The Labor Party has had some dreadful rightwing leaders, but Tony Blair is by far the worst. He never seemed to belong to the Party – an out and out Thatcherite Tory who somehow infiltrated the labor movement. Socialism is totally alien to the man.
Most people say his legacy as Prime Minister will beÂ the illegal Iraq war, which Blair took us into based on lies to please his friend, the rightwing idiotic President George W. Bush. This is certainly true, but the other legacy, thatÂ of the Blair Labor PartyÂ leadership, was the elimination of Clause IV of the Labor Party’s Constitution.
Part 4 of this Clause was printed on every Labor Party membership card, and read as follows:
‘To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.’
This was the basic Constitution of a Marxist Party, who’s basis was Marxist Socialism, who’s anthem and symbol was the Marxist ‘Red Flag’.Â It is the Labor Party which I joined, and subsequently left for the Communist Party when I realized Harold Wilson and other Labor leaders had no intention of establishing Socialism inÂ Britain.
(The only difference between theÂ long-term basicÂ philosophy of the Labor and Communist Parties was that the latter believed the State would gradually wither away eventually and we would be left with a utopian self-governing Communist society in which there was no State, no police,Â no armed forces, no money – just an abundance of goods and services. ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’. After the disastrous experience of Soviet-style Socialism, few people now believe such an ideal Communist society is ever achievable, except perhaps in small communes of similarly-minded idealists.)
I later rejoined the Labor Party, but soon left again when they abandoned their policy of unilateralism on The Bomb (i.e. when they decided Britain should keep its so-called ‘independent nuclear deterrent’, which, incidentally, is not independent and is not a deterrent. Falklands, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, 9/11, 7/7Â – how have nuclear weapons deterred, or helped ‘win’, in any of these wars and incidents? It is merely a dangerous status symbol bought from the Americans in the form of Trident. Its use, or even threatened use, against innocent civilians, is a war crime which parallels, or even exceeds in scale,Â those of the Nazi concentration camps.)
Not wishing to beÂ implicated in these war crimes, when Labor re-adopted The Bomb after years of rejecting it I left the Party again, and haven’t been a member of any since. Had I not left when they abandonedÂ nuclear unilateralism, I would most certainly have resigned when they abolishedÂ the above paragraph in Clause IV of the Constitution, because it is the very basis of Socialism and the reason for the Labor Party’s existence.
Contrary to popular belief,Â the above Clause IV paragraph does notÂ necessarily mean nationalization of every industry and service. Whilst this may be appropriate for some (such as the railways for instance), there are many other forms of common ownership, such as cooperatives and publicly owned companies competing in the market place. This kind of Market Socialism was practised very successfully in the former Yugoslav Federation, and is, I think, theÂ Socialism for the 21st century. It keeps the fairness and common ownership and control of Socialism, andÂ combines it with the competitiveness of the market place.
Tony Blair has followed Thatcherite policies thruout his leadership, privatizingÂ one thing after another. Even after the total disaster of privatization of the national railway network, he and his colleaguesÂ (we can no longer callÂ Labor Party members ‘comrades’) insisted on an equally disastrous privatization of the London Underground system.
What has happened to pensions and the NHS service under Blair has also been disastrous. With many pensioners destitute or relying on means-tested benefits after giving a lifetime of service to the country, and hospital wards closed and the NHS in constant crisis. The drugs companies, making huge profits out of death and illness, are a prime target for taking into common ownership. Research needs to be financedÂ byÂ the government, and drugs made available to the NHS at very low prices. Multi-national pharmaceutical companies should notÂ be making money out of drugs, cripplingÂ our NHS, and denying life-saving treatment to those in need around the world, too poor to afford these expensive treatments. If this means ignoring international patents and producing cheap generic copies of drugs, then that is what governments around the world should be doing. The sooner the multi-national drug companies are put out of business and replaced by State-funded research and development in the world’s universities and State-run laboratories, the better.
In council housing, Blair has also followed Thatcherite policies. Virtually no new council housing stock is being built, and what there is is being sold off. Blair seems to want to get rid of council housing altogether. All council house sales should be stopped immediately, and new council houses builtÂ to replace thoseÂ which have been sold off. Public housing at affordable rents is essential, otherwise we’ll end up with a country in which only millionaires can afford to live, with nowhere for the working class to live.
Blair’sÂ one achievement, which heÂ developed and progressedÂ from John Major’s initiative, was the Northern Ireland Agreement. Otherwise his leadership has been a total disaster.
Since he has castrated the Labor Party members and their Annual Conference and made the tabloid press into the supreme decision making body of the Party, I see little hope of changing Blair’s policies in the future. Also he has surrounded himself with Thatcherite hacks, such as Gordon Brown, so the future does not appear any brighter.
Our best hope is for a split in the Labor Party, with the left wing and mass trade unionsÂ joining with Communists and othersÂ to form a new mass workers’ party based on real Socialism.