Labour woos the bosses

THERE WERE no surprises this week when Labour’s shadow treasury minister, Gordon Brown, reasserted yet again his promise to be ruthless in cutting spending in a future Labour government.

But it was Tony Blair’s shameless love affair with the “rigours of competition” and the “enterprise of the market” which made Labour’s position most explicit when he addressed the British Chambers of Commerce conference in Aberdeen last Friday.

The title of the conference was ‘Towards the millennium’ and Blair made more than clear the sort of millennium he expects and positively looks forward to - ie, an era of unchallenged free-market supremacy, with the working class permanently relegated to the sidelines.

He reassured the assembled fatcats that Labour’s ‘modernisation’ would continue unchecked. Encouraged by the beaming smiles of the delegates, Blair enthused about how the ‘reformed’ Labour Party was committed to free trade, open markets, competition and competitiveness, thus rather making a mockery of certain ‘revolutionary’ organisations which believe that the “real fight” is to get Blair elected and then make ‘left’ demands upon him.

To clear the air once and for all, to exorcise the ghost of Labour’s ‘socialist’ past, Blair announced that the aim of his policy is to “identify the key objectives which business and government share and then work in partnership to achieve them”. As a little taster of the Blairite future to come, he listed as a “priority” the sacking of teachers who did not come up to scratch.

Unsurprisingly, the delegates were mightily impressed. Some 74% of them said the ‘new’ clause four had made the Labour Party more electable and Richard Brown, deputy director-general of the BCC, said Blair’s speech was “quite remarkable”. A conference survey comparing Major and Blair as future government leaders saw them level pegging with 31% of the votes each.

However, Blair has a couple of hoops to leap through yet. Mr Brown and friends are distinctly hostile to any mention of the social chapter or a minimum wage, which they regard as ‘anti-business’. Still, ‘consultations’ on these matters are promised ...

A Blair government would be just as vicious as the Tories, if not more so. This is why it is imperative for us to ruthlessly combat Labourism and tirelessly fight to reforge the Communist Party - and why it is treachery to sow any sort of illusions, let alone socialist ones, in the Labour Party.

Eddie Ford