By Mohan Sen
A group of Labour MPs previously associated with the “Love Socialism Hate Brexit” project have relaunched it as “Love Socialism”. They argue for a left that is “green, internationalist and democratic” and seeks to advance “pluralism”. (See the article by Clive Lewis, Rachael Maskell, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Alex Sobel in the Independent here and their Twitter here.)
Love Socialism flags up critical struggles like migrants’ rights, structural racism and climate change. The MPs driving it have a generally honourable record on such issues, and in that sense the initiative is welcome.
So is their call to “confront suppressive forces, not to pander to this authoritarian national government. Call it out… Then all who have been left behind unite, north and south, precarious and secure, rural and urban, old and young…”
And their “rejection of the top-down, bureaucratic, authoritarian tendencies in our movement, tendencies found across the party… Consensus will always struggle if decisions are top down. Instead we must empower each other with a sense of agency, to achieve our collective purpose”.
It’s clear straight off that Love Socialism does not promote “socialism” in the sense of a new society to replace capitalism, based on collective ownership and democracy. More immediately, it does not, and seems unlikely to, fight for the labour movement to pursue radically anti-capitalist policies.
It says nothing much about the dramatic crises we face, or struggles and demands to tackle them. Class, working-class organisation and workers’ struggles hardly feature in how it describes the movement it wants.
On that level Love Socialism is less radical than the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
Moreover, it appears to a top-down initiative itself. It is a group for MPs, with no obvious role for anyone else. How can it promote a bottom-up culture in the party? (There is an additional irony there, that a huge number of rank-and-file party members would probably agree with its broad approach.)
Despite calling for “radical constitutional reform” and “deepening our democracy, expanding it, extending power” – and saying it wants to “transform Labour” – Love Socialism has little concrete to say about the first a step of democratising the Labour Party.
This vagueness seems to extend to a whole range of urgent issues. Most glaringly, Love Socialism is saying nothing at all about Brexit!
Clive Lewis MP says it will not take a position on a Tory Brexit deal, because the group includes keen Brexiteers. What happened to “internationalism” and “confronting this authoritarian government”?
It’s worth noting that of the four MPs who fronted up the relaunch, two (Alex Sobel and Rachael Maskell) are members of Keir Starmer’s frontbrench. They went along with his decision to abstain on the Tories’ “overseas operations” and “spycops” bills.
The class-struggle socialist left should engage with Love Socialism, seeking common struggle on particular issues and debate.