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“A Declaration that we are Here”

28-Oct-2020Documented: Len McCluskey in an interview with the Observer, July 2020

One of the people who try to push Keir Starmer to the left seems to be Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, Britain's largest private sector union and a strong backer of Corbyn. In reference to Keir Starmer’s 10 campaign pledges, which included higher tax on the wealthy, the abolition of tuition fees, the “common ownership” of rail, mail, energy and water, and ending NHS outsourcing Len McCluskey told the Observer: “The fact is that Keir Starmer ran on a radical programme, some might say a Corbyn programme, and of course I keep this to hand,” he says. “I intend to keep that front and centre for the coming months and years.” And later on: “For me, he has to recognise that the ship he is sailing, if it lists too much to the right, then it will go under.”

On Brexit and the setback for the left McClusky told the Observer: “I was trying to persuade Jeremy [Corbyn] and [former shadow chancellor] John [McDonnell] that this perceived move towards a second referendum and Remain was going to be disastrous [at the last election],” he says. “The scale of the defeat was difficult to contemplate and therefore, of course, the left and the so-called Corbyn project, socialism, took a major hit. The election of Keir against the perceived left candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey was a further disappointment. So people have to brush themselves down, but the reports of the left’s death are greatly exaggerated.”

On the way forward: The Guardian summarises McClusky s plans: “In fact, he says there are plans for a rejuvenation of the left – a “major gathering” that is likely to feature Corbyn himself. Won’t it be seen as a rival to Labour’s official conference, reinforcing splits?” McClusky answers: “I’ve no doubt that people may see it as an alternative. It’s not supposed to be an alternative. It’s supposed to be a declaration that we are here. We are going nowhere. And we stand for those principles of radicalism and socialism that we’ve fought for all our lives.”

Here are other views on the balance sheet of the Corbyn movement: