Stop these Stalinist threats

Submitted by Matthew on 12 July, 2017 - 9:24
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This picture was taken at Durham Miners’ Gala on 8 July. In the picture, (originally posted on Facebook) the person on the left is George Waterhouse, RMT activist and prominent member of the Communist Party of Britain. The person on the right is Alex Halligan, a prominent Salford Labour Party activist.

The badge that Halligan is proudly displaying says “Good night Trotskyite”, and shows someone, presumably a Trotskyist, being icepicked — a reference to the murder of Trotsky by Stalin’s assassin Ramón Mercader. “Good night Trotskyite” is a “play” on “Good night white pride”, a slogan used by left-wing activists in the US clashing with the far-right Ku Klux Klan. Although this is chilling, it will not be entirely surprising to anyone familiar with the way a small but vocal Stalinist scene has developed in the Labour left — and is tolerated and even encouraged by non-Stalinists prominent in Momentum, because it is convenient to have people around who will energetically attack left-wingers.

Sadly we hear of young people who work or volunteer at, or hang around with people from, the Momentum office using 1930s Stalinist jargon attacking Trotskyists — “Vigilance”, “Clear them out” and even “Hitler’s men”! In the middle of the general election campaign, after months of inactivity, a slim majority of the defunct Momentum Youth and Student committee voted in a snap email ballot to expel committee members purged from Labour by the party’s Compliance Unit and to ban members of “democratic centralist”, i.e. Trotskyist, groups from future MYS events.

The Stalinist stuff fits well with a desire to deal with critics and opponents on the left not by political argument and democratic organising but by various degrees of administrative suppression, intimidation — and, it seems, at least threats of violence. Anyone concerned about the health of the labour movement and its left wing should be concerned by this unpleasant development.