From the January 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard
The knives are out. Sir Harold Wilson and a large section of the Labour Party are gunning for those who claim to be trying to “re-establish its socialist principles”. For a party who has never had any, their task is a hopeless one. Going for “Trots” and other so-called left-wingers is unproductive, and two members of the Labour Party National Executive have tabled a resolution asking the Party to cool it. The two members, MPs Eric Heffer and Joan Lestor, are considered by many to be “revolutionaries” in their own right. Their resolution contains the following:
Attacks which add nothing to solving the serious economic and social problems which confront this country.
Whilst we agree that attacks add nothing to solving the problems which confront this country, the solutions put forward by the Labour Government do not seem to be meeting with much success. Indeed, we might say that these solutions have added nothing at all to the old solutions that have been tried in the past, and failed.
We wonder if Heffer and Lestor are among those Labour MPs whose favourite reading today is, apparently, the works of Karl Marx? If so, we suggest they don’t just read Marx but study what he had to say, and see if it adds up to the world which they are trying to better. If they don’t read Marx, here is a glorious opportunity not only to find out how capitalism works, and the solution, Socialism; but a knowledge of Marxism will enable them to deal with the spurious “left-wingers” who are masquerading under the cloak of Marxism within the Labour Party. They could tell these quacks exactly what Marx was after.
In the present circumstances, we reiterate the idea that the principle (of tolerance must be one of the basic concepts of democratic socialism.
Is it only when the Labour Government are in a tight spot that the principle of tolerance must be one of the concepts of “democratic socialism”? If the Government had a thumping majority in the House, would such tolerance be so basic? Whilst tolerance might be a virtue (and we can well understand Labour politicians desiring it, particularly from the electors, who see their promises unfulfilled), it has nothing to do with democratic Socialism. How can a Socialist be tolerant of a man such as Callaghan who calls for the system to be more profitable and for the capitalist class to invest more in industry? Profit and investment have nothing to do with Socialism. Are we to be tolerant of a man who mouths such rubbish (in the name of Socialism), and tolerant of the Heffers and Lestors who will support him when the chips are down?
Mr. Heffer in the House of Commons, April 9th, 1975, said: “We determine the future of our country”. He and the others in the Labour Party have a lot to answer for.