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Sedgemore's defection shows need for new left party


Brian SedgemoreBrian 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 parties?"

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 of Labour.

"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."


April 2005


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