Without a reckoning of our mistakes, we’ll never move on.

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People keep saying, “Don’t leave, organise? But we were organised. And look what happened to us!”.

But just looking at the reaction of the socialist left in the Labour Party – scattering in a thousand different directions – tells a very different story. We weren’t organised, at least not enough to withstand the attacks. And we must ask why.

At the heart of defeat is always failure. That is hard for us to listen to, because so many of us put our heart and soul into the Corbyn movement, but actually that isn’t the way to look at it. Failure is part of life and is almost always a collective responsibility. To learn, we have to analyse our failures, no matter what campaign, union or party we are in.

Of course, it’s always easier to blame others: external factors are definitely part of defeat too. We know, for example, that without Brexit, the political landscape would have been very different. But here’s the thing. Those external factors are often things we cannot change – they are the facts of political life: as socialists, the press will always attack us; as socialists, the people who hanker after a New Labour renaissance will always exploit our weaknesses; as socialists, the establishment will close ranks to us and engineer victories for the centre and right, precisely because it preserves their privilege and power. Those are, for the moment, unmovable objects.

But unless we think that things are beyond our control; that history is not to be written by the likes of us; that we have no agency – in other words, unless we despair, we have to have a serious and analytical discussion, across the movement, of where we went wrong. This is absolutely not about navel gazing, it’s what any genuine political project has to do to learn & make sure that next time, we’re stronger. The things we can do something about, that are in our control, no matter how difficult the process is. Without that self-analysis, we’ll leap from failure to failure, without even understanding why.

What that discussion requires is honesty. Currently, I’m not seeing that from many quarters. What I’m seeing is deflection, the burying of mistakes and a rebranding exercise. That’s not good enough. We lost. Our supporters are scattered, demoralised and abandoning the fight, and the response from many on the left can be summarised as “covering our own backs”. We have to be more mature, politically speaking, than that. We have to talk about why we suffered these defeats and that discussion has to be genuinely reflective.

I know people don’t like doing this. Honest discussion is difficult, it causes rows, it’s against our natural protective instinct to bury bad news and for a brand new, shiny “unity”. But there are some real, hard facts here: we will not move on and we will not rebuild until we have a serious reckoning of the last five years. Warts and all.


2 thoughts on “Without a reckoning of our mistakes, we’ll never move on.

  1. Right wing faction of Labour has won against the socialists every decade, since the mid 1970s, to lead the party.

    The 1950s born pension campaign ladies can attest to that, as right wing Labour has been worse against the state pension than the Tories.

    With Starmer and co throwing 2017 and 2019 election that would have helped us, especially losing £30,000 compensation from us, only offered by Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 election (not in the manifesto).

    Yes you lost by being against Brexit, around 50 seats.

    But you also lost because from 2015 to 2019 you did not listen to Grey Swans pension campaign group, campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn’s pension policies in Labour’s manifesto, as I kept telling you at major events, including handing leaflets direct to Jeremy Corbyn (who had no total power over policy), Labour had no meaningful state pension policies to offer the Grey Vote at all. This was due to Labour not wanting to win elections, as the Grey Vote from age 50, never mind 60, are the majority of voters in the small town marginals, that were key to winning.

    Labour members are not splitting into many different groups. They are joining in huge number Chris Williamson’s Festival of Resistance. So much so, he is close this year sometime to turning into a party. But he cannot win an election, because he has not got full and free access to such as Channel 4, the self funding other public broadcaster who gets none of the BBC TV licence.

    Voters get their information from television. Print newspapers are fast dropping in circulation, especially due to lockdown. Online newspapers cannot survive, due to banner blindness of lack of clicks on adverts. Even Facebook faces ruin as huge numbers of big companies are withdrawing advertising revenue.

    Starmer agrees with easing of lockdown and re-opening of schools with Tory Boris, and strives for that even more than him. So not giving a brass farthing for working class lives.

    By all means join Chris Williamson’s new socialist potential party via Festival of Resistance, but we need a NATIONAL HEALTH ACTION party government now, of NHS doctors to care for our public health, and the effects of Covid19 that will last for years. http://www.nhaparty.org

    With NHA party, we get a full and free access to mainstream media by law. Then Chris Williamson’s party could in in the future.

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