During the general election Mr. Wilson said he was the lesser of the two evils (or the least of the three evils, as he later told Mr. Thorpe). Although this is no valid argument for voting Labour, Mr. Wilson was right on one point: neither Labour, nor the Tories, nor the Liberals are any good.
First let us recall just what were (to use Mr. Wilson's choice of terms) the “evils” of the present Labour government:
- Labour strengthened the immigration colour bar and, in keeping out Kenya Asians with British passports, put the nearest thing to a Race Law on the statute book.
- Labour, while hypocritically proclaiming their ultimate aim of abolishing all health charges, increased them all round, even bringing back the prescription charges they themselves abolished in 1965.
- Labour made provision for the rents of controlled tenants to be increased beyond even what “the wicked Tory Rent Act" allowed.
- Labour encouraged big business mergers and praised profit-making, while proclaiming that there must be more unemployed.
- Labour tried to restrain and freeze wages and salaries while encouraging prices to rise, in a deliberate bid to cut our living standards.
- Labour kept nuclear weapons and sent troops to protect capitalist interests in Malaysia and Aden. Labour supplied Nigeria with the arms to reconquer oil-producing Biafra.
In view of this black record it is not at all surprising that Labour chose to fight the election on the negative plea that at least they were not as bad as the Tories. After all they could no longer claim to stand for the brotherhood of man. They could no longer pose as the party trade unionists should support. They could not even claim to be the party of mere anti-capitalist reform (they have long ceased even pretending to be a socialist party — which of course they never were). In words as well as deeds Labour was, and still is, clearly an ordinary capitalist party. It is Tweedledum to the Tories’ Tweedledee.
There is a good reason for this. The “lesser evil” argument is invalid because it assumes that what a government does depends on the good or bad intentions act, and their priorities, is the workings of the capitalist system. Capitalism is based on the concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few. Under it production is carried on for profit. The world is divided into a number of capitalist states (including Russia and China) all of which are competing against each other to sell their goods on the world market at a profit. How successful a state is in this is what of the leaders of the party in power. In fact what determines how governments limits its government’s actions. This is why it does not matter which party forms the government; in the end all governments are forced by economic circumstances to pursue basically similar policies. It is because the Labour Party accepts capitalism that it has become so unlike the Conservative Party.
Labour was forced to do the things we have listed, not because they are incompetent or insincere or weak-willed, but because they undertook to govern capitalism and capitalism is a class system that can only work for those who live off profits, and never for those who work for wages. Any party, as the present Labour government’s record confirms, which takes on the government of capitalism is bound to act against wage and salary earners.
The Labour Party, which set out to gradually change capitalism, has instead itself been gradually changed so that it is now little different from the Tories, the traditional rich man’s party. Judged even by its own standards, the Labour Party has been a complete and utter failure.