FOR A DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY
The Labour Party was founded at the beginning of this century to represent the trade union movement in Parliament. Its establishment was a major defeat for the ruling class and the class collaborators then in the Liberal Party. It was an act of profound political significance which the ruling class has worked for decades to reverse.
The Blair leadership is moving to cut all Labour's political links with organised labour, a drive which began with the bans and proscriptions against communists and the establishment of individual membership in the 1920s. The latest attempts to construct a cross party alliance with regard to joining the European Single Currency, is but the latest manifestation of this trend. But the fact remains that the trade union movement still has considerable weight within the Labour Party. It is this link, through financial support and organisation representation, that enabled the movement to push forward progressive demands.
The 1945 Attlee government developed state welfare and created a public sector which went beyond the bourgeois consensus on post-war reconstruction. The Wilson governments from 1964 to 1970 and the Wilson-Callaghan governments of 1974 to 1979 also had to take union demands into account over wages and state welfare because of mass pressure from below, despite the resistance of the right-wing of social-democracy which consistently opposed all progressive trade unionism and working class action.
The possibility of defeating the right-wing continues to exist as long as the unions retain their overwhelming influence within the Labour Party. If it were not so, the Blair leadership and the ruling class would not be so determined to push for a final break now when the left of the movement is weak and rudderless.
Trotskyites and other ultra-leftists would have the class believe that the Labour Party itself is a barrier to communist advance, and that its very existence is a block on the road towards revolution. If that were so, then the ruling class and the class-collaborators would be fighting to defend the Labour Party's existing organisational links with the union movement which guarantees its survival instead of demanding a complete Labour break with the working class.
The Labour Party in itself is not a barrier to communist advance. A militant trade union movement behind a strong Labour Party creates the best conditions for the class to advance in this country. A democratic Labour Party which genuinely reflected the wishes of the millions of affiliated members would not be led by the craven class collaborators of today. A Labour Party whose policies reflected those of a democratic trade union movement would become a powerful institution for progressive reforms which would strengthen the unions and benefit the working class. To this end the rightwing leadership of some of our trade unions must be challenged. The attempts of the Blair government to greatly reduce the influence of trade unions within the labour movement is being facilitated by the actions of some trade union leaders.
Communists must act at local branch level to ensure that our union leaders more closely represent the interests of the working class
Revolutionary advance requires a strong communist movement rooted in Marxism-Leninism as well as a militant labour movement.
Communists must fight for both. The party must campaign for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates. The party must fight to build the communist movement around the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 precisely for that purpose. Since then we have fought for the maximum working class unity against the ruling class while campaigning to build the revolutionary party.
Unlike the revisionists and ultra-leftists we spurn the "parliamentary road" and electoral politics. The old Communist Party of Great Britain abandoned the revolutionary road when it adopted the British Road to Socialism, a revisionist programme of reformist and social-democratic ideas which led to its political isolation within the class and its inevitable liquidation.
But revisionist, reformist and social democratic ideas continue amongst its successors in the Communist Party of Britain, the Communist Party of Scotland and the Socialist Labour Party. The derisory votes gained by these parties when they contest elections reflects the futility of their programmes which argue that the only way to defeat social-democracy is in fact to imitate it. It calls for social-democratic reforms while campaigning against the only mass force for social-democratic reform, the Labour Party. It inevitably ends up in targeting the Labour Party itself rather than the ruling class as the main enemy of the working class. This is why these parties, together with the Trotskyites, remain isolated amongst the workers and people they claim to lead.
The Labour Party remains an instrument for working class reform and as long as it retains its organisational links with the union movement it will continue to be the only practical instrument for reform in Britain. Working people, often wiser than those sectarians and ultra-leftists who claim to represent them, recognise this and this accounts for the mass support for social-democracy in Britain. This mass support is however, vulnerable at certain times of particular dissatisfaction with Labour leaderships and governments, which was clearly evidenced in the 1999 European elections. An eight per cent turnout for Labour displayed much more than indifference to the European Union.
The demands for reform, for the restoration of state welfare, the public sector, the National Health Service, progressive taxation and trade union immunities, are progressive calls which would benefit working people. The NCP supports these demands and will continue to support Labour in national and local elections precisely because it is the only instrument to achieve them. Our strategy for revolution calls for the building of a revolutionary party while our electoral policy is based on the historical development and organisational form of the labour movement as a whole.
The call for a democratic Labour Party has to be made throughout the movement along with support for left Labour Party activists with mass support when they come into conflict with the Blair leadership. It has to be stressed that without mass pressure from the working class and the organised labour movement, significant reforms will not be achieved and progressive conference decisions will not be complied with.
Working people have never achieved state power through elections. Social-democracy has never led to socialism and revisionism has only led to the destruction of communist parties, and in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, counter-revolution and the destruction of socialist states. The NCP's opposition to social-democracy and revisionism is not a dogmatic creed but the living application of Marxist-Leninist science. We must continue to combat these ideas along with those pie-in-the-sky ideas of the utopian socialists, the idealist and individualist views of the anarchists and syndicalists and the anti-Communist theories of the Trotskyites.
In combating ideas which are fundamentally wrong we must uphold the
communist alternative and strive to win people away from these erroneous,
counter-revolutionary and ultimately futile theories.
FIGHT RACISM AND FASCISM
The two years since our last Congress have been marked by many significant events in the fields of anti-racism and anti-fascism in Britain and internationally.
