Back to Front - Join the future
WORKERS, JAN 2006 ISSUE
Are we casting our eyes back over the year 2005 and looking forward to 2006, or are we looking back over the year 1905 and looking forward to 1906? OK, so there were no mobile phones, aeroplanes and celebrity love islands 100 years ago, but in politics we're in an eerily familiar place there.
At the beginning of the last century working people in this country, the working class from whom we claim direct descent, took a momentous decision, and one from which we have yet to recover.
Our forerunners had suffered terribly from the effects of early industrial capitalism, which had visited death by starvation and transportation upon our great-great-great-great grandparents. But they had managed, against all the odds, to devise a means of defending themselves from their employer enemies: they invented trade unions, Britain's single greatest contribution to the world. These unions succeeded in keeping alive our working class (and as a by-product the ruling, capitalist class which threatens it) by improving conditions of work. But they made a terrible mistake. They invented the Labour Party. Then they compounded matters by hiving off to that party the conduct of politics on our behalf. Things political were henceforth to be conducted in that outfit and not in our workplaces, in our unions.
The result was disastrous, and is with us still. Instead of our workplaces and tea breaks resounding to debate over how WE can bring about change, we have outsourced our thinking, sold it off to the highest bidder, the Labour Party.
That was 1905. The result was an ever-diminishing grip on the world of work, and more glaringly, the world outside our workplaces. A whole paraphernalia of parliamentary flim-flam was created with wannabe MPs touting for our support and approval, that is until they get elected, when, as we all know, we (thankfully) won't see them again until the next election-time. It has been forgotten that politics exists only in the clash of classes, which means in our workplaces, and class politics has been replaced with 'leave it to the Labour Party'. If it goes wrong, denounce them instead of denouncing our stupid and cowardly decision to let them do it in the first place. If it carries on getting worse, maybe try another way of doing the same thing, a "socialist labour party", a "labour representation committee", a "campaign group".
So that is 2005. We're in the mess we're in for one reason, and for one reason only. We need to bring our own thinking back in-house, take responsibility for it. Forget the Labour Party. They don't care about workers and their unions, why should we care about them? Let those with a conscience and courage among that crew let it die; walk away.
Wilson and Callaghan led directly to the worst period in our modern history, that of Thatcher. Blair and then Brown would lead us to an even worse future, with decimated union membership and industrial destruction. If we let them. We call on those honest, puzzled and worried workers, many in and around the Labour Party, many still voting for it: walk away from the ruins of that party, join organised labour and its party, the Communist Party. And look forward to 2006.