Under Labour’s shadow

Around the left

The more you look around the revolutionary left, the more you become aware of the awesome power of self-delusion and fantasy. Most groups are ‘in denial’ about one thing or another. We have seen the Socialist Party and Scottish Militant Labour invent a crazy scenario where Tony Blair and Donald Dewar were secretly opposed to the ‘yes, yes’ vote in Scotland last Thursday (see page 1).

But there are plenty of other delusional beliefs and statements you can choose from - too many, in fact. The League for a Revolutionary Communist International thinks that by losing its entire Bolivian section and half its New Zealand section it has made a massive step forward (see my column last week).

One of the best fantasies on the market is that peddled by the Socialist Workers Party. It has consistently argued that Blair’s landslide victory on May 1 was due to a massive leftwing “class vote”. Unfortunately, and slightly inexplicably for the SWP comrades, this “class vote” has manufactured rightwing MPs like Peter Mandelson.

Interestingly, following in the traditions of SP/SML conspiracy theory, the SWP maintained - with the logic of a Bedlam hospital inmate - that Blair did not want a general election landslide. No, he was hoping for a narrow victory. If this was the case then you do have to feel slightly sorry for Blair. The poor man has had to suffer two devastating blows in such a short period of time - first, the landslide election victory on May 1 and then the conclusive ‘yes, yes’ vote - and Di’s death to cope with on top of all this calamity. Yet he is still able to grin like a Cheshire cat. Incredible.

Predictably, the SWP will not let a good fantasy drop. It wants to believe that victory is around the corner, and that the “class vote” was a glorious harbinger of a tide of militancy.

The editorial in the latest issue of Socialist Review, the SWP’s monthly magazine, tells us: “The scale of what is possible is much greater than might have been thought even a few months ago.” This is a reference to the lobby of the Labour Party’s conference on September 28. It goes on to state: “The issues are favourable to us. The vast majority of workers want more money spent on health and education, a minimum wage, more trade union rights and greater equality” (September). Perhaps, comrades. But seeing how the working class is a slave class at this historical juncture, they still voted for Blair anyway. What was the alternative?

Comrade Chris Harman is a worthy candidate for the Sigmund Freud Award for Deluded Leftwingers, to judge from his article in Socialist Review. He writes: “The first 100 days of the Labour government show more grounds for optimism for us than the first two years of the 1964 or 1974 Labour governments.” Ironically, comrade Harman’s article was called, ‘Must history repeat itself?’ Yes, it does as far as the SWP is concerned.           

The comrade provides no evidence, no serious argument. Just a proclamation of faith. But if there was a “class vote” on May 1, then it only stands to reason that the government is on the hop and ‘red days’ are ahead.

Organisations like the SWP need to come out from Labour’s shadow. There is nothing like the clear light of day to expose such illusions.

Don Preston