Red Labour, JVL and LRC join forces to launch new left network

Elliot Chappell
© Twitter/@LauraPidcock

Three groups have come together today to call on left-wing Labour members to stay in the party and join a newly launched national grassroots network.

Red Labour, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) have released a joint statement based on the message ‘Don’t Leave – Organise’.

The groups say they have been working together to respond to the December defeat and recent disappointing internal election results for the Labour left.

Their new initiative is supported by the Bakers’ Union and figures such as ex-MP Laura Pidcock, council group secretary Jo Bird and retired ASLEF president Tosh McDonald.

Other supporters include past Labour parliamentary candidates Jane Aitchison, Kate Linnegar, Sophie Wilson, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Tina McKay and Pamela Fitzpatrick.

They say the general election, the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn and the left’s loss of seats on Labour’s national executive committee “constitute a major setback” – but that they are not defeated.

Their statement urges socialists to remain in the Labour Party, “contribute to the efforts to re-unite the left, and be part of a renewed focus for mobilising to demand the society we need for the many”.

Commenting on the launch of the national network, the groups said: “The signatories to this initial statement of intent will be part of the answer but we do not presume to offer a complete solution.

“This is just the start – one piece of a much bigger jigsaw. Any genuine coalition of the left should include both traditional established organisations and emerging new groupings.”

Former Labour MP Laura Pidcock added: “There is a major reconstruction task to be done to strengthen and reconnect the Labour left. This new, national network offers us a space to organise, educate and debate.”

All three of the organisations leading the call for this new network are on the Labour left and were supportive of the Corbyn leadership.

Leader and deputy contests and NEC by-elections drew to a close on April 4th. Keir Starmer won the leadership race on first preferences, beating Corbynite rival Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Corbynsceptics backed by Labour First and Progress swept the board in the NEC by-elections, securing the two positions for local party representatives and the one BAME vacancy.

Below is the full statement released today by JVL, the LRC and Red Labour.

Don’t leave, organise… for a broad left network

The loss of the general election, the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, and the defeat of the left in the NEC elections, together constitute a major setback. But we are not defeated. We are also working in the unprecedented landscape caused by Covid-19 and the government response to this health emergency.

So we urge all socialists to stay in the party, contribute to the efforts to re-unite the left, and be part of a renewed focus for mobilising to demand the society we need for the many.

One great achievement of the Corbyn period was to bring the left together into a force able to influence the terms of debate, to mobilise for and win a left orientated NEC and get radical motions passed at conference. Before Jeremy’s election we worked as many separate groups, but under his leadership we showed that together, we could wield real influence.

Remember how much we’ve achieved in the past five years. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic Labour had forced the Conservatives to make reverses on austerity – including the promise of new investment in infrastructure and public services. The £10 an hour Living Wage campaign was and still is a great example of successful campaigning that became Labour Party policy and pushed the Tories into moving on this issue.

We reaffirm our commitment to the Labour Party which remains, through its historic connection with the trade union and labour movement, the most important expression of the organised working class and a voice for the many.

Our tasks are twofold:

  1. First is to help build a strong opposition to the right-wing Tory government. Sadly, we cannot always rely on support from within the Labour Party for our socialist policies, industrial action and active campaigning.
  2. Our second task, therefore, is to help strengthen and reconnect the Labour left. There is a major task of reconstruction to be taken up urgently.

United we are rock, divided we are sand

Many existing left groups and trade unions, as well as emerging new grassroots organisations, have complementary strengths and a shared purpose, so we are calling for a national network of the grassroots Labour left. The signatories to this initial statement of intent will be part of the answer but we do not presume to offer a complete solution. This is just the start – one piece of a much bigger jigsaw. Any genuine coalition of the left should include both traditional established organisations and emerging new groupings.

Developing such a movement is the first stage in a process of getting people to think about what kind of society they want to live in. This has to be a grassroots activity bringing together individuals and groups, both within and outside the party together with trade unions, councillors, MPs and others in influential positions who actively support a transformative agenda – and demonstrating the importance of going back to our roots through workplace and community organising. We also need to promote understanding of the socialist potential a post-Covid-19 political landscape will offer.

A new and different landscape

The Covid-19 crisis, along with its tragic consequences, has made campaigners think about new ways of organising and mobilising. It has already highlighted the importance of public services and exposed the damage that decades of austerity have done to workers’ conditions while destroying any opportunities for our youth to thrive.

Across all regions and nations of the United Kingdom, party members are joining mutual aid groups. This kind of co-operative activity could sow the seeds of radical change, moving away from the cruelty of Tory individualism and its market-led ideology. The crisis around the pandemic has also seen a growth in workplace militancy, in particular resistance to working in unsafe conditions.

And in the unprecedented environment of lock-down we are finding different ways to communicate, organise and express solidarity – through social media, chat groups, virtual meetings and events. These are particularly important while most party structures are all but shut down. We need to demand they are opened up virtually to ensure that all members have a voice in party business.

Our principles and commitment to concrete action

Socialists in the party need to work together, in coalition, now more than ever. Alongside others in the Labour Party, we will help rebuild the left around a new, national network, which will be a place to organise, educate and debate in order to deliver the socialist society we all need.

We commit to democratic and transparent organisation; working to democratise the Labour Party and the trade unions; defending party members against unjust disciplinary processes and supporting the self-organisation of groups contesting particular oppressions.

Some of the key policies that we will be supporting and campaigning for are:

  • A commitment to repealing all anti-trade union legislation;
  • Struggles against employer attacks and oppression of workers; struggles for unionising unorganised workforces;
  • Combating damaging climate change nationally and internationally;
  • Public ownership of, and investment in, our public services, in particular our NHS and social care;
  • Opposing all forms of racism including antisemitism, and all other forms of discrimination;
  • Rolling back the growth of the far right;
  • An internationalist policy stance based on justice and peace which by definition includes support for the Palestinians;
  • Labour belongs to us. Let’s unite to form an opposition and movement we can be proud of, to build the society we believe in.

How to get involved – we want to hear from you

We are already talking to groups we expect to be among the first participants in this network. If you are in a left Labour/Momentum/constituency group, trade union branch, self-organising group representing liberation strands or broad left Labour organisation which you believe would be interested in joining this network we want to hear from you.

We will use contact details, with permission, to put people in touch with each other and start to develop the networking potential of the Labour left. We also want to involve community cultural and arts groups to support diversity of political education.

There are many vibrant campaigns going on at grassroots level. Here are a couple of examples supporting people working in low paid jobs and the gig economy that stand out in their organisation and ambition. Please contact them direct for further information and to sign up. We’re proud to support:

We look forward to connecting activists involved in many such campaigns, covering issues including our NHS, housing, education and many more through our network as it develops. Please get in touch via: [email protected] and our Facebook page

We are also building an internet hub of resources and materials for education, communication and organisation – open to everyone in the network. Get in touch if you want to contribute ideas, skills and local campaign details.

We aim to hold a major gathering, virtual if necessary, to connect all groups working towards our shared goals. Please contact us if you would like to be part of an organising group to make it happen.

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