Statement issued by the Communist Party political committee - January 26, 2012

The Communist Party rejects the analysis peddled by the banks, hedge funds and Con-Dem government that past levels of public expenditure were the main cause of the economic and financial crisis.

We reject, too, the remedy dictated by City of London financial institutions and the EU Commission and European Central Bank, notably that massive public spending cuts and a savage attack on the wages and pensions of public sector workers are necessary in order to reduce the public sector financial deficit.

The policy of the Labour Party leadership to align itself with this analysis and these remedies is a betrayal of the millions of workers and their families who should be able to look to Labour for support and solidarity. In particular, recent statements by Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Liam Byrne in support of deep cuts in public sector wages and pension entitlements, and in welfare benefits, represent a shameful capitulation to the banks, the Con-Dem regime and the right-wing mass media.

The refusal of the Labour Party leadership to fight for policies that would defend public services, jobs, wages and pensions and so revive economic growth highlights the extent to which the interests of the labour movement – which are also those of the people of Britain generally – go largely unrepresented in the House of Commons. Not surprisingly, therefore, in a period of mass local campaigning and big national one-day strikes against Con-Dem policies, the Labour leadership has utterly failed so far to achieve a clear and substantial lead in opinion polls.

The leaders of Labour-affiliated trade unions must know that their members need, in addition to the widest possible mass movement, a Labour Party that defends their interests, stands up for public services, opposes the whole rotten set-up in corrupt, big business, rip-off Britain – and renounces a British foreign policy that mires us in aggressive war, the mass slaughter of civilians, international kidnapping and torture and a new generation of nuclear weapons.

This, in turn, raises the need for the affiliated unions to campaign in a more determined, planned and coordinated way to change the policies and if necessary the composition of the Labour Party leadership. The duty of the affiliated unions to fight for progressive, left and socialist values in the Labour Party could not be clearer.

At the same time, this is an important part of an even bigger question: how can the labour movement best ensure that its collective views and interests are represented in the Westminster parliament?

This challenge must be faced by the whole movement, including those unions not affiliated to the Labour Party.

The Labour Party was founded by the trade union movement. It still receives the support of over one-third of voters. But this support is not guaranteed, is increasingly volatile and could quickly disintegrate if the party's right-wing course is maintained. The trade union movement, and its members locally, have a duty to intervene to reclaim the party as political representatives of the interests of working people.

  • Affiliated unions should respond immediately to demands from their members and cease paying financial donations to the Labour Party centrally until its leaders and MPs oppose real cuts in public sector wages and express solidarity with workers fighting to defend their pensions.
  • Affiliation fees should be maintained in order to step up the challenge to the Labour leadership's current policies from inside the party as well as from outside.
  • Affiliated trade unions should meet to convene an all-Britain conference at the earliest opportunity to discuss the current crisis of political representation for workers and their families.

We believe these actions are the most realistic and effective way of ensuring that the interests of working people are represented in the Westminster parliament. Should the Labour Party continue on a right-wing course, its future will be at risk and the trade union movement will have a duty to re-establish a mass party of labour capable of winning elections, forming a government and enacting policies in the interests of the people not the bankers.

  • Affiliated unions should also consider demanding that a special emergency conference of the Labour Party be held to consider a fundamental change of economic and financial policy on the capitalist crisis, public spending and investment, public sector wages and pensions, privatisation and taxation.
  • The TUC should resume its historic responsibility and convene a special conference of all labour movement organisations to discuss the political representation of the labour movement in the House of Commons.

In the face of the current ruling class offensive against the working class and the mass of people generally, the labour movement needs to develop the maximum clarity and unity. For its part, the Communist Party will continue to develop its Marxist analysis, project an alternative economic and political strategy for the working class and its allies and strengthen non-sectarian left unity.

The Communist Party therefore welcomes the decision of readers and supporters of the Morning Star to call an all-Britain conference on March 31 (at the Bishopsgate Institute, central London) to discuss the ways in which mass, popular resistance can be built to the Con-Dem government and its policies. This will provide a major opportunity for a wide range of left, labour movement and progressive forces to consider the kind of initiatives and policies that might be necessary. Pointing a way forward in the immediate battles should help create more favourable conditions in which to resolve the labour movement's crisis of political representation.