Pamphlet Review: The Future Labour Offers You

This new Labour Party pamphlet and programme for the next election has been admirably reviewed by “E.W.” in the January issue of the Socialist Standard, but in case his criticism does not please members of the Labour Party—for he does not quote from it—let us examine a few of its statements.


Gaitskell on the first page writes that “The plans are carefully thought out” so there is no excuse for any random ideas. He claims that “they are democratic socialism in action” and from this we can learn what the Labour Party thinks of Socialism.


In the section YOUR HOME the Labour Party is to encourage you to purchase your house, and says that it will “also grant loans on favourable terms so as to encourage tenants to buy the houses they now live in, and to improve them.” This is private enterprise, which the Labour Party has opposed, and therefore the opposite to its desire to nationalise everything. In a previous election the Conservative Party spread the propaganda that the Labour Party would nationalise your home if they were put in power. What does it matter whether you own your house or not so long as if you can live comfortably in it?


In the section on HEALTH we read “We must have a new approach to mental illness.” They mention that nearly half the beds in hospitals are occupied by cases of mental disorders, but never a word about the cause of these disorders or what they intend on doing about these causes. If the pace of industrial production and precariousness of living is largely responsible for this state of affairs the Labour Party by its insistence on increased production is going to make matters worse.


In the section on EXPANSION they really give the game away in a paragraph in small print which reads “All our projects for better schools and hospitals, for a new deal for the young and the old, for rising living standards, must depend in the. end on our success in achieving year by year a rapid expansion of production.” This is the key to the whole thing—we have got to increase production—in other words we have got to work harder. Then they state “£70 million worth of unsold coal piled up at pitheads, in quarries and in dumps all over the country” so it looks by this that somebody has been working too hard and produced too much. Have the miners got to work harder and so permit further increases in this piled up coal? Incidently the coal mines are one of the great nationalised industries, nationalised of course by the Labour Government, so who are we to blame for the muddle? The programme continues “No wonder Britain is falling behind her competitors— Germany, Japan, and Russia—in the world race for higher production.” Put Labour in power and they will soon see to it that our production is stepped up and our competitors beaten, this is the only interpretation of this remark. “To survive In the world’s markets we must increase productivity per man.” Crude and truthful (under capitalism) and a direct threat that Labour will try to fulfil if returned.


In the section COST OF LIVING, “Labour will start with this advantage, the unions know they will not have to struggle against a Labour Government to get a fair deal for their members.” Do they really think that the public’s memory is so short that they don’t remember the numerous strikes under the late Labour Government? Do they seriously think that the class struggle is going to cease just because they are in power? Have they forgotten the great dockers’ strike and the way the Labour Government broke it by employing troops to unload the ships? The Labour Party may have started as a party of the trade unions, but now that the leaders of the Labour Party have climbed into parliament they are going to run capitalism in the interests of the ruling class.


PEACE. “Labour will propose a fresh disarmament conference to draw up a treaty which will reduce arms, manpower and military expenditure, destroy all stocks of nuclear weapons and means of delivering them, including missile bases and bombers, abolish all chemical and biological weapons and provide safeguards against surprise attacks.” In other words they want to dump overboard these serious weapons which are so much discussed today. But the trouble here arises in the next section on DEFENCE. “Labour fully accepts the duty to maintain the military defences of Britain . . . and will take a lead in pressing fur all round disarmament.” “Labour has argued for years that, in this nuclear age, the big conscript armies resulting from National Service are wasteful and ineffective.” This puts the lid on the whole programme. Who was it that imposed conscription in peace time? the Labour Party! It was they who built up these big conscript armies. Now they tell us that as a result of nuclear development they are wasteful and ineffective. But as they are pledged under the PEACE section to press for the abolition of these nuclear methods, they are also going to get rid of their large armies and yet they state above “Labour fully accepts the duly to maintain the military defence of Britain.


In the last section “We in the Labour Party are Socialists. This means that our whole approach to politics is different from that of the Tories. What is the difference? . . . the Tories still believe that . . . the economic future of fifty million people packed on a small island can and should he shaped decisively by a free-for-all scramble with private profits as the prize.” “Socialists believe that this Tory outlook is dangerously old-fashioned and also profoundly immoral. The first Socialist ideal is mutual service—the story of the Good Samaritan in terms of everyday political life” so we come to Jesus in the end, and live happy ever after in this dream world of the Labour Party. We will now rise and sing “Onward Christian soldiers”.


Horace Jarvis