Socialist Worker

Labour must break from Blairite past

Issue No. 2220

The result of the election for Labour leader—to be announced on Saturday afternoon—will say a lot about whether the party is going to make any sort of a challenge to the Tories’ assault on working people.

It’s already clear that it will be disastrous if David Miliband is Labour leader. He has refused to criticise even the grossest betrayals of the Blair-Brown years, such as the war on Iraq.

He offers no fight against the cuts.

It’s argued by people like the Observer’s Will Hutton that if anyone except David Miliband is elected then it will be ruinous for Labour’s prospects of power.

Hutton says that, “Tony Blair had the courage to recognise that Labourite socialism, defined as controlling the commanding heights of the economy, taxation at confiscatory rates, oppositional trade unionism and furnishing universal welfare benefits as unconditional entitlements, was stone dead.”

He says Blair made Labour electable and broadly based. In fact Blairism was extremely unpopular, with Labour’s vote slumping nearly three million between 1997 and 2001 (even before the war on Iraq). It was only the Tories’ turmoil that kept Labour in office.

Under Blair and Brown, Labour weakened workers’ organisation and prepared the ground for the cuts now being rammed through by the Tory-led coalition.

We need a complete break from that, not an effort to reconstruct it in even worse conditions.

David Miliband will be moth-eaten New Labour. And the recognition of that is why nearly all the unions went for Ed Miliband or Ed Balls.

If Ed Miliband wins then it will mean that union leaders such as Dave Prentis, Tony Woodley and Paul Kenny have won out against the most rotten elements in Labour—such as Peter Mandelson.

This should not encourage any illusions about how left wing Ed Miliband is, but it will be a defeat for the Brown-Blair legacy project.

The question then will be whether the unions will use their leverage to press home the motions they supported so strongly at the recent TUC conference.

It will take pressure from below to ensure the TUC national demonstration against the cuts in March is as big as it could be, and even more to get coordinated strikes.

At every level we need broad based organisation—including Labour Party members—against the hurricane of attacks the Tories and their Liberal Democrat partners in crime are unleashing.

The Socialist Workers Party is urging all its members and supporters to pass a model motion backing resistance to the Tories and a general strike.

For a copy of the model motion go to

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What We Think
Tue 21 Sep 2010, 17:36 BST
Issue No. 2220
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