A CPGB-ML member recently received this Unity statement from his local Trade Union Council:
We affirm the values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, which have always helped people from different backgrounds to live together.
We are deeply concerned at the activity of fascist groups such as the British National Party, which use people’s fears to stir up race hate. They will attempt to use the coming general and council election to spread their poisonous message.
We reject their demonisation of Muslims, and their claim to speak for Christians, as an affront to both religions.
Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims – is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. It divides and weakens our society by making scapegoats of one community, just as Hitler’s Nazis did by targeting Jews in the 1930s. Today the bigotry may be directed against Muslims; tomorrow it could be Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, black people, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender or Queer people, travellers or Eastern Europeans.
There should be no place for racists or fascists in South London’s multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious community.
We know that their poison is rejected by an overwhelming majority of the electorate, and so we believe that a high turnout of voters is key to marginalising them.
We urge everyone to use their vote – and give a clear signal that messages of race hatred and division are not welcome here.
Our member replied as follows:
I appreciate the hard work you put in organising the Local Trades Council.
I think this statement, though, is not worthy of your support, at least if you are genuinely seeking to promote an anti-racist line in the British working class.
The danger of this statement is that it entirely ignores the racism and islamophobia generated by leaders of the mainstream parties in order to divide workers, to whom they offer nothing but cuts in the forthcoming election.
Why should we encourage the voters to turn out in high numbers to vote for these racist, capitalist, anti-working class warmongers?
I’m afraid This UAF/SWP line is a disguised call to vote Labour. But it was Gordon Brown himself who led the chant of “British jobs for british workers” from his lectern in parliament. Even Cameron blushed at this crude racist slogan - the slogan of the BNP, made explicitly Labour.
If you have ever heard the utterances of Phil Woolas you’d realise the danger doesn’t stem from the BNP, but from Labour’s actual policies right now.
Immigrants are imprisoned indefinitely in this country, without commiting any crime and without any judicial process. Among their number are thousands of children.
Are we to ask voters - workers - to turn out in large numbers to affirm their approval for giving £850bn to banks, cutting public services, locking up foreign children, and genocide against Iraqis and Afghans because ‘otherwise the BNP will get in’??
If you had the misfortune to see that awful ‘first election debate’ on TV last night, you’ll see that all three mainstream parties, as well as UKIP and the BNP, are in a bidding war to denounce immigration as the source of “putting pressure on indigenous communities”. What a farce! What of the capitalist economic crisis?
Nick Clegg, that famous ‘liberal’, even suggested legeslation to restrict immigrants to specific administrative zones where they would be issued limited work permits.
What more could the BNP ask for than what these gentlemen propose and Gordon Brown and the Labour party actually does?
It is high time the ‘left’ gave up their unrequited love for the Labour party and actually gave the working class some leadership.
I commend this article to you for further consideration.
In response, the trade-union comrade wrote:
Thanks for your email - what I propose to do is feed this back to the local UAF and our committee for consideration.
My personal answer is for trade unionists to be involved in the Labour party - which trade unions created - and reclaim it for what it is. This is doable - just need people to turn up. That is a personal view not official TUC.
Reminder - have you joined your union?
Our comrade wrote back again:
Thanks for your reply, comrade, and for your serious consideration of the points I raised.
I would say to you that the Labour party, from its inception, has explicitly rejected socialism in the sense that this envisages working people actually holding power.
It has always been dedicated to empire, colonial oppression, the capitalist market and the supression of major working-class movements (from the 1926 general strike, to the 1984 miners’ strike and beyond, to the present day BA strikes, etc, though these are not of the same order).
It wanted to represent the interests of a privileged minority of workers in parliament, and saw the privilege as being inherently connected to the good fortunes of its own exploiting ruling class and that class’s unbridled oppression of much of the world, from Ireland to India, with the boot falling a little lighter at home. A few more pecuniary concessions for workers, to keep them ‘on board’ when times are good. That was its mission.
The abolition of Clause 4 was no more than bringing Labour’s words in line with its deeds. There is really very little to ‘reclaim’ of Labour’s heritage that can be of use to workers, and at a time of capitalist recession, an avowedly capitalist party must serve its masters - hence the banking bailout and cuts all round, with a good dose of anti-immigrant hysteria to whip workers into a mutually destructive frenzy.
We need to move on. Urgently.
People don’t ‘turn up’ until they are inspired to do so. And forced to. Why should they come to anyone who just pushes them back to the Labour party? Why would they not just stay at home, save their time and vote Labour? There’s clearly something missing from this strategy.
There has never been a better time to break links with Labour party opportunism. What crime must the party commit before you give it up as a spent force and seek a divorce?
I would ask you to put this question seriously and soberly to yourself: can you actually think of any crime that would make you think that the Labour party was not fit to lead the working-class struggle?
If not, then is your programme based more on blind faith than an insightful analysis? Can it be called a programme at all? Is that a productive way to lead any struggle? Can you envisage no other road to power than through a capitalist parliament and state set up to serve capitalism and oppress workers?
Is this not the reason almost every Labour politician ‘deserts’ any radical position as soon as they come anywhere close to office, assuming they ever carried such notions? This is a systemic failure, which goes well beyond abuse of expenses. Not just individual weakness, but inherent design.
Can you seperate the performance of the Labour party on any major issue from the other capitalist parties?
It is advanced workers such as yourself, Anton, that give real leadership and tireless effort to many aspects of the trade-union and political movement.
If you cannot make this step, how can you help others to do so? It is the Achilles’ heel of our movement, and it allows our political system to discount our views entirely - since those in charge rightly calculate that no matter what they do, you’ll just go on voting Labour, and therefore pose no real threat to capitalist interests.
Break the link! We must build unity of workers, under a basic common programme that serves to educate and organise. That will never happen until we break irrevocably with Labour opportunism and chauvanism, which seeks to lull workers to sleep or, failing all else, scapegoat immigrants and muslims and incyte workers to reactionary pogroms!
Campaigns against the BNP in this context are at best a gross neglect of our most urgent tasks, and at worst a conscious smokescreen designed to bolster Labour party imperialism.
I hope you will consider these arguments also in the comradely manner in which they are intended.