|Ever since the Labour party came to power in 1997, it has been as though an unstoppable tide of reaction has been washing over our shores. Labour has worshipped at the high altar of capital, so that the wages of ordinary people have remained critically low whilst the prices of everyday goods and necessities have rocketed.
Of course, the wealth of the ruling class has multiplied many times over, and millionaire backers flocked to provide Labour with whatever it needed to hold onto power.
Twelve years of Labour
So unassailable was the Labour party majority in 1997 that any amount of conciliatory pro-worker reforms could have been introduced: anti-union laws could have been overturned, manufacturing and heavy industry could have been supported, and the NHS and our schools could have been cleared of profiteering privatisation measures that drain their inadequate resources.
But the Labour party was never created for any of this; its purpose has always been to look out for the interests of the minority of privileged workers, and to stave off working-class revolution.
Sometimes, faced with a militant working class ready to assert its rights, Labour has pursued a policy of reformist concessions (pensions, free health care), while at others it has achieved its aims through brutal repression of workers both here and abroad (the betrayal of the 1926 General Strike and the 1984 miners’ strike, the Korean war etc). In 1997, the largest-ever parliamentary majority for an incoming government gave the Labour elite the confidence, not to ‘implement socialist policies’, as many of their friends on the left asked us to believe, but to abuse the working class with impunity.
The recent expenses scandal has presented the labouring masses with the spectacle of Labour party pigs gorging themselves at the parliamentary trough, whilst the working classes whom they purport to represent have been treated with utter contempt and hatred.
This extended period of reaction, war and Mondism (a class-collaborationist approach in which trade-union leaders cooperate with employers to achieve agreements) has, of course, contributed to the creation of the conditions for Labour’s demise, and presents the left with a historic opportunity to break once and for all with social democracy.
Millions of working-class voters have abandoned the Labour party forever. Various half-hearted attempts made by the labour movement to find an escape from the choking embrace of Labour through electoral and political alliances have failed. They have failed simply because they all believed in the moral authority of the Labour party over the very movement which created it.
The anger and mistrust that is now felt towards Labour threatens to challenge the political foundations of a number of social-democratic left groups, and is a major headache for the Labour party itself.
It is no surprise, then, that Labour’s last couple of terms in office have seen an increasing amount of attention and publicity directed towards the British National Party (BNP) and its leader, Nick Griffin. Labour politicians hope that by sowing the seeds of fear, they may once again squirm their way out of political annihilation.
The actual strength and popularity of the BNP is wildly exaggerated by both the media and the Labour party. The publicity job the BNP are receiving is straight out of Alastair Campbell’s black book of spin.
The Labour party wish to exaggerate the threat of the BNP as a method for galvanising disaffected Labour party workers, supporters, and voters, all of whom are quite rightly disillusioned with the party. The rallying cry has gone out from Labour HQ and has filtered out into the movement very effectively: ‘Vote Labour to keep the BNP out’.
The rationale seems to be that voting for a warmongering party that seeks to heap the burden of the present financial crisis onto the backs of workers is the lesser of two preposterous evils, since at least when Labour locks up immigrants in concentration camps, the racism with which they justify their actions is far more subtle than that which the BNP might use.
Since the days of Marx, socialists have been warned against viewing the media as an impartial observer in the class struggle. Marx insightfully commented that “the first freedom of the press consists in it not being a trade”. (Cited in Franz Mehring, Karl Marx – the Story of his Life, chapter 2)
Some sections of the media still friendly to Labour will parrot this ‘threat of fascism’ line in order to try to keep people voting labour. A number, representing the most reactionary bourgeois circles, and championing the most chauvinistic and adventurous imperialist aims, still harbour a fondness and longing for fascism. It was not so very long ago that the fascist William Hearst and his media empire based in the US threw about wild slanders and lies concerning the USSR, many of which were gratefully used by Goering and the Nazis in their war against communism.
Nick Griffin on Question Time
Through the internet or television, millions have now watched Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC Question Time programme in October. What most viewers will have realised is that Nick Griffin is an utterly deluded and rather alienated screwball.
