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Proletarian issue 2 (October 2004)
Break the link with Labour
The many crimes committed by Labour in office since 1997 are often portrayed as some kind of an anomaly and a break with the 'socialist' tradition of 'old' Labour, but the truth is that Tony Blair is acting in the same interests as have all other imperialist Labour Prime Ministers since Ramsay MacDonald.
War abroad

In order to defend multinationals' profits, this government has waged unprovoked and illegal wars against Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, it continues to occupy Ireland, using loyalist murder gangs, the rebranded RUC and secret services against the nationalist population whilst hypocritically blaming republicans for its own refusal to implement the Good Friday Agreement.

Lies about 'freedom' and 'democracy' in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed by the reality of indiscriminate cluster bombing and use of depleted uranium, brutal occupation at gunpoint, torture, collective punishment, internment, criminalisation of POWs and bloody massacres of civilians - accompanied by a desperate scramble for oil and 'reconstruction' contracts.

Tony Blair and the imperialist Labour government have blood on their hands. If unions continue to be affiliated to Labour, then the blood is on their hands too. This can be denied only if we accept the racist assumption that Iraqi lives are worth less than British lives.

Attacks at home

Here in Britain, Labour is stepping up attacks on working people. The gap between rich and poor is getting wider and the numbers of people living in poverty is increasing every day.

In order to create profits for big business, our remaining public services are bring run down in preparation for privatisation while wages in the public sector have gone down dramatically.

Public housing is being abolished and private rents are rocketing; the NHS is subject to creeping privatisation and GPs and hospitals, like schools, are now operating under a two-tier, selection by postcode system.

While talking hypocritically about the need to eradicate racism from our society, Labour are doing everything to whip up racist hysteria by blaming 'asylum seekers' for the problems they have created, and using that hysteria as a cover for building concentration camps and passing 'anti-terror' laws that give the police powers to arrest anyone and detain them indefinitely without charge or evidence of any crime.

Support for the Labour Party means support for all the above, it means sacrificing the right of the many to jobs, housing, healthcare, education and pensions - all the things which make a decent life - at the altar of private profit.

Those who defend Labour's record in office point to the introduction of the minimum wage, but this is set well below the minimum for any kind of decent existence and is actually used as an excuse by many employers for keeping wages down.

Labour's imperialist history

Labour cannot be 'reclaimed' or 'realigned' - it is, and has always been, a party of capitalism and its history is a racist and imperialist one.

In 1924, the first ever Labour administration shot down and jailed demonstrators in India and bombed Iraqi villages. Ramsay MacDonald used the army, Emergency Powers Act and secret police to break strikes, evict the unemployed from their homes, arrest and spy on activists, etc.

Since 1945, Labour's record in office has been no better. To pay off war debts and rebuild the British economy, the Attlee government intensified exploitation of colonies such as Ghana, Kenya and Malaya - tens of thousands of people in Africa and Asia were killed in ruthless suppression of revolts against British colonialism.

After WWII, Labour set up puppet regimes all over the Middle East, handed over Palestine to the Zionists, helped restore French imperialist control over Indo-China and sent 12,000 soldiers to Korea - 8m people died in the ensuing wars in south east Asia (Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Laos). Not a single African country obtained independence from Labour.

In 1974-79, Labour presided over mass deportation of black workers (an average of 200 a day) and introduced virginity tests on Asian women coming in to Heathrow. In 1979 the Callaghan government sent 5,000 police to protect a National Front meeting, held in the middle of Southall's Asian community, to which black people were not allowed. The resulting police carnage left one dead (Blair Peach) and 1,000 injured.

In fact, in its drive to defend imperialism at all costs, there has never been any crime that the Labour Party, in or out of government, has not been prepared to commit.

Narrow union outlook

Many union leaders tell us that while we may of course 'disapprove' of the actions of Labour in power now, remaining affiliated is simply a pragmatic decision about getting 'representation' in parliament; that we are paying to get the ear of the government on issues affecting union members.

But clearly all the wider issues affect us - we do not live or work in isolation. We are all affected by the poverty of others; by the general insecurity and spiralling costs of living; by the collapse of pension funds; by crashes on the disintegrating rail and tube services.

Why would we give funding and support to a party that is perpetuating all this? What is a small advantage in negotiations for the this or that Act in parliament compared to the prospect of unending war and economic crisis?

Growing unrest in Britain

In 2002, 1.3m working days were lost through strikes, the highest figure in twelve years and double the number in 2001.

This is not because the British workforce has suddenly become unreasonable, but because steady erosion of pay and conditions is forcing them to fight for what little they have left.

No one should disregard the possibility that after the firefighters, postal workers, health workers, transport workers and teachers, they could be next in the firing line.

Fighting for our rights

Workers gain rights only through the strength of their organisation and its ability to fight for their rights.

What defeated the FBU in 2002, and will continue to defeat other workers in struggle, is that the union was affiliated to, and the leadership were members of, the very party that was attacking them. The government they were supposed to be fighting was in control of the party machinery and was able, by a combination of bribery, cajolery and threats, to bring the leadership into line, leaving the membership high and dry.

We need to be able to act independently of the government and the class it represents if we are to defend ourselves when the time comes. Is it not clear that as far as members' interests go, remaining affiliated to the Labour Party is like preparing for a fight by tying one hand behind our back?

Since there is no alternative representation in parliament then it is clear that working people must find some alternative to bourgeois politics and politicians.

The CPGB-ML's position is clear. Marx proved long ago that no amount of tinkering with capitalism can make it provide for working people; the only way to achieve a decent life for British workers is to get rid of imperialism altogether.

The Soviet example has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the working class is quite capable of planning production and running society in the interests of the majority, but it will never get the chance unless it builds its organisations and trains its political leadership to be totally independent of the capitalist class.

The tide is turning. People are waking up to the necessity of breaking finally and completely with the Labour Party. If one union blazes the trail we can be sure that others will take heart and follow its example.

Break the link with Labour

Reclaim socialism!
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