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What Labour Must Do

Implement Party Democracy, Adopt Socialist Policies, Smash the Tories

(September 1979)

From Militant, No. 472, 28 September 1979, pp. 1 & 16.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a desperate attempt to halt the helter-skelter slide of British capitalism, the Tories have unleashed a torrent of ruthless anti-working class measures.

For big business, a crisis situation demands crisis measures – and to hell with the consequences for working people.

In Thatcher and Co. the bankers and boardroom millionaires have found a representative more than willing to carry out their brutal demands.

Since they came to power in May, one section of working people after another have been hit or threatened with the sharp cutting axe of the Tories in the hospitals, schools and other public services, or by hard-faced employers whose determination to keep wages down has been resolved by the Thatcher government at Westminster.

Now whole steel towns are to be closed down. Nationalised industries, such as British Rail, are faced with massive redundancies as part of the Tory’s de-nationalisation threat. Public and civil services, and the jobs that go with them, are to be cut.

Remember that Tory election poster which above a long line of actors posing as a dole queue, cried out: ‘Labour isn’t working’?

Rising unemployment has put paid to any hypocritical Tory promise of reducing the number of unemployed.

Unfortunately, however, there was a ring of truth about Labour ‘not working’. Despite all the well-meant promises of reform by the 1974 Labour government, the catastrophic decline of diseased British capitalism shattered any illusions about them being implemented.

That is why this year’s Labour Party conference must give a bold and firm socialist alternative to answer the anarchy of the profit system.

In the coming battles workers will more and more be looking to Labour for a lead. Already, in many local elections – only five months after the Tory victory – Labour councillors are being returned with decisive majorities.

In one area of Luton, for example, in a bye-election in a safe Tory seat, a Labour councillor was returned and the Tories were reduced to third place!

But if Labour campaigns on the record of the last government, it will not succeed! Wage restraint, public expenditure cuts, and anti-working class policies will never be rallying calls for the workers.

Only bold socialist policies, with a clear commitment to a minimum wage, a 35-hour week, and end to unemployment, and a comprehensive education and welfare system must be the mainstay of any Labour campaign.

Then Labour would win mass support for an energetic fight against the Tory government and for the sweeping return of a Labour government.

To ensure that socialist policies are carried out by the next Labour government it is essential that the calls for party democracy are carried through. For the labour movement to put their trust in the Labour Party, it must be sure there is rank and file control over their representatives.

The Labour Party must use all its resources to expose waste and anarchy of capitalism, and to map out a socialist alternative.

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Last updated: 8 August 2016