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50 Years Ago: The Labour Party Itching For Power

The Labour Party, itching for power, is like a man listening to the last few football results with seven draws on his pools coupon.

They suffer. They perspire. They are fearful lest a wrong word should shatter their glorious dream.

That was why the Labour Party was so worried about the railway strike which never got started. Perhaps the strike was something of a forlorn hope. But, after all, strikes are the only weapon workers have in their disputes with their employers.

The Labour Party, let it be recorded, did not oppose the strike for any reason connected with the welfare of the railway workers. They opposed it because they judged that it may have damaged their chance of winning the next election; it might have upset their Treble Chance. For Labour, as for other capitalist parties, votes are tremendously important.

Mr. Wilson is doing his best to gather as many of them as he can. He celebrated May Day, for example, by propounding a plan to ". . . make a reality of the Commonwealth . . ." (although there was nothing very new in what he said—just some more mucking about with Imperial Preferences).

He also threw in his now customary make weight about the Labour Party not being prepared to see Britain as a second rate power.

Now all this may have been palatable to retired colonels in Bournemouth and to the floating, drifting voters whom the Labour Party has wooed so coyly for so long. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the Socialism which Mr. Wilson protests he stands for, nor with the working class interests he professes to defend.

There must still be some members of the Labour Party who can remember the days when strikers were people to support and when patriotism was something of a dirty word. What do they think of their party, as they watch it take its inevitable path to the status of a fully fledged party of capitalism, with power as the one and only object of its miserable life?

(From ‘The News in Review’, Socialist Standard June 1963)