Sedgemore's defection shows need for new left party
Sedgemore's defection to the Liberal Democrats, and his warning that other
Labour MPs are considering jumping the New Labour ship after the election shows
the urgent need for a new left party representing working people in Britain,
according to another former Labour MP.
Dave Nellist, a Labour MP for Coventry South-East
from 1983-92 until he was expelled for his socialist views and refusal to pay
the poll tax, said today: "The defection of Brian Sedgemore shows the deep
unease that a significant section of former Labour stalwarts feel with New
Labour. Mistakenly, Brian may think this is a step to the left but it is in fact
a step to the right.
"The Liberals are ultimately a capitalist party
defending the market economy. Brian cannot have a pick and mix approach to what
alternative he chooses to New Labour. The Liberals may make a lot of noise about
defending civil liberties. But they took a demagogic stand on the war, only
verbally opposing it when they thought it would be electorally beneficial. And
what about the Liberals support of privatisation and a toughening up of the
anti-union laws, where they are to the right of even the other establishment
Dave Nellist, who is now a councillor in Coventry
and Socialist Party national spokesperson added: "Rather than giving credence to
the Liberal Democrats, who have an anti-working class agenda, whatever posture
they may adopt on civil liberties, Brian Sedgemore and the 150 MPs he claims
'loathe Blair' would have been better looking to setting up a new party of the
left based on trade unions and working class communities as the Labour Party at
least once aimed to be.
"When I was expelled from the Labour Party in 1992,
myself and others on the left, warned that Labour was being transformed into a
more right-wing, pro-capitalist, authoritarian and undemocratic party.
Everything Brian Sedgemore has said in justification of his defection from
Labour bears this out. Unfortunately, he has drawn the wrong conclusion.
"Myself and other members of the Socialist Party
have not had any false hopes that any of the establishment parties could
represent the underprivileged and working people in this country. Instead we
have set about creating an alternative - both electorally and in organising
effective protest against New Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat agendas - to
offer a genuine ideological and campaigning alternative for former Labour voters
and those three million people who are looking to vote for something to the left
"Regrettably, many former left-wing Labour MPs and
trade union leaders have hesitated and prevaricated in making a clear break from
Blair's New Labour and establishing a genuine alternative. But this hesitation
has seen people like Brian Sedgemore, a former member of the left-wing Campaign
Group of Labour MPs, move to the right.
Dave Nellist concluded that to any of those current
Labour MPs or trade union leaders (and former Labour supporters) who feel as
disillusioned with New Labour as Brian Sedgemore, he would say: "Don't end up
siding with another discredited party of big business, be courageous and take
the step towards helping organise an alternative party that genuinely advances
the interests of working-class people."