeting is from 6-7.30pm in the central city.

Dani is a zero-hours contract worker and active in a community housing campaign in Bristol.

The room we have is very small and only seats 12-15 people max, so we need an indication of attendance.

It is the reading/meeting room on the 3rd floor of the public library in Moray Place.

Don’t miss out – If you want to come along, email redlinemarxists@gmail.com

 

People from this blog and people from AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) are currently working together to encourage people not to vote, and do so as a conscious political choice, in the September general election.

The facebook page will, in particular, be challenging the idea that Labour is some sort of alternative to National.  That’s the argument of the Labour hacks and the soft left outside Labour.

They want you to vote for the party that, for the past two years, has been running a racist campaign against “people with Chinese-sounding surnames” and trying to blame them for the housing crisis.

A vote for Labour is a vote for a xenophobic party.

In the 2011 and 2014 elections, Labour campaigned to raise the retirement age.

The last Labour government presided over year after year of budget surpluses, while refusing to raise social welfare benefits.

The last Labour government presided over the expansion of zero-hours contracts.

The last Labour government opposed parental leave; its leader, Helen Clark, even said paid parental leave would be introduced “over my dead body”.

The last Labour government brought in a load of repressive, anti-civil liberties legislation after 9/11.

And, not content with bringing in repressive laws, they went after left activists and attempted to frame-up a whole bunch of them on absurd “terrorism” charges.  The ‘terror raids’ saw several hundred military and armed police descend on Tuhoe country, terrorising people in and around Ruatoki.  Homes of activists across the country were also raided.

Although most of the charges were so flimsy they had to be eventually dropped, Labour’s police state raids and charges made life hell for the arrested activists for several years.  And veteran Maori activist Tame Iti and fellow activist Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were successfully stitched up and imprisoned for several years.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government threatened to end social welfare benefits for people in areas declared “unemployment black spots” and told unemployed people in these areas to move.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government joined in the invasion of Afghanistan and sent NZ troops to Iraq just in time to met the deadline allowing NZ companies to bid for ‘reconstruction’ contracts’.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

While the mushy section of leftists back up the Labour Party and try to act as enablers for its xenophobic, repressive and all-round anti-working class policies, there is an alternative, an anti-capitalist alternative.

Chunks of the left are revealing themselves to be merely anti-National Party rather than anti-capitalist.  Our aim, however, is to get people to make a conscious political decision not to vote and begin the task of politicising the non-voters who already vastly outnumber the people who vote Labour.  (Indeed, in the last election, more blue-collar workers voted National than Labour, seeing National as the lesser-evil).

Support – and, even better, join in – the Not Voting is a Political Act campaign.  The facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/NotVotingIsAPoliticalAct/

Help us promote the page.

nationalcolaNo-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons.

Nevertheless, there are certainly sections of the anti-capitalist left who, in practice, retain illusions in Labour.  Some think Labour is still, at its core, some kind of “workers’ party” and that it is therefore permissible to vote for it and call on others to vote for it.  Or to take sides in Labour leadership elections.  Or to invite Labour speakers to speak at their educational conferences.  Or to demonise National in such a way that points clearly to support for Labour, without actually saying so.

Even on the anti-capitalist left, there are also some illusions about the first Labour government.  And illusions about the early Labour Party from its founding in 1916 to the formation of the first Labour government.

It is a form of comfort politics.  Just as some infants require comforters, a left which hasn’t yet grown up and been prepared to face the harsh realities of the 21st century capitalist world requires the comfort of thinking that there was once a mass force for socialism in this country and that it was the early Labour Party.

In fact, there has never been a mass force for socialism in New Zealand.  There were certainly revolutionary elements in this country – marxists, anarchists, syndicalists – in the early 1900s and there were far more of them then, when New Zealand only had a million people, than there are today when the country has 4.5 million people.  One of the functions of the early Labour Party was to destroy these revolutionary elements, in part by mopping them up and sucking them into Labour, transforming them into harmless social democrats.  Where they couldn’t do this, they worked to marginalise them and destroy their organisations.

All the while, through the 1920s, Labour moved rightwards, becoming more and more oriented to saving and running the system than getting rid of it.  Labour was always far more hostile to the anti-capitalist left than it was to capitalism.  And, of course, the early Labour Party staunchly advocated for the White New Zealand policy, indicated that they preferred a divided and politically weakened working class – ie one more likely to turn to Labour as its saviour – than a united, politically powerful working class which didn’t need the Labour Party.

Over the five years that this blog has existed, we have run a lot of articles on Labour, including some major, lengthy pieces.  Below are many of the major ones but, for a full list, go to the Labour Party NZ category on the left-hand side of the blog home page.

Labour on immigration – from bad to worse

Political donations and the National-Labour siblings

Labour’s immigrant bashing has a human cost

What every worker should know about Labour’s 1987 Labour Relations Act

Can the Labour Party survive?

A comment on Labour’s ‘Ready to Work’

Latest opinion poll – Labour just can’t catch a break

The truth about Labour: a bosses’ party

Labour’s racist roots

First Labour government wanted ‘Aryan’ immigrants, not Jewish refugees from the Nazis

Labour’s introduction of peacetime conscription and the fight against it

1949 Carpenters’ dispute: Labour and the bosses versus the workers

Twyford is at it again

A stain that won’t wash off: Labour’s racist campaign against people with ‘Chinese-sounding’ surnames

More Labour anti-Chinese racism and the left tags along behind them still

Anti-working class to its core: the third Labour government (1972-75)

Labour’s legal leg-irons – thanks to fourth Labour government

Some further observations on the fourth Labour government

Workers, unions and the Labour Party: unravelling the myths

For a campaign for union disaffiliation from the Labour Party

Labour’s leadership contest: confusions and illusions on the left

Recalling the reign of Helen Clark

Income and wealth inequality unchanged by last Labour government

Darien Fenton at the fantastic conference

New Labour Party general-secretary indicative of party’s managerial capitalism

Why Labour wasn’t worth the workers’ ticks

Why do otherwise sane, well-meaning people choose to delude themselves about the Labour Party and make up rosy nonsense about its past?

Chris Trotter’s false recovered memory syndrome

Empty Andy and the ‘Eh?’ team

Union movement gathers for ‘fairness at work’; Labour gathers missionaries

Labour parties and their ‘left’ oppositions