Unfortunately, what most of the audience seemed to miss, and what David Dimbleby was happy to ignore, was the fact that sitting just along from Nick Griffin was arrogant Labour toady and vicious war criminal, Jack Straw, our ‘justice’ minister!
The Revolutionary Communist Group summed up Jack Straw’s thoroughly bloodcurdling curriculum vitae very nicely in a statement issued on 22 October:
“Straw has been a leading member of the Cabinet since Labour came to power in 1997. He was Home Secretary in 2000 at the time of the horrific death of 58 Chinese migrants in the back of a lorry desperately trying to seek work in Britain. He was Foreign Secretary in 2001 and 2003 when Britain invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, wars and occupations that continue to this day at the cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries. It was Straw who allowed the murderous Chilean dictator General Pinochet to escape extradition, vetoed the publication of documents that could have proved the illegality of the Iraq war, refused to call for the US torture camp in illegally occupied Guantanamo, Cuba to be closed, and covered up the British government’s collusion in torture. As Minister of Justice, he now presides over a prison system which has never been so full and an immigration service which boasts of deporting one person every eight minutes.”
The absurd spectacle of so many well-meaning anti-fascists and liberals berating a third-rate toff with a superiority complex whilst Jack Straw sat gleefully to one side soaking up the applause was too much to take. Griffin, confused, deluded and nasty as he is, at present lacks ruling-class backing to mount vicious attacks nationally and internationally against the working class and oppressed masses.
Instead, at the present time, such attacks are being perpetrated very effectively by the imperialist Labour party, with relatively little tangible opposition from the working class, so that the bourgeoisie has no need to bring out the fascist death squads in defence of its interests. Jack Straw and his war-making posse of murderers and bandits in Westminster, however, pose a very real, very immediate and very serious threat to the living standards of the working classes in Britain, and the life expectancy of every anti-imperialist abroad.
The most effective way we can fight fascism, the BNP and the ideologies of hatred, is by realising where the current trend towards fascism comes from.
The present economic crisis is producing such an intolerably miserable situation for the vast masses of the planet that revolt and resistance is becoming an urgent necessity for the world’s poor. In Britain, the attack on all fronts – jobs, services and civil liberties – is being spearheaded by the Labour party and will most likely be continued after the next general election by the Tories.
The working class needs to arm itself with Marxism Leninism; it needs to recognise who are its friends and who are its enemies; and it needs to set about building a revolutionary anti-capitalist fighting force capable of toppling the entire corrupt system. If we allow ourselves to be misdirected into propping up one bourgeois party or another for fear of Nick Griffin and the BNP then we are doomed to miss the opportunity to create the conditions for a real offensive against capitalism.
If the ruling class needs to instigate a fascist regime, then it is more than possible that any of the bourgeois parties will be happy to take on the job. Failing that, years of virulent anti-immigrant and anti-communist propaganda spread by the media at all levels and by all the ‘respectable’ bourgeois parties, will undoubtedly give the overtly fascist parties a leg-up. It is our view that, as a loyal servant to monopoly capitalism, the Labour party has begun the preparation for the suppression of bourgeois-democratic rights for the working-class masses with utmost efficiency.
British jingoism, Labour party chauvinism and a working population starved of political education has created a situation where mistrust, mistreatment and even hatred towards foreigners is helping to prepare the ground for shifting public anger for the present capitalist crisis onto minority groups at home and ‘muslim terrorists’ abroad.
Playing up to the far right, Gordon Brown is feeding the hate machine with further rhetoric on ‘British jobs for British workers’. His lackey Alan Johnson, the thoroughly despicable and sickening class traitor, declared recently that the government had been “maladroit” in handling the immigration issue, since people’s “legitimate concerns” needed to be answered. No mention was made of where people have acquired these “concerns” from, however!
Brown has pledged to ‘crack down’ on student visas, reduce the number of jobs on the skills shortage list and generally ‘toughen up’ on immigration. The entire political spectrum, from Labour and Tories, through Liberals and down to the BNP, share the same vile agenda of scapegoating immigrants and asylum seekers, those most vilified victims of imperialism, for the failings of the capitalist system itself.
Despicable as they are, the BNP are not the main enemy right now.