There’s been some shock and outrage expressed in the last few days over Ed Milliband’s decision to U-turn on opposition to the Tory cuts. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Labour party have not been on the side of the working class for a long time before Blair or even the 1970′s and 80′s that are seen by some as a golden age of the party.
Of political parties claiming socialism to be their aim, the Labour Party has always been one of the most dogmatic – not about socialism, but about the parliamentary system.
Empirical and flexible about all else, its leaders have always made devotion to that system their fixed point of reference and the conditioning factor of their political behaviour. This is not simply to say that the Labour Party has never been a party of revolution: such parties have normally been quite willing to use the opportunities the parliamentary system offered as one means of furthering their aims. It is rather that the leaders of the Labour Party have always rejected any kind of political action (such as industrial action for political purposes) which fell, or which appeared to them to fall, outside the framework and conventions of the parliamentary system. The Labour Party has not only been a parliamentary party; it has been a party deeply imbued by parliamentarism. And in this respect, there is no distinction to be made between Labour’s political and its industrial leaders. Both have been equally determined that the Labour Party should not stray from the narrow path of parliamentary politics.
The Labour Party remains, in practice, what it has always been- a party of modest social reform in a capitalist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted.
The above quote is from the introduction to Ralph Milliband’s Parliamentary Socialism: A Study of the Politics of Labour published in 1961. The reality is that the Labour party has been beyond the control of it’s rank and file members and unions since it first gained MP’s in the 1920′s. The latest move is no more of a surprise today than Neil Kinnock’s failure to support the miners in 1984 or to even attempt to effectively resist the de-industrualisation of Britian, the smashing of communities and the financialisation of the economy that was Thatcherism.
Ed Milliband and the Labour party are (re)abandoning the working class now at a time of open conflict. They’ve chosen the parliamentary system, the law of the rich and the bosses. It’s who they are, as Ed’s father said in 1961 – everything is flexible except for the goal parliamentary power.
This time though things are different, it’s not the 1980′s. In the 1980′s the Tories reinvented Britain, created the conditions by liberalising capital markets to allow capital to redeploy production to countries with cheap ununionised labour and attacked the working class organisations at home. They also sold a vision. A vision of home ownership for all, a stake in the corporations they sold off. It was pure deceit, there’s nothing empowering about a mortgage and being able to buy shares in a business you already owned as a citizen before it was sold off by the state is willingly participating in your own robbery. It worked though, 18 years of power and the completion of a project that lasted 10 more years under Labour. In 1998 John Major said of Blair’s government “they have good policies, they’re our policies”.
There’s no vision today though, it’s a straight up fight. They can’t sell council houses off cheap because they’ve already sold them. There’s no BT share issue for us to get excited over or British Gas shares to tell Sid about because they’ve already sold them. The vision of the Tories today is “The Big Society” which translates to “We’re not taking tax off the rich to pay for services so do it yourself”.
Unlike the 80′s the Labour party have got out of the way early doors. Less than 2 years in and they’re hand is nakedly declared. There’s no handwringing over whether a miners ballot was quite as it should be to excuse not providing unequivocal support for working class people fighting for their jobs. Ed Milliband isn’t even pretending to be on your side.
The unions are crying about this, as though this is some kind of revelation to them. It’s not. It might be the time they turn, when Unite along with Unison and the GMB etc. follows the RMT and disaffiliates from Labour That’s up to you though. If you’re a member, fight for it and for love of sanity make sure you opt out of your unions political fund and make it clear you’re doing so because of Labour Party affiliation.
The fight now is who pays for the disaster of the 1980′s de-industrialisation and the fiancialisation of the economy. Do we as the working class pay for it though redundancy and pay cuts? Do the disabled and vulnerable pay for it through service and benefit cuts? If you think that’s what should happen, you don’t need to do anything. Vote Labour in 2015.
It’s up to us, it’s never been more clear that all we have is each other. The Labour Party aren’t going to help us, forget them.
PRESS RELEASE – 08/11/2011 Now Or Never! magazine, in conjunction with digital rights activists The Electric Heretics , have issued a statement (see link below) to the applicants running for the Norwich South New Labour candidacy that their party should be more careful with their personal data.
Thus asks Andy Newman on his Socialist Unity site. His excuse for running the piece is the egging of Brendan Barber at Goldsmiths last night. This has given Newman – a supporter of Ed Balls, Galloway, Livingstone, Cruddas, Searchlight, Abbott, Sheridan etc etc – an excuse to re-run his hoary old stalinist anti-anarchist lies.
The egging is compared to Class War’s assault on Neil Kinnock in Hyde Park in 1983.
In the build up to March 26th we can expect much more of the same from the Left as they see their tired old formulaic A-B marches and Vote Labour aims discredited.
A clear attempt to frighten the punters on the march from taking any action promoted by these ‘enemies’. It might have worked in the past Andy – Spain 1936 – but this time the horse has bolted with a red and black flag on it’s head and thousands of punters failing to accede to Brendan’s pleas to GO HOME at 5pm from Hyde Park.
You’ve been rumbled Andy – I’d check the flights to caracas if i were you…
With immediate effect Norfolk Community Action Group withdraw our affiliation with Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts.
From the outset NCAG has had to deal with some fairly ridiculous manoeuvres by elements within the local coalition.
To start with our email sent to actually affiliate with the group that claims ownership of the struggle against the current governments cuts in Norfolk was taken before the steering group in order for us to be allowed to join. We were then summoned before said steering group to answer questions on our position on multiculturalism, in itself a laughable course of events.
