A compilation of four articles written earlier in 2011. It covers all four parts of a brief history of the Labour Party when it was ‘Old labour’. It looks at the years from its inception, up until 1994 when Tony Blair became leader. According to Labour loyalists, these were the ‘glory years’. This was the Labour Party that truly represented the working class, and it is the party that we need to reclaim. The alleged glory years are of course utter bollocks. There is nothing and never was anything to reclaim.
The Labour Party conference starts in Liverpool this weekend. In honour of this, here together, are parts 1,2,3,4, of the ‘fuck all’ to reclaim series. Yes, it is a bit jumbled up, lacks a cohesive structure, jumps from one subject to the next, repeats itself, and is generally poorly written However, it’s the long disgusting history of the party that’s important, rather than the way it has been wrote.
After reading this whole piece, if you still support the Labour party ‘without illusions’, then you are consciously voting for a pro boss bunch of imperialists, thieves, gangsters, hoorays, class traitors, murderous, racists, and scabs.
‘Old Labour’ is a lie, pure and simple. Labour supporters try to re-write their own history, but the truth is, the rot started many years before Tony Blair, it started the day the part was formed. There is fuck all to reclaim, because there was never anything there in the first place.
We don’t need another party. I am fucking sick of them. We need genuine, grassroots, bottom up, working class democracy. Self organised, and without champagne socialist leaders, and greedy, self-serving, faceless, scabby, blacklegged, and complicit trade union bureaucrats.
As the Labour Party conference 2011 approaches, it is worth giving a brief look at the glorious history of the Labour party. Old Labour, before Blair and company got their grubby hands on it was socialist, and the party of the workers, or so we are told. It was founded for the working class, it has always looked after us, and we need to reclaim it back. Who exactly do we need to reclaim it back from?
The following examples of Labour shenanigans is not exhaustive by any means, but serves as an aperitif to those who believe that the working class need to reclaim the Labour Party from the ‘right’. I have only looked at the ‘old’ labour years, i.e., the years that many on the left look back on through romanticised and rose tinted spectacles.
I expect that people will respond by listing many good things that Labour have done for the working class. If I dig deep enough I am sure that I can find things that the Conservatives have done that may have benefited the working class. However, whatever good any of the political elite have done for the working class, it is mere crumbs, flicked from the table of the ruling class to appease us.
There are two questions to be asked: Can we reclaim the Labour Party, and why would we want to anyway?
I don’t claim to be an expert on the Labour party, and I am sure people may disagree with some of the specific details of things I discuss. The following points are just a snap shot, and have been pulled from a variety of sources.
Wasn’t the Labour Party created by the working class to represent working class interests? No, the Labour Party was formed by a small group of skilled trade unionists, who cared as much for the rest of the working class as the ruling class did. They never even claimed to be socialists.
I thought socialists were opposed to capitalist wars? Apparently not, it took them three days to support the First World War; they also supported the disgusting Vietnam War, and Thatcher’s election winning war in the Falklands.
In 1915 the Labour leader Arthur Henderson, joined a coalition as junior partners with the Liberals, in exchange for a few Mickey Mouse cabinet positions. They collaborated with the Liberals force through ‘conscription’.
It was in 1918 that the party adopted its alleged socialist constitution, written by middle class intellectuals, as the workers could not be trusted. It was not written because of any genuine socialist tendencies, but because they were shit scared of the influence the Russian revolution may have. The party then allowed individual membership rather than just through trade unions, and so started the influx of upper class hooray capitalists who had no interest in the working class, or genuine social change. This type of careerist scumbag has been running the party for over eighty years, rather than just since Tony Blair, as many would have you believe.
An example of the socialist credentials of the Labour party is the following quote from J H Thomas, Labour MP, and union leader who was appointed to the colonial office. In his opening statement to his department heads, he stated, “I am here to make sure there is no messing about in the British Empire”.
In 1924, they used the army to forcibly disperse striking dock workers, and tried to prosecute the editors of the ‘weekly worker’ under incitement to mutiny laws.
Other achievements of the first Labour government were to drop bombs on Iraq, and to shoot strikers in India. How very ‘socialist’ the first Labour government was.
In 1929 the second Labour government helped the working class by more than doubling the unemployed to over 2.7 million people. In the two years Labour was in power, 4 million people had their wages reduced.
Whilst in opposition, Ramsey Macdonald helped the Tories in forcing through cuts in unemployment benefits and civil service pay.
