Do not give the Labour Party a honeymoon period

With the BBC exit poll released and the count underway, Labour and Keir Starmer seem set to walk into 10 Downing Street with a plentiful majority to back him (1). Meanwhile, the Tory party looks in disarray with Reform slicing a large chunk out of the Conservative vote count with the Liberal Democrats picking up seats filled with upset Tories. Britain’s electoral left on the other hand has had a mixed night with Green and Independent success being praised by some on the electoral left.

While right-wing Labour voters may be jubilant with the Tories crashing out of office, the workers of Britain should not be fooled – Labour will not bring reform to the system. With the election of Keir Starmer as Labour leader after the 2019 election revolutionaries around the country heard once again the lies of opportunistic politicians seeking to take power in 10 Downing Street. From 2019 to 2024 Keir Starmer dragged the Labour Party from its centre-left position under Corbyn back to the centre-right to reassure the capitalist class that labour and its reformist union allies were ready to uphold their interests. Under his rule, any conflicting elements including Socialist Appeal (2), Jewish Labour members (3) and former Corbyn allies were often purged without evidence in order to remove any left elements from the party.

Policy within the Labour Party in the run-up to the election swung right in a further effort to secure the trust of British capitalists to prevent any potential capital flight. For the workers of Britain, the Labour Party has presented a so-called deal for workers (4) which promises no tangible benefits or improvements for the working class and their conditions which have hit all-time lows over the last few years. With Labour-affiliated unions putting up no real resistance (5), the Labour Party have surely convinced British capital that its interests are in good hands. The Labour Party’s commitment to guaranteeing the interests of capital has won them support from the British right-wing print media, most notably the Sun who have backed the Labour party for the second time in the 21st century (6).

On the social issues front, Labour similarly to all other parties has committed itself to a transphobic position with Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting defending so-called ‘gender critical’ people while also expressing regret over a past statement he made on trans women. In another blatant attempt to pander to right-wing voters Labour under Starmer has positioned themselves on the side of Transphobia (7,8) thereby further endangering working-class transgender people in Britain. With the majority of Brits polled being concerned about immigration into Britain Starmer in a terrifying move openly committed to working with the French far right to reduce immigration to Britain (9)!

The idea that Labour offers a fundamental change from the Conservative Party is bullshit, as every British election has demonstrated. At every election, the state and capitalists always win. A vote for any of these reformist parties is a vote for our capitalist oppressors, if this night has demonstrated anything it’s that revolutionary change cannot emerge from the electoral arena. Our place is with the working class, in our collective struggles, in our communities with our community power.

After the results come in traditionally the incoming government usually undergoes a honeymoon period where the government experiences mass popularity in its initial stages (usually due to hatred of the previous government), as revolutionaries and anarchist communists we cannot allow this to happen. By allowing Labour to get comfortable in the halls of power we are prolonging the suffering of the working class under capitalism, it is our responsibility and commitment as class struggle anarchist communists to get inserted and involved in social movements and upcoming labour struggles to support our comrades and build an effective and revolutionary counter-culture capable of mobilising the working class not to go to the voting booth but to realise the anarchist social revolution.

While the working class prepare for the incoming Labour government in Westminster, what do these results mean for the various factions of British politics? How will the collapse of the Tories, the failure of the electoral left and the rise of Reform affect the social conditions of Britain going forward?

The far-right looms:

In the election the Reform Party have picked up 5 seats from the Conservative Party, this marks a turn in British politics which the working class will have to respond to. The racist Reform party headed by Nigel Farage seems to have increased its vote share at the expense of the British right-wing (Labour and Tory) through a combination of voter disillusionment and harnessing of culture war issues to mobilise those who are becoming affected by the rapid wealth consolidation of the capitalist class. Within this election alone the Reform Party have demonstrated the party is distinguished by racism, homophobia, and a commitment to worsening the conditions of the working class by any means possible (10).

The leaked footage of Reform candidates advocating things like shooting migrants on the South Coast demonstrates exactly why this party should not be brushed off as just an insurgent party. The Reform party have harnessed the immigration debate to create a divide between British and international workers by painting the latter as a threat to the job prospects and living standards of the former.

