Sean Duffy: The radical spirit of Labour is reborn, where does CfS go now?
Sean Duffy, the new chair of the Campaign for Socialism, lays out the opportunities and challenges for Scottish Labour's left grouping
The Campaign for Socialism (CfS) was set up almost 25 years ago to fight back against the removal of the original Clause IV of the Labour Party, though that battle remains a work in progress, the contemporary situation our members find themselves in could not be more promising.
As the new Chair of CfS I am honoured to take up the mantle of guiding this organisation into a history defining period of political engagement where ordinary people are beginning to imagine that a tectonic shift in the political landscape could soon become a reality once again.
We stand on the cusp of a first Labour government at Westminster in nearly a decade led by an individual who in many ways embodies the original intentions of this organisation and in 2017 we played a central role in the election a Scottish Labour leader who is a long-time advocate of more direct intervention in the economy to place people before profit. Less than 5 years ago few of us could have foreseen the opportunities that now exist.
The material difference that a Corbyn led government in London coupled with a Leonard navigated administration in Edinburgh would make to the working class we seek to represent could be century defining.
That knowledge drives us forward towards new challenges that we must meet with unrelenting optimism.
A socialist government is our primary focus and we will be campaigning across the country over the coming year to make sure it is more than just a lofty prediction.
This new landscape does however present challenges for an organisation such as ours.
We are committed to being the engine of a new generation of activists and supporters defined by the radical politics of democratic socialism. In Scotland this is no simple task – the seismic shift of the 2014 independence referendum pushed the needle away from the language of class and anti-Tory resistance towards a constitutional debate that cannot be simply dismissed as a matter of nationalism vs unionism, a debate that contains within it a question about what the left is in Scotland and where it is going.
CfS will be a distinctive voice for the grassroots of Scottish Labour in this debate and it is our task above all to champion a pathway for socialism that is not defined by a person’s vote in a referendum of the past but to bring together passionate and disciplined voices for a complete reimagining of our economy.
Despite this we understand that we must revitalise the class debate in this country and bring it back into the language of daily life if socialism is to ever succeed. Organisations like CfS will play a vital role in that pursuit by leading from the front and engaging with the daily realities of a Scotland that still carries the scars of Thatcherism.
In order to achieve this with each passing year we are building our connections to Scotland’s trade union movement and reaching out to the people who have been forgotten by parties of all stripes for decades. Our membership has rocketed in the process and we can now call on the support of over 1,300 members across Scotland – many of whom have come back to Labour believing that real change is now genuinely possible.
Part of this growth is due to the political focus of Richard Leonard who is laying out a blueprint for a new Scotland based on purposeful regulation of an economy still sustained by greed and soft touch centrism.
When you bring policies to people that will directly benefit their lives by rebalancing the long held assumption in favour of big business like a universal free bus service, a new green industrial revolution, and a complete overhaul of the private rented sector – the radical spirit of Labour is reborn.
We must continue in this vein and hold close to our radical past that rebuilt Britain after the Second World War in favour of workers not landowners.
In order to do this, ours must not be the old socialism of committees and stultifying lectures but a new vibrant engagement based on facing up to reality and challenging the status quo within long ignored communities.
CfS intends to foster this spirit with the same enthusiasm that brought Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard to the leadership of our party. That requires a socialist articulation of Labour politics based on a mass movement and democracy – that is our only path to power, there will be no millionaires coming our way.
That is why organisations like ours are so important. Volunteer led, disinterested in profit, fuelled by the energy and enthusiasm of its members.
The credibility we require to do this lies in the consistency of our actions and fully embracing a transformative politics that sees no utility in tinkering around the edges. Our goal, as is the goal of a reinvigorated Labour Party, is to see a complete reformation of our economy and society to benefit the many, not the few.
To do that we need your ideas, your energy, and your belief that things do not have to be this way. There is another path.
If you want to travel that path then there has never been a better time to contribute to the Scottish Labour left.