Labour’s role in the class struggle.

December 18, 2011

Hey folks, sorry it’s been so long. I popped over to find something I’d written ages ago and found that I’ve still got a fair number of readers, even though I haven’t written anything in 6 months. The fools! I sort of miss blogging but I’ve not got an awful lot of time to do it these days. I’ll try to get something up at least every few weeks, even if it’s nothing too fascinating or insightful. Thing is, I’ve kind of moved on from actively thinking about atheism and humanism, at least whilst other things are more pressing. So don’t expect much in the way of counter-apologetics for the foreseeable future.

I am often very critical of the UK Labour party. Their shift to the right since 1994 is indicative of the sham democracy we now suffer under the parliamentary system. A system dominated by partisan politics whilst giving no real choice to the electorate. It is absolutely clear that you must now choose between the bad guys and the slightly-better guys. There is currently no credible alternative. The Labour party has had triangulation shoved so far down its throat that it can’t do anything else; when two opposing positions become apparent, it can’t help but dive instinctively into somewhere in the middle.

You need only look at Ed Miliband to see evidence of that fact. He attempts to place himself deftly between Brownism and Blairism, two positions with barely a hair’s breadth between them, and which themselves are triangulated between left and right. Ed isn’t opposed to cuts, he just thinks that these cuts are “too hard and too fast”. He doesn’t side with either the government or the unions in the strikes, but thinks that both sides should get back around the negotiating table. You can also see this cowardice in his position on tuition fees. So scared was he to come out with a justifiable position, he scrambled to say that if he were in government he would place the fee cap at £6,000. That’s £3,000 higher than they currently are. Right bang in the middle between the status-quo and the Tory-led coalition’s position. What is he thinking? Here he has a polarising issue, where almost everyone is at one end or the other, and he puts himself in the middle! Have some guts!

And so we now see people within the Labour party hinting at support for Yvette Cooper, the current shadow Home Secretary. But in her I also see the same old weakness of New Labour: they have no idea what they stand for. They talk about Labour values but they don’t really know what it means, other than some vague commitment to equality. In Cooper’s case, we need to look at the way she talks about immigration.

Yvette Cooper, from wikipedia

In case you don’t know, the Tories currently have a manifesto pledge to cut net immigration down to the tens of thousands, and they’re not going to be able to do it, so they’re going around doing ill-thought out things like making it harder for students to get a visa to study in the UK (for some reason people who come here, spend loads of money and then leave are a problem). They’re doing the classic thing of blaming the ‘other’ for all the problems of a society. What position should a party of the left take in such a scenario? The answer may seem obvious, but I would think they would take the policy from the root and argue that immigrants aren’t the cause of the problem. I would expect a truly left-wing party to point out that immigration isn’t the real enemy of the working class, that unemployment isn’t caused by immigrants stealing jobs, that lack of affordable housing and inflation aren’t caused by immigration, and that actually other factors have a significantly bigger impact on all of these problems, and immigrants bring lots of cultural benefits. Not Yvette Cooper, and not David Blunket, Charles Clark, John Reid or Jacqui Smith. They all blame immigrants too. Yvette Cooper gets sucked into the debate and instead of attacking the Conservative position on ideological grounds, attacks them for incompetence, as if they’re not getting rid of immigrants quickly enough. That’s not left-wing.

The role of the Labour Party should be to give the workers a voice in politics, and to educate the working class. They shouldn’t be chasing votes, because if everyone did that, we’d just have 3 identical parties, and no choice! (Oh… wait.) We know the Labour party has failed because we have a generation who have no idea what a picket line is or why it’s so important. We have a generation of Labour activists who claim to be socialists, but also claim to be Blairites! We have a Labour Party leadership, a leadership put there by the unions, that refuses to back the unions in a strike! What are they doing?! I wouldn’t despair so much, but there really isn’t another party which has any kind of link to the workers. Right now they’re all we’ve got, and that’s depressing.