OCTOBER ’74. COMMUNIST MANIFESTOCategory: Politics
This manifesto recognizes a short-term and a long-term problem, and puts forward proposals to meet them both.
The first, short-term, question, is to stop the rapid rise in prices which have been a feature of the last 12 months, without attacking the living standards of ordinary people, as the proposals of the other parties do.
There are a number of ways in which it is suggested this should be done. First, there should be a six-months’ price freeze, to give a breathing space for other measures to be taken. Second — and this would in any case to some extent follow from the first — there should be a reduction in the profits of the big firms. Thirdly, VAT should be abolished except on luxury goods.
Other measures include an increase in food subsidies, a reduction by 50 per cent in the arms bill, and leaving the Common Market — which is also argued for on other grounds.
This programme would go alongside far-reaching measures to change the balance of power in society. The manifesto argues that, “at the heart of every major problem in Britain is the question of public ownership.” It recognizes that privately owned industry and commerce as a whole has not only been making huge profits out of the rest of us; it has also, in the words popular a few years ago, been “failing the nation” in its lack of investment, modernization and efficient use of resources.
It therefore proposes, for example, “To deal with the financial crisis the government must take over the banks and major financial institutions.”
“To deal with the investment crisis the top firms in engineering, chemicals and other industries should be nationalized…”
But it insists that nationalization from now on should be different from the nationalization of the past; it should involve the workers in the industry in running it, and be a prelude to the development of the industry concerned, not to its relegation to a supporting role for private firms.
A whole series of other plans are put forward, designed to make Britain a more peaceful and prosperous place to live in. The raising of pensions (related to wages), withdrawal from NATO, a crash housing programme, the immediate allocation of £ 800 million to the NHS and greal expansion in education are some of them.
A substantial section is devoted to the extension of democracy, including the extension of trade union, rights, democratization of the armed forces, a Bill of Rights and the end of internment in Northern Ireland, Parliaments for Scotland and Wales, an attack on racialism, the extension of women’s rights in many spheres, and the introduction of proportional representation.
The final section argues why people should show their agreement for these plans by voting for a Communist.
“Communists in Parliament, like those elected to local councils and to trade union positions, would strengthen the whole left fight in the labour movement.
“The more votes the Communist candidates get, the more it will help in the battle which will have to go on after the election to ensure that the new Parliament and government act in the interests of the working people.”
(Comment, 1974, № 23)