Labour won a huge majority in the election just after the war. They nationalised industries, and brought in the NHS, and the welfare state. Fantastic, but it was sixty three years ago, what have they done since? Well, they introduced prescription charges, and introduced charges of glasses and false teeth.
They didn’t nationalise industries because of any philosophical standpoint, they did it because the capitalist class had no money. In return for their ownership of particular firms, the ruling class were given lavish compensation which could then be invested in newer and more profitable industries.
In 1945, yet again, the Labour Party used soldiers to break up strikes, they continued with this tactic up until the 1970’s, when they used the army against striking miners, and fire fighters. A disgraceful tactic from an alleged workers party!
What other great achievements did the second Labour government have? The introduced our first nuclear weapons, and hydrogen bomb, they saw a 30% reduction in living standards.
The first fifty years saw a dramatic change in the class background of Labour party MP’s. Ordinary people were cast aside, for capitalists and the landed gentry; this happened many decades before New Labour came along.
Harold Wilson came into power in 1964, and introduced a pay freeze. His Labour party wrote an anti-trade union white paper, ‘in place of strife’. Whilst it was not introduced, it was done in later Conservative governments. They got rid of milk in secondary schools years before Thatcher, and closed more mines that the Tories ever did.
In 1968, a racist regime in Kenya threatened to kick thousands of Asians out of Kenya. Nearly all of these held British passports. Labour’s response was to pass the Commonwealth Immigrants Act which stopped most of them coming to Britain. Another Achievement of that Labour government was the introduction of the Polaris nuclear armed submarine fleet. Throughout the seventies there was, more pay freezes, strike breaking, and use of army scabs, failure to support Shrewsbury strikers, and failure to support Grunwick Strikers.
Neil Kinnochio, failed to support the miners, failed to support the Wapping strikers, failed to support the poll tax campaign, and generally just failed. Labour pursued more poll tax non-payers than Tory councils, and even recruited Cherie Booth (Blair) to prosecute non-payers.
The history of ‘old’ Labour is as disgusting and shameful as that of new Labour. It has been proven to be a party that supports the ruling class, and does not give a shit about ordinary working people. They have shown themselves to be anti-trade union, and warmongering imperialists. They hide behind achievements that were not their ideas, and would have been introduced anyway.
It is incredible to think that over the past century, the Labour party must have had hundreds of millions in funding from the trade unions. These are the exact same trade unions that they had the army attack, in order to break strikes.
They have been riddled with a collection of champagne socialists and careerists. Calls to reclaim the party are a joke as there was never anything there in the first place that is worth reclaiming. The Labour Party has been a lie from the start, and not as many on the dinosaur left would have you believe, since Tony Blair took over.
I keep hearing, ‘There are good people in Labour’, and, ‘I join Labour because it’s an established party and I can actually achieve something’. Absolute bollocks! Where are these good people, where are the stories of MP’s and councillors resisting the party line, where are the rebels? They don’t fucking exist, as soon as they get a sniff of the trough, the leave behind any principles they may have had, and become part of the ruling elite.
What is the alternative then, a new workers party? No, I have had enough of fucking parties, and faceless, greedy leaders. I want genuine working class self organisation, workers taking over and controlling their workplaces, workers councils and grassroots democracy. We do not need any more ‘parties’, been there, done that, and had my class fucked over. Parliamentary democracy is a lame duck, time for a change.
If you tell a story that is lie often enough, then it can become a kind of false truth. This is exactly what has happened to the Labour party. Deluded supporters tell people that the Labour Party was once great and genuinely represented the workers interests. They go onto to say that right wingers took it over and moved the party to the centre ground. People develop a rose tinted view of the past, and go along with the myth. Those who are not old enough to know different fall for the myth, hook, line, and sinker.
They would have you believe that the need to reclaim the Labour party from the right is a relatively recent development. This is a lie, the glory days never existed. Some will use the argument that, ‘it is not the party it’s the leaders that are the problem’. Who the fuck do you they think vote in the leaders?
The following are passages from the pamphlet, The Labour Party: Myth & Reality, written by Duncan Hallas in 1985. Its shows the exact same debate we are having now stretches back decades.
“The biggest and most important strike by any group of British workers for a very long time took place between March 1984 and March 1985 when the miners struck against the threat of mass pit closures. The Labour party was split wide open on the issue; while large numbers of the rank and file members threw themselves into wholehearted support for the miners, Labour leader Neil Kinnock ducked and weaved, refusing to commit himself. The hopes of socialists in the Labour party and outside have been betrayed again and again by Labour leaders. Labours 1974 election manifesto promised a ‘massive’ irreversible shift in the distribution of both wealth and power in favour of working people’. The government that followed then delivered unemployment, cuts and falling living standards. Can the leopard change its spots? Is there a way forward to socialism through the Labour party”?
“One of the great myths about the Labour party is that however bad it may sometimes be, there was a time when it was different. If only we could get rid of the right wing leaders and get back to what the party really stands for, that is the thought behind the myth”
As I mentioned earlier, the leaders are voted in by the membership and unions!
“Wilson and Callaghan believed in managing the capitalist system. So did all of their predecessors, so does Neil Kinnock. They believe that when the system is threatened, whether by militant workers, Irish republicans, or whatever, it must be defended. They believe that when necessary, workers must make sacrifices to prop up the system that exploits them. In fact the Labour party has been, since 1920, the alternative government of the British capitalist state”
“We do not pander to the illusion that Labour is anything but a Conservative workers party. In no case do we give any credence to the repeatedly disproved fantasy that the Labour party can change its spots. A new party has to be built on a different basis. It will be a long, tough struggle with many ups and downs, but it is the only way forward”.
Whilst I disagree with the formation of a new ‘new party’, I agree with the sentiment of the passage.
We cannot keep having the same debates decade after decade. The ‘true’ Labour party is not lost, or waiting to be reclaimed. It never ever existed. Its leaders may have progressively become more ‘right wing’ over time, but even the most left wing leaders they have had have been close to the centre.
I do not believe in a fantasy world of wizards and dragons, nor do I believe in god, but I would expect to find either one of those before I come across a Labour Party that is on the side of the working class.
If you want further, in depth reading on the Labour party, I can highly recommend the following. If you know me, then feel free to borrow them.
More classics from the glorious history of the Labour Party.
In the 1920’s, the Labour Party’s fist ever Chancellor Viscount Philip Snowden, said that; “The Labour Party is not seeking any class triumph. Its object is not to make the manual labour class dominant”. Is this really the kind of attitude that we are attempting to ‘reclaim’? Some people believe that ‘hooray Henry’s’ in the Labour party are a relatively recent occurrence. They have been in positions of influence within the party since its inception.
In 1924, Labour representative on a Royal Commission, Leo Chiozza Money, made the following statement; “Labour should at least make it clear that it is, in the true sense of the word, a capitalist party. A party, that is, that intends to wield capital on the large scale to national advantage”. Is this the kind of attitude we want to reclaim?
Labour Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald made the following comments as part of his first speech to parliament as Prime Minister; “We shall concentrate not first of all on unemployment, but on the restoration of trade”. Perhaps this is what we want to reclaim?
I keep hearing socialists saying that we need to infiltrate the Labour party and reclaim it from within. How exactly can that be achieved, when every time anyone steps out of line, there is a witch hunt? This does not just apply to the Stalinist purges of the militant tendency in the 1980’s, but goes back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, when Labour target communists. In fact, Labour’s history of witch hunts goes back to the days of the ‘golden boy’, Kier Hardie, who went after supporters of a rival. The communists in the 1920’s and Trots in the 1980’s had much more of foothold in the party, and more balls, than any left wing element within Labour may have today. If they were dispatched with such relative ease, what hope does the left have today? If they even exist.
In their several periods in government between the years of 1947-2010, the Labour Party closed 205 mines. The Conservative managed to close 146. No wonder that Labour didn’t support the striking miner’s; they were bigger enemies to the miner’s than the Tories.
Thirteen of these mines were closed whilst good old Tony Benn, darling of the left was the energy secretary. This makes his feeble posturing during the miner’s strike even more revolting.
I keep hearing about Margaret Thatcher’s trade union legislation, but no one really mentions Labour history in such matters. Surely Labour cannot want tough trade union laws; after all, Labour was created by the unions. In the 1986 Labour document, ‘people at work’, they mirrored the Tory stance on trade unions. So if Labour had come to power in the 1980’s we would have had the same laws.
The Financial Times wrote, ‘never before has the Labour party, created by the unions, attempted to bring in controls of trade union activities on the scale proposed in this document. Never before has Labour tried to make that control statutory, backing it up, albeit now in a modified form, with the involvement of the courts, traditionally seen in the labour movement as the enemy’.
