Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Trotting On

Following the speech that finally killed and buried Thatcherism, it is time to revisit the important fact that, for all its stunning achievements, the 1945 settlement was overly centralist and bureaucratic.

It replaced private corporate bureaucracy with central government bureaucracy.

In the first instance, it very often turned exactly the same private corporate bureaucrat into a central government bureaucrat.

That said, central planning was the whole point of the NHS, and of the nationalisation of transport (especially the railways) and the utilities.

The lack of central planning is the very problem with the dismantlement of the NHS, and with the privatisation of transport (especially the railways) and the utilities.

Many of us remember when privatisation very often turned exactly the same civil servant into a lavishly remunerated "captain of industry".

Trotskyists have advanced this critique for 70 years, and Blue Labour also articulated it.

But one of those has chosen to get on board with Jeremy Corbyn, while the other has not.

I have tried. I really have. But what can you do?

Britain is possibly the only country where a moderately well-informed member of the voting public would know the word "Trotskyist".

Ken Livingstone won the 2000 London Mayoral Election against the full might of Tony Blair's pre-Iraq machine, and against an official Labour candidate who was a former Cabinet Minister.

Who did the donkey work for that? Who do you think? And they were rewarded.

As late as 2007, three years after Livingstone had graciously permitted the Labour Party to readmit him rather be humiliated by him for a second time, the Evening Standard's list of the 25 most influential people in London contained no fewer than four members of Socialist Action.

With the man who had appointed them to their various positions, those members of that tiny Trotskyist organisation comprised one fifth of the total list.

Now, say what you like about Livingstone's London, but it was hardly Trotsky's Kronstadt.

It was, however, the biggest powerbase that Trotskyists have ever had, anywhere in the world. Eight years running London in the early twenty-first century.

But then, three of them had sat overtly as Members of Parliament in the 1980s and early 1990s, although there were more of them than that on the Green Benches at the time.

A sitting MP until her retirement in 1997 was married to Trotsky's bodyguard, who as her husband presumably held a parliamentary pass.

The All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation, which made no bones about being the Militant Tendency, brought down Margaret Thatcher.

Don't take either my word or Militant's for that. Read the extremely bitter account of it in her own autobiography.

The questions about the bureaucratic and managerial statism and associated class dimensions of May's programme ought not to be asked only by them.

But they will be, if Blue Labour persists in sulking.

Blue Labour is having a day conference in Manchester next month. Would it be worth going along?


  1. Blue Labour would have been running the country under Miliband or running the party under Burnham, but they both blew it. Call it Blew Labour. Sorry but I had to do that.

    It always had very odd roots and now it's a complete crank shop. You're better off out of it.

    1. It is amazing what can come back eventually. Look at the Leaders of both parties at the moment.

      But yes.