Socialist ideas are rarely discussed in the mainstream media, except that is, in a severely distorted form. Such political misrepresentations apply to the ongoing media furore over the alleged anti-democratic nefarious plots of members of my own organisation, the Socialist Party (formerly known as the Militant).
Today the Daily Mail (August 11) reports that Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of the Socialist Party, has called for Jeremy Corbyn to embrace civil war. The newspaper reported:
“On Tuesday the Socialist Party called for Labour to split and embrace ‘civil war’.
“In an editorial in the Socialist magazine, it said: ‘The worst response to Jeremy’s re-election would be to attempt to make peace with the Blairites. Many Labour supporters will fear that a split would weaken the Labour party. In fact the opposite would be the case.’”
In fact the actual unmangled quote from The Socialist explained:
“The worst response to Jeremy’s re-election would be to attempt to make peace with the Blairites. Instead a serious campaign is required to consolidate the victory and to transform the Labour Party into a genuinely anti-austerity, socialist party. This means taking on the main bases of establishment Labour, in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), the national party apparatus and, locally, the big majority of Labour councillors.”
The second part of the Daily Mail misquote from the tail end of the editorial actually read:
“Many Labour supporters will fear that a split would weaken the Labour Party. In fact the opposite would be the case. True a Blairite split away would – at least initially – dramatically decrease the number of Labour MPs in Westminster. But a group of 40, or even 20 or 30, MPs who consistently campaigned against austerity and defended workers in struggle, would do far more to strengthen the fightback against the Tories than 232 ‘Labour’ MPs, a majority who vote for austerity, privatisation and war.”
But what about the Socialist Party’s promotion of civil war? Well it turns out that the reference to “civil war” was simply a description of the war that the Blairites are waging upon socialists within the Labour Party. As the Socialist Party editorial made clear:
“These issues are important, not only for the leadership contest, but for beyond it. Even in the best, most likely scenario of Jeremy again winning with a large majority, it will not resolve the issues. The civil war, now it is out in the open, cannot be simply called off. There is no possibility of the Labour right accepting Jeremy Corbyn as leader, as they themselves have made very plain.
“The Blairite MP Wes Streeting declared: ‘We’ve crossed the Rubicon, there’s no going back. This is irreparable while Jeremy remains leader.’ Owen Smith himself said: ‘I think there is every likelihood that the party will split if Jeremy wins this election. I don’t think it’s a risk, I think it’s a likelihood.’ Of course, at this stage no-one will admit to planning to split. But that is always the case in a war situation – all sides keep talking peace until the moment they declare war.”