File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 93

Subject: Re: M-I: British Labour Party
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 21:53:04 -0700

Hi Lew,

I found your posting very informative.

Concerning the Labour Party. Is what Blair  doing to to th Labour Party
not qualitatively different to what was done by Mc Donald. Is Blair not
seeking to turn the Labour Party into a non social democratic Party
form which the left is to be excluded.

If as you seem to be saying the Labour Party is a bourgoeis party pure
and simple does this not mean then that marxists should not be
concerned as to whether democracy is suppressed within the LP or
whether the confeerence is to be turned into a passive instrument of
the leadership thorugh PIP?

How come Blair found it so easy to suppress left dissent within the
Labour Party?


Lew said:
The suppression of dissent in the Labour Party is not new. There is
history of suppression, such as Ramsey McDonald's forcing through the
cutting of welfare benefits in 1931. Suppression has usually concerned
differences over the policies best suited to run capitalism, in much
same way that Thatcher suppressed dissent within the Tory party in the
mid-1970s for her ideas on how best to run capitalism. Coversely,
"dissent" has usually involved idealism about running capitalism with a
human face. Some sections of the Left in Britain retain the mythology
that there was a socialist or marxist element to the Labour Party which
has been snubbed out by Blair. But this involves a wilful ignorance of
the origin, structure and function of the Labour Party. The policies
have changed but the purpose remains the same.

The UK Labour Party is unique in Europe in that it was mostly created
the trade unions; elsewhere in Europe it was the other way round. The
Labour Party originated as a trade union pressure group within
parliament. Later they came to have ideas for social reform, such as
cluster of reforms passed during and just after the Second World War.
These helped to create the Welfare State and the National Health
Service. That Blair has mostly accepted the market-led reforms and anti
trade union legislation passed by the Tories should come as no
The trade union leadership is mostly comprised of Labour Party members,
and they too have a "common sense" perception of what needs to be done.
I have just returned from spending a few weeks in the United States,
while there I saw Newt Gingrich on TV giving praise to Blair for
carrying on the work of Thatcher. The implication was that without
Thather and the changes she brought about there would be no Blair and
New Labour. However, a more realistic assessment of the situation is
that whereas Thatcher made changes in the face of some union
Blair would have used the union connection to impose changes favourable
to capital, just as Labour has done many times in the past and no doubt
will do again.

     --- from list ---

     --- from list ---


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005