LABOUR PARTY — THE FUTURECategory: Politics
At no time in the history of the Labour Party has the need been more apparent than now to look at the direction in which we are travelling politically. We must examine reasons for lack of support and to a great extent the lack of enthusiasm to govern in line with the declared, long standing principles of the Party. Many members of the Party believe in the pillar of socialist principles contained in Clause Four of the constitution. Yet those principles remain unattained.
Time and again we hear the comment: “There’s no difference between the two main parties”. This is not true yet, in all honesty, we must concede the fact that there is not really enough difference between the Tory and Labour Parties to generate the support which is needed to elect and abstain a majority Labour government. It is in this context most ground can be gained. As a party of the labour movement we have failed to correct the injustice inherent in a capitalist society as a first step towards a fairer form of society; we have failed, by and large, to distribute the wealth of the nation; we have failed to take command of an economy all too often dictated to from the floors of the Stock exchange, not only in London but in New York; we have failed to get the international financiers off our backs. These and other factors are contributing to the continued exploitation of the very people who could, and should, sustain a Labour government in Westminster.
The issues which face the Labour Party today are precisely those which confronted its founders. The necessity to remove capitalism from our midst is fundamental in the advance towards a socialist society. If anything has changed in the last fifty years, it has heen the ability of the British capitalist to adapt himself to a changing situation, to retain the respectability in the eyes of the electorate, and to combine with others into an international capitalist machine which makes an octopus look like a harmless butterfly.
In this same period the broad labour movement has tended to divide itself, sometimes more inclined towards fragmentation than to adherence to the unity which is so vitally needed to defeat capitalism. We have allowed the mass media to remain outside our control, exposing the working class to capitalist propaganda 24 hours per day seven days per week, and little or no attempt is made to redress the situation. By no stretch of the imagination could the BBC be called even impartial, and television has given the ultimate in propaganda to the capitalist class.
The picture is not, however, all dark—fortunately for the labour movement, we operate the means of production, and we still have the basic and firm foundations of a democratic society: with these two elements there is cause for hope, if they are used to full advantage. The Labour Party has to recapture the imagination of the electorate and has to be seen by its actions to be a truly radical party. It has to restore faith in its principles to its own people. This can be done through an open attack at the very roots of the capitalist system by gaining complete control of economic power in Britain and by ending the domination of capital and its ability to manipulate the destiny of the nation. It has to realign its sights on the objective of getting rid of capitalism: you can’t change it —it has to be removed and it has to be replaced by socialism. What has to be appreciated is that events in recent years, and indeed in recent months, clearly indicate the demise of the capitalist system, and what has got to be recognized by the labour movement is the possibility of economic devastation in a Samsonian exercise before capitalism is overcome.
What must be done within the Labour Party is, first of all, specifically to declare the programme for an alternative to capitalism. At present we appear in association with capitalism, apparently perpetuating the very system we are in being to terminate. Secondly, the Labour Party must get away from the conception of working any form of social contract in isolation from the ultimate contract wTith socialism which is needed to change the system. Thirdly, we must ultimately break the contacts we have in the diminishing international capitalist scene and be clearly identified with the international socialist scene: only in these conditions will the Labour Party be recognized as it should be. WTe are living in a changing world, a world which has realized there is an alternative political solution to capitalism: in the last half century this change has embraced one third of our globe. Failure to accept the significance of that change or to ignore the potentialities for mankind in the situation is to ignore the sun. It is not enough to content ourselves with a policy of coexistence — that philosophy is subscribed to by capitalism because they have no alternative. The Labour Party has a choice: it is up to us to make that choice without hesitation, in the confidence of our conviction, that there is no other road to travel.
(Labour Monthly, October, 1974)