DOES LABOUR have any chance of winning next year’s general election? Not if you believe the bourgeois media; they have long written off Gordon Brown as “a dead man walking”, useless and hopeless. Political pundits everywhere — and many in the leadership of his own party — are still trying to persuade him to step down in favour of a new leader — though no leader emerges who is anymore popular.
The ruling class has withdrawn its support from the New Labour experiment. Now they want to kill it completely to make way for their next favourite, David Cameron’s Tory party and they are using the media to persuade voters that Labour is already dead: “everyone knows it” and only fools would think otherwise.
Meanwhile ultra-lefts are busy “raging” against the corpse of New Labour and declaring it to be “fascist” and the main class enemy, oblivious of the horrors the real class enemy, the ruling class, has in store for the working class under a new Tory rule.
New Labour has been everything they say; it is guilty of British involvement in the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; it has steadily privatised vital public services and its fiscal policies pushed millions of workers deep into personal debt and all the misery that goes with that and which helped to create last year’s great banking collapse.
But New Labour’s credibility and usefulness to the ruling class died with that collapse.Yet Gordon Brown has actually taken a few small steps recently that could actually raise his popularity a little. He has withdrawn British troops from Iraq though not yet from Afghanistan; he has allowed the building of some council houses, though not nearly enough; he has decided to cut the number of Trident replacement submarines from four to three, when he should have got rid of the lot; and he has part-nationalised some banks and promised legislation to control banks in general. If only he would boast about these achievements and build on them instead of being apologetic about them!
He has not done these things alone; controlling the banks is part of a global strategy — it could not work any other way — being pushed by France and Germany while Britain and the US have dragged their heels. The retreat from Iraq is part of a strategy that President Obama is also following — as is the policy of reducing the nuclear arsenal and at last to take environmental issues seriously.
The global ruling class is taking a new strategy; it had no choice after the total catastrophe of the Bush/Blair years. We are now getting more sensible and level-headed faction of the ruling class, no less avaricious and ambitious to control the whole world but less likely to destroy it all tomorrow. There is a real danger that these small but positive changes at the top will fan false hopes in some left-wingers that there could be a peaceful and smooth transition between capitalism and socialism.
We are in a complex dialectical situation. The ruling class is divided; there are still plenty of Bush/Blairites about who want to turn the clock back; assassinate Obama and consign Brown to a care home, or the House of Lords. Compared to these extreme reactionaries, the Obama/Brown camp is better but we must not imagine it could bring any real or lasting progress.
The reason Brown does not boast of the good things he has done is because he is still at heart New Labour — even though it has died in front of him — and still believes in the fiscal policies that caused the banking collapse. He does not understand the capitalist system he works for.
What are the workers to do in this mess? For a start we must not accept the inevitability of a Tory election victory; that would be the worst thing for workers in Britain and the world with spending cuts that would leave us entirely stripped of state welfare that our grandparents fought to win.
Labour cannot change leaders now; that would further divide and demoralise supporters. But Brown must be pressurised to carry on along the line of scrapping nuclear weapons, scrap ID cards and the surveillance society, build many, many more council houses, strengthen state welfare and exert democratic control over the all-powerful banking system. And it is this last point that is the reason why the ruling class and its media are determined to pronounce him dead and buried before the election.