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THIS weekend’s Morning Star contains detailed analysis by former Corbyn staff and allies of the Forde report into Labour factionalism.
Comprehensive as it is, the Forde report does not teach us much. It was commissioned to investigate allegations in the leaked report of Easter 2020, which exposed institutional sabotage of Labour’s 2017 election campaign and a sickening torrent of racist, sexist and bullying abuse by some very senior members of Labour staff directed at colleagues, party members and even MPs seen as supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.
It is important that Forde’s investigation confirms the main allegations in the leaked report. And these are devastating.
They include obstruction of the activities of the leader’s office by Labour staff, including the improper diversion of party funds.
Forde concludes that this probably did not mean the difference between victory and defeat in the 2017 election. This may be true, but the wider pattern he identifies concerns factional behaviour which continued from 2015 to 2019.
Given the close result in 2017, it is not unreasonable to conclude that had Labour not been consistently sabotaged by its own MPs and bureaucrats for five years, the Corbyn project could have ended very differently.
Forde is weakest when he implies Labour is tackling the issues raised in the report. Actually the evidence of a racist and sexist bullying culture continues, as in the campaign to deselect left MPs like Apsana Begum, forced to go off sick because of the level of abuse she has received.
Sir Keir Starmer claims to have rid the party of factionalism, but the truth is the opposite. A vicious, no-holds-barred war against the left of the party has been the hallmark of his leadership, won under false pretences.
The arbitrary exclusion of Corbyn himself from the parliamentary party is one example.
Thousands of members and entire branches have been suspended or disenfranchised on the flimsiest grounds. Its despotic leader feels he can excommunicate causes championed by generations of Labour members and leaders from Keir Hardie on, such as the peace movement.
Starmer’s self-congratulatory response to the report makes clear there will be no accountability for the wreckers who worked so hard to undermine Labour’s chances under Corbyn.
And we will not see media pressure on Labour to address any of the appalling behaviour exposed.
After all, it formed part of a wider ruling-class offensive in which the media and the Labour right were partners.
The prospect of a government which would challenge the powers and privileges of the elite horrified the entire Establishment.
The fear Corbyn inspired in the rich and powerful lives on. He was cited by more than one Tory minister resigning from Boris Johnson’s government.
Starmer is determined to prevent Labour ever again threatening real change. His crackdown on socialists undoubtedly makes it much harder for campaigners for peace or against racism to work with the party.
But nor should socialists throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Some on the left argued that Labour was irredeemable before Corbyn was elected leader. But it did prove the vehicle for the largest upsurge in socialist politics in generations.
The Corbyn project showed the appeal of socialist policies, which a re-energised trade union movement can now articulate if Labour won’t. Strategies like the mass mobilisation of activists to overcome institutional and media opposition worked wonders in 2017.
If we are wiser now about the cynicism and ruthlessness with which most Labour MPs and senior staff will play dirty to protect the status quo, we must also learn from what the left managed to achieve in the face of that obstruction.
Members vindicated by the Forde report may leave Labour to campaign elsewhere, or stay in and fight, but key either way is the development of a sharper, class conscious socialist movement — one that recognises its enemies, and stands by its friends.
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