Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/240/24922
Militant Tendency Shows The Way
IN HIS speech to New Labour's local government conference, Tony Blair attacked as "wreckers" anyone who opposes his privatisation plans and compared them to the Militant Tendency (forerunner of the Socialist Party). PETER TAAFFE, Socialist Party general secretary, sent the following reply to the press:
IT IS ironic that Tony Blair (or Tory Blair as he is widely known for his campaign to privatise all that remains of the public sector) has accused the trade union leaders of being the same as the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party).
At the time of our expulsion from the Labour Party, we predicted that the campaign against the Militant Tendency would be the thin end of the wedge. Militant ferociously defended public services against Tory cuts.
We played a leading role in Liverpool City Council, and because it was prepared to defy the Tory government, it was able to improve and increase public services - for example the 5,400 council houses the council built. It was for this, the crime of defending public services, and for leading the mass campaign against the poll tax, that we were expelled from the Labour Party.
We warned that the right wing's attacks on the left would not end with the expulsion of the Militant Tendency, but that socialist policies and even the defence of the living standards of the working class would be next in the Blairites' sights.
Unfortunately, at the time the right-wing trade union leaders did not heed our warnings; on the contrary they backed our expulsion.
Today, we have been proved correct. Clause IV, the socialist clause in Labour's constitution, was abandoned in 1995. Now New Labour is pursuing privatisation with a vengeance.
John Edmonds has correctly compared New Labour's privatisation programme to Thatcher's poll tax. However, the poll tax was not defeated simply because it was unpopular.
It was defeated because our party took the initiative to launch what became an 18 million strong, organised campaign of non-payment.
Incidentally more people took part in the campaign against the poll tax than voted Labour in 1992. If Labour had fought the poll tax instead of expelling those that did, the Tories could have been kicked out five years earlier.
If the trade union leaders are prepared to do more than verbally condemn privatisation, if they follow through their words with determined organisation action against the privatisation of our public services, New Labour could be forced to retreat as Thatcher was on the poll tax.
New Labour is now an undiluted party of big business. For Tony Blair socialist policies are like holy water to the devil.
We appeal to trade unionists to fight for a new party, a party that represents the working class instead of the fat cats, a mass workers' party that campaigns for socialist policies.
In The Socialist 8 February 2002: