Labour Representation Committee

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Labour Representation Committee was formed at a founding conference on Saturday 3 July 2004, taking its name from the original Labour Representation Committee, formed in February 1900.

The LRC encourages Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and Branch Labour Parties (BLPs) to affiliate, along with local, regional and national unions, and individual party members and supporters. It has around 150 affiliates and 1000 individual members. In parliament, the group is represented by the Socialist Campaign Group. The LRC also has a youth group, the Socialist Youth Network.

The Chairman is John McDonnell, who the LRC supported as a candidate for leader of the Labour Party. Its Organiser is Lizzie Woods. Joint-National Secretaries are Andrew Fisher and Peter Firmin. Its Vice-Chairs are Jenny Lennox and Susan Press. The Treasurer is Graham Bash, Editor of Labour Briefing. They are the current officers of the organisation.

According to LRC affiliate Socialist Appeal, in November 2014: "The Labour Representation Committee has lost a third of its members and is now down to 600 – in a party of 190,000. It is teetering on the verge of collapse." Despite this claim, LRC members were involved in launching the activist Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory in early 2015.


London meeting

Members and delegates from affiliated organisations, including the New Communist Party of Britain, attended the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in London February 2019.

The LRC was established in 2004 by left-wing Labour Party members, MPs and trade unionists who want to restore the Labour Party to its original socialist roots.

The NCP affiliated to the LRC in 2005 and a number of party members and supporters took part in this year’s conference, including NCP leader Andy Brooks as well as National Chair Alex Kempshall and Theo Russell from the Central Committee.

Just 127 LRC activists took part in the one-day conference, which largely opted to close ranks around the policy statement of the National Executive Committee. This was reflected in the defeat of motions to the left of the LRC mainstream, including an NCP motion on taxation, others on Zionism, and at elections that saw most candidates returned unopposed.

Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell made important contributions to the general discussion on where Labour is going in the run-up to a possible general election this year. Walter Wolfgang, the veteran Labour activist, moved the Labour CND motion on peace that was passed unanimously.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn – one of the leading founders of the LRC – to the leadership of the party in 2016 and the crushing defeat of a Blairite challenge the following year has led to a mass influx of new Corbyn supporters into the party. With over 550,000 individual members, Labour is now the biggest party in western Europe. How to reach out to them and to the other left pressure groups inside Labour was another key topic in the afternoon’s discussion.

Finally, in what has become an LRC tradition, the conference closed with a rousing speech from Ian Hodson, leader of the Bakers’ Foods and Allied Workers’ Union, followed by the singing of the Red Flag and the Internationale.[1]

LRC: preparing Labour for power

Members of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) met for a special general meeting in London’s Conway Hall February 2018 to debate the LRC’s continuing role within the labour movement.

The modern LRC was founded in July 2004 by left-wing members of the Labour Party, trade unionists and others with the aim of restoring the party to its founding purpose of defending working-class interests, fighting for social democracy and the public ownership of the means of production and distribution. That aim has largely been achieved with the election of Jeremy Corbyn – one of the leading founders of the LRC – to the leadership of the party in 2016, his re-election after a challenge the following year, a mass influx of new Corbyn supporters into the party and at the end of last year the winning of a left majority on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

It could be argued that the LRC has done its job – a task that seemed almost impossible in 2004 – but there are still battles to be fought. Some local authorities are still in the hands of right-wing Blairite Labour cliques who are wedded to Tory policies.

And the right wing is still committed to undermining Corbyn’s leadership, though so far all the plotting, slandering and double dealing seems only to have made his position stronger.

The first speaker was Mick Brooks, the LRC’s political secretary presenting the National Executive Committee statement, pointed out that the LRC still has a vital role. The mass organisation Momentum UK is doing great work campaigning for Corbyn to become Prime Minister and to counter the dirty tricks of old right-wing Labour MPs and councillors.

Mick Brooks said there was hope that the LRC and Momentum UK would be working together. “But,” Brooks warned, “the LRC is a properly constituted organisation; we have conference, we have elections. Momentum has a ‘democratic deficit’, which we hope will be resolved in due course.

“The LRC is not just a Jeremy Corbyn fan club. We are more about the policies and we need our own independence. For example, on the issue of Trident, we know Corbyn has always been in favour of nuclear disarmament. But currently the official Labour Party policy supports Trident so Corbyn is obliged to keep to that line.

“But we don’t have to make that concession and we can still campaign against Trident and keep reminding him until disarmament becomes official party policy.” Mick Brooks warned that the radicalisation of the Labour Party is still in its early stages and is precarious. But the party is moving forward with the most left-wing leader it has ever had.

The debate was chaired by Matt Wrack, who is general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, about the Labour Party’s internal Democracy Review; about false accusations of anti-Semitism; about ending Labour councillors implementing Tory policies, especially in gentrification, demolishing council estates and replacing them with private luxury homes that the former residents cannot afford to live in.

A number of resolutions were discussed and voted on, including one from the New Communist Party of Britain on housing and the need to build more council homes, cap rents and raise tenants’ awareness of their rights in fighting evictions resulting from gaps in benefit payments by re-introducing the McKenzie’s friends of the successful anti-poll tax campaign. The resolution was passed unanimously.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke briefly to the conference about the work of another conference he was participating in nearby discussing the economic nuts and bolts of taking utilities and services that have been privatised back into public ownership.

He spoke of new modes of public ownership, the creation of co-operatives involving workers in the rail, water and power industries and the users of the services in a way that would make it hard for a future Tory government to re-privatise them. He also spoke of compensating former shareholders of these industries by issuing Government bonds. The conference finished with a rousing speech from Ian Hodson, leader of the Bakers’ Foods and Allied Workers’ Union, followed by the singing of the Red Flag and the Internationale.[2]

“Join the Resistance”

The Tory-Liberal Democrat assault on public services and a Labour Party leadership contest provided the backdrop of a conference May 2010 called by the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that came with an invitation to “Join the Resistance”.

And immediately after the conference the LRC national committee voted to endorse John McDonnell MP as a Labour leadership candidate and urged LRC members and others to lobby Labour MPs and pass motions in their Constituency Labour Parties and trade union branches to nominate McDonnell.

A statement urged “people who have left the party to rejoin in order to vote for John,” adding that new members will be eligible to vote in the Labour leadership election. On Tuesday John McDonnell accused the Labour Party of organising a “discredited” leadership contest after it set a deadline for nomination as a leadership candidate of 27th May – even though the winner will not be announced until party conference in September.

He needs to win nomination from 33 MPs before that date for his name to appear on the ballot paper and will struggle to make it in under a fortnight. McDonnell said this would exclude make rank and file members from choosing him and reduce the chances of a fresh start.

Around 300 people from across the country turned up for the Join the Resistance conference at the University of London Union on 15th May despite the very short notice. Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, delivered the welcome news that in the previous week Labour had gained 12,000 new members, many believed to be disgusted Lib-Dem supporters.

McDonnell told the conference he may not get on the ballot paper, but said “don’t be disillusioned. We’ll run our own campaign in parallel with the leadership battle to put our ideas across.

“I won’t support any of the others on the ‘faux left’ – anyone who has blood on their hands from the Iraq war, supported the privatisations of the past 13 years and the most severe attack on civil liberties in the past 50 years.”

He described how Labour had alienated its supporters since 1997, failing to deliver on trade union rights and the environment, going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and attacking pensioners.

“We’ve alienated that coalition, we lost our moral compass, and we lost at the election because we deserved to lose”, he said, adding that where left-wing Labour candidates such as Jeremy Corbyn and Kelvin Hopkins stood Labour’s vote had increased significantly.

“Now we’re going to learn through brutal struggle. Jobs across the public sector will go, and trade union rights will be attacked as the only way to ensure more privatisation and public sector outsourcing.”

Peter Firmin, joint LRC secretary, pointed the finger at trade union leaders “who didn’t campaign for our policies, who sponsored over 100 MPs who voted for right-wing Labour policies”.

He also condemned theTrade Union Labour Organisation’s call for tactical voting, saying “members of affiliated unions should demand to know why they encouraged people to vote Liberal Democrat, when their manifesto called for privatising the Royal Mail”.

Gary Heather, a Communication Workers’ Union national executive committee member and chair of Islington trades union council, pointed to the success of the campaign to save the Whittington Hospital in north London (with plans to close the Accident and Emergency department shelved at least for now) as an example of a non-sectarian campaign bringing people into activity.

Luton Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins said that the British people were “to the left of the Labour Party”, with polls showing majorities supporting increased pensions, higher taxes to pay for services and re-nationalising the railways.

“What New Labour don’t like is active branches and campaigning socialists,” he said. “People who voted Liberal Democrat thinking it is some kind of left-wing party have been totally disillusioned. I think the Liberal Party is finished and we’re going to go back to a two-party system, representing capital and labour – they represent capital and we represent labour.”

Veteran Labour activist Walter Wolfgang urged people not just to join the Labour Party but to come forward as candidates and delegates, and work actively “to make the Labour Party what is was meant to be – a major force for socialism”.[3]

2008 meeting

Labour Representation Committee conference in London November 2008, was attended by hundreds of left-wing Labour Party, trade union and other left organisations, presented a remarkably united front, endorsing 19 out of the record 20 resolutions submitted to it.

Organisations that submitted successful resolutions included the New Communist Party of Britain, the Campaign for Socialism, Socialist Appeal, Lambeth and Southwark LRC, the Communication Workers’ Union, PCS Labour Left, Unison North East Essex Mental Health Branch, Branch 558 of the BFAWU bakers’ union, Nottingham NUM Ex and Retired Miners Association and the Socialist Youth Network.

Over two hundred delegates packed the Conway Hall for the LRC’s annual conference that was held under the title “The Future of the Left” to discuss the way forward and elect the new national committee. T he only resolution that was defeated, from the Trotskyist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, contained a clause calling for support of “non-Labour socialist candidates” in elections that would have given the Labour Party a legitimate reason to expel all LRC members and supporters.

Left Labour veteran Tony Benn delivered the opening speech, pointing out that the people of Britain are now well to the left of the Labour government and questioning Gordon Brown’s decision to cut taxes. “Who does this really benefit?” he asked. “What do they really mean when they say, ‘We will do whatever it takes’.” He concluded saying: “We need to be confident and people will come to us.”

Ogmundur Jonassen an MP from the Icelandic VG (Left Green) party delivered the first of two international contributions. He explained that the Icelandic people, like the British, were suffering from the effects of a government that has pursued the policies of Friedman and Hayek.

The other international contributor was Audun Lysbakken, deputy leader of the Norwegian Socialist Left (SV) party, who also linked the struggles of the working class in his country with those in Britain.

Other speakers included Katy Clark MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jeremy Dear (NUJ), John McDonnell MP and Matt Wrack (FBU).

The New Communist Party of Britain resolution on combating the dangers of fascism and racism was moved by NCP central committee member Daphne Liddle.

The resolution was in two parts, covering the dangers from the British National Party, which is trying to fill a gap in our local communities left by the disappearance of locally active constituency Labour and other parties.

She called for a return to door-to-door canvassing where the lies of the BNP can be properly countered. The resolution also called for the repeal of unjust immigration and asylum acts, “anti-terror” legislation and an end to the growing “surveillance state” and to private sector involvement in the administration of the state.

Four other members of the NCP took part in the conference including NCP leader Andy Brooks and Mike Fletcher, who successfully moved the motion on low pay and trade union rights on behalf of his Unison N E Essex Mental Health branch.

The LRC is supported by nine Labour MPs, a number of trade unions at national and regional level, and socialist, co-operative and progressive movements, including the NCP, that do not stand against Labour in elections .[4]

November 2007 meeting

Around 250 members and delegates from affiliated organisations, including the NCP, attended the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee in London’s Conway Hall November 207. The LRC unanimously approved some major rule changes to broaden its structure. Full membership is now open to all affiliates and individuals who are not members of parties that stand in elections against Labour. This gives the NCP full affiliate rights and now any individual member of the Party can join the LRC. The LRC also welcomed two major trade unions – the train drivers’ union Aslef and the National Union of Mineworkers – as affiliates. Existing affiliates include the RMT transport union and the Fire Brigades Union.

Veteran socialist Tony Benn was the first speaker, who began by saying that Britain is now “in effect an American colony” following Gordon Brown’s recent Mansion House speech, in which he pledged Britain’s continuing loyalty to the United States.

Other speakers included CND leader Kate Hudson, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, Jon Trickett MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and Karen Reissmann, the Manchester mental health nurse who has been sacked for trade union activity and campaigning against closures and privatisation. standing ovation

The conference gave her a standing ovation as a bucket went round for contributions to the Manchester Unison strike fund for the action that is demanding her reinstatement. There were many contributions to discussion from the floor, including two from New Communist Party of Britain delegates. NCP industrial organiser Mike Fletcher spoke on the struggles of Unison members employed by NHS mental health services in East Anglia and voiced support to Karen Reissmann. And Daphne Liddle spoke on the plight of bonded labourers in Pakistan.[5].

July 2005 meeting

“Don't try to tell us that the United States war in Iraq played no part in the London bombings,” said Labour MP John McDonnell, chair of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in his opening comments at its annual general meeting and conference in London last Saturday.

The conference, of left Labour Party members, MPs and trade unionists who want to restore the Labour Party to its original socialist roots, began with a minute’s silence in memory of those killed by bombs in London, Baghdad and Fallujah.

The New Communist Party of Britain is affiliated to the LRC as an associate organisation and four NCP delegates – Mike Fletcher, Ken Ruddock, Daphne Liddle and Andy Brooks – attended.

The morning session, chaired by LRC vice chair Maria Exall, of the conference dealt with domestic policy as laid out in a policy document with additional motions on defending the Royal Mail from privatisation, fighting civil service job cuts, rail safety and an emergency resolution on the London bombings.

Debate was launched by platform speakers Michael Meacher, National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear and Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack.

Michael Meacher spoke on the need for socialist ideology and stressed that a labour government should not be the servant of big business.

Matt Wrack spoke of the need to find a way for those who have left or disaffiliated from the Labour Party to be able to work together with comrades inside the party for common goals.

This session ended with speeches from Katy Clark MP, Paul Mackney of the lecturers’ union Natfhe and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.

The afternoon session covered foreign policy and the structural organisation of the LRC. The session was kicked off by Bob Wareing MP and veteran left Labour politician Tony Benn.

New Communist Party of Britain delegates made two interventions – on the need for solidarity and respect for the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in face of US aggression and on the need to work in trades councils.

Jeremy Corbyn MP made the final speech and the conference ended with the singing of The Red Flag. Throughout the conference all those attending were addressed as “comrade” and a genuinely comradely atmosphere prevailed.[6]