Perhaps the most significant of these is the lengthy public inquiry into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London in 1993, conducted by Sir William Mcpherson. The report highlighted institutional racism which is present not only in the police but in local authorities.
This also brought into the public eye the depth of police racism and corruption that probably did not surprise many of our members but stunned most of the general public.
The inquiry report produced a long list of recommendations, most of which were totally sound. Two recommendations were doubtful: that the law should be changed to allow someone to be tried more than once for the same crime if new evidence emerged, which could be open to abuse by the police; and the outlawing of racist language even in private, which would be practically unenforceable and could even inhibit discussion of the causes and remedies for racism among anti-racists.
These two points are unlikely to be implemented in any case but the other recommendations were all sound and we should campaign for their full implementation, and especially that the police should not remain immune from the Race Relations Act.
Our Party recognises there is a grave danger that the advances made in awareness after the Mcpherson report could slip away without the recommendations being realised and enacted in law. We could be back to square one all too easily.
We also recognise there has been a considerable backlash to the report among some racist sections of the population. We have never argued that all police are racist but the greatest harm comes from the majority of police closing ranks to defend those who are culpable. Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, should have been forced to resign following the Mcpherson report's findings.
The eventual acceptance by the police that the deaths of Michael Menson and Ricky Reel were racist murders only came about as a result of campaigning by the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement and unremitting family pressure; the families need all our support.
The nail-bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho are part of a racist backlash. Police and the media have tried to portray the suspect arrested for the bombings as acting in isolation. In fact there is photographic evidence of him standing very close to the leader of a neo-nazi organisation and other evidence that he has been a member of it. In addition, a number of extremist right-wing terror organisations claimed responsibility for the bombings. This is evidence that even if they did not carry out the crimes, they approved of them. We call for such organisations to be outlawed.
We also call on our government to work towards an international ban on the use of the Internet for the purposes of furthering racist and fascist hate and violence.
The NCP recognises that, within this bourgeois society, black and other ethnic minority people under violent attack are forced to rely on the police for their immediate protection. When this protection is not forthcoming, communists and all working class progressives have a responsibility to protest and demand full protection from the police and all relevant government and local government agencies.
Nevertheless we recognise that the bourgeois state welcomes a working class divided along racist lines and thereby weakened. So the fight against institutionalised racism in all state bodies will be an uphill struggle.
The long-term solution remains the eradication of racism at its roots through the struggle against racist ideas that pour from the bourgeois media and from racist political organisations.
We recognise that some areas that have suffered economic degradation and high levels of unemployment and poverty from de-industrialisation are susceptible to racist ideas. We must renew our efforts to attack racist myths about crime, lack of housing and unemployment and bring home to everyone that it is the capitalist system that is the root of these problems.
The alliance against racism and fascism should be as broad as possible but the working class should lead this struggle through its organisations, the trade unions, trades councils, tenants' associations, community organisations and even neighbourhood watch schemes, campaigning both within their own ranks and outwardly among the general public. And communists should work within these bodies in the fight against racism and fascism.
We will continue to work in a non-sectarian way with all genuine anti-racist and anti-fascist groups and try to promote unity in action among them. And we maintain that it is the responsibility of the whole working class, not just the members of the minorities within it, to engage actively in the fight against racism and fascism.
We maintain our position of no platform for racists and fascists that no NCP members should engage in public debate with any members of racist and fascist organisations. This position is held by most progressive and working class organisations in this country.
We congratulate the Communication Workers' Union for taking a principled stand to support all postal workers who refused to deliver the election mail of racist parties in the June 1999 European elections.
We also recognise that organised racism and fascism, though at a low level in this country, presents a threat to the working class internationally and we should do all we can to promote international links among anti-racists and anti-fascists. We recognise that the Internet has become a useful tool in this.
We also recognise that the Labour government's Asylum and Immigration Bill is racist and fundamentally unjust and is a further step along the road paved by Tory Asylum and Immigration Acts towards the Fortress Europe concept. We should do all we can to campaign for its defeat or repeal if the bill is passed.
Electoral gains of fascist organisations in Europe, in worsening conditions of racist and fascist attacks particularly in parts of the east, are the result of hardening priorities of restructuring in, and imperialist consolidation of, the European Union.
Britain's concurrent political and economic realignment -largely by stealth - is tied to both United States and European global economic designs. Those priorities are laying the foundations for a profound and undeclared authoritarian streamlining of the British state.
Recurrent economic crises, the uprooting and re-forming of the post-1945 political and administrative infrastructure of Britain, have combined with social break-up and cultural decline. The potential unravelling of the two party system, to give the ruling class a freer hand, and to freely legalise and use physical force options for containing militant opposition is now dangerously in view.
The conditions of prolonged imperialist existence, of a growing Western internal crackdown, enable the more effective internationalisation of fascist organisations. That is encouraged by the prospect of serious financing, and for these, crucially, also to connect as an overt instrument of the state against the working class.
The realignment of capitalist political control, to prevent expected resistance of working people to deteriorating standards and livelihoods, is bringing that prospect ever closer.
Our party links that understanding with the real development that has already begun in Britain: that the exposure of institutionalised police racism is a factor of state repression, and that the burgeoning civil rights demands reflect the objective danger of where that is leading for the whole working class.
Today in Russia the breakdown of society has led to an upsurge of narrow nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. Some opportunists who call themselves communists and socialists have either embraced or tolerated these evils in order to gain votes.
Narrow nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism are the enemies of working class unity and strength and we abhor and dissociate ourselves from such organisations and individuals.