SWP keeping the Labour myth alive

Printer-friendly version

As it became clear that David Cameron was going to become Prime Minister, Socialist Worker (11/5/10) published an online article that started "The open class enemy is poised to enter 10 Downing Street."

In continuity with its entire history the SWP again wheeled out the idea that a vote for Labour showed a basic class instinct.

It's true that when workers go to polling stations they often vote Labour. Take a look at the maps published at every election. The bits coloured red, showing where the Labour vote is (in Central Scotland, the North East, North West, Midlands, South Wales and London) are particular concentrations of the working class. Of all the papers only the Mirror and Daily Record consistently support Labour, yet nearly nine million people vote for the party.

What this shows is the strength of the illusions in the Labour Party, in the idea that it is somehow different from the other parties. The SWP say that "After the general election no party has a mandate to impose cuts." This is the opposite of the truth. All the main parties were committed to dealing with the deficit, and that means cuts, as much by Labour as the others. Blair, Brown and Darling paved the way for Cameron and Clegg every bit as much as Labour's Wilson, Callaghan and Healey in the 1970s started the attacks on the social wage and workers' living standards that were taken up by the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

Among the biggest difficulties for the working class in Britain is breaking from all the illusions in Labour. Yes, millions of workers vote Labour, but that's part of the problem, part of putting your confidence in others (who have a commitment to capitalism) rather than in the potential of the struggle of the working class.

The SWP says that "Labour held onto its core vote because its core vote hates the Tories." The problem here is that the whole idea of ‘Tories are toffs but Labour is different' is cultivated and nourished by the leftists. This election showed again that there is still a powerful idea that Labour has something to do with the working class. The truth is that Labour is the ‘disguised' enemy of the working class where the Tories are more transparent.

In Socialist Worker you can read "The truth is that the election showed the enduring strength of Labourism. In the end a substantial number of working people decided they could not stomach the threat of a Tory government. Many workers are only too well aware of Labour's failure. But they feared the Tories more and stuck to Labour rather than the party of the open class enemy." In reality all the capitalist parties have their role to play, but while Labour or LibDem can use a more radical language, and no doubt there are more Old Etonians in the Tory ranks, they are all capable of making the cuts that hit the working class. To think otherwise is to fall for the lies of the bourgeoisie.

Socialist Worker (10/4/10) declared that "Working class confidence and struggle matters more than elections, but who wins them, does matter. Governments can raise taxes on the rich or lower them. They can invest more money in hospitals or cut funding." It's quite right to point to the importance of struggles and developing confidence in the working class. But what can seriously undermine workers' struggles and consciousness are illusions in the capitalist economy and its state. Whether under a Tory/LibDem coalition, or under Labour, New or Old, capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class and the capitalist state can only defend the interests of the ruling bourgeois class. Capitalism is based on the pursuit of profit, not the needs of the exploited.

For more than ninety years Labour hasn't been a party of ‘failure' but an integral part of the political apparatus of capitalism in Britain. Spreading illusions in the Labour Party only backs up the dominant ideas of the ruling class. For the working class what's most important is developing an understanding of what workers' self-organisation is capable of, and seeing the full extent of its enemies.   Car 12/5/10

Political currents and reference: