1970s >> 1977 >> no-878-october-1977

There’s a good time coming

What a spectacle! Jim Callaghan receiving a standing ovation after telling the TUC Congress that restricting wage increases, plus reduced taxation, was in the best interest of trade unionists. Some at least, remained seated. Could it be that they have seen through the myth that pay increases are the cause of either inflation or unemployment?

Referring to “free collective bargaining” the Prime Minister claimed: “the race is to the swift, the lion’s share goes to the lions”. The real “lions” are the capitalist class with their built-in advantage of ownership of the means of production. An advantage which puts the debate on “industrial democracy” into perspective. As for members of the working class, though their level of wages can be influenced by strong unions, they are paid for the value of their labour-power. We agree with Callaghan that high wages have nothing to do with Socialism—a social system yet to be established in which money and trade unions will not have any role to play.

In the manner of his predecessors, regardless of party, the PM’s message was not all belt-tightening. The Government wants a steady rate of expansion and given the right conditions, there would be no further reduction in the standard of living. In fact there are good times coming—”we have the best chance since the end of the war to make this year the best since the end of the war”. Do not get too excited: capitalism with all of its problems will continue as usual.

Introducing the debate on pensions and welfare benefits Jack Jones, Gen. Sec. of the TGWU, said that too many pensioners were condemned to live below the poverty line. In 1906 J. R. Clynes MP declared “that the Labour Party would have been well worth creating if in the next ten years they did nothing more than settle the question of old age pensions”. At the time the proposed settlement was for five shillings per week.

Socialism was possible in 1906—in 1977 it is imperative.

Pat Deutz