For the time being, revolutionaries may seem defeated. Workers and anarchists in this country however cannot be fooled – they will be back. Capital and its servants are both cunning and resilient, when the first opportunity arises the Conservative Party will strike at the Labour Party to reclaim its mantle as the primary servant of capital. Although this may take years, we as workers must remain vigilant and combat prejudice and vile acts wherever they occur, whether this be in the Conservative party or elsewhere.

Despite Conservative defeat, toxic political figures including Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman remain in parliament. In her election speech, Braverman apologised for the performance of the Conservative party and its lack of promises delivered. This rhetoric signals one thing and one thing only, a further right-wing shift is on its way, when centrism fails extremism takes hold. With Reform’s seat count rising they will now be forced to keep up by amping up the racism, homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry. We cannot tolerate this nor can we wait for it to happen, workers in this country must be on the front foot against the far right.

The British electoral left:

The failure of the Labour Party to commit to any form of left-wing policies has supposedly opened up a space for a left Labourist party to swoop in and attract disaffected Corbyn voters. The Liberal Democrats via Ed Davey have continued to target disillusioned Tory voters in the south of England which has seen them reach their highest seat count in their history. The Green Party for years have been seeking to position itself on the left of the Labour Party since the fall of Corbyn by putting forward a progressive policy platform synthesising an environmental and Corbynista platform to mobilise students and party activists in their quest to centralise their votes in Bristol and Brighton to overcome the First Past the Post electoral system. The Greens have now, in fact, quadrupled their seat count from 1 to 4.

Jeremy Corbyn as well as the independent candidate Shockat Adam (South Leicester) have upset the political establishment by defying the Labour Party and its party line. Although many respect Corbyn for his Palestine advocacy and consistent commitment to centre-left policy his victory fosters a sense of hope in reformists that change can still be done via the ballot box. Electoral “successes” like these risk fostering this faith even more, as anarchists communists although we may come off as doom and gloom merchants must reject these results and continue to push for our methods of struggle. As history has demonstrated even a socialist vote leads to capitalism.

To the left of the Greens are the Workers Party, Revolutionary Communist Party, TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) and the Communist Party. Despite all these groups (except the Workers Party) subscribing to a variation of socialism they cannot seem to get away from fielding candidates in a bourgeois election. Anarchists throughout history have been strong in their condemnation of electoralism as a strategy for change, Marxists whether they be Leninists, Trotskyists or Stalinists remain attracted to the prospect of sending their comrades into the heart of capitalism to mobilise workers for their vanguard parties. As every previous UK election has demonstrated this strategy has once again failed, if this is the case then why do they do it, you may ask?

The answer to this question will largely remain unknown, despite their so-called commitment to revolutionary politics, groups like the RCP will find one way or another to continue practices like entryism and electoralism in an attempt to expand their audience (e.g. to find more people to sell newspapers). Some on the left may argue it is necessary to have radical voices like the Greens or others in parliament and local office to champion the interests of local people in housing struggles or other local difficulties. The realistic and simple answer to this is parliamentary office is far from a pre-requisite for community action, if anything it is quite the opposite. Being drowned in paperwork and being obsessed with retaining your power is a barrier to working within your constituency for the benefit of your fellow workers. I do believe Trots and their vanguard will never abandon their revolutionary opportunism, elections like these will always remain as prime time for Trots to platform their most popular activists in an attempt to build the worker’s vanguard (RCP…)

The futility of left electoral opposition and pushing the Labour Party to the left:

After this election and the “success” of independent and Green candidates, there will be many on the electoral left pushing for young people and Corbynistas to rally around the Greens and Independents as a force to keep the Labour Party in check and push them further left when possible. Once again reformists have failed to understand the nature of the political system in Westminster, the scale of the Labour Party majority compared to the insurgent “left-wing” candidates is remarkable. Any potential vote in the Commons which may be contentious for the left will not be defeated by a handful of insurgent MPs in a parliament dominated by three parties (Labour, Tory and Lib Dem) jostling for power

Influence on select committees, PMQs (Prime Minister Questions) and 10-minute rule bills provides absolutely no leverage for working-class people in Britain who will inevitably watch as these insurgent MPs become obsessed with reproducing their power at the next election while simultaneously managing the heavy load of  paperwork and media obligations that all MPs have to deal with. By the time 2029 rolls around it will be time once again for the electoral left to cry out for support for their representatives in Westminster. When this inevitably fails the natural course of moderation and pandering to Britain’s media elite will take hold as we have seen many times before (George Galloway…)

