Friday, June 04, 2004

Disillusioned words like bullets bark

So, why Labour? In view of the number of people, on this site and on the doorstep, who have challenged me to say why they should vote Labour next week, I thought I would use this post to justify why I am in the Labour Party and why I think people should vote Labour rather than Lib-Dem, Green or Respect.
For people of my age, and those a damn site older, the disillusionment people are currently feeling with the Blair Government is nothing new. Ralph Milliband, father of the New Labour Project’s Edward and David, wrote the classic book called Parliamentary Socialism in 1961 which explained why Labour would never deliver socialism (and the joke goes that his sons are proving his father’s words).
Inspired by Milliband I resigned my Labour Party membership in 1968 over Harold Wilson’s tacit support for LBJ in Vietnam and Callaghan’s Commonwealth Immigration Act introduced to stop East African Asian’s fleeing persecution from seeking asylum in Britain.
In spite of my pithy letter to Wilson, he never resigned, the bombing didn’t stop, and Callaghan was so wounded he went on to become Prime Minister. A few years later, after I had decided they had suffered enough, I rejoined the Party. However, substitute Blair and Blunkett for Wilson’s craven support for a US President and Callaghan’s hard line on asylum, and you will probably appreciate why I do not share the same degree of disillusionment as those who thought Blair was going to introduce a bright new dawn.
After I left Labour I toyed with some of the other leftist groups, but I usually found that whilst they were strong on rhetoric, they were weak in practice. They wanted democracy in South Africa, but imposed a Leninist control freakery over their own members. They argued for women’s sections in the trade unions, but didn’t have a women’s section themselves “because we are socialists and don’t need those.” Not being one to kow-tow, I didn’t hang around.
So, why Labour? Whatever the merits of the Greens, and I think there are many, they haven’t got any links with the trade union movement, and in any event they won’t get power, and I suspect if they did most of them would be terrified and leave. So, in reality, not voting Labour means you either throw people to the Tories, or the Liberals. Given that you probably still wouldn’t be here if it was the Tories, I’ll discount that option.
The Liberals want to be all things to all people. More extreme than the Tories in the Shires, and more radical than Labour in inner city Birmingham, where currently they are running a ‘Save our Post Offices’ campaign… without ever telling the electorate that their official party policy is not to save them but privatise them. Its anything for votes. But where they are in power, they privatise with the best of them. Kinnock in his famous anti-militant speech said you can have all of the principles in the world, but without power they count for nothing. For the Liberals, its reversed, you can give them all the power in the world, but they have no principles.
So, why Labour? As Tony Benn says there are socialists in the Labour Party, just as there are some Christians in the Church. We are the only political party with a mass link to the working class through the trade union movement, and like the unions, we have our share of careerists, arselickers, and reactionaries. But we also have some bloody good members…socialists, councillors and even MPs (believe it or not), who do not subscribe to the ‘what’s in it for me’ philosophy that the media try to brand all politicians with… and far too many people out there believe.

End of whinge