By Dawn M. Sanders
The thing right at the top of my to-do list for the week as I kicked myself into Monday morning motivation, was to cancel my membership direct debit payment to the Resist Movement and I’ve now done it. As far as I’m concerned it was an overdue obligation to myself and lingering dissatisfaction and disgruntlement of yet another fizzled left-wing effort.
Chris Williamson, after being suspended from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, fought back against resuspension when accused of antisemitism and forged ahead as an independent MP for the Derby North constituency. He launched the Resist Movement in response to Labour’s lurch to the right under Keir Starmer and with last October’s conference debating on whether or not to become a political party – it had all the beginnings and potential for gathering the momentum that had faltered when Jeremy Corbyn so badly lost the 2019 election.
The conference saw speeches from national and international figures which I wrote of in Barriers to Bridges Magazine last December, but of course it wasn’t without the usual friction that mushrooms with differences of opinion. In the months following the conference and into the new year, it seemed Resist was on strong footing, asking membership for a suitable name and setting up regional branches which one would expect and seemingly focusing on a manifesto aligning with other small left efforts to come under the umbrella of TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition) in building an alliance.
According to the UK Social Democratic Facebook page at the time, there were a few hundred fielded candidates running for councillor in the May local elections, but to date I haven’t heard of any successes.
After the elections, all Williamson said in a post to Resist members was, to the tune of, ‘Labour didn’t make significant gains outside London’ -yeah, okay and so your point was??? Instead of analysing the obvious or inevitable, why not focus on how TUSC candidates could have been more prominent or higher profile in the overwhelming dominance of the 2 main parties, the protest votes of the LibDems, the Green gains etc, but apart from one notable example of how a small left-wing group succeeded in East London – there seemed little else to speak of for the left and any aligned efforts- I could be wrong, but it seems one has to be within specific circles to find out otherwise.
Since then, what has come out of the perverse mess of the Tory party and the exiting of what could easily be defined as, the most corrupt leader the UK has seen in recent times – at the risk of sounding cliché or parroting the various incarnations of analysis by the broadsheets. So, Bozo will be replaced by yet another unelected, damaging, and disconnected leader – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last… Zara Sultana and this one nailed it, in pointing out how the left should and could take this opportunity to galvanise and get it together, but no sound bites from movements themselves, no plan or no credible ‘we told you so’ from the left well, apart from the unions themselves who, are rightfully taking matters into their own hands. Who the hell can blame them? Centrist Starmer isn’t going to fight for workers in what has become the lighter shade of a tory party. More to this point, where’s the alternative to the lack of alternative – as I said, Labour isn’t necessarily wooing disgruntled tory voters into a watered-down version – the LibDems are proving only to be a tactical protest vote, as with the bi-elections. The political arena in the 21st century is a toxic snake pit and if one is too soft, honest sincere or a threat to the established nasty capitalist game, they will get eaten alive
Thing is, I’ve since got an e-mail from Resist asking for people to support a Rabbi Dovid Weiss – for a tour Resist has set aside 7 grant to fund. Of course, that is peanuts to any established political entity, but for a growing movement to not invest what small yet significant financial resources into either growing its membership or setting out on a tour to promote a left-wing manifesto – taking full advantage of the utter debauchery playing out before us is nothing short of stupid and squandering away yet another opportunity to fill a void. No, they’re hammering it into a tour of a rabbi speaking on something so divisive as, whether Israel has a right to exist, according to religious interpretations? What? So, I’ve made my feelings known in response to the appeal for accommodation being made available to the rabbi on his tour of the country. It would of course, be interesting to hear what he and his Palestinian colleague who will be joining him have to say, but against decades-long apartheid and brutality toward Palestinians – blatantly ignored by the West and Arab states – how is Weis’s tour going to make even a dent of an impact on the run up to the Labour conference – as the message suggests. Never mind the fact, Resist membership haven’t been consulted on whether we should support it – it’s already been decided by the steering committee, so I’m out. Whether or not the movement should be putting financial resources into this tour, should be a democratic decision – otherwise what are the membership, just the sideshow that funds the movement while a small exclusive committee make all the important decisions? What is the ‘actual point’ in a lingering will to pull at Labour’s apron strings?
Ironically and unbelievably, just as I typed up my response for the appeal for support of the rabbi’s tour and sent it – another message popped into my in-box. Apparently, Williamson has authored a book entitled “Ten Years Hard Labour” – well I commend him for his efforts, but the comment accompanying the promotion of the book was something like: “It’s time to analyse how and why things went so wrong under Miliband and Corbyn.” Oh, my days! The tedium! Really? Hasn’t it been nearly three miserable years of doing just that? Wasn’t the fallout of the 2019 election and the months of grief that followed, coupled with the revelations of Labour’s in-house destruction and obstruction of Jeremy Corbyn enough? So, when does the funeral pyre of left Labour (whether exiled or still within) just get a grip, find its phoenix and reignite? I’m beginning to think it just doesn’t.
In the last 12 years, I’ve watched in horror and utter frustration, the left squander opportunity after opportunity, the in-fighting, the factionalism and of course how, unless you’re a part of a certain demographic, Socialism, and all it represents, just doesn’t come into the psyche of most.
People protest and then dutifully go home or suss out which pub they’re going to after the rally – I’ve done it myself, but then the kneejerk is a clamp down on our right to protest, so people get tired, intimidated or too apathetic to give a shit anymore – opting for armchair activism or just whingeing on social media – apologies I’m losing the plot
All this said, I don’t think Socialism is dead – many would profess to Socialist principles in one form or another, but when it comes to real organisation, mobilising and challenging the choking grip of a capitalist and increasing freakshow of demagoguery, the left just disintegrates.
Join a new political movement? Form a new alliance? Hahaha no! I’ll stay unaligned and do what I can, when I can. Solidarity and comradeship are of course important and what makes for a strong movement in the first place, but if efforts like Resist and others don’t get their act together and prioritise raising their voice above the noise, rising out of the ashes of defeat and stop the navel gazing – they’ll end up losing more members like me.
Chris Williamson I’m sure has all the right intentions and is one of the few politicians trying to make a difference in being a flawed human like the rest of us, but sadly as I have further learned since writing this, Resist is losing members, with a second resignation on the steering committee, as that all-too-familiar internal factionalism and quickly becoming disengaged with democratic processes or protocols – I can foresee a premature end to a great beginning.
As a marginalised woman, I’ll remain Socialist ‘til I die – following one’s convictions, especially as an individual, is hard and often incredibly lonely, but I’ll be damned if I join something that is just dithering – wasting precious time and opportunity, when time is of the essence for people, planet, and the next generation.