included here are some of the responses received in response to the Communist Party's Open Letter issued in January 2012. Others will be posted as permission is obtained to publish them.

 

included here are some of the responses received in response to the Communist Party's Open Letter issued in January 2012. Others will be posted as permission is obtained to publish them.

 

Steven Johnson, Cheshire

Those of us with longer memories might remember what happened in 1978, when the unions abandoned the social contract and gave us the Winter of discontent.  All that happened was that we got 18 years of Tory rule.  
Labour turned to the left after 1979 and in 1983 suffered a massive electoral defeat as its manifesto was dubbed the longest suicide note in history.  History, wrote Marx, repeats itself, first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.  If Labour turns to the left then the farce will be that David Cameron wins the next election and if you think things are bad now they’ll only get worse if that happens.
As Bernard Levin, rather cheekily said back in the late 1970s to a member of the CP, 'Are working men and women to be sacrificed at the alter of Marxist ideology'.  Which is as pompous as anything the loveable old bore said but he had a point.  Don’t make the same mistakes of the past, a left-wing Labour party will always lose and never, ever, ever win a General Election in this country.  The only winners will be the Tories if the trade unions and the CP activists try to change its course.
 
Steven Johnston 
Stockport Cheshire

Charlie Kimber National Secretary SWP

Dear Comrades,

 

The Socialist Workers Party welcomes the Open Letter issued by the Communist Party, and many of its proposals. The scale of the assault facing working people across the globe demands a serious response from all of us on the left. We should draw hope from the mass strikes and revolutions that marked last year and continue to develop this year. But we also know that in Britain there is a sharp crisis of working class political representation.

  This became particularly clear under the Tony Blair New Labour government which followed every twist and turn of US president George Bush’s imperialist project while at the same time bowing down to the rich at home. The election of a Conservative-led coalition has not ended this question of who stands up for workers, students, the unemployed and the poor. It’s certainly clearer than ever that Ed Miliband does not. His disgraceful acceptance of the cuts and the Tories’ public sector pay curbs, and his refusal to support the strikes over pensions underline the Labour leaders’ utter failure to offer genuine opposition to the capitalist austerity agenda. 

  One of the reasons people across the world are demanding 'real democracy' is that all the mainstream parties unite around an agenda which blames the masses for the crimes of the millionaires. 

  Because of its links to the trade union leaders and its working class support, we do not believe that the Labour Party is the same as the Tory party. But we do think it is impossible to 'reclaim the Labour Party' as a genuine socialist organisation. That is why we believe in creating an alternative party. 

  It is also why in May 2012 we will be supporting 'no cuts' candidates from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 'top up list' section of the London elections and in the council elections. We will vote Labour where there is no serious left alternative.

  We recognise that comrades can have different views on such questions, and that none of us have yet successfully achieved the mass force we need. So it is crucial that those who want to see more resistance and a stronger socialist movement simultaneously unite in activity while discussing how best to build the organisation we need.

  We believe the most urgent task of the moment is to push for more united strikes against the attacks on public sector pensions. The strike by 2.5 million workers on 30 November 2011 was a great achievement – but we need much more of such action. Our engagement alongside others in Unite the Resistance is directed towards building action that can win. Those union leaders who are prepared to accept the rotten deal on offer from the Tories are betraying workers’ interests. More coordinated strikes will be a focus for all those who are revolted by the obscene handouts to the bankers, the assault on the NHS and our public services and who want an alternative to the bosses’ system.

  All of us should unite to push for the strikes – as we can in every campaign against the cuts, in solidarity with the struggle internationally, and against racism and the EDL. We want to continue to work with others in bodies such as Unite Against Fascism, Right to Work, Stop the War and other such initiatives. 

  We very much hope that the unions will, as you suggest, call a conference to discuss the crisis of political representation. We want unity in action to help the urgent process of developing a large anti-capitalist and socialist party.

 

CHARLIE KIMBER

National Secretary

Socialist Workers Party

 

 

Viv WIllis, Yeovil

Dear Comrades,

 

The Open Letter is not only timely but urgent, particularly when the Conservatives, their press, think tanks, supporters and sponsors have virtually never been more reactionary and nasty. (The Liberal Democrats are insignificant, our attention must be focused on the Conservatives). 

  The contemporary situation came about from the creation of 'New Labour'. Where Militant failed to achieve taking the Labour Party in a socialist direction, the neo-liberals have succeeded in capturing it and have a vice-like grip on the Labour Party, as evidenced by Ed Balls recent comment: 'We are going to have to keep all these cuts'. 

  At best, they do not look like rescinding it, no matter how hard the extra-parliamentary part of the Labour movement tries, given the irrevocable re-structuring of the Labour Party since the inception of New Labour. Its current philosophical and ideological position today is unrecognisable from the time the Labour Party was created by the trades unions, but the issues and people it represented then are as poignant today. Labour has lost sight of the notion of representing people whose living depends on a wage – workers, claimants and pensioners. 

  The last Labour Government accelerated the anti-social reforms that began during the Thatcher years: further marketisation and privatisation of the NHS, of public services, including through PFI schemes; more means-testing of benefits; raising the state pension retirement age; massively increasing inequality in education, health and incomes (wages now account for 45 per cent of GDP compared with 60 per cent in 1979); and the abandonment of full employment at the centre of economic policy.

  More council houses were sold under the so-called 'right to buy' scheme during the last Labour Government than during the previous Conservative one. The Conservatives anti-strike and picketing laws remained. New Labour started the academisation of schools and abolished student grants, to be replaced by loans. And, of course, there were the neo-imperialist wars. 