While trying to educate some lefty elements within the steering group about the logic of multiculturalism and it being anything BUT progressive and inclusive, it was clear that some people just can’t get past reading socialist texts of the 1900’s. Our stated support of an open borders policy in conjunction with our opposition to multiculturalism appeared to do little more than confuse, so from the beginning we were well aware what we were up against.
However as fighting these ideological cuts we see as imperative we were willing to try and show solidarity and go ahead with affiliation once approved.
This has been a mistake on our part.
Absolutely nothing has changed on the left. The coalition is made up of the same tired old faces from struggles past who see fighting back as a march down the road and dragging out the same worn out octogenarians to speak, however well respected they are, as adequate action in fighting back against the cuts. Leaflets, marches, speeches, petitions, hidden left caucuses within the coalition…all symptomatic of a politics with very little direction not even attempting to move forward.
But let’s deal with the reality here. Most members leading the coalition are from a Labour trade union left and assorted Trot organisations who are oblivious to the fact that they are part and parcel of why the Labour Party were not returned to power at the last election. They, and the Labour Party, simply no longer have anything in common with the working class of our society. What’s more many still think they live in the 1970’s, but in reality trade union membership makes up for only around 26% of workers in Britain today.
There are those too who simply are not concerned with the likes of people living on council estates or the majority non unionised workers in society, precisely the reason they have nothing to offer a progressive fight back against these cuts.
It was not the unions who were instrumental in bringing down the Poll Tax and Thatcher, but the hard work and dedication of those willing to get their hands dirty by agitating within the general populace and building a mass movement within the working class. And let’s face it, the Labour Party and TUC are not opposed to the cuts, they just want nicer ones.
Bottom line, most are simply interested in getting the Labour Party re-elected to power.
While there are those individuals within the coalition we have much respect for, and while we still see the trade unions as being important to any successful fightback, it is the rank and file members and unheard voices in society that are the real key to winning this struggle, and not the bureaucrats, careerists and leaders who’ll win it.
We return to working within the communities of our region and leave the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts to do whatever it thinks it’s doing by agreeing to two minute marches with the police and spending all it’s time preaching to the already converted.
After all, it is the cuts we’re fighting isn’t it, not seeking the re-election of the Labour Party…
by Laurie Penny
Ed Miliband’s pitiful offer of 1p membership won’t tempt the young back to parliamentary politics.
Democracy is going cheap. Just in time for the January sales, the party responsible for introducing tuition fees has decided that it wants to jump on the youth protest bandwagon. “Join the party for one penny, and we will be your voice,” writes Ed Miliband in a rather desperate Christmas message to under-25s.
Labour is making a fundamental error, however, in assuming that these young protesters want or need anybody to “be our voice”. Parliamentary politics has sold the young out, and whatever bargain-basement price tag mainstream parties slap on their membership, they aren’t buying it any more.
The young people of Britain do not need leaders, and the new wave of activists has no interest in the ideological bureaucracy of the old left. Their energy and creativity is disseminated via networks rather than organisations, and many young people have neither the time nor the inclination to wait for any political party to decide what direction they should take. The Liberal Democrats represented the last hope that parliamentary democracy might have something to offer the young, and that hope has been exquisitely betrayed – no wonder, then, that the new movements have responded by rejecting the old order entirely.
What we are seeing here is no less than a fundamental reimagining of the British left: an organic reworking which rejects the old deferential structures of union-led action and interminable infighting among indistinguishable splinter parties for something far more inclusive and fast-moving. These new groups are principled and theoretically well-versed, but have no truck with the narcissism of small differences that used to corrupt even the most well-meaning of leftwing movements.
At the student meetings I have attended in recent weeks, ideological bickering is routinely sidelined in favour of practical planning. Anarchists and social democrats are obliged to work together alongside school pupils who don’t care what flag you march under as long as you’re on the side that puts people before profit. When the Unite leader, Len McLuskey, wrote in these pages this week encouraging union members to lend their support to the “magnificent student movement”, he hit precisely the right note – one that respects the energy of these new networks of resistance without seeking to hijack it. The unions have begun to realise what the Labour party is still too arrogant to consider – that the nature of the fight against bigotry and greed has evolved beyond the traditional hierarchies of the left.
It is highly significant that one of the first things this hydra-headed youth movement set out to achieve was the decapitation of its own official leadership. When Aaron Porter of the National Union of Students was seen to be “dithering” over whether or not to support the protests, there were immediate calls for his resignation – and in subsequent weeks the NUS has proved itself worse than irrelevant as an organising force for demonstrations.
Of course, the old left is not about to disappear completely. It is highly likely that even after a nuclear attack, the only remaining life-forms will be cockroaches and sour-faced vendors of the Socialist Worker. Stunningly, the paper is still being peddled at every demonstration to young cyber-activists for whom the very concept of a newspaper is almost as outdated as the notion of ideological unity as a basis for action.
For these young protesters, the strategic factionalism of the old left is irrelevant. Creative, courageous and inspired by situationism and guerrilla tactics, they have a principled understanding of solidarity. For example, assembling fancy-dress flash mobs in Topshop to protest against corporate tax avoidance may seem frivolous, but this movement is daring to do what no union or political party has yet contemplated – directly challenging the banks and business owners who caused this crisis.
The young people of Britain are no longer prepared to take orders, and are unlikely to pay even a penny for a vacillating, pro-business party to be “our voice”. We have never spoken in just one voice. We speak in hundreds of thousands of voices – voices that are being raised across Europe, not in unison but in harmony. The writing on the wall of the Treasury earlier this month may yet prove prescient: this is just the beginning.
Found on YouTube
Professor Greg Philo explains an imaginitive method of clearing the national debt, but the Labout and Conservative MPs present are not particularly interested.