Month: January 2018

Thurrock UKIP have gone – what comes next?

All 17 UKIP councillors in Thurrock have quit the party and have established a new political grouping called the Thurrock Independents – see here for the full story in the Thurrock & South Essex Independent: BREAKING: Local UKIP councillors quit party and form new Thurrock Independents group. Given the comments from some of these councillors, most notably Cllr. Luke Spillman (Aveley & Uplands) about the direction that UKIP had been taking for the last few years, this news hasn’t exactly come as a surprise for us.

Predictably, Labour and Tory councillors have swiftly poured scorn on this new political venture: Opposition parties react to new Thurrock Independent Party. With the balance of power on Thurrock Council meaning that in recent years, neither Labour or the Tories have had an unassailable majority, slagging off councillors and a political grouping that either party may need to call upon after the local elections in May to form an administration may not be the wisest move. However, this sniping is typical of the playground attitude that quite often can be a feature of proceedings at Thurrock Council.

It has to be assumed that the councillors making up the Thurrock Independents have been doing a fair bit of soul searching before reaching their decision to quit an obviously failing UKIP. We would like to think that some of that soul searching may have been about the role of a local councillor. Now, obviously we never had a brief for UKIP councillors in any way, shape or form (and never will have a brief for any reactionary independents) but as they now claim to be independents working for the benefit of the residents, we’d like to offer them our thoughts on the role of local councillors: A few thoughts on local councillors…

We’ve been having a look at the comments about the Thurrock Independents on social media and it would be fair to say that the reactions are mixed ranging from supportive to outright derision. Given that a fair few people voted for these councillors because they were standing in the name of UKIP, the point has been made that they should all consider quitting and put themselves up for re-election either in by-elections or at the next local elections in May. Obviously, some of the former UKIP councillors have served their terms and are up for re-election anyway but there’s a body of opinion (mainly UKIP supporters in denial who can’t accept that it’s over for their party) that thinks the lot of them should face the electorate to see if they’re still wanted.

It does appear that Tim Aker who as a councillor is one of the Thurrock Independents intends to carry on as a UKIP MEP: Thurrock MEP defends defection to the Independents. This would indeed be an unusual, possibly unique situation with one individual fulfilling two political roles with two political groupings. Aker has justified this by claiming that UKIP still has a job to do in Brussels as the Brexit negotiations move along. How Aker’s split political loyalties will go down with his fellow UKIP MEPs will be interesting to see.

It was only a few years back that Thurrock was touted as the area where UKIP would get an MP and be the catalyst for national success. Thurrock was graced with visits from former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage and resources were showered on Thurrock to make it a stronghold for the party. Now UKIP no longer exist in Thurrock – from heroes to zeros in just a few years. It is a sign of how volatile politics is becoming when a party can rise very swiftly and then more or less collapse just as swiftly. Alan Sked who founded the Anti-Federalist League in 1991 which changed it’s name to UKIP in 1993 thinks they’re long past their use by date and should disband now to save the Eurosceptic cause any further embarrassment: I founded Ukip. It’s a national joke now and should disappear.

So what now? Many commentators have said that UKIP have fulfilled their stated aim of securing a vote for Brexit and there’s no reason for it to exist. However, over the years, UKIP has adopted a more openly anti-immigrant stance. Across southern Essex, this aspect of UKIP proved attractive enough for many former BNP voters looking for a political home after the rapid decline of that party to vote for them at local council and general elections. With UKIP’s demise in Thurrock which we strongly suspect will be getting repeated across the country, there’s currently a political vacuum for those of an anti-immigrant disposition.

Despite numerous protestations from UKIP about their party not being racist and not having anything to do with political elements further to the right, there has always been an element in their ranks who have flirted with the far right. In 2016, we found that a UKIP local election candidate in the Pitsea North West ward in Basildon, one Michelle Regan, had attended a protest supporting truckers in the company of the British Movement. When we pointed this out to the then leader of the UKIP councillors on Basildon Council, Linda Allport-Hodge, she vigorously defended Regan, managing to ignore the British Movement supporters and the sunwheel flag they were holding she was standing right next to!