  Did Labour reverse any of Thatcher’s legislation? 

We have a situation where, instead of the trades unions that affiliate to the Labour Party telling it what we our concerns are and what we want, the Labour Party is telling us how to behave because of the tabloid press. There is the fear of frightening the floating voter in the marginal constituencies, while taking Labour’s core vote for granted.

  The defeat of the Alternative Vote referendum has put back electoral reform for many years. It was a very bad result. Many people are turning away from the ballot box or, worse, turning to the fascists. 

  Yet now, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and The Sun under pressure should make things more advantageous for the progressive cause. Because of the press, the last six general elections have focussed heavily on presentation and not on genuine substantive public policy issues. Debate has been 'dumbed down'. 

  What does the Labour Party stand for today? Is it a neo-liberal party? 

If it is, then I believe that it is incapable of imagining – let alone, formulating – a cogent alternative economic policy. The economy should serve society, not the other way round. 

  Mainstream economic policy rests primarily on second guessing how the financial 'markets' will react. But these are not a nebulous entity, like the weather or the Aurora Borealis. They are people making decisions that have consequences for the 99 per cent of us. 

  Part of this problem lies in how we accrued so much of a democratic deficit, as well as an economic one. Much was made of the banking and financial services sector being good for the economy, although much of it deals with investment abroad and very little with the British economy, where there is a crisis of investment including in research and development. 

  We should be enthused and encouraged by recent developments such as the Occupy movement (not just in Britain but over the world), UK Uncut, the Coalition of Resistance, the Stop the War Coalition, the People’s Charter and the organisational success of the J30 and N30 strike days. 

  The Communist Party's Open Letter is a very welcome development. But it makes the statement that, 'The duty of the affiliated unions to fight for progressive, left and socialist values in the Labour Party could not be clearer'. The first part is correct but 'in the Labour Party could not be clearer' is very unlikely. 

  The issue of bankers' bonuses has clearly chimed with the public. However the bailouts to the tune of £1.3 trillion have not created a similar resonance with the public. If banks can be bailed out to the tune of trillions, and nationalised, then the only thing really stopping us from doing similar to the 'commanding heights of the economy' is the lack of political will. 

  Let’s call for a bail out for people and peace. Humanity the world over faces an existential crisis – a social, democratic, political, economic and environmental crisis, one of energy and resources. Another world must be possible. 

 

VIV WILLIS

Yeovil

 

 

Roy Jones, Colwyn Bay

 

Dear Comrades,

 

The problem with the statement is its emphasis  on the need for changes to the Labour Party leadership and MPs so that it represents a cross section of Britain's populace.

   The trade union and labour movement has to start from the bottom and encourage trade union activists to take part in the work of trades councils and other bodies in communities, including the Welsh and Scottish parliaments, county, local and parish councils ...  where they will learn the lessons needed for the Westminster parliament.

   The majority of community councils now are influenced largely by unaffiliated or loosely affiliated citizens with no worked-out policies other than doing good, leading to poor quality services being maintained.

 

ROY JONES

Colwyn Bay

 

 

Kevin Halpin, London

 

Dear Comrades,

 

There has never been a Government so antagonistic to its people as the present one: the NHS sell-off, youngsters working for no pay filling shelves for vast-profit supermarkets ... you could name every section of people (bar the very rich) getting worse off by the day.

  Young people without jobs are unable to get a start whilst millions of pensioners are having to retire two years later. Add up the overtime hours being worked and share them out amongst the young unemployed and the bottom line is that there would be no youth unemployment problem.

  With all these attacks from a non-elected, stitched-up government with only one mandate - that the rich must get richer (that's why they're privatising everything that moves) – any Opposition in Parliament should be ahead in the polls. But why isn't Labour leading by miles, month after month? Because they are not an opposition: they agree with the ConDems on its key issues, that cuts are needed by all to solve the economic crisis created by the bankers.

  There is not one union whose members are not fighting against these policies, so why doesn't Labour change? The Labour Party leaders don't recognise this fight and are so out of touch that they don't see the need for change. 

  What should the trade unions do? They provide 80 per cent of Labour Party funds. Hopes by party leaders after the last year's election that they could build the party have come to nothing as those who joined have since left, disappointed by the lack of any fight-back.

  Two of the biggest affiliates, Unite and the GMB, have made the call to cut political funding. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has warned of the danger that a consensus approach to solving the crisis could lead to a national government, which happened in 1931 and resulted in Labour losing masses of members and millions of votes. It is wrong to ignore this warning.

  And the Communist Party does not. As Communists, we have always supported the unions having their mass political party, the party they set up. This position was recognised by Lenin and became the cornerstone of our approach.

  We support union affiliations, but we have our role as a Marxist party to inject the argument that a Marxist solution to problems must be fought for. There never was a greater need for the trades unions and the Labour Party to take a Marxist class approach to solving the capitalist crisis.

  So we support the criticisms and the cutting of funds, but this should not be the end, it must go hand in hand with demands for an emergency Labour Party conference, with democratic votes and motions from constituencies and trade unions on the need for a fighting lead to defeat Tory and LibDem policies. 

  This requires affiliates to meet and put forward policies. But if this democratic call is ignored, if the Labour leadership clique succeed in defeating this call, then trade unions – both affiliated and non-affiliated – would have to decide the next steps towards ensuring that trade unions have a mass political party.

  I am sure Lenin would have seen this as the way ahead.

 

KEVIN HALPIN

London