Labour still the same as always?!!!??

Steve Wallis S.Wallis at
Tue Aug 13 11:41:27 MDT 1996

I wrote (a few weeks ago):

> > So you still think nothing has really changed with the Labour Party!?!

Adam Rose replied:

> Of course something has changed with the Labour Party.
> It has never been so right wing politically. It's membership, particularly
> its active membership, has never been so middle class. It is not offering
> any reforms - if anything, the opposite.
> It is still a reformist party, though. A reformist party offering no reforms,
> without a working class cadre.

Will you still argue this if Labour completely severs its links with
the trade unions and introduces state funding of parties?  I've
suspected for quite a long time (a few years) that this is likely to
happen under the next Labour government, and it just happens that
there have been some rumours in the media in the last week or two that
Blair is planning precisely this.

The argument that there is a fundamental difference between Labour and
the US Democrats now is extremely tenuous to say the least, but surely
it will be utterly ridiculous to continue saying this when the trade
union links have been abolished...

> > And you still think that there is a realistic possibility of the Labour left being
> > rejuvinated!?!!!!
> Yes, I do. Not just a possibility - an absolute certainty. The form and the exact
> timing are open to question, but it will happen - although whether it is led
> by Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Clare Short, or even Roy Hattersly, I will not
> predict. There you are - a specific prediction which can be tested in practise !

And I predict this will not happen.

Also, I predict that if any significant opposition to Blair starts to
grow in the Labour Party, that it will either lead to a crackdown by
Blair with the Labour "left" keeping their heads down, or some sort of
split.  Whatever happens, there will not be a big influx of workers
into the Labour Party.

> > I agree that the reformists' arguments are extremely weak.  It is becoming harder
> > and harder to argue that significant reforms can be achieved under capitalism.
> >
> > But you fail to draw another conclusion from the lack of support for Labour.
> Lack of support !?

A classic example of quoting out of context.  I was referring to the
lack of support for Labour that you yourself mentioned at an SWP event.

> The SLP stood the Chair of women against pit closures in Hemsworth, for god's
> sake, and only got 2,000 votes ! If it stood today, it would get fewer,
> because the election is nearer.

Of course Labour still gets *electoral* support.  I've never said otherwise.

> The Labour Party is the main working class party in Britain. If you don't
> understand this, you cannot explain the strength of Blairism in the Trade
> Union movement.

Labour has traditionally been the party of the working class.  This
(together with the collapse of Stalinism etc) explains it perfectly
well to me.

> > P.S. I agree that the SLP appears to have been still born, but the main reason that
> > it is unlikely to take off is the bureaucratic exclusive approach of Scargill and his
> > small band of followers.
> Nonsense. Organisation flows from politics. The SLP is an electoral party. They
> don't want you because you embarass them like you embarassed the Labour party.

The same argument could be made about the RC in Italy and the United
Left in Spain.  They too are (primarily at least) electoral parties.
They are far more democratic than the SLP and they have managed to
attract significant working class support.

> > In contrast, the open inclusive approach of the Scottish Socialist Alliance is likely
> > to have much more success.  It is planning to stand in a quarter of the seats in
> > Scotland at the next general election (and it will have much greater potential after
> > that).  Expect a few chuckles if you try to argue with Scottish workers that the
> > choice is between the Labour left (who???) and the SWP (which doesn't even have the
> > courage to stand, or does it?)  And, don't expect a very friendly response if you try
> > to argue that they should vote Labour...
> No. The political choice on the left is between Blair and the SWP, ie between
> reform and revolution.

There are two things wrong with this statement.  Firstly, Blair is not
on the left.  Secondly, the SWP is not the only revolutionary party in
Britain.  This statement is typical of the sectarianism of your

> Electorally, in most cases it is between Blair and the Tories,
> ie between the working class and the ruling class. Occasionally, it is between a
> socialist on a left reformist platform and a right wing reformist, in which case
> we vote for the left reformist platform.

Obviously I disagree that Militant Labour and the Scottish Socialist
Alliance will be standing on a "left reformist platform", but I'm glad
to hear that the SWP has finally decided to support socialists who
stand against Labour.  Or are you just guessing?

> But, if Labour is a capitalist party, presumably, where there is no SLP or SSA
> candidate, you will abstain ? Surely you won't vote for a completely capitalist
> party . . . ?

We (in Militant Labour/the CWI) don't completely rule out the tactic
of arguing for a vote for a capitalist party in some circumstances -
we have advocated a vote for the ANC in South Africa and the PP in
Pakistan in the past.

We have not decided precisely what slogans we'll be using at the next
election, but we probably won't be advocating a vote for Labour.
[Which is not to say that we'll argue for abstaining; we'll probably
use some slogan like "Kick the Tories out".]

> PS Steve, how was the skiing in Australia ?

I've no idea, I've never been to Australia.


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   /----------+ Centre for Policy Modelling,         Email: S.Wallis at
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