It’s been a long time coming. In fact I wondered if this day would ever come. Part of me recoils at the very notion of it, but what’s done is done. Yes that’s right; I have joined the Labour Party.
So far several people have expressed varying levels of dismay at my decision. One Iraqi contact of mine offered to purchase some gas for use at my first branch meeting. Given the living hell his native land has been reduced to by the policies of this government such bitterness is understandable. However, I believe such an attitude to still be in error, and so it’s only fair that I make some attempt to explain myself.
Lets take a few deep breathes and deal with the first hurdle. It is simply not the case that an organisation of millions can maintain a single mindset or political line at any and all times. The blood of hundreds of thousands in Iraq is not on the hands of those party members who raged against the military onslaught from the very beginning. That honour rests with Blair and his cohorts, alongside those who still mindlessly defend the New Labour project and its disastrous legacy.
Labour also needs to be remembered for its historical and organisation roots. It arose out of the Trade Union movement and, pardon me if I am mistaken, is still tied to that movement, no matter how tenuous the link has become.
In theoretical terms there has been no sudden transformation of what Lenin described as a “bourgeois workers party” to one of out and out reaction. The argument that I have encountered from some comrades – that the LP is now a thoroughly bourgeois organ because of Iraq – does not hold when we consider that, just as Lenin was urging CPGB affiliation, the LP had just participated in the global imperialist massacre of 1914-18.
Labours classification as a bourgeois workers party does not solely rest on it’s willingness to follow an imperialist foreign policy. Such a thing can only be a reflection of the balance of class forces within the party. What is more important is its relationship to the mass organisations of the class. Those were, are and remain the Trade Unions. Nobody but the most absurd ultra-leftist would bat an eyelid at a Marxist seeking to work within a Trade Union. The political expression of the Unions in this country, no matter how dented, twisted, or malformed it has become, is still the Labour Party.