Those who believe that these insurgent left MPs will provide an effective means of pushing voters and parties to the left do not understand the nature of the British political establishment. For decades the Labour Party has not been seeking out left-wing voters as they have become convinced that to be capital’s representatives they must be seen as competent, this will not change given the fact Britain’s right-wing print media adore parties which are pushed further to the right as capital and its interests do not see it as a threat. This explanation shows why parties like Reform and UKIP/Brexit Party have been so successful in pushing the Tories and Labour further to the right, the print media whether it be the Sun or the Daily Mail will love any attempt to move the British political culture further towards authoritarianism.

Those on the electoral left seem to have also completely forgotten that Sir Keir Starmer has been measuring his success on how well he can “change the Labour Party” e.g. crush anyone in the party who is not a red conservative. Labour HQ has seen purges of “socialist” and radical party activists and MPs as a great success in changing the party to prepare for its accession to power. Is this the party and group of voters you want to waste your time trying to push to the left?

The inevitable challenge at the next election will not be the electoral left (it never has been), instead, the newly elected Labour Party will have to deal with some form of Conservative-Reform party fascistic hybrid fuelled by race hate, transphobia, and a burning desire to become capital’s primary servant once again. This paints a dangerous picture for the future of Britain, we are not facing a society marked by positive change. We are facing down the far right, the ballot box and time-wasting in elections will not stop them.

If once again the electoral left has wasted their time then what is to be done? Anarchist communists in Britain must be capable of putting forward a coherent idea for what workers and anarchists can do as an alternative to going to vote. Our theory clearly states that we seek for people to take direct action and build their capacities as workers in preparation for the social revolution. How anarchists in Britain do this is something which we must discuss and work towards as comrades.

What this election has demonstrated once again is that the state always wins, once again the left has wasted its energy and will leave this election partly demoralised. It is clear alternate strategies must be developed, this is not something which cannot be delayed, Britain and the world are in crisis and action is needed. To allow the Labour Party their honeymoon period would be handing the capitalists a win, as anarchist communists our commitment to the class struggle must be reflected in our actions in the coming months whether that be in your local group, labour struggle or community.

1
BBC (2024) ‘We did it! Change begins now’ – Starmer’s victory speech. Available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/videos/czrj3zd0g48o

2
Rodgers, Sienna (2021) Labour’s ruling body agrees to proscribe Socialist Appeal and three other groups. Available at: labourlist.org/2021/07/labours-ruling-body-agrees-to-proscribe-socialist-appeal-and-three-other-groups/

3
Sanders, Richard (2023) www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-labour-party-accused-discrimination-expelling-jewish-members. Available at: www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-labour-party-accused-discrimination-expelling-jewish-members

4
Labour Party (2024) LABOUR’S PLAN TO MAKE WORK PAY Delivering A New Deal for Working People. Available at: labour.org.uk/updates/stories/a-new-deal-for-working-people/

5
GMB (2024) How Labour’s New Deal for Working People will transform the world of work. Available at: www.gmblondon.org.uk/departments/political/political-news/labour%E2%80%99s-new-deal-for-working-people

6
The Sun (2024) The Sun says it’s time for a change. Available at: www.thesun.co.uk/news/28935096/its-time-for-a-change/

7
Hansford, Amelia (2024) Labour’s Wes Streeting says it’s ‘wrong’ to write off ‘gender-critical’ people as bigots. Available: www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/labour-s-wes-streeting-says-it-s-wrong-to-write-off-gender-critical-people-as-bigots/ar-BB1nfVGX

8
Hansford, Amelia (2024) Labour’s Wes Streeting no longer stands by statement ‘trans women are women’. Available at: www.thepinknews.com/2024/04/11/wes-streeting-labour-trans-women/

9
Cecil, Nicholas (2024) Labour government would work with France’s Far-Right on ‘small boats’ crisis if both win power – Starmer ally. Available at: www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/labour-election-france-far-right-marine-le-pen-small-boats-channel-immigration-b1168325.html

10
Uddin, Rafe (2024) Sunak criticises Reform activist after racist outburst. Available at: www.ft.com/content/837dadb7-47b5-4c9c-94bc-6263fab28f99