The Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) this month reaffirmed its position of continued backing for the imperialist Labour Party at the 2015 general election. It does so in a draft domestic resolution circulated in advance of its upcoming Congress this autumn. This resolution was forwarded to redyouth.org and is reproduced in full below.
Aiming low, the CPB’s revolutionary vision is limited to bringing down the Tory-LibDem coalition. In their draft domestic resolution they further state that a Labour government is “the only practical and viable alternative”. The reality, however, is that the Labour Party offers no alternative, let alone a viable one for the working class. As its interests align with those of the ruling class, Labour is in fact no different from the other major parties.
The CPB were not so shortsighted however as to leave their tracks completely uncovered and attempted to salvage what little credibility may remain. In continuation with the ‘demand’ to ‘reclaim’ the Labour Party, they set out that “the period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme.”
Rather than continually threatening to reconsider their relationship with the Labour Party the CPB should learn the lessons of history. The betrayals of the Labour Party as far back as the first government it formed 1924 are well documented. Firstly, it u-turned its opposition to the reparations regime; a program designed to further fragment the defeated countries of the Great War through guilt payments to the imperialists. Secondly, it immediately set about the persecution of leading members of the emerging Communist Party of India who were valiantly fighting against the British colonial rule. Even in its final week of its founding term, the Labour Party authorised the promulgation of the Bengal Special Ordinances, giving powers of indefinite imprisonment by executive order without specific accusation, trial or judicial sentence.
Clearly, the intentions of the Labour Party were never rooted in the common interests of the working class to begin with, and from there on, Labour’s love-in with imperialism has flourished…
The Attlee government, which has been called by much of Britain’s ‘left’ an example of what the Labour Party can do for the masses, is no less an example of how imperialism had branched across all fronts of society. Whilst nationalization, full employment and the National Health Service met many of the necessities of the British working class, these were only temporary concessions. At the same time the horrifying standards for overseas workers who remained under British colonial rule intensified. Tens of thousands subsequently died across the globe in revolts against the administration of British imperialism, carried out loyally by the ‘socialist’ Attlee administration.
The position of the Labour Party during the coal strike should have yet again clearly exposed its loyalty to imperialism once and for all, as labour and the TUC buckled to the Thatcher administration, the media, the police and the intelligence services. In helping to undermine the resistance of the NUM, the vanguard of the British working class was lost. Having come to power with the biggest landslide majority in history, the Blair ministry ensured the continuation of monopoly capitalism’s policy of dismantling the public sector, plummeting thousands of workers into a state of despair.
Any future Labour government would be no differently than any other, and the CPB would do well to remember that. Having already vowed to axe JSA for under-21s and to continue the ‘freeze’ policy on energy bills rather than nationalising the energy sector, it is clear that this Labour government, alike all before, are servants of monopoly capitalism.
Lenin & Britain
In early 1920, Lenin advised British Communists to support and attempt to affiliate themselves with the Labour Party in order to truly expose its character and nature to the masses. Owing to the fact that the public at the time had no experience of a Labour government, Lenin insisted on a formation of a bloc with them on the condition that the communist’s retain their liberty to expose any treacheries committed by the Labour Party.
Having followed this guidance, the former Communist Party of Great Britain was refused in its applications for affiliation in consecutive years from 1920 until 1924. In doing so, the Labour Party proved that it would prefer close relations with the capitalists to the unity of all workers.
Nothing has changed since. The Labour Party always has, is, and forever will be a representative of imperialism and the impending doom of the international working class masses, the continued global exploitation of our international brothers and the impending doom of poverty, famine and war.
Only by breaking from the Labour Party once and for all can the working class hope to build a better future. Only under the guidance of Marxism-Leninisms can we hope to rebuild the fragmented society and form a single, mass movement that puts the masses first.
Marxism will break our chains!
Draft EC Domestic Resolution
For a United, Militant and Political Labour Movement to Defeat the Ruling Class Offensive
1. The priorities for Communist Party work over the coming period will be to:
Build the People’s Assembly movement, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, the trades councils and community-based campaigns to draw many more people into the struggle against austerity and privatisation.
Strengthen the National Assembly of Women, highlight the feminisation of poverty and project the alternative policies outlined in the Charter for Women.
Expose and combat the agenda to privatise public sector schools and the NHS, including through support for trade union action to defend the quality of our state education and health services, highlighting the need to abolish public schools and private health care.
