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Keir Starmer. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Keir Starmer. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Socialists should focus their energies on building the extra-parliamentary left, argues Terina Hine in her statement resigning as Cities of London and Westminster CLP secretary

Like many Labour Party members I have watched the events of recent months with growing concern. Sir Keir Starmer became leader of the party promising to strengthen party unity and to respect and retain popular policies developed over the last five years. It is now clear that these promises are not going to be kept. Over the last couple of weeks we have seen that Labour under Starmer’s leadership will move to the right brutally and rapidly. With this in mind I do not believe remaining as secretary to the CLP is the best use of my time or the most effective form of political activism.

The party appears to be repeating the mistakes of Kinnock and Blair - trying to appeal to the right, and in so doing will lose even more of its traditional voters, as it already has in Scotland and as it is currently reported to be doing among the young and ethnic minorities. The Labour leadership is no longer interested in socialist politics but in returning to the discredited middle ground.

Labour has indicated it intends to move away from its environmental commitments, away from its close association with trade unions and once again away from its roots. Starmer was distancing himself from and sidelining Rebecca Long-Bailey long before he sacked her. His comments on the BLM movement show, at best, an embarrassing lack of understanding of the issues of entrenched racism in our society.

The imposition from the NEC of new election rules without resort to Conference, and the changes in policy direction, not least the newly adopted position on Kashmir in direct opposition to the resolution passed at Conference 2019, display disdain for party democracy.

Added to the lack of action taken over the racist and sexist abuse highlighted in the leaked report, not to mention the lack of action over those who actively worked against a Labour election victory, a clear picture emerges of a leadership more concerned with attacking the left within the party and wooing so-called "liberal conservative" voters than opposing this extreme rightwing government.

It has failed to hold the government to account over the worst crisis in my lifetime and consistently appears to be putting the interest of business over those of the workers - hence the division over the return to school which culminated in the shameful sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The failure of Labour to call for the sacking of Dominic Cummings was a truly shameful abrogation of the job of the opposition, while the victories won on schools and on children’s meal vouchers were both the result of pressure emanating from outside of Westminster rather than inside.

There are major struggles coming: mass unemployment, a global economic crisis and increased international tensions. But I believe the Labour Party in its current form will continue to capitulate and lean right.

Thousands of activists want to be engaged in a positive way and it's difficult to see that those on the left will find such engagement through Labour. I for one don’t want to spend this critical period being hampered by internal Labour bureaucracy and in-fighting. Hence my resignation from my role in the CLP.

But, whether you chose to stay or leave, all socialists and those on the left should join a union, get involved in grassroots campaigns, such as Stop the War Coalition, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Keep our NHS Public.

Good luck with the fight.

Solidarity!

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