Our country is under attack. Every single institution is in decline. The only growth is in unemployment, poverty and war. There is a crisis – of thought, and of deed.
It is now 44 years since the Party was formed, and 41 years since, at its Second Congress, the Party produced its Programme The British Working Class and Its Party. This Programme outlined the thinking of a political party of a new type, a thoroughly British Marxist party. All subsequent Congresses have confirmed the ideas of the Programme, using them as the basis for developing our thought for the changing times.
At our 16th Congress, the Party adopted a number of Calls to Action for the British working class.
Out of the European Union, enemy to our survival
The European Union represents the dictatorship of finance capital, foreign domination, and the bleeding away of our capacity to take responsibility for ourselves. If we do not leave the EU, it will destroy our economy as surely as it has that of Greece. Destroy the economy of a nation and you undermine, possibly fatally, the ability of a country to be a country. The EU is aided by quislings in our class who would rather supplicate in Brussels than struggle in Britain. The British working class must declare our intention to leave the EU. We must wage this fight within our organisations, especially our trade unions. British withdrawal from the EU would fatally wound the project and shift the balance of force away from those who would break up Britain and launch war. Referendum Now!
No to the breakup of Britain, defend our national sovereignty
There are those in Scotland who wish to become an EU region with all the prestige of, for example, Estonia. Even a gerrymandered referendum confined to Scotland must return a “No” vote. Unless it does, the clock is turned back far more than 300 years. It would not only dismember our country (creating a new country called England and Wales) but would create an ideological back door to Britain through which the EU would be invited. Devolution, and now the threat of separation, are both products of only one thing: de-industrialisation. When the working class in Scottish industry was numerous and active it often led the British working class. The SNP was laughed out of town as the “tartan tories”. The destruction of industry drags a class down, and no clearer example is extant than that of Scotland. The future of all of us is at stake. We must demand that any referendum on the dismemberment of Britain be held throughout Britain. We must fight to establish a policy within our trade unions against break up.
Rebuild workplace trade union organisation
Too few British workers are union members. The percentage of public and other service sectors of the economy in unions is dangerously low. It is even lower in industry, in manufacture, in the private sector. Even more dangerous, it is still declining. Most of the unions which existed only 40 years ago have now gone, a partial reflection of the destruction of the industries in which they organised. At the present rate of decline, trade unionism could be eradicated within this generation of members. The employing class has always aimed at this. Unions exist as working members in real workplaces or they become something else entirely – something entirely negative. Workers need to involve themselves, prune back the weedy overgrowth and nourish the shoots.
Fight for pay, vital class battleground
A serious product of the decay of trade unions is the neglect of pay. Pay is our battleground. It reflects the state of struggle because it is concerned with the proportion of our labour power that we control. In order to control the spiral of wage rises it could not control, capitalism took a bold step. It made credit easily available to workers. With Thatcher came the explosion of credit, and with that (and the destruction of industry, which led to mass unemployment) came a move away from the fight for pay. The collapse of the credit bubble has contributed directly to the slump and depression of the past five years, and now to the present depression. But this depression is not the product of workers’ profligacy; it is the product of workers’ cowardice. We think now that we get what we want materially through credit, not by joining a union and putting in a pay claim. In borrowing rather than fighting we assist in our own ideological corruption. For progress to be made in Britain’s economy, this thinking must go. We should spend only what we earn and if we don’t earn enough we’ll have to fight the employers for more. The fight for pay is central to our survival as a class, and should be put back on the agenda of our trade unions.
Regenerate industry, key to an independent future
Should our country be attacked in war now we would be defeated, because we do not make enough things here. The Soviet Union won the Second World War because Soviet workers made everything there. Their country was materially, as well as politically, independent. We are encouraged to adopt a corrosively superior attitude: we need manufactured goods, but we are told they should be made abroad. All that dirt! We are encouraged to want energy without digging coal. We’d rather get our electricity from nice clean sources like wind and sea power, but these sources will not keep the lights on. Science lies at the heart of progress. The two concepts are synonymous. Science must be at the centre of planning a new future for Britain in which all our resources, human and material, are used to meet the needs of our people, and not to make profit for capital. The regeneration of industry in Britain is essential to the future of our nation. Our grandparents, and theirs, knew this. We must now reassert it at the centre of class thinking.
Build the Party
The task of the Party is singular: to change the ideology of the British working class in order that they make revolution here. Until and unless we achieve this we cannot claim success. And when we do achieve it the work of our class will have only just begun. It is vital that we build the Party to assist the class in this historic role.