‘Revolution’ in local Labour Party

The Christmas period saw something other than festive cheer in the county Labour Party, with member of 40 years and long-standing group leader, Councillor Chris Chappell, being ousted from his position. Local Labour top-brass met to demote Chris and vote in Councillor Ursula Attfield, the only other Labour representative on Herefordshire Council. Reasons for this decision are still unclear, but it is thought Chris Chappell’s support for the ESG development is partly behind it. Local Liberal Democrat leader, Terry James, said that ‘extremism’ had taken over the Labour Party in Herefordshire, suggesting some form of radical-left element was at work. We can’t say that we’ve shed any tears over the recent developments, but we would like to take the opportunity to take a closer look at the politics of the Labour Party, its history, and its claims of representing the working class.

With the election battle already heating up between the main parties, there has been much talk of a ‘class war’ being waged between Labour and the Tories. Gordon Brown started off by attacking the Tory ‘toffs’ during Prime Minister’s Questions in December. We can’t say we disagree with this, but what was missed was the huge number of Labour ministers that are also multi-millionaires or who received a privileged private school education. More importantly, we need to look at the attacks carried out by Labour on the working class. Since 1997 and the start of new Labour rule we have seen the country become involved in two major wars, huge waves of privatisation, with cuts in public services, post offices and other centres of community life. Pensioners and other vulnerable people continue to live in fuel poverty, having to make the very real choice between eating and heating their homes. We have seen an economic crash which has hit the poorest the hardest (with unemployment nearing 3 million), whilst bankers get bail-outs and MPs fiddle their expenses. A report earlier in the week revealed that the gap between the rich and the poor in the UK is larger than it has been for over 40 years. Hardly a good record for the ‘party of the working class’ is it? But should we be surprised? In short – no!

The Labour Party has long claimed to be the friend of the working class, but this has been little more than a token and a way of gaining electoral success. Since its incarnation in the early 1900s, the Labour Party has had a history of dropping the concerns of its ‘core constituency’ to chase Parliamentary success. Even during one of their most ‘socialist’ periods, Labour governments opposed and broke strikes, one example of this being the Dockers’ Strikes of 1945-1951. Labour politicians have continually entered the Westminster hall of power and lived lives of luxury whilst people in their constituencies have lived in poverty. In 1992 the Labour Party abandoned any previous notions of it being a ‘socialist’ party, dropping Clause 4 from its constitution. This was simply a continuation of its shift from the left and into the political centre ground, adopting free market policies and creating the ‘Third Way’. The abandonment of white working class communities and the adoption of race politics and reverse discrimination have resulted in people becoming increasingly disillusioned with the political mainstream and a party that they once identified with. This has led to success by groups such as the British National Party. Recently, Communities Secretary John Denham said that the problems of this ‘core constituency’ need to be tackled, and politicians should focus on class instead of race. Sorry, but this sounds like another token comment; far too little, and far too late!

Have no illusions, whether the party dress themselves up as Trotskyite or Blairite they have a shameful record, and have been just as damaging to the working class as any other government. They are an enemy of our class, and we must defend ourselves against their ongoing attacks. We cannot rely on politicians of any shades to ‘represent’ us or to ‘act in our interest’, true freedom and equality can only be achieved when we organise and act for ourselves.

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