50 Years Ago: What Runs the Labour Government?
It is almost a year now since the Labour Party formed a government. They felt that thirteen wasted years of Tory rule would give way to an administration that could solve social problems. It has been a year of renewed failure, in which their optimism has been humiliated by their inability to control Capitalism.
We do not doubt that the Labour Government really believed they could “get the economy moving”. There was to be steady expansion. Out of a four per cent increase in productivity there were going to be more schools, hospitals, roads, pensions. There were going to be more wages. A “planned” incomes policy. A “planned” growth rate. None of these schemes have begun to get off the ground, nor do they show any prospect of doing so.
We do not doubt that the Labour Government is serious when it implores the country to “pull its weight in the national interest”. The inane weakness of appeals to community spirit in a money grabbing, competitive society escapes them.
Mr. Wilson no doubt thinks of himself as an architect of social progress but in practice he imposes credit squeezes. In the reality of Capitalism his burdening problem is “to devalue the pound or not to devalue the pound?” This is the pathetic plight of a politician who claimed to have practical solutions.
No doubt members of the Labour Government are free from race prejudice yet they have legislated against the immigration of West Indian and Pakistani workers. Under Labour Government management, economic frustrations may well be creating more acute racial tensions.
In his role of peacemaker, no doubt Mr. Wilson is sincere. As head of the Commonwealth mission he felt that his wise counsels might prevail in Vietnam. Some months later we have almost forgotten about the peace mission, but the fighting continues.
The debate between Socialists and reformers goes on. They claim that as a Government they can control Capitalism. They argue that through a process of reform they can direct its affairs in the interests of the whole community. The sorry spectacle of the Labour Government today underlines how tragically wrong they have been.
(from editorial, Socialist Standard, September 1965)