Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Labour, Tory – Two Wings of a single bird of prey

Boycott The Election

Published: As Class Struggle pamphlet No. 4, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The circus is on again. The political acrobats of the parliamentary parties are back on the road asking for our votes. When it’s all over, back they will be in the House of Commons to repeat their silly performance once again. Even the MPs have had to admit that their show is getting a little tarnished. When an opinion poll, published in 1978, showed that the bulk of people who had heard parliamentary debates on the radio thought that they were a farce, the MPs were very worried about it. They split into two camps. One camp came up with the bright idea that they should stop the radio broadcasting. “That would stop the criticisms,” they said. “Oh no,” said, the other lot, “we should try to persuade the people they are hearing sense!” None of them thought that it was the working people who were talking sense.

Now they have geared up their, advertising departments, and launched their phoney war. At the end, none of it will make any real difference to the working people. The capitalist wagon will lurch on, perhaps with a different driver and one or two new parts. The issue for us is not which bourgeois party, which capitalist party, which imperialist party is in the driving seat. The election is a diversion. The issue for us is to carry on and develop the immediate class struggle of the masses; to make the bosses pay for their crisis; to fight the attacks on our living standards; to fight: against the oppressions of national minorities; to fight back class against class; to support the international struggle against superpower domination, and the struggle of the people and countries of the third world against imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism.

The parties who will be asking for our votes, with their worn out political promises, will not support us in these struggles. Labour and Tory are both imperialist parties. Both have a record of backing oppression, and exploitation, and suppression by one means or another of the people’s struggles.


The two main bourgeois parties spend all their time attacking each other in an election, and blame one another for the conditions of the people. Between them they are covering up the fact that it is the capitalist system which is the real enemy of the people. Both parties in their own way work to protect the system and the interests of the ruling class, the bourgeoisie. The system is in a real crisis. (Organisations like the fake ’Communist Party’ of Great Britain, who claim that a change of “policy” will bring relief and riches to the masses of the people are doing nothing but prettifying the rotting and decaying system.) Labour and Tory both work overtime to give capitalism a new lease of life by forcing the burden of the crisis onto the hacks of the Working class.
*During the 1970-74 Tory Government, real wages were cut by Phases I, II and III of Heath’s incomes policy
*During the 1974-79 Labour Government, real wages were cut through stages 1, 2 and 3 of the Social Contract, and now the Labour Government and the Labour Trade Union leaders have agreed to the Concordat.
*The Tories set out to “boost profits and investment”. So did Labour. “Investment will cut unemployment”, they said
*During the Heath Government unemployment rose to 1 million! During the Labour Government it rose to 1.5 million.
*The Tory Government cut Education, the NHS and social services. So did the Labour Government!

The Tweedle-Tory and Tweedle-Labour act gets on outside of immediate issue of living standards. On immigration, on racism, on Ireland, on increasing police powers and attacks democratic rights. And the revisionist ’Communist’ Party of Great Britain in tandem with the 57 varieties of Trotskyites calls Labour the “mass party of the working class”!


The political “theory” of the Labour Party, originally grew out of the skilled workers unions. It was always a bourgeois theory, because it restrains itself to the economic struggle within the framework of the capitalist system. In opposing the revolutionary transformation of society, it inevitably turns back on itself, particularly in times of imperialist crisis, and even attacks the economic struggle of the working class and its basic democratic rights.

Because of its facade of “socialism” and its historical origins, it becomes the “best” of the bosses’ parties. It is best placed to stab workers in the back, and to divert or sabotage the workers’ struggles.


The Labour Party is the most far-sighted of the bourgeois parties. The social democrats claim to stand for “socialism” because they support nationalisation. Anyone who works in a nationalised industry knows what a farce that claim is! In itself, nationalisation is nothing to do with socialism. The issue for the working class is not “does the state run industry?”, but “Who controls the state?” As long as the bourgeoisie holds state power state control is bosses’ control. The Labour Party and its revisionist and trotskyite hangers on stand for state monopoly capitalism. The Labour Party is a corporatist party.

