LABOUR leader Keir Starmer’s first speech to a Labour Party conference yesterday was acclaimed by his supporters as heralding a ‘new dawn’ for the party and drawing a line under the ‘Jeremy Corbyn era’.
In other words, Starmer was drawing a line under any pretence the Labour leadership have to being anything other than loyal supporters of bankrupt British capitalism.
Throughout the conference, the Labour right-wing has gone all out to stamp on any last vestige of socialism in the party.
Rule changes introduced to ensure the right-wing a complete monopoly on future leadership elections, have been complemented by driving out any member who voiced criticism of the Starmer regime.
Its contempt for the working class and Labour members was on show at the conference when a motion for a £15-an-hour minimum wage was passed unanimously, only to be dismissed by Starmer as being non-binding and therefore would be ignored.
Starmer made it clear that Labour’s policy on wages was dependent on what the bosses told him they could afford, insisting he couldn’t commit to £15-an-hour unless they gave him permission.
This was the theme that ran throughout Starmer’s speech, making clear that the priority for any Labour government would be to ‘invest in businesses to build a strong economy’, and that a ‘good society’ for workers depended exclusively on a ‘strong economy to pay for it.’
Any future Labour government would have as its priority ‘repairing the public finances’, any government spending had to be justified, and under Labour ‘all spending will be scrutinised for value for money.’
There is not a cigarette paper between Starmer and Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also insists that bringing down the government debt by slashing benefits and wages is the absolute imperative.
What was significantly absent from Starmer’s speech, was any reference to the world capitalist crisis that has devastated the UK economy and plunged millions of workers below the poverty line.
The crisis was ignored completely, instead delegates were told the priority was building a ‘stronger and better’ economy in a partnership with capitalist class.
Starmer avoided any attack of the Tory government restricting himself to criticisms of Boris Johnson as a useless leader with no ‘plan’ to rescue the economy.
Starmer clearly has a plan, and that is to position the Labour Party as a willing, junior partner in a coalition government with the increasingly large section of Tory MPs preparing to dump Johnson.
Starmer’s entire speech was an application form for admittance to a Bonapartist-style government that the ruling class are becoming aware is required to smash the working class, drive down wages and benefits, impose mass unemployment and destroy the public services.
The Johnson government on its own is too weak to take on and defeat an increasingly militant working class that refuses to be driven back to the 19th century.
This is driving the rapid move towards a government of national emergency – a reactionary right-wing Bonapartist coalition of Tory and Labour MPs to dump the crisis on the backs of workers.
It was no accident that Starmer didn’t mention the word socialism even once and there was no reference to nationalisation.
Instead, Starmer ended his speech praising the ‘heroism’ of British armed forces in waging a brutal imperialist war in Afghanistan.
Starmer was laying out his credentials for inclusion in a Bonapartist government composed of Labour MPs with one foot in the trade unions, loyal to the military arm of the capitalist state, and Tory MPs whose feet are firmly planted amongst the bankers and bosses.
During the conference, the Bakers Union, one of the founding unions of the Labour Party in 1902, disaffiliated from the party and walked out in disgust at the treacherous manoeuvres and policies of the right-wing leadership.
Workers must demand that every union affiliated follows this lead and breaks with this reactionary Labour Party and go forward to rapidly building the Workers Revolutionary Party to put an end to the counter-revolutionary plan for a Bonapartist regime by organising the working class to kick out the Tories and advance to a workers’ government and socialism.
Join the WRP – there is no time to lose.