YCL Statement on the result of the Labour leadership election

The Young Communist League has issued the following statement on the result of today’s Labour leadership election.

The election of Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner as Leader and Deputy Leader, represents a significant blow for the left in the Labour Party. The election of a right wing Labour leader belies key failings of the Labour left and the trade union movement in the period since Jeremy Corbyn’s election in 2015; disunity and capitulation to the right on key policies, especially Brexit, being chief among them. The fight for democratisation of the Labour Party through mandatory reselection of MPs, mass political education and a strengthened trade union link, was forced to take the back seat to a fight for survival, in the face of coup attempts, press leaking and class collaboration from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the right wing. This no doubt weakened the position of the left leadership, leaving them isolated, with only a small number of dependable MPs.

Amongst all of this however, Corbyn’s Leadership still managed to produce two popular manifestos for radical change, that tens of millions of working class people voted for. The policies in the manifestos offered a vision of genuine change, and a limited redistribution of wealth, putting socialist-orientated politics on the agenda for millions of young people. Trade Union and Communist Party membership has been increasing since 2015 as working class people and the left have been emboldened by the opportunity to build a better world. While this leadership election represents a setback, the landscape and scope to fight for socialist advance has been strengthened. 

Champagne corks will be popping today, in corporate conference calls and virtual meetings, as the establishment celebrates victory in the name of a political consensus that has justified the decline of our communities, the stripping of power and agency from the workplace and the destruction of our planet. In the coming months and years, the Labour leadership will seek to roll back the popular policies which energised millions of young people, and minimise the role of trade unions. 

The Communist Party and the Young Communist League have always been clear that without the presence of a mass extra parliamentary movement of the trade unions and anti-monopoly forces, an isolated left leadership of the Labour Party would be defeated and steps would be taken to make it harder for the left to win again. It is in this extra parliamentary movement, the trade unions, community organisations and campaigning bodies, that young people emboldened by Corbynism must place their focus. As a broad movement, we must learn from the experience of the past five years and emerge hardened, rather than wavering, in our convictions. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership did not emerge from a vacuum and was not the product of one individual, it was the result of extra parliamentary mobilisation against years of austerity at the hands of a Conservative government. 

History and the episode have shown us that socialist change will be impossible in Britain in the absence of a strong communist movement. Our objective must be to build a strong Communist Party, the YCL and a mass extra parliamentary shift centred on the trade union movement and popular campaigns. In the final analysis the Labour Party is a social democratic party which aims to mend capitalism – not to end it. The capitulations made during the last election campaign especially on Brexit and now the election of a new right-wing leadership clearly demonstrate this.

Our priority remains building the YCL and the Communist Party in a non-sectarian way through our work in communities, trade unions and in the broad movement. Working class state power and socialism in Britain will never result without a mass, disciplined and militant Communist movement that can help sweep the people into power. We will continue to campaign for a full withdrawal from the European Union as well for a broad, democratic alliance of left wing forces. These remain essential precursors to putting Britain on the socialist path with the working class in political power.

We are now in the midst of a significant crisis prompted by the COVID19 pandemic, this will be followed by a systemic cyclical capitalist crisis which was already years in the making. There has been no meaningful recovery from the 2008 Financial Crisis for working people, yet already the ruling class will attempt to transfer the burden of these crises and the costs onto working people. , With a Conservative government in power and a major fight on our hands, now is the time for organised and disciplined working class action. We urge young workers to get active in their unions, help organise their communities and create unshakable institutions of working class power.

Don’t despair, get active, get organised, join the YCL!

Executive Committee

Young Communist League

4 April 2020

London, Britain