1980s >> 1989 >> no-1022-october-1989

The Tory Reserve Team

Would you buy a load of worn-out policies from Kinnock, Hattersley and their gang of reformist politicians? Socialists would sooner buy a secondhand motor from Arthur Daley. The Labour Party has never stood for socialism. But now it has come out in its true colours. Its pathetic Policy Review documents leave nobody in any doubt: Labour is out to run the Profit System.

There is nothing new about Labour trying to do the dirty work of managing capitalism. We have had eight Labour governments. They had as much to do with bringing about socialism as the Sun has with bringing you the news. Labour governments have brought in incomes policies to keep our wages down; they have smashed strikes, using police and troops: they have passed racist immigration laws; they have built new bombs—they were the ones who brought into being the British atom bomb; they have supported wars; they have made cuts in essential services, like the NHS; and all of the last seven Labour governments have left power with unemployment higher than when they came in. Above all. Labour has seen to it that profits can be made by the capitalists who own and control Britain. Under the last Labour government the richest 1 per cent increased their share of wealth ownership from 24 to 25 per cent. Labour has a long record of keeping capitalism in “safe” hands. Just like Mitterrand’s phoney ‘socialists” in France and the Australian Labour government which is Torier than Thatcher. Kinnock’s crew are a bunch of errand boys for the bosses.

Making Capitalism Work
What is new about the Policy Review is that Labour has confessed to the crime. In times past they stuffed their manifestos with pious rhetoric about “democratic socialism” Now they are telling it like it is: Give us your votes and we ll run capitalism better than the Thatcher mob. As Kinnock told the 1988 Labour Conference. ‘. . . the fact is that the kind of economy that we are faced with is going to be a market economy. It will be the one that we have to deal with when we are elected. We have got to make it work better than the Tories make it work . . . ” Making capitalism work well means making sure that profits are high; that means milking the workers for as much as they can get out of us.

The millionaire-parasites need have no fear of a Labour government. The Policy Review makes clear that it will serve them well. Profits will be protected: international investors will be free to make money out of a stable economy: the bombs required by the NATO generals will all be kept in readiness for war: the workers will be disciplined, with most of the Tory anti-union laws kept in force. In short, Labour will act as efficient substitutes for the Tories while they take a rest after their long years of holding the harness.

Workers and capitalists do not have the same interests. They are legalised robbers—we are the robbed. It does not take a genius to see that the Tories are on the side of the capitalists. The Labour Party talks as if it is on the side of the workers. But read the new Policy Review and you will discover that:

We shall make it clear throughout the economy that our emphasis is on investment rather than consumption, and that money spent too generously on consumption today could prejudice jobs and services tomorrow.

Now. ask yourself the question: Who invests in the economy? The capitalists do. And who needs to consume? We. the workers. And Labour’s “emphasis” will be on assisting which class?

At this year’s Labour Conference the delegates will adopt the Policy Review. It will be presented as Labour’s secret key to power. Some of the delegates will be asking themselves what it is that Labour is asking for power to do. Many will compromise and convince themselves that anyone running the profit system will be better than the present lot. But is that really so? At least with the Tories we can see the enemies clearly. But under a Labour government of capitalism workers will be asked to put up with all kinds of suffering so that Neil and “our government” can do the job properly. “Back us or sack us” is what Callaghan (now Lord Callaghan—payment for services rendered) told the unions. The workers in the unions went out in 1979 and sacked him. Why elect Kinnock and have to sack him five years after the election? He has told you in advance what he is out to do. Why not deny him your backing before he gets to the top of the greasy pole?

Cartoon by George Meddemmen.

Reformist Time-wasting
Countless numbers of Labour members and voters are feeling desperate. Even if they have not read the Policy Review they know that it is blatantly a manifesto for the profit system. They do not want to support this tasteless stew of half-cooked Harold Wilson peppered with some stale David Owen. Vast numbers of Labour supporters—decent, caring, concerned people—can smell the stinking scent of compromise in the air. The wider Kinnock smiles the more they know that their radical hopes are being betrayed. What can they do?

Should they elect a new leader? Kinnock is not the cause of Labour’s anti-socialist outlook any more than it was the captain’s fault that the Titanic sank when it hit the iceberg. The Titanic was not constructed to overcome the hazards it met— and Labour is certainly not constructed to overcome the profit system. Maybe John Smith could do a better job—maybe Gould could, but what matters is the product, not the front-man for the ad. And the fact is that the product is useless. Labour left-wingers say that Kinnock has betrayed them. Just as every previous Labour leader has done. So they need to find a new leader, like Tony Benn. Apart from the fact that Benn was overwhelmingly defeated when he stood against Kinnock last year, what is the point of adopting a lot of second-hand policies for nationalisation (which is State Capitalism) when these have been tried before and failed? State capitalism has been a disaster in Eastern Europe and China and the nationalised industries in Britain have not benefited the workers in them one little bit, as the miners have discovered. So. why change Labour’s support for private capitalism for the state-capitalist line?

Some workers will leave the Labour Party. They are right. It is crazy to support an organisation if its policies betray all that you stand for. The new-look Labour Party of open support for the market and the nuclear bomb will be more than many can put up with. As they tear up their membership cards socialists will be cheering.
But where will the workers who abandon Kinnock’s team go to? Some will look towards the Greens. They are making radical sounds. But the Greens have no class analysis and think that robbers and robbed should co-exist in harmony: we should all pull together and look after the ozone layer—never mind the profit motive which makes it economically rational to destroy the world. Green capitalism will still be capitalism. What about the Communist Party? Not many will join that: these days even the CP itself does not know what it stands for. The SWP? But why join a party which spends half its time exposing the Labour Party for being just like the Tories and the other half telling us all to Vote Labour? The sad fact is that many ex-Labour members and supporters will drift into apathy. They will vote for no- one. They will give up on making the world decent for its inhabitants to live in. Just think how many active men and women who wanted to change society the Labour Party has demoralised in its eight decades of reformist time-wasting!

 

Join the real Socialist Party
However depressed many workers feel about Labour’s abandonment of its few remaining principles, socialists say that now is not the time to give up. We should not allow a few pink-rosed careerists to tell us that the time for advocating socialism is over. The truth is that Labour never did put forward a case for socialism—all that has changed is that they have admitted what they stand for. Their admission proves just how right the Socialist Party has been from day one to treat these Labour fakers with complete and utter hostility. It shows how right we were stand our ground and say to our fellow workers: There is more to win than a few welfare reforms; we have a world to win.

 

We, the Socialist Party, have never betrayed our principled stand for the working-class interest and nothing less. And now. while the Labour Party stands exposed like a bad trickster with the pencil marks showing on the back of its playing cards, it is time to show that you are serious about socialism by joining the ranks of a party which is not out to run the profit system, but to end it. It will be the most momentous and militant political move of your life. The more who make it, the sooner will we be able to tell the Tory reserve team that they will not be required to play because the rules of the game have been abolished and the ground closed down.

 

Steve Coleman