Editorial from the June 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard
Labour’s emphatic victory came as no surprise and the honeymoon has already begun. Whilst it was enjoyable watching odious representatives of the ruling class like Michael Portillo lose their seats, let there be no mistake that this was still a victory which belonged to capital. The working class has elected another set of politicians to preside over the exploitation process, and that they can make no real difference to the problems facing us in our daily lives will soon become evident.
This realisation of Labour's impotence may come sooner rather than later since even by capitalist standards they were elected on a programme that contained little more than warm words. In this age of cynicism Labour calculated—quite correctly—that any capitalist politician promising an utopia simply would not be believed. Subsequently, Blair managed to combine the right balance between severely limited policy objectives which were all “properly costed” and a vision based around hackneyed cliches.
Already the new government has started to make noises about constitutional reform to the sound of a fanfare from much of the capitalist press. It looks as if devolution could be on the cards for both Wales and Scotland and there is even the possibility of electoral reform. However, none of these measures will make the slightest real difference to the lives of the useful majority. The logic of capitalist development during the last couple of decades has led to a rightwards shift in capitalist politics and the new Labour government is a reflection of this trend, not a sign of its reversal.
It is virtually indisputable that with Labour in office the owning capitalist class will continue to try to do their utmost to get more out of us for less by intensifying the exploitation process and attacking our living standards. For its part, the new government will be under pressure to cut state spending in an attempt to manage the still unusually large budget deficit and the huge national debt.
This can only set the scene for the intensification of class struggle, a struggle which is our only hope in resisting the attacks of capital. But no-one should be in any doubt that the only way that our problems can be really solved is when such a defensive class struggle transforms itself into a pro-active struggle which finally abolishes capitalism itself.