First Published: The Worker, November 1969.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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ON OCTOBER 2nd the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in association with its Sussex branch held a meeting during the ’Labour’ Party conference. Many workers, students, friends and comrades attended in response to the general call set out in posters – “Don’t be fooled again by the “Labour” Party.” The main speaker, Reg Birch, Chairman during the Labour Party Conference because Labour “unfortunately still has in its number good workers. There are still there people who have slogged all their lives having been gulled that you shall achieve Socialism by the ballot box, that there is a neat way, a British way, a kind of English cricket way to do it. But come that joke of an election when the question shall be Box and Cox we shall say then waste not your time on those politicians and their false promises.” “There is no difference between a Labour Party and a Tory’ Party today – both accept that they must make the system work, and work against us. The Labour Party are architects and innovators for capitalism.”
“It is what we will give to the nation as a working class that matters, not the phoney claims of the capitalist politicians.”
Speaking of the Ford strike and other recent important industrial actions Birch continued “The British working class is the oldest and most advanced working class in the world ... No one call tell this most advanced working class how to fight for a penny but you know that win, lose or draw in that battle you have advanced nothing in terms of yourself as a class.”
Our Party “Must show that it is no harder to take the thing to its proper political level than it is to fight for those economic gains.”
It is our job to show that there is no primrose path to socialism Birch continued. If we and the working class fail “the workers will become disillusioned, they will turn away because of our cowardice, they will in the end come to find one day that because they didn’t get around to seizing power themselves that a new extension of capitalism will have come about – fascism.”
“The working class will not have it any more. They will judge by those who do!”
Ted Roycraft, trade union leader and member of the Secretariat CPBCML.) began by calling the Labour Party Conference “National Rubbish Week.” The conference was “surrounded with a great air of fantasy.”
Their debates do not have any real effect on the decisions made by the Labour Government which are “based upon the requirements political and economic of monopoly capitalism.” In contrast “our meeting breathes an air of reality.”
The real strength lies with the working class, not in the conferences and resolutions of the misleaders, whether Labour or the TUC. The “Labour” Party and revisionist “C”PGB spread the illusion that the existing institutions set up to serve the interests of capitalism can be made to serve the interests of the workers by means of a fiddle at the top, that a “machine that is set up to oppress can be made to serve the interests of the workers.”
“All the rules laid down in this country politically and economically are laid down by the employers and we as a Party will not be bound by them . . . We are not going to play it according to their rules.” The so-called left-wingers in’ the Labour Party have carried out a “headlong retreat in the sole interests of monopoly capitalism.”
We must be realists in terms of political objectives, Roycraft continued; we cannot vote employers out of existence, they are still there after strikes and elections. “We are for socialism. We don’t believe it can be attained by peaceful means. We face the threat of fascism in England and in the world. We have to counterpose to that not the palliatives of social democracy but a clear path of revolution. The only solution for the working class, the only way they can attain all their political and economic objectives is by the revolutionary overthrow of the rule class in Britain and replacing it by the dictatorship of the working class in this country.”
Michael Klein Sussex Secretary, spoke of Labour’s broken promises on wages, rents, interest rates, prices, equal pay for women, and criticized them for the rising cost of living, record rates of unemployment, speed-up, and taxes on working people. He pointed out that “historically in the U.S., Germany, and now in England it is the Social Democratic parties and their Corporate State that have most effectively acted for the employers to disarm, and co-opt the trade unions, to attack the intermediate strata, to confuse demoralise and then smash the working class. For every development of organisation and strengthening of monopoly capitalism and its dictatorship, whether it be compulsory conciliation committees wage freeze or TUC self regulation, is done in the name of so-called “socialism” and “the national interest.”
“To expect the capitalists to give up one of their two parties, their most effective one at that, is like expecting them to give up state power and the fruits of exploitation without a revolution. There is no lesser evil; it is time for a new start.”
In the lively discussion that followed a many people agreed that a new start must be made to develop a workers’ party that will take state power and build up socialism and that that party is the Communist Party of Britain, Marxist-Leninist.