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Ray Apps

Clay Cross Conference Meets ...
Tories and Bosses Press Labour to Abandon Programme ...

Labour Must Act Against Bosses!

Call an election!

(June 1974)

From Militant, No. 209, 7 June 1974, pp. 1 & 8.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

At every one of the Conferences this weekend, the rank and file of the Movement will be pressing hard for the new Labour Government to carry out bold working class policies. They will be shouting loud and clear to the leaders of the Movement – No retreat! Carry out your Manifesto! The whole working class is looking to you for a lead. DON’T FAIL US THIS TIME!

Up to a thousand delegates from Unions, Constituency Parties, Trades Councils and Young Socialist branches will be at the Conference in London called by the Clay Cross Labour Party. At the same time, two other vital Trade Union Conferences and the Annual Conference of Labour Women will be taking place (see other pages for reports).

Since the election, not a day has passed without the Tories baring their teeth in rage. These hypocritical parasites, these true and faithful representatives of the rich and powerful, have foamed at the mouth with anger at the slightest hint of measures designed to benefit the workers.

Just the suggestion of measures however mild, designed to interfere with their sacred rights to make profits out of the labour of the working class has unleashed a furious onslaught on the Trade Unions and the Labour Party through their press.

They have organised a veritable conspiracy to prevent the Labour Government from carrying through its programme. Let alone the sweeping socialist measures which are needed to solve the problems of the workers!

Look at the issue which has provoked the Clay Cross Conference – the surcharging and ban from office of the eleven councillors. They stood out against the Tory Housing Finance Act. For their tremendous service to the movement the new Labour Government has refused to lift these fines!

Under the pressure of the Tories screaming about “the Law”, Tony Crosland has retreated and disgracefully allowed the threat of enforcement of these surcharges to hang over the Clay Cross councillors. Some 400 other Labour councillors who for a period resisted the Housing Finance Act, could be affected.

But not only on Clay Cross has there been a retreat by the leaders: Shrewsbury pickets; wage restraint while prices still soar; frigates for the Chilean butchers; education cuts; wealth tax ...

The message of the rank and file will be to tell Labour to ignore the pressures of the rich and STICK TO YOUR GUNS! In that way they will get mass support. It is no accident that the Labour Party in Clay Cross has had record votes in local elections. If their policy of refusing to be bludgeoned by the Tories or their state officials were to be taken up nationally then Labour could command overwhelming support.

Labour must push ahead with its full programme whatever the resistance of the Tories. The alternative road which the leaders have already started down will lead to disillusion and despair among the ranks of Labour’s working class support. Those millions who were thoroughly discontented with the Tories but did not support Labour at the election will be confirmed in their political prejudices.

If the Labour leaders argue that they are holding back in order to avoid a defeat they are wrong. They are preparing the way for defeat!

The fact that they are a minority Government must not be used as an excuse. The way to turn that into a massive majority is by putting up a fight! Labour must press ahead with its programme of social reforms and challenge the Tories to bring them down on that.

Labour has promised great improvements in health, education, pensions, housing and other social services. Let the Tories be seen to be the ones opposing these. Male it clear that they oppose them because THEIR capitalist system cannot afford them.

Why should Labour have to get the odium for carrying through Tory measures? Anyway, what is the point of staying in office if you cannot carry through measures in the workers’ interests?

If they immediately push ahead with the programme the Tories and Liberals might defeat them in Parliament. But then challenge them to an election! On that basis, with a vigorous campaign, they could win a landslide.

The Tories are “running scared”, in fear of an election because of their lack of support. Labour should seize the opportunity to hit them hard – kick them while they are down – we can be sure that the Tories don’t obey any “gentleman’s rules”. For them and so it must be for the Labour Movement, it is war to the end!

But even the programme of the Labour Party only tinkers with the system, and even that is being put off because of the terrible crisis of British capitalism. It is only through a socialist programme that the resistance of the rich can be swept aside and the real problems of the mass of the population really tackled.

Labour should call the Tories’ bluff. Defeat them in an election. Carry through an Enabling Act to give them powers to immediately take over the commanding heights of the economy. Mobilise the trade unions and the whole of the movement to defend this.

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Last updated: 17 August 2016