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Left must cooperate to build a better NI

Michael McKeown (Write Back, September 7) again displays his ignorance of events within the labour movement.

Firstly, Socialist Party activists who joined Labour to defend Corbyn and help build a broad, cross-community Left never denied their membership of our organisation.

Unlike some other groups, our members always wear their politics on their sleeve, whether in the trade unions or other movements.

Secondly, our predecessor, the Militant tendency, was no more a party within a party than a plethora of other groups within Labour, Left and Right, both historically and today. Rather, the Militant tendency were witch-hunted because they argued for Marxist ideas and did so successfully, democratically winning influence in Labour's youth wing and having three supporters elected to parliament. Their expulsion was a necessary precursor for the Blairite takeover of the party.

Despite Corbyn's leadership, the legacy of this defeat continues today, as seen in the disgraceful attempt by Birmingham's Labour council to cut bin workers' pay by up to £5,000 and make 113 redundant. Contrast this to the Militant-led Liverpool council, which took on Thatcher in the 1980s, winning concessions by mobilising the working class of the city in support of a budget to meet people's needs.

Boyd Black (Comment, September 8) explains well the need for a cross-community, labour voice in elections. The sharp cuts taking place and the deepening sectarian polarisation in society give this urgency. We cannot wait indefinitely for permission from Labour's central leadership before we begin building such a force. That is why the Socialist Party worked with others to launch Labour Alternative.

To correct Mr McKeown, Labour Alternative's Sean Burns won 871 votes in South Belfast in last year's Assembly election, which remains the best result for a Labour-Left candidate in the constituency since 1992.

Labour Alternative's candidates and its support are drawn from across the divide on the basis of advocating solidarity, compromise and mutual respect.

Ultimately, only a force like this can challenge the backward and Right-wing status quo here.

Daniel Waldron

Socialist Party

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