I feel sick to the pit of my stomach hearing that stupid oaf John Prescott ranting on about anti trade union laws, when as shadow employment secretary he had a hand in writing the document.
“It is not the membership; it’s the leadership and the parliamentary party”. Bollocks, in 1993 a survey of Labour party members showed that 67% of them wanted rid of clause IV. However, revisionists will have you believe it is all down to Blair et al.
The Labour Party is a pro-capitalist, anti-worker, bosses party. Why would anyone who wants ‘socialism’ spend their time trying to reclaim a party that never existed? It would be better use of their time looking for Atlantis.
One last dig at the 'glorious' old Labour
Labour supports will have you believe that the party was formed by the working class and trade unions. This is a lie. The Labour Party was formed by ‘snobbish’ skilled labour unions and middle class radicals. They were not interested in the unskilled working class. Karl Marx described these unions as the, ‘tail end of the Liberal Party’.
Alleged socialist’s within the Labour Party ranks over the last thirty years or so, such as, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and George Galloway, are self-serving careerists of the highest order. They claim to want to reclaim real labour, and fight from within. This is a lie, you very rarely see any of these clowns ‘fighting’ or ‘rebelling’, they quietly tow the line, occasionally rocking the boat, in order to keep up the illusion of socialist credentials. They have sold out their principles in return for a place at the parliamentary trough, and all the trappings and money that come with it. Labour has been littered with this kind of vermin since it was formed.
Warmongering didn’t start with Tony Blair as they would have you believe, Labour governments sent soldiers to Korea to help with their imperialist exploits, and invaded Borneo and Malaya, all this whilst at home, unemployment rose, wages, and standards of living fell.
More demonstration of the Labour Party’s imperialist credentials, include:
Greece – 40,000 British soldiers were deployed to crush the revolutionary resistance movement before the Labour government persuaded US imperialism to take over the task.
Malaysia – The depths of barbarism were plumbed in the use of ‘protected villages’, the SAS were used to defeat the Malayan liberation movement.
India – Using military force, the labour government imposed partition and established pro-imperialist regimes. In the ensuing conflict, hundreds of thousands died and millions became refugees.
Vietnam – The labour government used British troops under the direction of general Gracey to restore French colonial rule, rearmed Japanese troops and condemned the Vietnamese people to thirty years of bloody ant-imperialist struggle.
Palestine – The Labour government created Zionist Israel and paved the way for the genocide against the Palestinian people.
Kenya – The Labour government, in 1950, declared illegal a boycott of a Royal visit organised by the East African Trades Council, and jailed its organisers. It then deployed tanks, planes, and armed police across Nairobi to crush an eighteen day strike. Hundreds of protesters were sent to jail.
Jamaica – in 1946 the Labour government banned all public meetings and introduced internment.
South Africa – The Labour government supported South African annexation of Namibia.
Ireland – The Labour government strengthened and guaranteed the loyalist six county police state by passing the Government of Ireland Act 1949.
Korea – In 1950, the Labour government joined with US imperialism in the Korean War to attack North Korea.
Germany – The 1945 Labour government obstructed the prosecution of Nazi war criminals and supported the reinstatement of German industrialists, e.g., Krupp, who had a long record of support and collaboration with the Hitler regime.
Are these examples of the glorious ‘old labour’ that so many want to reclaim?
It is worth mentioning, that all the disgusting things that have been said and done by Labour, in government or in opposition, during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Tony Benn, the darling of the left wing, was in it up to his fucking neck. Yet the left keep on wheeling out this bastard as some kind of talisman.
Whilst I do not agree with his politics, Arthur Scargill and his associates, demonstrates some ‘principles’, and left the Labour Party fifteen years ago. He believed that the Labour party could not be saved. Regardless of the success of his new political party, the ‘left’ are still debating the issues and dilemmas that Scargill thought ‘clear’, fifteen years ago.
Labour is not that much more to the ‘right’ than they were fifty years ago. The difference is. Fifty years ago they would use the word ‘socialism’ in manifestos and now they don’t. It doesn’t mean that they were socialists because they used the word. In some respects I have more respect for the likes of Tony Blair et al, because they never claim to be anything different than what they are. They don’t claim to be socialists, and then do the exact opposite, which is what leaders of the past have done.
The Labour Party are a case of the, ‘tail wagging the dog’, and the quicker the working class reject them and consign their grubby party to history, the better.
Vote Labour without illusions? You must be fucking joking.