1970s >> 1976 >> no-864-august-1976

Come to the aid of the Party!

The Labour Party is in deep trouble. In several constituencies moves are afoot to remove local MPs. Members, especially trade unionists, become dissatisfied and frustrated, organizing “left-wing” moves to replace the sitting members (with scant success). The usual shadow-boxing between “wings” of the party is in full swing over the question of cuts in government expenditure.

The Labour Party is not, and cannot be, controlled by its members. It has, in fact, few real members at all: only those in local constituency parties actually go along, sign the form, and pay the sub. It is a complicated hotch-potch of “affiliated” organizations representing trade unions, political groups (mostly now defunct or as good as — ILP,  Co-op, Fabian Society, etc.) and a motley crew of “Socialist” Medical Association, “Socialist” Legal Aid Societies and hole- and-corner reformers of every hue.

The members of the Labour Party cannot control it because it has no clearly defined objective. The so-called Clause 4, which talks about “common ownership of exchange”, is self-contradictory nonsense. Consequently Labour Party officials can hardly be charged with political action inimical to the party, since this is not stated in its constitution. “Left wingers” have great difficulty in formulating a case against local Labour MPs. The members are not clear what the party is about beyond a vague desire for improvements, “bigger and better”, etc.

Certainly the Labour Party has never had, nor ever will have, the slightest intention to introduce — or even explain — Socialism. Socialism can only be achieved by conscious political action by the working class. It will be voted in — it can never be blasted in. “Bloody revolution” advocated by the infantile hot-heads of so-called Marxist groups is nonsense.

The first need of Socialist workers is a political party to fight and win elections on an uncompromising Socialist ticket — Socialism or nothing. No “Marxist Group”. “Socialist League”, “International Socialists” or “Workers’ Control Group” can even work for Socialism, let alone achieve it. Only a political party controlled by all its members can be the instrument of capitalism’s downfall. The answer to the cases of Prentice, O’Halloran & Co. is Socialist knowledge in a no-leaders party.

This is the importance of Principles: a generalized expression of the party’s aim and methods. They state what the party is FOR — and therefore the party is restricted to those who understand them and have the knowledge to control it. The precondition for Socialism is a strong political party. However deeply ingrained the illusion that leaders can help them, better experience (combined with clear, explicit propaganda for Socialism through democratic control of the powers of government) will convince workers of the necessity for joining a Socialist party.

Numerous workers today bemoan their feeling of utter helplessness and impotence in the face of the bureaucracy which dominates their every breath. The answer is to join and actively work in a Socialist political party. This is the first essential step. It means turn off that television, and “get up and go” — to the party meeting.

There is no greater crashing bore than the conventional little automaton totally immersed in “his own” business. There is no greater personal satisfaction than that gained from working together for the noblest cause of our days — the emancipation of humanity from capitalist chaos. Now is the time to come to the aid of the Socialist Party, and work for it.

Horatio.