THE leaked draft of Labour’s election manifesto yesterday brought out the predictable headlines in the press warning of the dangerous ‘socialist’ Jeremy Corbyn.
But a close reading of this leaked document reveals that, far from threatening the very foundations of British capitalism, it is nothing more than a re-statement of the old reformist position that capitalism is fundamentally OK, but we just need to smooth off the rough edges and make it work for ordinary people.
This is made plain in the opening lines which state that Labour’s policy is about ‘rebalancing the economy and re-writing the rules of a rigged system so that the economy really works for all’. What the manifesto promises to end, the ‘rigged’ capitalist system, includes a number of policies that do not stand up to scrutiny.
For instance, they make a commitment to ‘take energy back into public ownership’ something that the vast majority of people will wholeheartedly support, but they are not calling for the complete re-nationalisation of the industry but instead providing ‘at least one publicly owned energy company in every region’.
The rest of the privatised companies will be left to carry on as normal. The same with the pledge to re-nationalise the railways. Not re-nationalisation and expropriation immediately but waiting for the franchises operated by the privateers to run out.
Given that the franchises on some of the major private companies have years to run – Thameslink expires in 2021 while East Coast Virgin runs until 2023 – they will have plenty of time to run the trains into the ground and screw vast profits out of commuters.
When it comes to welfare benefits, this draft manifesto contains a massive stab in the back for all those workers suffering under the Tory Universal Credit system. While it correctly calls for scrapping the bedroom tax, the re-instatement of housing benefit for under-21s and ending cuts to disability benefits among others, all it offers is a review of the cuts to work allowances under Universal Credit.
Only this month a BBC investigation highlighted the plight of families left with just 50 pence towards rent after paying for food and heating. Yet all this manifesto can offer is a review, while hundreds of thousands of families are facing immediate eviction or hunger. The most glaring example of the sheer bankruptcy of this reformist document comes over the issue of leaving the EU.
It states: ‘Labour accepts the referendum result’ before going on ‘Labour recognises that leaving the EU with “no deal” is the worst possible deal for Britain. We will reject “no deal” as a viable (sic) and negotiate transitional arrangements.’
In other words, they are saying if they cannot get a deal acceptable to the bankers and bosses of the EU then they will overturn the Brexit vote. This position is the same as that of the ‘left’ Syriza government in Greece which signalled that it would stay in the eurozone at all costs but wanted to negotiate a fair deal with Brussels. All that meant was that the Troika kept upping its demands in the sure knowledge that Syriza would cave in, which they did, accepting every brutal attack on Greek workers demanded by the bankers.
The one glaring omission from this manifesto is any mention of the world crisis of capitalism, which is completely ignored as if the banking crash of 2008 never happened. That crash has dictated every austerity attack on workers carried out by the Tories to dump this crisis firmly on the backs of the working class.
Instead, it portrays these attacks as some kind of aberrant choice by the Tories that men and women of goodwill in the Labour Party can reverse. The only way forward for workers today lies not in Corbyn’s feeble and doomed attempt to re-rig capitalism but to overthrow it and go forward to socialism.
We call for workers and youth to vote Labour as a class vote to kick out the Tories but in the five constituencies where the WRP are standing on a clear platform of expropriating the banks and bosses and advancing to a workers government and a socialist society we call for a vote for the WRP and for socialist revolution.