The Socialist Campaign Group has launched a new pamphlet titled “Winning the Future: socialist responses to the coronavirus crisis” proposing “bold, practical solutions” to the pandemic.
The document published on Sunday includes articles written by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey among others from the left-wing grouping of Labour MPs in parliament.
In an email to supporters, SCG secretary Richard Burgon described Covid as “the greatest crisis our communities have faced in decades” and said the priority for the labour movement must be to “force the government to change track”.
Commenting on its release, Burgon said: “When the coronavirus crisis hit earlier this year, as one of the wealthiest countries on earth, we should have been well placed to limit the fallout. Instead, the government’s response has been catastrophic.
“The priority for the whole labour movement must be to force the government to change track – through proposing bold, practical solutions and building the mass movements needed to win change.
“The solutions that the Labour movement puts forward and our organising around them can make a real difference to people’s lives in the here and now. It is also an essential part of preparing to win in 2024.”
The group told its supporters in the email that “we on the left have a leading role to play in this” and argued that the newly published compilation of articles is “part of the process of setting out an alternative”.
Burgon added: “Our party now needs to go beyond criticising the government’s incompetence – which it has done well and has won the public argument over – and lay out the policies needed to defend people hit hard by this unprecedented public health and jobs crisis.”
The secretary of the group has argued that the UK should adopt a ‘zero-Covid’ approach to the pandemic, which has been advocated by Independent SAGE and used successfully to suppress the virus in New Zealand.
He wrote for LabourList: “The government must admit that it’s got it wrong so far, change track and go for zero Covid. The entire labour movement will need to unite around zero Covid if we are to force the government to budge.”
In his pamphlet foreword, Burgon argued that last year’s general election defeat was not the result of people rejecting Labour’s 2017 and 2019 manifestos. He stressed the need to “build on those progressive policies – even to deepen them”.
Contributors called for the new Labour leadership to go beyond attacking Boris Johnson over his incompetence. Jon Trickett described Keir Starmer’s “professional, credible and responsible” approach as a “good start, but there is much farther to go”.
Ian Lavery MP wrote: “It is not good enough to be seen to be sitting on the sidelines critiquing on competence… It is Labour’s job to articulate a vision of the future that sets us apart from the failures of the past decade of austerity.”
Trickett also argued that “alarm bells ought to be sounding” in relation to ‘Red Wall’ seats that voted Conservative for the first time last year. He warned that the “change in attitudes towards our party in these communities is glacial”.
Former Shadow Chancellor McDonnell used his article to call for a “radical economics for radical times” to prevent the jobs crisis and warned that the country is on the edge of a recession of “unpredictable depth and longevity”.
Abbott penned a piece on “race, class and Black Lives Matter” in a section on “building a society of justice and equality”. This is joined by an article from Corbyn on global peace and Bell Ribeiro-Addy on defending migrants’ rights.
A contribution from MP Claudia Webbe, reflecting on the unprecedented economic impact of Covid on labour protections and calling for “workers’ rights fit for the 21st century”, was included despite her current suspension from the party.
Many of the members of the socialist group of MPs featured in the publication recently defied the Labour leadership over the controversial overseas operations bill and the covert human intelligence sources (criminal conduct) bill.
The SCG currently has a membership of 34 MPs. It launched the successful campaign to get Corbyn elected the leader of the party in 2015. More recently, it supported Long-Bailey for leader and Burgon for deputy in the last leadership elections.