The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 9th October 2009

A stark choice

WE GO to polls next year which will decide the fate of the Labour Government. Gordon Brown has outlined a programme of modest reforms at Labour Party Conference which he hopes will revive Labour’s fortunes.

The fact that Brown & Co are responding to union and rank-and-file pressure to depart from the worst excesses of the Blair era shows that the Labour Party is not dead. But Labour’s election manifesto will have to contain concrete pledges to the working class if it is to have any hope of staving off the Tory advance.

His pledge to consider a form of proportional election is a sop to the Lib-Dems and the pro-European element of the ruling class, who are determined to see the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and full integration with the European Union.

The Liberal-Democrats are again hoping for a hung parliament so they can play king-makers. While the Lib-Dems will be trying to maximise their vote by appealing to Labour supporters to vote “tactically” in their favour to block the Conservatives, the election is essentially about electing a government — and that government will either be Tory or Labour. And David Cameron, the Tory leader, has made it clear that if his party wins, the Tories are going to put the burden of the current slump entirely on the backs of working people through massive cuts in welfare and the public and social services.

Unfortunately it’s a choice that some outside the Labour Party refuse to understand. They swathe themselves in red slogans. They use revolutionary rhetoric and call themselves Marxists, Trotskyists or “communists” but they are essentially left social-democrats. At the moment they’re talking about forming yet another socialist slate and they’re drooling over the “victory” of Die Linke (The Left) in Germany. But what is Die Linke and what has it achieved?

The German Left party is a merger of the revisionist east German Party of Democratic Socialism and left social-democrats who broke away from the mainstream Social Democrats. They stand on a left social-democratic platform which accepts the European Union. At the general election last month Die Linke took 12 per cent of the vote and won 76 seats in the German parliament, almost entirely at the expense of the Social Democrats who lost 76 seats and their place in the coalition government.

German workers are worse off than they were before the election took place. All that Die Linke has achieved was ensure the election of an even more right-wing coalition determined to ensure that German workers pay even more for the capitalist crisis.

Social-democracy cannot resolve the problems of capitalism and at best it is simply a machine to mobilise organised labour to procure reforms from the ruling class. But those reforms can defend and strengthen the working class. Socialism can only be achieved through a revolutionary party and a working class that understands the need for revolutionary change. But that party and that understanding can never be built by trying to compete with social-democracy on their own terms. The lesson of the revisionist “British Road to Socialism” and its countless variations embraced by countless miniscule left parties in Britain is that you cannot built a revolutionary party along these lines and that working people are not prepared even to vote in any significant numbers for these idealist and utopian platforms.

The choice is quite simple — either rally to keep Labour in office while putting pressure on the leadership to respond to working class demands or accept an inevitable renewed ruling class offensive against the unions and the working class under a Cameron government.