From the January 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard
Why all this fuss about Militant? The Labour Party, when it remembers, claims to be an organisation aiming at a basic change in society and that can hardly be achieved through moderate, compromising policies. What is the explanation?
In fact the Labour Party is not, and never has been, a revolutionary party: at best they have planned to reform capitalism, usually in ways which could not pretend to benefit the working class. Participation in capitalism's wars, the condoning of nuclear attacks on the two Japanese cities and the support of the Tories' task force to the Falklands cannot be said to benefit anybody but the ruling class.
It was of no advantage to the working class, to be locked in conflict with a Labour government over wages and to hear Labour ministers advising workers to break picket lines. No worker gained from Labour's racist immigration laws nor from their cuts in social and medical services. The list of Labour Party offences against working class interests is very, very long.
Militant profess to be able to change the Labour Party so that such things do not happen again. They claim that the problem lies with Labour having the "wrong" leaders, too "right wing” a programme, a defective constitution. On this reasoning. Labour's appalling record in office is something of an accident, which can be easily put right with a heavy dose of militancy.
This attitude ignores the basic nature of the Labour Party as a party of capitalism, appealing for support from workers who want the system to continue. It is as ineffective and as foolish as Labour's claim to be able to reform capitalism into a basically different social order.
So the fuss is between two equally irrelevant factions in an irrelevant, discredited political party which is in any case not worth salvaging. Like much hysteria, the disturbance stems from a sense of frustration. Militant may well be an electoral liability to the Labour Party but to amputate them will not make Labour a more effective party. It will leave them as before, trying to do the impossible, to run capitalism and call it socialism while confused workers condone it all.