11 September 2009

Labour – the Party of the working class?

I have supported Labour all my adult life and have been a party member for over 30 years. Although my parents were graduates, my family is rooted in working class South Wales, mainly in mining. I was brought up to be proud of those roots.

I am very conscious of what Labour has done for workers, the NHS in particular is still a source of pride to me. The difference its foundation made to the lives of working people was phenomenal, we too easily forget this.

For many years the Party structure gave workers a chance to contribute to politics by putting forward motions for Conference. This allowed working class concerns to reach the highest levels. Our MPs mostly came from working class backgrounds and understood the people they represented.

But today there are few working class MPs and the only role left for the ordinary member is to deliver leaflets. More important, Labour’s claim to be a Socialist party has been compromised by the removal of the old Clause IV All this resulted in a party that is now completely out of touch with its core voters. The policies that have been pursued have not addressed the problems they face, particularly in the present economic crisis.

Why did this happen? This article explains the events since the 70’s, that has brought the party to where it is today. The Labour Party, always an uneasy alliance between left and right, has always attempted to manage capitalism and in these circumstances can only go as far as capital will allow. This has never been more true than it is today.

The present government reflects this in its slavish support for US foreign policy and the absence of any attempt to make real improvements in the lives of working people. Instead they pursue policies based on identity politics. . As a Marxist I support all oppressed groups. What I cannot do is see Women, Muslims, Blacks or Gays as classes. Policies that single out any of those groups for special treatment result in dividing the working class and become another example of that old ruler’s standby ‘divide and rule’. They also tend to benefit middle class members of those groups. Such policies can never improve working class lives. Genuine social change can only begin when all working class people are united. Identity politics has divided the class just when it needs to be strong.

Many of the feminist articles on Cif make this mistake. An article found here shows how in the end men and women need to unite to create “the social conditions… for the establishment of real human relations between men and women. But unless and until the proletariat overthrows capitalism and lays the conditions for the achievement of a classless society, no genuine emancipation of women is possible.”

This does not mean that women should ‘wait until after the revolution’ before they can struggle for equality. We should all challenge the corrosive attitudes of misogyny and sexism. The same is true for challenging racism, homophobia Islamophobia etc. After all we don’t ‘wait for the revolution’ before taking action to defend jobs do we?’

When policies discriminate against or ignore men, the government divides men and women from each other. This causes a backlash and prevents progress.

Its not ‘men’ or ‘women’ its class society that corrupts our relationships. When you consider how consumer society makes so many of us succumb to the rat race its no wonder.

So what do we do? Many have suggested that Labour is ‘finished’, that we should all leave it and create a ‘New workers party’. I would disagree with this. Anger at the nature of the present crisis is building and workers are moving into action.

Today(11 Sept) Union leaders will meet Brown at chequers –it seems it wont be a cosy chat!

100 years ago the Unions formed the labour party to speak for them in Parliament. It is time once again to make Labour the voice of working people.


  1. Folks this came up by mistake! Can I delete it!

  2. Dont delete it. I've been waiting to read it.


  3. PLEASE DON'T commenton it here I my clipboard is having problems!

  4. anne, get your Kosovan maid to sort it out. (copyright Kate Clanchy - middle-class, patronising, up-her-own-arse, self-styled poet and novelist).

  5. Ask Montana Wildhack

  6. Nothing to see here.. move on...

  7. Yeah leave it...it's spot on.. excellent in fact. I'm glad it's here and I don't have to break my self-imposed vow of abstinence from CIF. That place turns my stomach.

    What were the comments like? Bet you got a few accusations hinting you're some kinda befuddled anachronism living in the past...a socialist dinosaur who doesn't understand the demands and complexities of a modern, dynamic economy and workforce.

    Don't worry about it...that's standard fare for both the neo-liberal crew and the wonderful..."oh so lovely" CIF liberal rainbow alliance. Don't sweat it...they're both full of shit for what is essentially the same reason...they love their nannies, their pension provision, their mortgage arrangements and the deference that comes their way from a casualised desperate workforce who have to smile and look honoured to serve them their frappacinos and cous cous.