Project a left-wing programme of alternative policies as in the People’s Charter, particularly the case for a Wealth Tax and public ownership of energy, public transport and the financial sector.
Win the labour movement across Scotland, Wales and England for progressive federalism to resolve the national question in the interests of a united working class movement against British state-monopoly capitalism.
Expose the right-wing character of UKIP and build a left and progressive mass movement against EU membership rooted in the trade unions.
Work to ensure that the Morning Star position as the daily paper of the left, progressive and labour movements is reflected more substantially in sales and financial support.
Explain the need for the trade unions to take the necessary steps to ensure that labour movement has its own mass party, capable of winning general elections and enacting policies in the interests of workers and their families.
Strengthen the Communist Party through deeper involvement in local campaigning work including on the electoral front, a more systematic approach to political education and cadre development and a bolder policy of recruitment especially in the trade union movement.
2. The Communist Party warned before the end of 2008 that the financial crash and economic crisis would be utilised by the ruling class to launch an offensive against the working class and peoples of Britain. The chief forces of monopoly capital would strive to rescue their system, restore its profit base and ensure that the British state and government enforce the interests of big business at whatever cost to the mass of workers and their families.
3. Economically, the dominant section of the capitalist class, organised in the big financial institutions of the City of London, has been served by policies designed to protect its most basic interests. Thus the banks and financial markets have continued to be bailed out with public money and other supportive measures, as liabilities remain nationalised while profits are privatised. Reform and regulation of the financial services sector has been minimal where not postponed altogether.
4. The monopoly capitalists in every sector have benefited from further reductions in taxes on profits, capital gains and high incomes while nothing substantial is done to stamp out their prolific use of tax havens and other tax evasion devices. Unprecedented cuts in state expenditure have reduced tax pressures on the rich and big business, while also helping to depress wage levels generally as prices let rip across the economy. Whole sections of the public sector have either been privatised – most notably the Royal Mail – or prepared for privatisation in the case of education and the NHS.
5. The minimal economic upturn which began in 2014 was delayed by the government’s policies to redistribute even more wealth and purchasing power from the working class and the poorest in our society to big business and the rich. The recovery is flimsy and based on house price inflation, financial mis-selling compensation and consumption by the wealthy, rather than on investment in productive industry to meet growing mass demand at home and abroad. Moreover, it takes place in an unreformed British economy which retains all its most fundamental weaknesses and distortions: overdependence on financial services and armaments (where public money subsidises most of the R&D, production and export sales); underinvestment in civilian manufacturing, engineering, science and technology; absence of effective strategic planning in vital sectors such as energy and transport; and ceding of ownership of key areas of the economy to overseas monopolies so that the British capitalist class can continue to export capital and speculate in finance and property without destroying British state power’s domestic economic base. This ruthless drive to maximise monopoly profit is generating an enormous overaccumulation of capital, much of which will never be realised at its full nominal value. It is preparing the ground for future financial scandals and crashes.
6. Socially, the offensive has intensified overwork by underskilled workers who are increasingly impoverished and insecure. Mass unemployment persists as superexploited migrant labour is imported to maintain a large “reserve army” which can be drawn into employment and then expelled with ease. This has proceeded alongside the imposition of an employment model in key sectors of the economy, such as retail and finance, where zero hours contracts and other forms of precarious work have become the norm for millions of workers in Britain.Thus trade union bargaining power is undermined and wage levels depressed. This wide-ranging attack on real wages, pensions and welfare benefits has rapidly deepened poverty and inequality. In addition, the consequent reduction in working class purchasing power limits the scope for real economic recovery, thereby aggravating the problems of capital overaccumulation and helping to precipitate the next cyclical downturn in the British economy.
7. Culturally, capitalist ownership and its market anarchy favour mass production of anything that can be turned to a profit. Extreme concentrations of wealth together with neoliberal hostility to regulation have enabled many more of Britain’s cultural institutions to fall into the hands of financial speculators, business crooks and pornographers who have no interest in promoting informative, progressive, challenging, liberating or genuinely participative aspects of culture. Instead, much of capitalism’s output reflects the system’s drive for maximum profit regardless of other considerations.
8. Ideologically, the ruling class offensive has unleashed a new propaganda drive against socialist, collectivist and progressive ideas and values. Particular targets include the public services, trade unionism, social solidarity, wealth redistribution, public ownership and anything relating to socialism and communism. Mass media outlets confine news and current affairs coverage to a narrow consensus in which even Keynesian and social democratic views struggle to gain a platform, while socialism and communism are excluded altogether.
