Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Labour Party centenary

Labour leader Keir Hardie - airbrushed out of New Labour's official history

'Drawing on this week's Labour party centenary, Mr Blair said the party's goal of liberating people's potential "never changes".

"In 1906, those 29 [Labour MPs] entered parliament saying that parliament was supposed to represent the people and it didn't, and they were there to change it. They made a radical assault on the status quo ... Today our task is the same. To change what needs to be changed, to lift people up and break down what holds them back."'

The 1906 Labour Party General Election Manifesto makes interesting reading:

'This election is to decide whether or not Labour is to be fairly represented in Parliament.

The House of Commons is supposed to be the people's House, and yet the people are not there.

Landlords, employers, lawyers, brewers, and financiers are there in force. Why not Labour?

The Trade Unions ask the same liberty as capital enjoys. They are refused.

The aged poor are neglected.

The slums remain; overcrowding continues, whilst the land goes to waste.

Shopkeepers and traders are overburdened with rates and taxation, whilst the increasing land values, which should relieve the ratepayers, go to people who have not earned them.

Wars are fought to make the rich richer, and underfed schoolchildren are still neglected.

Chinese Labour [in British colonial controlled South Africa] is defended because it enriches the mine owners.

The unemployed ask for work, the Government gave them a worthless Act, and now, when you are beginning to understand the causes of your poverty, the red herring of Protection is drawn across your path.

Protection, as experience shows, is no remedy for poverty and unemployment. It serves to keep you from dealing with the land, housing, old age, and other social problems!

You have it in your power to see that Parliament carries out your wishes. The Labour Representation-Executive appeals to you in the name of a million Trade Unionists to forget all the political differences which have kept you apart in the past, and vote for [candidate name].'

Blair argues that 'today our task is the same' - but one only has to look at what he thinks of those who argue against 'wars fought to make the rich richer' and for 'Trade Union liberty' to see how far the Labour Party has departed from representing 'Labour'. Indeed, over one hundred years, the Labour Party has proved itself utterly useless as an organisation for advancing that struggle. Those in Britain today who want to see a serious electoral fight for the interests of 'Labour' as opposed to 'Capital', for the 'neglected aged' and 'underfed schoolchildren' as opposed to 'landlords, lawyers, employers, brewers and financiers', should support either Respect or the SSP. That would allow a really 'radical assault on the status quo' worthy of the memory of the pioneers of independent working class representation.

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