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Roger Protz

No illusions in Labour regime – Keep your guard up!

(March 1974)

From Socialist Worker, 30 March 1974.
Reprinted in In the Heat of the Struggle, London 1993, p.114.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

THE TORIES are out. Good.

The government that hammered working class pay, living conditions and trade union rights for three and a half years has been kicked out of office.

Labour is back. That’s good, too. We wanted a Labour victory because a vote for the Tories was a vote to carry on union-bashing, rent-rising, wage-freezing and profiteering.

But joy at the defeat of the Tories must not blind trade-unionists to the fact that they will still have to fight to defend their pay and conditions under Wilson.

For Labour supports the capitalist system. It believes in minor reforms here and there but – as it showed between 1964 and 1970 – it will surrender to the demands of the employers at home and the money-lenders abroad.

Don’t forget, the last Labour government – with a majority in parliament – froze your wages, hoisted your rents, boosted prices and profits and attempted to bring in anti-union laws.

This time the economic crisis is worse. Labour will attempt to shore up the tottering system by once again turning on the organised labour movement. And this time it will use the excuse of not having an overall majority in parliament.

Of course, there will be a honeymoon period. It will push through a few proposals that it knows the Liberals will support, such as repeal of the Industrial Relations Act and the cancellation of the next round of rent increases due in April.

But that will be a thin smattering of sugar on a very bitter pill. As the economic crisis gets worse this autumn, as the government bails out the system with enormous loans from the International Monetary Fund, it will be forced to turn the screw on the workers who voted it into office.

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