Vigilance is needed because there are reactionary elements waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum that is being created by the ongoing implosion of UKIP. You only have to look across to continental Europe to see how slickly presented identitarian parties are hoovering up the votes and moving into positions where if they aren’t close to gaining power, they potentially hold the balance of power. Which means we have to develop a radical politics that working class people can engage with and unite around as a matter of urgency. We only have a short period of grace to do this before the malign reactionary elements regroup and come crawling out of the woodwork to exploit people’s concerns about immigration for their own nefarious ends.

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Building a new world in the shell of the old

Normally we’d be promoting a course like this on our side project, The Estuary Alternativehttps://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/ However, there are good reasons why we’re promoting it on here as well…

As the title of this piece suggests, amongst other attributes, this course has an element of building a new world in the shell of the old. It’s all very well knowing what we’re against – we also need to be able to articulate what kind of world we’re aiming for…

If we can’t articulate a vision of what we want society to be like and how people can relate to each other on a more equal and respectful basis, then we might as well pack it in now. Unless people are convinced that there’s a better way of living, they will put up with what we have rather than fight for something better.

This is why we are interested in this course because it’s about offering an alternative way of doing things. It’s about empowering people to act collectively to start to bring about change now. It’s about getting the building blocks in place for the new world before the dystopian one we’re currently enduring collapses. It is about building a bridge to a better future for all of us and the planet we live on…

Details on how to book a place on this course can be found here: https://spiralseed.co.uk/prod…/creating-positive-revolution/

Review: Labour – a party fit for imperialism

Robert Clough – second edition
Order the book from here: http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/pub/84-publications/3943-labour-party-fit-for-imperialism

A lot of radicals I’ve spoken to have bemoaned what they regard as the passiveness of the working class in Britain relative to continental Europe. There’s no point in just moaning about this – we have to get to what’s causing this passivity and do whatever it takes to remove it.

Over the years, I’ve read various pieces and the occasional book about how the ruling class in this country have, to date, always managed to throw enough crumbs at the upper sections of the working class to dissuade them from open revolt when things get bad. The ruling class have more often than not been able to successfully implement a policy of divide and rule by demonising the lower sections of the working class as feckless scroungers – a tactic that is willingly carried out by an overwhelmingly right wing media.

There’s the elephant in the sitting room – the legacy of empire. Let us not forget that it was the spoils of empire that enabled the ruling class to buy off the upper sections of the working class and forestall any serious risk of an uprising when things have got tough. It was the wealth leeched from Britain’s colonies that helped to fund the Welfare State after the end of WW2. A leeching that played no small part in the independence movements and revolts against British rule from the 1940s onwards.

All along the ruling class have had a willing assistant in this project – the Labour Party. What Labour – a party fit for imperialism does is offer a forensic examination of how the party really represented the interests of the skilled sections of the working class and saw it’s role as managing the more precarious sections of the class. From the outset, Labour realised that the spoils of empire were needed to give the skilled members of the working class the standard of living they thought they deserved. Hence, while there may have been some debate about how those spoils were extracted to be brought back to Britain, Labour has always had an interest in defending the imperialist project.

Until the legacy of empire is finally exposed for what it really is and consigned to the dustbin of history, the project of bringing about radical change in Britain will be getting nowhere. Labour – a party fit for imperialism provides the toolkit needed to debunk the toxic legacy of empire. However, what it also does by revealing Labour’s historic complicity in the project of imperialism is show the enormity of the task we have in slinging the legacy of empire into the dustbin once and for all.

The task of exposing Labour’s complicity in the imperialist project is not helped by the slavish devotion of the ranks of Momentum supporters to their messiah, Jeremy Corbyn. At the moment, it’s this plus the Trotskyists such as the Socialist Workers Party who support Momentum that’s posing one of the major barriers to building a movement that will bring meaningful, radical change. While we may not always see eye-to-eye with the Revolutionary Communist Group who brought out Labour – a party fit for imperialism, when it comes to the task of exposing Labour’s sordid role in promoting the imperialist project, we regard them as valuable allies…

Dave (the editor)