29 June 2010

Is Labour worthwhile for the future?

The Tory-LibDem government’s attempt to reduce the state deficit is disadvantaging most heavily the poorest sections of working people. The unemployed, ever growing in number, who now subsist on state benefits of less than ten pounds per day (out of which they should feed and dress themselves and pay utility bills) will have their income cut. New Labour allowed Britain to become its most socially unequal since 1945; and the bourgeois coalition is now set to drive millions into penury, with Britain’s social profile increasing resembling that of a South American country.

On the left there are two responses, both of which deserve serious consideration.

First, there is the view that however awful New Labour was between 1997 and 2010, nonetheless it is the only political organisation that working people have to advance their interests. We should, therefore, work for a Labour government to be elected in 2015 or earlier because even the worst Labour government is better than this. Of course in the meantime we can campaign and try to move Labour leftwards.

Second, there is the view that the Blair-Brown governments crossed the Rubicon. New Labour in office abandoned social democracy, built up capitalist power and inequality, sought to diminish personal and civic liberties and actively promoted a sycophantic pro-Americanism around the globe. The people actively engaged in this project lead the Labour Party today and will after the September leadership election. Asking working people to put their faith and aspirations in Labour is therefore dishonest and futile.

Something like this is bound to be the core argument on the left in the 2010s

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