“At least nationalisation saves jobs” they will reply. Does it really! Tell that to the workers at British Leyland in Speke, Liverpool! Tell it to the railwaymen. Tell it to the steel workers. Tell it to workers in aerospace and shipbuilding. 99 times out of 100, the opposite is the case – precisely because industries are nationalised in order to rationalise them. In periods of crisis, capitalist competition is screwed up to a higher level, and individual firms cannot raise the investment necessary. The state steps in feeds in the investment, combines the firms and closes large sections down to make the nationalised corporation more efficient and profitable. Thousands are thrown out on the scrap heap, while that section of capitalist industry is shored up ready for the next round.


The Labour Party has carried out an attack on real wages that the Tories could not match. The Labour Party not only works to drive down the value of gross wages by holding wage rises down while prices go up, but also, they use every other means at the state’s disposal to hit real take-home home pay. Despite tax “cuts” in each budget, the proportion of our wages we pay in tax has risen since 1974 because of the effects of inflation. On top of this, Healey openly stated that increases in the prices of electricity etc., were not just because of low profits, but they were a means of “reducing the purchasing power of the people”. In other words it is a back-handed way of cutting wages.

The main attack though has been through the Social Contract, and now through the “Concordat”. Here, the Labour Party really shows its great value to the bourgeoisie compared to the Tories. The Tories’ incomes policy attack on wages was finally smashed in 1974 by mass workers’ struggles, and particularly by the miners. In 1975, the Labour Government followed in the footsteps of the Tories, but with one big difference – they had the full backing of the TUC! The TUC was finally forced to back down by the rank-and-file upsurge, but still whilst having no official agreement with the Government, they continued to sabotage the wages struggle, now they have agreed again but this time the deal has a new label ’the Concordat.’


Following in the footsteps of Mussolini, the Labour Party is bent on rigging up a corporate system. With extensive control of the economy by the capitalist state, whilst still handing huge amounts of money to the capitalists which we pay through our taxes. Alongside this, labour is incorporating the trade unions into the state structure to act as police-men for deals signed by the bureaucrats over the heads of workers. That is why the Labour Party was prepared to institute a “legally” enforced closed shop, whilst attacking democracy in the unions both in practice, and in words – as Callaghan did in a recent interview on TV.

We must respond to Labour’s corporate attack with an all out struggle from the opposite direction to turn the unions into fighting class organisations and make the bosses pay for their crisis.


The Labour ’lefts’ claim a “good” side and are proud that the Labour Government established “industrial tribunals” to “protect” workers from unfair dismissal and to provide redundancy money. Such tribunals are only there to direct workers away from united shop floor struggle. In March, two decisions of industrial tribunals showed their true colours, workers at two Midlands companies which were closed down were refused redundancy payments because they had previously refused to sign a “perfectly reasonable” agreement with the companies, not to strike, under any circumstances! Two lorry drivers were ruled to have been “fairly” sacked by Safeways after they refused to cross a picket line. ’Who, then, do the industrial tribunals serve?


The Labour Part backed the leadership of the Anti-Nazi league (ANL), will call on workers to vote for it as an anti-racist party. The rank-and-file members of the ANL will be hitting back at the fascist scum of the National Front, who aping Hitler’s Nazis have embarked on a vicious campaign of terror against national minorities in Britain, particularly in London’s East End. A vigorous movement against the racist thugs is a fine thing, but the ANL misleaders and the Labour Party will try and use this movement as a cover for Labour’s own racism. They will want us to forget that during this Labour Government the police have stepped up their racist attacks on national minorities, and they will want us to forget the link between these attacks and the NF. They will want us to forget Asian workers like the four Virk brother, who defended themselves after being set upon by Nazi thugs while repairing their car outside their east London home. The Virk brothers were arrested after they called the police themselves and charged with grievous bodily harm. One got seven years, one three years, one two years and the other three months. The racists were let free. (see Class Struggle Vol.2 No.16) They will want us to forget the police harassment of black communities and the arrests, like the arrest and imprisonment of George Lindo for a crime he could not possibly have committed (see Class Struggle, Vol.2 Nos. 10-11). They will want us to forget the wholesale police invasions of black communities in the “search” for “illegal immigrants” and the detention for months on end without evidence, trial or appeal for all those accused of being “illegal immigrant”. They will want us to forget that the police has such powers by courtesy of a Labour Government. They will want us to forget that Labour brought in the 1968 immigration laws, and never repealed the Tory 1971 immigration act, which they had themselves denounced as racists when they were the opposition party. They will want us to forget that Tory immigration policy is based on a unanimous report written a parliamentary committee half of which was Labour, half of which was Tory and which was chaired by a Labour MP (Sidney Bidwell MP, who writes regularly for the Morning Star rag “against racism”, also sat on that committee and voted for the report). They will want us to forget that the Labour Government “saved” 70 million by ending the right of immigrant workers to claim tax allowances for their children, if their families were abroad. They would like us to forget the outrageous “virginity” tests carried out on Indian women coming to Britain. They would like us to forget that under the Labour Government the NHS said that due to unemployment among nurses (caused by Labour’s cuts) “British nurses” would be employed before immigrants. They would like us to forget that like the NF, Labour argues for immigration controls by blaming immigrants for low wages, homelessness, etc. They would like us to forget – but we won’t.


