Socialist Labour Party
adam at pmel.com
Thu Nov 30 01:36:31 MST 1995
> I have learned much from this discussion of British politics. I realize that
> there are certainly aspects of the questions raised which those of you on
> this list who live in Britain and who participate in left politics are the
> best to judge. For example, I do not know whether it is or is not possible
> to function effectively with radical politics as a member of the Labour
> However I do believe that all on the left should support the Labour Party in
> the next general election. To run any kind of independent campaigns would
> get little support and, in any event, would be objectively an aid to the
> Tories. And a Labour victory would be in the interests of workers. We
> need to do what is in workers' interests even if such steps fall extremely
> far short of our ultimate objectives.
I agree. But I think there is nothing wrong in theory with standing
candidates in constituencies where the Tories have no chance.
If for instance, Arthur Scargill stood in Barnsley on an SLP ticket
against an official Labour candidate, I think this would be a good idea.
> There are two, I think related, issues I would like to raise particularly to
> those of you who live in Great Britain.
> (1) What portion of the working class votes Tory? What changes, if any, is
> taking place among these workers?
Dunno. 25%, 30% ?
I think it was fair to argue that in the "Traditional" industries, the Labour
vote has been solid, but perhaps in the newer industries there just wasn't a
political tradition of voting Labour. Partly this is because they had
a much shorter history of trade union organisation, and partly because
what history they did have was often in opposition to Labour, either
in local or national government.
"Blairism" represents a shift to the left on the part of a lot of these
people, towards working class politics. It is the result of years of
struggle against the Tories - and nothing whatever to do with Blair.
> (2) What are the demographics of the relations of classes in Great Britain
> as well as the proportion and influence of organized versus unorganized
> workers? My thought is that, to some extent, Britain may be experiencing the
> kinds of changes so strong affecting U.S. politics (shrinking union
> membership, growing middle class).
I don't think the middle class is growing, here or anywhere else.
In fact, the opposite is happenning. People who may have thought
or continue to think of themselves as middle class are joining
unions and taking strike action. For instance, there is a strike
amongst further education lecturers in Bolton ( near
Manchester ) at the moment. Socialists in NATFHE, the lecturers
union, used to call it Never Take Action From Here to Enternity !
Union membership has fallen, largely because traditionally well
organised industries have suffered economically in successive
recessions. But in industries like Banking it has grown.
Also, some staff associations have become more like Trade Unions.
In Banking, the Barclay's staff association ( the non TUC
right wing alternative to BIFU ) took strike action recently.
The Royal College of Nursing recently voted to drop its no
strike clause in the constitution after 90 something years !
White collar unions like the NUT ( teachers ) , CPSA ( civil
servants ) , UNISON ( local government , amongst others ) are
routinely smeared as loony left by the Tory press.
I think this is a global phenomenon. Do you remember the South
Korean banking workers ( in the late 80's, I think ). They'd
go to work in Jeans and T shirts, with militant trade union
slogans on their headbands ( when they weren't actually on
strike, that is ) ! When I was in Denver, Colorado a few years
ago I'm sure the Banking workers were on strike then.
Capitalism always destroys old industries and creates new ones.
Each time it does this, arguments along the lines of "everyone's
middle class now, we'll never organise them" surface.
Perhaps the best example is the Car Industry in the 30's.
A lot of people at the time said "these car workers. They
get paid so much. They'll never join unions". Luckily, the
CP just ignored them and organised , in the US + the UK.
Now, Fords sets the "going rate" for the whole of the
Engineering Industry in the UK.
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