Duncan Hallas

First stirrings

(June 1989)

Contribution to First stirrings, Socialist Worker Review, No.121, June 1989, p.21.
Response to a speech by Tony Cliff.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

THERE has been a change in both the objective and subjective circumstances of workers. The pressures from inflation have become greater and the and Tory mood has deepened.

In terms of the economic pressures, anti-Tory attitudes and in terms of sections of workers beginning to fight there are major differences between the industrial action of today and that before Christmas which was centred around the NHS dispute.

Undoubtedly there will be lulls in the industrial struggle. On the evidence of all past experiences, even during times of very high levels of class struggle, levels of struggle go up and down. But it is not the ups and downs that are most significant but rather the shifting mood.

What are the ideas of the best militants involved in struggle likely to be? A small minority will be syndicalists but on the whole the ideas will be Labourist. Not in the sense that they are Labour Party members but in the sense of their ideas being similar to those of people on the Labour left.

The question of politics is therefore important. This is most obvious in terms of the transport disputes where we have the government pressing ahead with plans for privatisation putting profits before decent wages and conditions, profits before a decent service for the passengers and profits before safety. This is a political argument which can be generalised.

Most people who hold this view will think of changing this situation through the action of government. In effect this means getting rid of the Tories and therefore getting a Labour government in.

So the policy review has a relevance in so much as the changes in the type of answers it offers to its supporters – changes over unilateralism and the dilution of the socialist content of its manifesto – will cause a change in the attitudes its supporters hold.


Last updated on 31.12.2004