Oppression of minorities by the state and racist ideas do not come out of a vacuum. They are part of an imperialist outlook. Britain is an imperialist country. Whether it is Labour or Tory in the driving seat, the system goes on. The Labour Government has continued to back up British imperialist interests in Ireland, with the brutal rule of the armed forces on the streets of the north. It made no bones about fully backing the US agent, the Shah of Iran. It refuses to support the liberation forces of the Patriotic Front in Zimbabwe, and in fact has used every means to try to split the Patriotic Front. BP, in which the state has a majority shareholding, was proved to have been sanctions busting during the Wilson Government up to 1970, during the Heath Government, and again during the last Labour Government. This is still going on through new routes. British finance capital came second, just behind West Germany, in the league of imperialists giving loans to the South African colonial regime last year. These are obvious facts, but they are only particular expression of the general and widespread system of neo-colonial investment throughout the third world. British capital still extensively gaining super profits through investments in many formally independent third world countries such as Malaya, North Kalimantan, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya – the list could go on and on.

The trend throughout the world is a trend of rising struggle by the peoples and countries of the third world. The national democratic struggle within each third world country is reflected in the extensive and growing unity of the third world countries in their common struggle, particularly against superpower domination, but also against all imperialism and colonialism.

This unity has shown itself in the cartels formed by third world countries to push up the prices of the raw materials they produce. This is a blow against the imperialist system, one aspect of which is buying cheap from the third world countries and selling back to them at high prices. The third world through this and many other means is vigorously raising the demand for a “new international economic order”. What has been Labour’s response? Exactly the same as the Tories. Whilst it has been forced to make some concessions because of the struggle of the third world, it is fighting a rear-guard action to protect the interests of British imperialism as much as possible.

One example is the struggle around the 200 mile sea limit. In 1976, at the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference, the third world fought vigorously for a 200 mile sea limit to protect themselves from plunder. The two superpowers, who are easily the strongest imperialist powers in the world, led the opposition to this demanding “free navigation”, because they had most to gain from a free-for-all, because of the high technical development and the extent of their fishing industry. When Iceland declared, alongside the bulk of the third world, a 200 mile limit, the imperialist Labour Government sent in gunboats. In the end, the British imperialists and their Labour Government had to admit defeat, and established a similar European 200 mile limit. This was correct. What happened then shows the other side of Labour – its appeasement of Soviet social imperialist aggression. The Soviet Union arrogantly ignored the fishing limits, and extended its plunder of European waters. What did the Labour Government do? Did it stand up against aggression like Iceland? No. Dr Owen, the Foreign Secretary complained “In the case of the Soviet Union, we are dealing with one of the most powerful maritime nations in the world”. The Soviet trawlers were left alone.


The Labour ’left’ soundly support Soviet social imperialism. The military coups engineered by the Soviet expansionists in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and South Yemen meet with their approval . The fascist Gandhi regime, which imprisoned without trial and murdered well over 100,000 political opponents, mostly revolutionaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) or struggling workers and peasants, and which suspended parliament, banned strikes, and forcibly sterilised many thousands of men, was backed by the Soviet imperialists who stepped up their already large investment and profiteering in India. This is “my kind of socialism” cried out MPs like Foot and Bidwell as they parroted the new Tsars of the Kremlin. When the Soviet social imperialists instigated the annexation of Kampuchea, they praised it to the skies. But when China counter-attacked against Vietnamese aggression across its borders, they loyally followed the Moscow baton, alongside the lap dogs of the misnamed ’Communist’ Party of Great Britain and the Trotskyites, and accused socialist China of aggression!

