Debates at all three major party conferences this autumn focused on debt, austerity and cuts. But whether it was the Conservatives in Manchester, the LibDems in Birmingham or Labour in Liverpool, the differences were barely detectable. They all want cuts. They all want to save the bankers. They all back the rule of finance capital.
And yet to read most commentary, you’d think there was some kind of battle for control of a football pitch: left, right, centre.
For the Labour Party, one year into opposition, the question seems to be whether it is trying to hold the centre or drifting to the left. Some Tories are concerned their Party is not being right wing enough. The LibDems are said to have adopted radical compliance, claiming to hold the centre ground.
On the first day of the Conservative conference thousands gathered to protest against their policies. Most on that demonstration were said to be advocates of left policies, many belonging to the “hard left”, as opposed to the “soft left” clinging on inside Labour.
But, does any of this left–right polarisation really have much meaning today, indeed did it ever in Britain? After all, they are designations dating back to the early days of the French Revolution at the back end of the 18th century.
In truth, it’s a phoney war. Who in this morass of labels is really standing for the interests of Britain and its working class? Add up what we need – workers taking responsibility for Britain, an end to the domination of finance capital, planning for the future, control over labour flows and migrant workers, independence in energy and agriculture, and out of the EU – then ask what label that fits under.
If you want to see class war being waged singlemindedly, look at how capitalism seeks to secure its own interests. It’s not worried about labels. It simply seeks to destroy the basis of our strength: industry and sovereignty.
And while the three parties were meeting to squabble over the best ways of making the working class pay for the catastrophic failure of finance capitalism, the money markets continued to speculate. In doing this they are beyond the control of governments, democratic accountability – and also it seems of the speculators themselves.
The working class needs to identify and then act upon those measures that will rebuild Britain in the way most favourable to itself. The question cannot be whether any given policy represents left, right or centre, but whose interests are served by it? The need to reinvigorate manufacturing and farming, to combat finance capitalism, to develop and maintain skills are fundamental to the British working class acting as a class for itself.
Leave the left and right wings, along with the centre, to the football field, and those parties bound to serve only themselves and the interests of the only other class in Britain, the ruling class. For the working class, these labels have come to represent only division. ■