Now that Labour no longer occupies the government hot seat and has resumed the status of ‘honourable’ opposition, cost-free ‘left’ posturing is suddenly back in fashion.
The Daily Mail has helpfully recreated long-serving Brown toady Ed Miliband as the imaginary firebrand “Red Ed”, thereby throwing a lifeline to all those in the left swamp telling workers to hold fast to ‘the mass party of the working class’ and pray for better times.
Taking his phrases from Lenin and his inspiration from the Daily Mail, Robert Griffiths of the Labour-loving Communist Party of Britain (CPB) has dubbed Red Ed’s leadership victory “One step forward”, enthusing that this “represents a defeat for the arch-new Labourites” and enjoining the unions to “liberate” the new leader from the “death grip” of New Labour. How? Why, by steering their members back into social democracy, so that Labour may be “reclaimed”!
Really the boot is on the other foot. The unfinished task confronting militant workers anxious to resist the impending cuts is not rescuing virginal Ed from the fiendish clutches of ‘New’ Labour, but ‘liberating’ the unions and the wider working class from the ‘death grip’ of the Labour party – all brands.
The younger Miliband’s belated efforts to wipe his fingerprints off Labour’s many crimes, both against British workers and against the courageous people of Iraq, should fool nobody. And the ‘comfort zone’ from which the unions must be freed is not just some sordid ‘New Labour’ interlude, but the smothering embrace of social democracy represented by the whole history of the bourgeois Labour party.
Nobody thrives long inside the Labour party who will not crawl behind imperialism when push comes to shove. A miracle landslide vote for ‘anti-war’ Diane Abbott would no more have been “one step forward” for workers than was the triumph of Ed over David. Suffice it to recall that it’s only a year and a half ago that she endorsed a Commons motion celebrating “the heroic efforts of the British armed forces in Iraq”, which were said to be conducting “important operations … to support the people and government of Iraq”.
Working-class people need to fight tooth and nail against the massive class attack now to be unleashed on their heads. We must never forget that it was the Labour party that prepared the ground for this onslaught in the first place. It was ‘New’ Labour that bolstered up the union-bashing laws enshrined by Thatcher, pushed through ‘anti-terror’ measures for use against workers in struggle and dragged the British working class into demoralising complicity with oppressive foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And it was ‘Old’ Labour that played the most crucial role in keeping workers off the revolutionary scent all through the post-war years, pretending that domestic advances in education and welfare provision could be won and sustained under benign capitalist rule whilst the army went on breaking heads in Greece and Malaya. With privatisation eating its way through the NHS and schooling, and the welfare state heading for the Big Society knackers’ yard, the gilt is rapidly peeling from the ‘golden age’ of Clem Attlee’s ‘real Labour’.
With world capitalism in the grip of an acute crisis of overproduction, our rulers can only hope to extricate themselves by driving living standards down into the ground and preparing for future wars to redivide the markets. To resist this class warfare initiated by our rulers, we need to take the fight back to capitalism, sweeping aside all those Labour apologists who would spread disunity in the ranks of resistance.