Staying Focussed

JUST BEFORE the seasonal holidays began I attended a public meeting organised by the local constituency Labour Party. Now and then I like to study the opposition at close quarters, it can often be quite revealing. This crowd were an interesting mixture of Tribune-reading, leftie sandal-wearers; a few old-style trade union blue collars; the obligatory couple of geeky looking SWPers from the local University and a group, sitting conspicuously apart from the rest, of expensively tailored New Labour suits. Not what you'd call a sight to inspire anyone... except for myself of course, who felt greatly encouraged by the lack of calibre amongst our foe. Clearly there for the taking you'd think. Well, yes, away from Millbank's well-oiled spinning machine, Labour are a different proposition and on this viewing totally unsuited to pressing the flesh with the great unwashed; if you know what I mean. If this showing is anything to go by, it shouldn't be too long before our hard work shows signs of paying off.

But nationally the Blair project, to transform capitalism, steams on largely unhindered at the moment. Ok, so we all had a chuckle when the oily Mandelson slipped on a banana skin and the freezer lorries stuffed full of the bodies of people's loved ones have caused New Labour a bit of embarrassment; but basically it's still 'steady as she goes'.
To listen to the 'revolutionary left' though, you'd have to believe otherwise. According to the December edition of the Socialist Review, monthly magazine of the Socialist Workers Party, 'the year is ending with the Labour Party in disarray', and we have already had the Revolutionary Communist Group declaring that 'the entire capitalist system teeters on the edge of an abyss'. Just enough time then to don the tin helmet and clamber behind the barricades. Perhaps in 1999 those who sniggered at Peter Taffe of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) when he predicted the 'red 90s will all have to eat humble pie. But I don't think so.
The modus operandi of the left takes on a lot of similarities with the religious cult. By that I mean they are always predicting one big catastrophic event that will change everything and bring the powers that be to their knees. The day of reckoning is not far comrades, just sell a couple more papers and keep those noisy lobbies coming. No time to question where they are going, indeed no need. Involving themselves in any long term work is merely a distraction - talk of putting down roots in working class communities is to be sneered at. Of course, occasionally the establishment through its arrogance might present us with an opportunity that can be easily exploited, like the Poll Tax. Labour's desire to 'modernise' the constitution for instance, means their agenda may inadvertently benefit our own; e.g. proportional representation.

For Red Action members though, it is important we begin the new year as we ended the last; that is, focussed on the long-term strategy agreed at the 1998 RA conference. To ensure we do so I would suggest all members and particularly all organisers, regularly fish-out the conference documents and give them the once-over. It will be by continuing the hard graft into 1999 that will lay the foundations for a lasting independent working class opposition to Blair; not waiting for any false messiahs.
Steve Potts
Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 5, Feb/Mar '99