The rest of the Labour Party systematically appeases Soviet aggression. They deny the existence of a war threat despite the massive Soviet arms build up, parrot the Soviet Union’s false cry for “detente” and “disarmament” whilst the Soviet social imperialists continue to expand. At the same time they form an alliance with US imperialism, lining up with the USA against the people’s struggle in Zimbabwe, in Iran and in the Middle East. Callaghan is rarely a foot behind Carter.

The revolutionary communists stand for building an International United Front against the two superpowers, especially against Soviet social imperialist expansion. At the same time they support the struggle of the third world against all imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism, including British imperialism. That is what is in the interests of the people of the world, including the working people of Britain. And that is certainly not the stand of the imperialist Labour Party, which claims to be socialist.


The “choice” between Labour and Tory is not a choice between socialism and capitalism, both are bourgeois parties. Both are parties indispensible to capitalism. It is not easy for workers to decide not to vote. It is after all a right we fought hard for, particularly for the right of women to vote; But to boycott the parliamentary elections now is a matter of taking a political stand – a stand against the capitalist parties, and particularly a stand against the ruthless attack that Labour has orchestrated against the working class on behalf of the British imperialist bourgeoisie for the last five years; as it has done previously when it formed the Government. There is no party of the working class standing in these elections.

The immediate issue for all workers is to continue and to deepen the fight back against the attack on living conditions and the political oppression that has accompanied it during the capitalist crisis. We must fight to make the bosses pay for their crisis. Hand-in-hand with this is the struggle to turn the unions into fighting class organisations because only by defeating the opportunists – the Labour Party and its left’ followers of the ’C’PGB and the Trotskyites – in the unions will we build the organisations necessary to carry the struggle forward. But most important of all is the need to rebuild the political party of the working class – the revolutionary Communist Party.


It would be quite ultra-left to ignore elections and parliamentary struggle in principle. It will be necessary for the revolutionary Communist Party to take part in all forms of struggle as a means to mobilising the people for socialism and exposing the fake ’lefts’, and exposing parliament itself. It will be necessary to fight for reforms, but only on the basis of a revolutionary strategy. But we must never loose sight of the essential nature of parliament. It is a fraud, a parody of democracy, built as an arena for debate between different sections of the bourgeoisie (the ruling class). Parliament is only one part, but an integral part of an entire state machine built on the backs of the people as an organ of class rule. It is an organ of the rule of the bourgeoisie. It can never be used as a vehicle to bring about socialism. Even, if the working class could gain control of parliament, it cannot gain control of the rest of the state machine. The revisionists (people who call themselves ’Marxists’, but have revised the revolutionary essence out of Marxism) tail behind the Labour Party preaching “socialism through reform” but the reality is that, when necessary, the bourgeoisie is more than prepared to get rid of parliament and institute a direct fascist rule to maintain their power. The lessons of Germany, Spain and Italy in the 1920s and 1930s and of Chile today, can never be forgotten.

The working class needs political power to build socialism, and that power must be based on its own state power. The only possible road to socialism is through the destruction of the capitalist state machine, and the establishment of a state built to protect and institute the rule of the working class and its allies. That is a dictatorship of the proletariat, where real proletarian democracy will exist for the first time for the masses (not just putting a cross on a piece of paper once every five years); and where this democracy of the masses goes hand-in-hand with the suppression of capitalist agents who want to revert to a capitalist, class rule, a capitalist dictatorship.

The revisionist ’Communist’ Party of Great Britain used to stand for these things. It used to stand for the interests of the working class. Thirty years ago it degenerated. Now it acts as an agent for Soviet social imperialism in Britain, and simultaneously preaches impossible reformism as it wallows in the wake of the Labour Party. Our task is to rebuild the party of the working class – to rebuild’s party dedicated to the revolutionary struggle for working class political power. That is why we say today: