During the heated 1979 general elections, Margaret Thatcher broke headlines with her profoundly anti-working-class rhetoric. Challenge made the case for why Labour’s right-wing candidate was not the best representative for the anti-Thatcher youth as well as the importance of communists having an independent political campaign due to the swinging ideological pendulum of Labour leaders. Labour leader James Callaghan went on to lose to Thatcher, bringing on 11 years of union-busting and neoliberalisation of the British economy. Never have these words rang more true and more relevant than today.
May 3rd, Election Day. What are you gonna do? What’s at stake? Relating to national politics is at times extra difficult…it’s like fighting your way through a fog of political double-talk but behind all the words and mysticism, like it or not, these people, Labour and Tory, have a direct effect on how we run our lives.
During 1979 the political battle has become hotter and HOTTER, with the low paid at the forefront of the struggle to end the Labour government’s policy of holding down wages. But it’s not just a question of money that was at stake because of the implications signalled the beginning of a challenge to the direction of Labour’s right-wing. People have had enough of having the weight of what’s in effect part of a world capitalist crisis dumped on their backs.
The potential for left change was dramatically halted through Labour’s weakhearted stance over devolution and the forthcoming general election has thrown into sharp relief the prospect of a Tory government under its most right-wing leadership ever. Heath was a progressive compared with the Thatcher/Joseph duo – and look at the aggravation he was able to generate while he was in the leadership of the Tory Party. Wages were forced down, massive cutbacks enforced, and reactionary laws introduced in relation to tenants along with big increases in rent.
It was on a tide of militancy arising directly out of Heath’s anti-working class politics that Labour came to power with a manifesto that was potentially radical/progressive. In fact, during the early days, they did repeal the most reactionary statutes brought in by the Tories, but it was short-lived as the policies of right-wing Labour – managing and not challenging capitalism – took over.
They continued the cutbacks in social services and did what the Tories could never do in getting the agreement of the unions to hold down wages. Alongside their so-called policies to hold down inflation, the dole queues grow longer, and it was only a matter of time before the rank and file could no longer take the cuts in living standards and the 5% limit went out of the window. ‘Uncle Jim’ Callaghan’s hard-nosed, insensitive attitude was highlighted when he referred to the hospital union as the industrial vandals and revealed the sickening, anti-working class character of right-wing Labour.
Thatcher – No Future
It’s right-wing Labour politics which have brought down the Labour government and we can guarantee the Tories will take up where Callaghan left off. Judging by the hysterical rantings of Thatcher and Co. during the recent industrial disputes they’ll be heading for instant confrontation with the unions and demanding ‘moderation’ in future wage rises. The end results will be wage restraint with the Tories becoming official representatives of the likes of the so-called Freedom Association (formerly NAFF) and they’ll be using the courts backed up by the police and if necessary the army to get their way. While they wreck our health service they’ll go to their private clinics and when our social services are being starved they’ll be pumping OUR money into armaments.
Political confrontation is the only direction they can pursue and it won’t only be the unions who’ll be on the front line – ‘cause the Tories’ ‘law and order’ policies, which have the support of the lunatic whip ‘em and flog ‘em brigade, will result in heavily increased police powers and make the chance of repealing laws such as ‘sus’ nigh on impossible.
Four years or more of Tory rule would be disastrous and when we finally get rid of them we’ll most likely be back to square one with a Labour government which has fought the Tories, shouted militant slogans and when back in power bottles out for the same old right-wing path. We need to keep the Tories out and make it clear that pressure will be maintained to ensure that Labour adopts a different course.
It’s Our Future
The re-election of a Labour government must coincide with continued activity which shows that it’s not got a mandate to carry on in the same old way. If they want to remain in government then it’s got to be made evident that they’d better do something about the one-and-a-half million out of work, about low wages, about the decrease in living standards we’ve suffered over the past few years.
As Young Communists, we’ll be supporting the Communist Party candidates where they’re standing for election. A vote for a Communist is a vote to take the struggle forward ‘cause it’s communists who are active on the ground, tackling wage restraint, organising against unemployment and against the racists and fascists. Communists won’t vanish away after the election only to reappear next time they want your vote, and they won’t stand by while right-wing Labourites sell us down the river.
A Labour government can make positive advances though, and where there’s no Communist candidate we’ll work for Labour against the Tories, but we’ll also have our independent voice heard because the youth are the last people most politicians care about. Youth are no strangers to police harassment, low wages…if you can get a job and poxy leisure facilities. And we’ll want to know what the candidates will do for us.
MARGARET THATCHER OFFERS NO FUTURE…KEEP THE TORIES OUT.
Challenge Editorial Team