Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/513/3507

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 December 2007

Editorial

Labour's funding scandal

 Brown dashed from the TUC to meet the hated Margaret Thatcher

Brown dashed from the TUC to meet the hated Margaret Thatcher

THE PARTY funding scandal engulfing New Labour is only the latest in a long line of similar sleaze scandals. But is it any wonder when the Labour leadership has completely gone over to the side of big business and therefore accepted the need for its support?

Not one newspaper or political commentator ever starts from this premise. For them it is down to the mistakes or "illegal actions" of this or that New Labour figure. The nearest any commentator came to this conclusion was Steve Richards of The Independent who linked it to "Labour's love affair with big business".

Even then he says that in the past "the leadership was too rigidly accountable to the party... to the point of madness". He means by this that the leadership had to report to Labour's national executive committee (NEC) and the annual Labour Party conference that held them to account to a certain extent. Now Richards says it has gone too far the other way. But he never explains that it was the abandonment of any connection to socialism that made this inevitable.

For all these pundits, this link between support for the capitalist system and Labour's dependence on individual capitalists like David Abrahams, the northern property developer behind the latest scandal, is a book sealed with seven seals.

In the past the organic link between the Labour Party and the organised working class was expressed by the direct participation of the trade unions at local, regional and national level.

But the changes to the Labour Party in the last 15 years have cut this umbilical cord by marginalising the unions' role in the Labour Party's internal affairs.

The payment of the political levy, on a weekly or monthly basis, by millions of trade union members when they paid their membership dues to the unions also meant that this was the main source of financing the Labour Party.

Accompanying Labour's ideological shift to outright support for the market system has been a closing down of all means by which the organised working class could, to a certain degree, keep in check the Labour leadership.

The Guardian refers to the Labour Party treasurer, Jack Dromey, who is also the deputy general secretary of the TGWU section of the Unite union, as "serially ignorant". This is a reference to his "I know nothing" response every time a financial sleaze scandal hits New Labour.

His wife, Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, now admits she received money from one of Abrahams' "third party" nominees for her deputy leadership campaign. (Abrahams also gave money directly to Harman's losing rival for the job Hilary Benn.) Clearly, Dromey's 'ignorance' didn't stay in the office but extended to the home as well.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has desperately sought to distance himself from the whole mess by saying, in effect, that "it all happened under Blair". In reality, they were both the architects of New Labour's counter-revolution against the working-class base of the party.

Cash for influence

OVER 100 years ago the Labour Party was set up by the unions to represent the interests of the organised working class (that is, "those without property") in parliament and the council chambers. The Tories and Liberals clearly represented the interest of the capitalist class ("those with property").

The only way for Labour to finance itself then was through the unions. And the unions in turn raised that finance directly from the members' weekly or monthly dues, a part of which was paid over to the Labour Party in the form of the political levy.

20th century history is littered with examples where the ruling class gnashed its teeth at this arrangement and did its best to end it. The last time was Thatcher's introduction of the requirement for unions to ballot their members every ten years to maintain their political funds designated for that purpose.

The same capitalist class who all the while kept pouring money into their parties' coffers raged against this "robbery of union funds for political purposes".

The boss class was not so much bothered about the union members' money being taken to finance the Labour Party as much as it feared the potential threat to its rule, if not by a potential left-wing Labour government then by a mass party that would be the arena of debate on socialism or capitalism.

But now this has all changed with the transformation of the Labour Party since the early 1990s. The party has lost most of its working-class base and the unions have been marginalised to the outer edges of its deliberations. For the capitalist class, both as individuals and collectively, the Labour Party is now one of three parties which can be relied on to protect its interests.

The periodic "cash for influence" scandals, as is only too normal, happen when you have political parties which rely on the patronage of big business and wealthy individuals who inevitably seek influence to increase their privileges and incomes. This has been the case for decades in the USA where the lobbying of capitalist parties by corporations and individuals has became an art form running into billions of dollars.

New workers' party

BROWN, IT seems, is now consulting the unions on how to get out of the mess he is in since the latest scandal broke out. He has given up trying to get cross-party support for the proposals of Sir Hayden Philips to put a 50,000 limit on single donations by individuals or organisations to political parties in the lifetime of any one parliament.

The Tories oppose this because it would stop them sending large wads of cash to local Conservative associations in marginal seats as a new election approaches. Brown is saying to the unions that this proposal won't stop them giving large donations as they do now "because the union political funds are raised from the political levy and they are small sums from individual members on a regular basis and will be counted as such and therefore will not contravene the 50,000 limit".

The union leaders will accept this because they see no alternative, but this will not mean they will see their influence increase in the Labour Party. New Labour will continue to depend on big business and so pursue its interests and not those of the working class.

The union leaders' myopic outlook is because they are looking into an abyss and see no alternative to New Labour. But, with or without the union leaders, the need for the unions to end their link with Labour and throw their weight behind a project to build a new mass working-class party has more support amongst ordinary workers than ever before. The events of the past few weeks will only reinforce this once more.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 6 December 2007:

System change not climate change

Feature: The free market brings fire, flood and famine

For decent public transport!


Workplace news and analysis

DWP strike: Fighting low pay

Socialists and the trade union leaderships


What we think

Labour's funding scandal

How New Labour got hooked

Grayscale


Education

No to academy schools!

Compulsory school to 18 - a rosy future for young people?

Child poverty rises

Rail fares unfair


International socialist news and analysis

Chavez referendum result a big setback

Annapolis - a framework for further conflict

Intelligence on Iran wrong

Disunited Russia

Italy: transport strike

Kosova: After the elections - before the explosion

Northern Ireland classroom assistants

Argos strike in southern Ireland

South African miners strike over safety


Socialist Party review

The socialist review: 'Taking Liberties'


Post Office and CWU

Keep the 'people's Post Office' public

CWU ballot result


Workplace news

Unison's right wing still witch-hunting

Save Cadbury jobs!

Manchester's striking mental health workers: Defending trade union rights


 

Home   |   The Socialist 6 December 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Labour:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Labour Party - what is its future?

triangleNon-fiction: Left Out - the inside story of Labour under Corbyn

triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

triangleA critical election for Unison general secretary

triangleLincoln: Save Drill Hall

Labour Party:

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

Sleaze:

triangleTory sleaze is back!

triangleForce Cameron out!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

17/9/20

Britain

Britain's fragile Covid equilibrium is coming to an end

16/9/20

NHS

NHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

16/9/20

Covid

Capitalist profit and the race to develop a vaccine

16/9/20

Covid

Covid and the third sector: for public planning, not charity stopgaps

16/9/20

Profit

Under the microscope

16/9/20

Covid

'Covid marshalls' must be accountable to communities

16/9/20

Covid

Blame politicians, not workers and young people

16/9/20

Brexit

Johnson's brinkmanship over EU deal deepens capitalist splits

16/9/20

Coronavirus

Sketch: The rule of six - some guidance from your government

16/9/20

Covid

Our lives and livelihoods at stake

9/9/20

Coronavirus

Safety overridden in drive to bolster the economy

9/9/20

Tories

U-turn Tories' splits are growing

9/9/20

Unison

A critical election for Unison general secretary

9/9/20

Minimum wage

Callous Tories threaten not to uprate the minimum wage

9/9/20

Covid

Under the microscope

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999