Saturday, 18 February 2012

What's in a name ?

With todays labour party quite clearly not supporting workers or working class people at all i wondered should they be forced or even not think about dropping the name labour ?

To me a young person involved in politics i have only known a pro market, pro privatisation, pro imperialist war labour party and for them to rest on their past success's if you can call them that is a insult to ordinary working people.

It is a fraud to be quite honest for the labour party today who no longer has a working class base like it used to. lenin was right labour was never a socialist party yes but it always had a duel complection having a workers base with a bourgeois leadership. Even in Militant we realised this for those who thought we were reformist for working inside the labour party. But today how anyone can seriously suggest labour represents ordinary working people or is vaguely socialist at all is living in cloud cookoo land to be quite honest.

The likes of the LRC and other good socialists point to the fact the labour party still have the trades union link. This is all very well if this hadnt been severaly hampered by many many anti trade union laws incidentily not repealed by a labour government in power for 13 years.

Small cabals - who have no connection with the radical and heroic periods of Labour - run a machine totally alien to working class people. Any socialist - inside or outside the Labour Party, and it is mostly the latter - is bound to come into collision with them.

This does not preclude "heated debate", not just with the Con-Dems but also with and against Labour councillors and the majority of Labour MPs who are doing the dirty work of the government in justifying cuts and carrying them out at local level.

It is unrealistic to think that workers who are losing their jobs - some of them never to work again - and many seeing vital services destroyed should engage in polite exchanges with 'Labour... Yes Labour councils and councillors'. It is legitimate to express anger and, yes, rage - not just against the Tories and Liberals - but against a Labour caste at local level which is inflicting terrible punishment on working people.

It is also necessary to forcefully take up and oppose those who seek to excuse Labour sell-outs. Some on the left refused to endorse the Socialist Party's implacable opposition to 'all cuts'. But we were at one with those like Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil servants union and Bob Crow, leader of the RMT transport workers union. Those who are prepared to accept 'some cuts' are acting as a left flank, apologists for Labour councillors and councils who are betraying everything which the Labour Party originally stood for.

For instance, Waltham Forest council - controlled by Labour - has inflicted £3 million of cuts to wages and conditions of its workers yet £18 million has been paid to 'consultants' whose main job is to make these cuts to jobs and services! And this is as typical of 'Labour' councils as Tory or Lib Dem.

Will local government emerge at the end of the 'cuts programme' in the absurd position of the NHS where "in 2006, Accountancy Age reported that the NHS was spending more on consultants than all Britain's manufacturers put together"?

This scandal was pushed through by the likes of New Labour health ministers Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt, who then got cushy, well-paid jobs in the health private sector!

However much of the debate in the labour movement at present is on the character of the Labour Party at present and whether is it possible to reclaim it in the future. We can never say never where politics are concerned. Nor is it theoretically excluded that if a mass workers' party is not urgently built, the impulse for a new party could come from within even a bourgeois party.

Such is the depth of the present economic and social crisis that, in time, this can find an expression even in such a party leading to a left split, out of which could come the basis of a radical or even a new mass workers' party.

Something like this happened in Greece where the 'left-wing' of the liberal capitalist party the Centre Union - led by the late Andreas Papandreou - came out of that party following the overthrow of the Greek military junta in 1974.

Such was the sweep of the revolution in the post-1974 period and the colossal changes in consciousness which this evoked that the objective basis for the new mass socialist party Pasok was created. The present 'Pasok' is a million miles removed from its socialist origins.

But we do not think that it is likely that Labour could be transformed in Britain in the next period. We cannot just 'wait' for future events to hopefully change the Labour Party, while in the meantime the working class goes to hell in a handcart.

We have to seek to exert pressure now through a new workers' party, no matter how small initially. The Labour party has been transformed under the New Labour counter-revolution carried out first by Blair, then by Brown and today by Miliband into a capitalist formation.

In fact, Tony Blair recognised this when he declared that New Labour was an entirely 'new party'. Conversely if Labour is to be 'transformed', as some still hope, then this would effectively mean setting up a new party, which by standing on clear socialist policies would represent a clear break.

Labour's current policies are a continuation of Blair's pro-capitalist agenda. This is expressed in terms of policy; witness Miliband's completely pro-capitalist assault on the trade unions at the TUC. It is reflected also in the internal organisation and character of the Labour Party which is fundamentally different from what existed in the past.

The old Labour Party, of which we were a significant force (through Militant - now the Socialist Party), involved the participation of the working class and the trade unions. It was a 'bourgeois workers' party' - with a pro-capitalist leadership at the top but a base among workers below. But it was also very open and democratic, and the leadership was forced to take account of the rank-and-file and its views.

Those who seek to argue that 'nothing has fundamentally changed' in the character of the Labour Party are mistaken. Compare the present situation in the Labour Party to the 1960s. Harold Wilson, supported by Barbara Castle the Labour minister at the time, tried to push through anti-union legislation.

This was massively opposed by the rank-and-file of the party and the majority of the National Executive Committee. If Wilson had not retreated he would have been compelled to resign. Neither could he militarily support US imperialism on the Vietnam War- despite the urgings of the then US President Johnson - for the same reason.

Tony Blair, however, got the support of Labour's conference delegates - who in the past were solidly to the left of the leadership - for the obscene and criminal Iraq war.

Some object that to describe New Labour as 'capitalist' is an 'exaggeration', because workers are still voting Labour. This, it is argued, indicates that Labour - 'warts and all' - is 'different' from the other two capitalist parties.

Yes, Labour is 'different', in the same way as the Democratic Party in the US differs from the right-wing Republican Party. The Democrats are more 'liberal' but are still a pronounced capitalist party.

So also was the Liberal Party in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Sections of the working class and the trade unions in Britain saw it as an alternative until mighty events - the decline of British imperialism and its inability to continue to grant concessions to the working class - undermined this. This prepared the way for the rise of the Labour Party itself as a mass political expression of the trade unions.

Those who furnished the mass basis for the Labour Party were the sons and daughters of workers who previously voted Liberal. This will happen with the building of a new party. Those who have voted Labour and still do can be won to a new mass workers' party.

Even to those who hope that Labour can be changed, we pose the questions: 'What do we do now in the political and electoral arenas? How does the labour movement exert pressure on Labour in order to defeat and change its present craven capitulation to big business, which is disheartening its former and present supporters? By propaganda or vague hopes for the future alone? The bureaucratic caste which dominates Labour is totally impervious to this.

So i would suggest all that are serious about a new workers party should suggest that any new workers party in the future which i'm confident will happen should not include the name labour as it has been shamefully wrecked by the current party which claims to stand for working people but clearly does not.

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