While Thatcher is laid to rest, the heirs of Thatcher continue to haunt us. This Tory-led “we are all Thatcherites now” Coalition is presiding over the biggest assault on working people for more than 80 years. They admit that the austerity will last for years; many think that this on-going austerity will last for decades. It is time for the leaders of the Labour movement to bury the Tories and carry out a socialist programme.
While Thatcher is laid to rest, the heirs of Thatcher continue to haunt us. This Tory-led “we are all Thatcherites now” Coalition is presiding over the biggest assault on working people for more than 80 years. They admit in fact that the austerity will last for years. Many believe this on-going austerity will last for decades.
Even the Archbishop Justin Welby – as a warning to the ruling class – argued that Britain was now in the first Depression since the 1930s.
Today, working class areas, especially in the north, are being hammered. They are feeling the brunt of the £19bn cuts to welfare payments being made each year until 2015. The former industrial areas, blighted by the destruction of manufacturing jobs, are the hardest hit.
In the 1930s Depression, those regions devastated by the slump were known as “Depressed Areas”. Today, they have once again re-emerged, alongside mass unemployment. Britain is littered with such communities, destroyed by Thatchersism and murdered by capitalism.
While families are set to lose £891 a year, Cameron has given a hand-out of £100,000 in tax cuts to his friends – 13,000 millionaires. According to this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, the 1,000 richest people in Britain and Ireland now share a wealth of £450bn.
The attacks on working people arise not from the callous nature of the Tory Coalition, although they certainly are callous, but arise from the deep crisis of capitalism. All the capitalist governments have embarked on austerity. They are attempting to make the working class pay for the crisis.
Protests have been taking place up and down the country over the bedroom tax and other cuts. There is a massive groundswell of opposition to the Tory attacks. Support for the Coalition has plummeted. It is vital that the movement fights back with all the resources at its disposal, including a one-day general strike.
Scandalously, Ed Miliband is attempting to pour cold water over any fight back. While the TUC was meeting to discuss the possibility of a general strike, Miliband described the suggestion as “a terrible idea” that should be “killed off quickly.” According to the Financial Times, “Mr Miliband’s willingness to stand up to the unions will cheer his New Labour critics, who fear he is abandoning the centre ground.”
Tony Blair, the architect of New Labour and another heir of Thatcher, said the party risked becoming a “repository of people’s anger”. Blair wants Labour to hoist not the red flag, but the white flag of surrender.
The careerists who infest the leadership of the Labour Party need to be removed and replaced by genuine fighters for the working class. The trade unions, led by UNITE, are correctly pushing for a more radical alternative. Already half the parliamentary candidates picked so far for the general election are from the trade unions. This is a step forward, but it is anathema to the right wing who want to turn the Labour Party into a Tory Party Mark Two.
McCluskey warned Ed Miliband that if he did not offer a radical alternative, he could be defeated and “be cast into the dustbin of history.”
Labour’s right wing have accused UNITE of having being taken over by a new “Bennite tendency” that is now trying to change the party. McCluskey has been identified as one of the most disruptive forces.
In defiance, McCluskey stated his union is proud to play “the fullest possible part in the struggle for Labour’s soul through a ‘bottom-up’ strategy.”
The Labour Party was founded by the trade unions, but has been hijacked by Tory carpetbaggers. It is high time that the party was won back as a real party of the working class. It is vital that the trade unions play their full role in this.
The right wing are howling in protest at such a thought. They have used the party for their own ends for far too long. Under Blair, they undermined party democracy and threw out left-wing policies. The decision of UNITE to “reclaim the Labour Party” for the working class is absolutely correct. For years, the Blairites have blatantly stitched things up to secure their domination.
Ed Miliband, under pressure from the Blairites, hit back, accusing McCluskey of being “reprehensible”. But it is their actions, in continuing with Tory policies, which have been “reprehensible”. McCluskey is simply speaking for millions of Labour supporters who are disillusioned with Blairism and want a real alternative to austerity.
We want to drive out of this Tory Coalition. We cannot afford to wait until 2015. However, we do not want a Labour government, as in the past, that will simply carry on the austerity and bend their knee to the bankers. We need a Labour government that will represent the working class. We want a government that is committed to carrying out socialist policies.
It is not the job of a Labour government to rescue capitalism in crisis. We need to take over the commanding heights of the economy so it can be run in the interests of working people, and not the profits of millionaire tycoons. Such a programme must include the nationalization of the banks and insurance companies, together with the giant monopolies that dominate the economy. These industries should be run democratically by placing them under workers’ control and management.
All sections should be brought together to draw up a socialist plan of production, which could harness and plan the use of our resources democratically. On this basis, we could use the productive potential to the full by immediately introducing a 32-hour working week, giving work to the unemployed, and raising the living standards of all.
Instead of mass unemployment and idle resources, we could put everything, including the wasted talent, to use. This transformation of society would give the youth a real future. Such a programme would win a landslide majority.
- No to austerity! Kick out the careerists! For a socialist Labour government!
- Take over the commanding heights of the economy!
- Plan the economy according to need and not on the basis of profit.