Why we need a socialist alternative to Labour
On 28 September 1864, 150 years ago, a mass meeting was held in St Martin’s Hall in central London to launch a new organisation, the “International Working Men’s Association” (IWMA) - the First International. In the IWMA's Inaugural Address, written by Karl Marx, the group stressed the importance of workers challenging the “criminal designs” of their own capitalist class, their “playing upon national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the people’s blood and treasure”.
Sadly the IWMA fell apart in the 1870s, but the Socialist (Second) International which was formed in 1889 to replace it on paper at least continued something of this honourable anti-imperialist tradition. For example, in 1906 the Labour Party in Britain, an affiliate of the Second International in 1906 declared it was against 'wars fought to make the rich richer,' while 'underfed schoolchildren are still neglected'. Tragically, the Second International famously failed the test of the First World War, as the majority of its affiliate organisations voted to support this bloody inter-imperialist conflict. The leaders of the organisations which make up what is still nominally called the Socialist International - which include the Labour Party in Britain - have not learnt anything from its past mistakes with respect to history, at least not if the Iraq wars past and present are anything to go by. In 2003, a majority of Labour MPs voted to support Bush and Blair's criminal and disastrous Iraq War - with only 139 voted against. In 2006, only 12 Labour MPs voted for an inquiry into the Iraq War. Now with Cameron's current Iraq War, only 23 Labour MPs voted against - and the vast majority of Labour MPs who forgot the lessons of past imperialist interventions from 1914 onwards and voted for war are below:
The Labour MPs who voted in favour were: Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East & Saddleworth), Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East), Douglas Alexander (Paisley & Renfrewshire South), Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East), Dave Anderson (Blaydon), Mr Jon Ashworth (Leicester South), Ian Austin (Dudley North), Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West), Willie Bain (Glasgow North East), Ed Balls (Morley & Outwood), Gordon Banks (Ochil & Perthshire South), Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Hugh Bayley (York Central), Dame Margaret Beckett (Derby South), Hilary Benn (Leeds Central), Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree), Clive Betts (Sheffield South East), Roberta Blackman-Woods (Durham, City of), Hazel Blears (Salford & Eccles), Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East), Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central), David Blunkett (Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough), Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West), Lyn Brown (West Ham), Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East), Russell Brown (Dumfries & Galloway), Karen Buck (Westminster North), Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield), Andy Burnham (Leigh), Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill), Alan Campbell (Tynemouth), Sarah Champion (Rotherham), Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill), Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), Vernon Coaker (Gedling), Ann Coffey (Stockport), Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Mary Creagh (Wakefield), Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), Jon Cruddas (Dagenham & Rainham), John Cryer (Leyton & Wanstead), Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), Jim Cunningham (Coventry South), Tony Cunningham (Workington), Simon Danczuk (Rochdale), Alistair Darling (Edinburgh South West), Wayne David (Caerphilly), Geraint Davies (Swansea West), Gloria De Piero (Ashfield), John Denham (Southampton Itchen), Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras), Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline & Fife West), Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South & Penarth), Jim Dowd (Lewisham West & Penge), Gemma Doyle (Dunbartonshire West), Jack Dromey (Birmingham Erdington), Michael Dugher (Barnsley East), Angela Eagle (Wallasey), Maria Eagle (Garston & Halewood), Clive Efford (Eltham), Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central), Natascha Engel (Derbyshire North East), Bill Esterson (Sefton Central), Chris Evans (Islwyn), Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield), Hywel Francis (Aberavon), Mike Gapes (Ilford South), Barry Gardiner (Brent North), Pat Glass (Durham North West), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland), Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen & Hamilton West), Kate Green (Stretford & Urmston), Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South), Nia Griffith (Llanelli), Andrew Gwynne (Denton & Reddish), Peter Hain (Neath), Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East), Harriet Harman (Camberwell & Peckham), Tom Harris (Glasgow South), Dai Havard (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney), John Healey (Wentworth & Dearne), Mark Hendrick (Preston), David Heyes (Ashton Under Lyne), Meg Hillier (Hackney South & Shoreditch), Julie Hilling (Bolton West), Margaret Hodge (Barking), Sharon Hodgson (Washington & Sunderland West), Jim Hood (Lanark & Hamilton East), George Howarth (Knowsley), Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore), Glenda Jackson (Hampstead & Kilburn), Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock & Loudoun), Major Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central), Graham Jones (Hyndburn), Kevan Jones (Durham North), Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South), Dame Tessa Jowell (Dulwich & West Norwood), Mike Kane (Wythenshawe & Sale East), Elizabeth Kendall (Leicester West), Sadiq Khan (Tooting), David Lammy (Tottenham), Christopher Leslie (Nottingham East), Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields), Ivan Lewis (Bury South), Andy Love (Edmonton), Ian Lucas (Wrexham), Steve McCabe (Birmingham Selly Oak), Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow), Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East), Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham & Morden), Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough), Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East), Alison McGovern (Wirral South), Jim McGovern (Dundee West), Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North), Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr), Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham Ladywood), Seema Malhotra (Feltham & Heston), John Mann (Bassetlaw), Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South), Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton), Alan Meale (Mansfield), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Ed Miliband (Doncaster North), Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port & Neston), Madeleine Moon (Bridgend), Jessica Morden (Newport East), Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley), Jim Murphy (Renfrewshire East), Paul Murphy (Torfaen), Lisa Nandy (Wigan), Pamela Nash (Airdrie & Shotts), Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central), Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock), Albert Owen (Ynys Mon), Toby Perkins (Chesterfield), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton & Sunderland South), Stephen Pound (Ealing North), Lucy Powell (Manchester Central), Nick Raynsford (Greenwich & Woolwich), Jamie Reed (Copeland), Steve Reed (Croydon North), Rachel Reeves (Leeds West), Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East), Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge & Hyde), John Robertson (Glasgow North West), Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West), Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes), Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd), Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central), Andy Sawford (Corby), Alison Seabeck (Plymouth Moor View), Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall), Jim Sheridan (Paisley & Renfrewshire North), Gavin Shuker (Luton South), Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith), Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge), Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent), Owen Smith (Pontypridd), John Spellar (Warley), Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston), Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South), Mark Tami (Alyn & Deeside), Gareth Thomas (Harrow West), Emily Thornberry (Islington South & Finsbury), Stephen Timms (East Ham), Jon Trickett (Hemsworth), Karl Turner (Hull East), Derek Twigg (Halton), Stephen Twigg (Liverpool West Derby), Chuka Umunna (Streatham), Keith Vaz (Leicester East), Valerie Vaz (Walsall South), Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North), Dave Watts (St Helens North), Alan Whitehead (Southampton Test), Chris Williamson (Derby North), Phil Wilson (Sedgefield), Rosie Winterton (Doncaster Central), John Woodcock (Barrow & Furness), Shaun Woodward (St Helens South & Whiston), David Wright (Telford) and Iain Wright (Hartlepool).
These pro-war Labour MPs have let down themselves and their voters very badly indeed - sanctioning a return of Western imperialism to the scene of its greatest crime in recent memory - and all of them deserve to face a left wing challenge to them in the general election. All socialists in Britain should surely now work together - whether in TUSC, Left Unity, Respect or whatever - to unite and rally around credible candidates in each area who can stand against as many of these people and raise the banner of 'Welfare not Warfare - Stop the Cuts - Stop the Bombing of Iraq'. Organising to stop the war in Iraq and organising for an anti-war left wing challenge in the 2015 general election is the best tribute we can pay to those pioneers - including Karl Marx himself - who formed the First International 150 years ago - and restore some honour to the words 'socialist internationalism'.