9. Politically, big business and the mass media exert enormous pressure, reinforced by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, to maintain consensus between the major political parties. Straying from the austerity and privatisation agenda or opposing British imperialism’s world view is punished by ferociously hostile media coverage and the loss of financial support. ‘Normalisation’ of fascist parties and representatives in Britain and other parts of Europe as a legitimate part of the political spectrum, while communists are ignored or pilloried, is a particularly disturbing development. At a time when the ruling class has shown itself so unfit to rule – when the scale of corruption in business, parliamentary, media and police circles is too big to be covered up adequately – the mass media allows a platform mainly to ‘anti-Establishment’ views from the far right rather than from the left.
10. In anticipation of this all-round assault, the Communist Party proposed that a mass movement be built around a People’s Charter for Change, putting forward alternative policies to those of austerity and privatisation. Led by the RMT but backed also by the FBU, PCS, other unions and socialists, including left Labour MPs, such an initiative gathered pace in the course of 2009 as the People’s Charter was endorsed by the British TUC annual conference. But there was resistance to wholehearted campaigning in favour of the charter in advance of the 2010 general election. The initiative began to lose impetus, especially after the incoming Tory-LibDem regime more than doubled the public spending cuts proposed by the outgoing Labour government and mounted a vicious attack on pay and pension rights in the public sector.
11. Confronted with an open declaration of class war, unions in that sector understandably prioritised the defence of their members’ terms and conditions. Millions of workers responded magnificently to the call for industrial action in defence of their occupational pensions. In the private sector too, trade unionists in the construction, electrical, railway and other industries demonstrated their willingness to defend jobs, pay and trade union rights against employers backed by a government willing to drive through the biggest decline in working class living standards for 80 years. Yet the trade union movement was unable to build sufficient unity to halt or even slow the austerity offensive. Union sectarianism within the public sector and an inability to secure wider understanding of the common interests of public and private sector workers rendered the general strike call at the 2012 TUC conference inoperable.
12. Throughout this period, the Communist Party advocated trade union and working class unity, pointing out that the necessary defence of public sector pensions was too narrow a basis for the scale of resistance needed. We exposed the link between pension liabilities and covert plans for extensive privatisation. Britain’s communists insisted that winning the case in the labour movement and among the wider public for generalised strike action was far more important than immediately “naming the day.” Even more significantly, we argued that industrial militancy was a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating the Tory-led austerity and privatisation agenda. Coordinated and generalised strike action had to be planned within a political context, one which rejected the legitimacy of the Tory-LibDem regime in favour of a political alternative around which a wide coalition of forces could be mobilised.
13. In the terms pioneered by the CP’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, we proposed that a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance be built in which the organised working class movement would play the leading role, drawing together all those who could be won to oppose exploitation and oppression. This would mean promoting not only industrial militancy but community campaigning, making connections between the two, engaging in the battle of ideas, stepping up the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party for the labour movement and recognising the necessity for the movement to have its own mass party. It would involve challenging the myths used to divide the working class, such as falsely identifying public sector pay and pensions, benefit claimants or migrant workers as the cause of Britain’s economic and financial crisis. It would also mean dropping any illusions that the Labour Party leadership or the European Union intends to block the ruling class offensive. Furthermore, we proposed that such a movement should develop what Britain’s Road to Socialism calls a ‘left-wing programme’, many of policies of which are reflected in the People’s Charter. The reality must be faced that such an approach was not adopted by the trade union movement as a whole, despite the efforts of communists and socialists in the course of 2012 and 2013.
14. Nevertheless, substantial elements of it have been embraced by significant forces in the labour and progressive movements since the general election. In particular:
There has been growing recognition of the need for trade unions to play a more active role where possible in community organisations and campaigns, not least through reinvigorated local trades union councils, community-based union branches and support for local anti-Bedroom Tax campaigns.
The launch of the People’s Assembly movement in 2013 and its subsequent adoption of the People’s Charter and other left and progressive policies represents an embryonic mass alliance against state-monopoly capitalism, bringing together several trade unions with community campaigns and sections of the Labour Party and wider left including the Communist Party.
Recognising the role of a daily paper and its website in the battle of ideas, the active engagement of trades unions with the Morning Star continues to grow, with nine unions (Unite, GMB, CWU, RMT, FBU, POA, UCATT, Community and the NUM) now represented on the management committee of the paper’s cooperative society.