#BLM protest, Lambeth, 2020

The Left, the Party and the Class

An essay on the future of the Labour left

Paul Mason
33 min readJul 25, 2020


The Labour Party faces a historic challenge: the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered state intervention, bailouts, massive borrowing, direct income support and central bank money printing all across the world. And it’s not over.

We’ve entered the worst economic slump since 1921, with a global economy that was already stagnant, heavily unequal and debt-burdened. Anyone who thinks the current geopolitical order will survive hasn’t understood the 1930s.

The Tories claim that, by relying on deficits, state bailouts and quantitative easing, they are acting “beyond ideology”. Rhetorically at least they are edging their way towards a post-austerity Conservatism. The scale of slump, and the money already spent and borrowed, could open the door to a permanent change in the economic model in a way the 2008 crisis did not — if the left can seize the opportunity.

But the Labour left is demoralised and divided. Some activists are leaving the party; others want the left to become an organised opposition to Keir Starmer, producing a continuous negative commentary from the sidelines. The Labour right, and their backers in the British media establishment, are only too happy to fuel this anger with continuous trolling and calls for a purge.

I’m part of a left that wants to engage with Starmer’s project and to help shape it, defending its core agenda of climate, social and economic justice from the inevitable pushback from the party’s right, and by solving through practice the strategic problems outlined below.

The Labour Together election review gives us an opening: it says the strategy most likely to bring victory in 2024 is the offer of radical economic change, combined with a new narrative and activism aimed at communities currently alienated from progressive ideas, plus a more professional party.

The left’s job is to (a) define what this big change agenda means (b) start fighting for it independently through our activism; and ( c) extend party democracy.



Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Author of How To Stop Fascism.