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Book Review: 'A Future for British Socialism?'

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A Future for British Socialism? Ed. K. Coates (Centre for Socialist Education. 5s.)

Before the Labour Party Conference in Scarborough last year the Left-wingers organised a teach-in. This book—whose title is an obvious dig at Wilson—is a verbatim report of that meeting. Speeches never read well and these are no exception. Only two or three of the speakers seemed to have grasped what is going on: that the Labour Party government is out to cut living standards and, to this end, has also to hamper the weapons we have to resist such cuts, viz., our trade unions. V. L. Allen, author of Militant Trade Unionism, alleged that Labour was moving toward a Corporate State, and correctly pointed out:

    "The Labour government in fact has rescued the capitalist system out of a crisis situation by doing things which the Conservative government were incapable of doing, by buttressing up the system with legislation which the Conservatives couldn't possibly have got through, concerning the unions and the control of incomes . . . In fact, the Labour government has been more loyal than the king in this respect. It's done things which I think even the Conservatives would not try to do to trade unions, and to the freedom to strike, and to the right to organise collectively."

J. Mortimer, of DATA, later said of Labour that "in a manner almost unprecedented in British political history, they have undermined fundamental trade union rights".

New Lefter Blackburn has realised that Labour is not even a gradualist party, that it no longer even pretends to be changing capitalism to Socialism by futile, piecemeal reforms.

    "Some pessimists in 1964 said this was a Government which was simply going to solve the problems of British capitalism at the expense of the working class, and at the time that sounded like a somewhat dogmatic, possibly even ultra-Left, assertion. But curiously it wasn't Left enough, we can now see in the year 1967. In fact, the Labour Government, though it may have attempted to solve the crisis in British capitalism at the expense of the working classes, has quite visibly failed to do so."

But still they are loyal to Labour! Blackburn goes on to raise the important issue of how anybody who stands for the interests of the working class can remain associated with Labour:

    "Now it seems to me that in this situation, where there's been a wholesale sacrifice of even the attempt to reform capitalism, that we must ourselves ask what is our role in the Labour Party and in the Labour Movement. We must ask ourselves whether we, by our continued activity within this party, are actually encouraging the illusion that this party is a reforming party."

His answer is, wrongly, no. Of course the so called Leftwing, in staying with Labour, helps to keep that party in power and enable it to continue its attacks on our living standards and trade unions.

Adam Buick