Out of the blue

So after all the speculation about the fifth and the twelfth, Callaghan has decided that the Labour Party has a better chance of winning the General Election if it is held some time next spring rather than this month. In other words, he is tacitly acknowledging the failure of Labour’s attempts to make capitalism run in the interest of the majority and is desperately hoping for some improvement in working-class living conditions between now and the spring so that he can claim credit for it.

Of course he did argue that living standards had been raised recently (though we can surely be forgiven for failing to have noticed this). Some political commentators have claimed that this “temporary boom” was engineered in order for Labour to win an election — as if capitalist governments had ever been able to control even temporarily, the booms and slumps of the economic system. But Callaghan rejected any such suggestion, saying that “I am not proposing to seek your votes because there is some blue sky overhead today”. Any party who could ensure permanent blue skies would of course win every election hands down. But it can’t be done: governments really do have about as much chance of taming capitalism as they have of controlling the weather.

Callaghan went on to say: “I ask every one of you to carry on with the task of consolidating the present improvement in our country’s position. Let us see it through together.” We would hope that workers’ reaction to this empty rhetoric will not be to attempt to “see it through” but rather to “see through Jim”, and indeed to see through the utter uselessness of reformist politics. The difficulties which Callaghan admitted he could see ahead mean continued misery and continued poverty for the working class. This is inevitable as long as class society lasts, and it is why Socialism is needed NOW!

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