    If anything, I hate the liberal crowd more cos they probably think the smile is the natural response to the latent empathy and humanity that they exude....and of course they SO..OOO "understand".

    Excellent article anyway...hit all the right notes. If it was lacking in any respect, it was the full-on sarcasm, abuse and profanity that NuLabour so richly warrant...but I don't suppose there was any chance of that making it onto "Britain's Leading Liberal Voice".

    Well done anyway. A cracker.

  8. "If it was lacking in any respect, it was the full-on sarcasm, abuse and profanity that NuLabour so richly warrant..."

    What on EARTH are you fucking talking about late on a Friday night ?!!!

  9. PS Jamaican rum, if you're asking.

  10. @monkeyfish and bitterweed - see the last 2 or 3 posts on yesterday's thread............

  11. BW - better than being too fucked to drink

  12. D30
    Never knowingly mon segnior...

  13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IWl77o3l50

  14. Even better...

  15. Just on the slightest chance there is ANYONE listening...


  16. Allen Toussaint - St James Infirmary


  17. BW

    My inter connect is always weak - it will take me about 20 mins to download and hear a few minutes of vid.

    Your last recommend - Southern .. from the first few key strikes is something I would love to listen to in full as I sailed the Southern Ocean.

    Joy Bro - must take some sleep now.(but not before I download it and then listen as I fall...

    Thanks for copy of Foot Article - knew it was out there but never got around to reading it before ( some distance from the SWP here in remote Yorks!)

    Best W - hope your weekend as good as I intend mine to be.



  18. @BW

    I must have caught the off the reflection of a cloud (the signal I mean) that was bliss

    That Southern Cloud was, when it suddenly came through in a continuous sound stream, as you might properly say ..............
    ...oh fucking class lass - what sublime fucking class.

    When I was a lad a recording like that could have me laid, and waylaid, for a month or so (king 'o the street etc) - tintertit want around then

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Hank

    Indeed. Bella and whatshername are on some sotra undercover mission to convince us that the Graun has a heart and soul and occasionally fucks up in a "regular guy" kinda way. They seem to want to bring people back on side...it's a bit rich that for all their backslapping, joshing and good natured bantering...most of their posts just happen to deal with defending editorial policy...yet they want to try and foster a "one of us" persona.

    Pays to remember they're paid employess of a large, secretive media organisation with a particular agenda which seems to take the form of lecturing the rest of us on how to live our lives, raise our kids, treat various other members of society and above all lay down the officailly acceptable moral code for the 'right-thinking liberal'.

    This is of course predicated on two facts: first the elitist liberal belief that the public as a whole are ruled by impulsive, infantile urges and need the guiding hand of 'informed' experts to reach rational and morally acceptable conclusions. Secondly, that the type of person who bothers to comment represents an especially dysfunctional demographic who aren't willing to absorb the message through the normal process of osmosis...they need an especially firm hand.

    Problem was...that didn't work..the hectoring Seaton approach proved a disaster (where is he btw?). So now we have the two regular gals, dropping below the line to chivvy us (well...not me..I've had enough) back into the fold when any vestige of free rational thought comes along. It's pitiful. I still can't get over the way they retrospectively deleted every post of mine once they'd banned me as whatever I was last time around...can't even remember...just what the fuck does that say?

    Was actually extremely flattered that someone went to all the trouble but at the same time the thought of it is very disturbing...the Graun getting all 'Orwellian on my ass'...irony of ironies...the priests of the sepulchre of the saintly Eric Blair..indulging in a bit of blatant 'unpersoning'. This kinda fits the bill...Oscar Wilde..my quote du jour..

    "A man who moralises is usually a hypocrite"

    Get that up ya..CIF

    Oscar Wilde and Orwell being shoved right back in your smarmy, censorious faces..nice.

  21. Any seen Cif Bingo!


    Just exactly what are they playing at!

  22. I know - they are playing at Bingo!

    Should have read-

  23. "Labour – the Party of the working class?"
    No. It is the party of the middle class.