With concrete facts and figures Ted Grant demonstrated in this article of June 1966 that “Wilson and Callaghan are basing their budget on the interests of the giant manufacturers and combines and not on the interests of the working class.” But this would not stop the inevitable decline of British capitalism and the need for the working class to fight for an alternative to capitalist rule.

In March 1966 the Wilson Labour government was solidly in office with a 13.5 percent lead against the Tories in the opinion polls. In spite of the government’s drastic measures to tackle the payments crisis and the general decline of British capitalism, workers continued to see the Tories as being responsible for the then crisis. Instead of leaning on this tremendous support in society to carry out a programme of genuine reforms, Wilson bowed to the pressures of the capitalist class and strove to make the workers pay for the bosses’ crisis.

Towards the end of 1966 the beginnings of crisis were being felt in Britain and the capitalists were undergoing feverish preparations to make the workers pay for it with the collaboration of the Wilson Labour government. This led to increasing friction between the government and the trade unions. The dreams of the Labour right wing were being proven false by capitalism itself: “So much for the spurious optimism of Wilson and the Cabinet. They thought they could ‘plan’ capitalism. Capitalism is planning them,” sarcastically commented Ted Grant.

In 1970 the outgoing Wilson government lost the elections to the Tories. However, the Labour leaders did not draw any of the lessons from the disastrous experience of 1964-70 when they had been in office and issued yet another ambiguous draft programme for the 1972 Labour Party conference. Ted Grant analysed in detail the LP draft programme, pointing out all the contradictions of the reformist outlook and how this would inevitably lead the next Labour government to being one of crisis, which is what eventually happened in 1974-79.

In January 1958 economic indicators showed that a slump was under way. Ted Grant explained the laws that showed the inevitability of boom and slump cycles under capitalism and called the Labour leaders to prepare a plan of action against the crisis, adding that “all capitalist measures could only be at the expense of the working class and, even if successful, could only prepare the way, at a new stage, for an even worse slump.”

In 1962, there was an open confrontation between American big business and the Kennedy administration, which provoked chaos and panic in the US and European stock exchanges. Ted Grant pointed out that although Kennedy made it clear that his policies fundamentally sided with the capitalist class, the essence of the conflict was all about showing who was Boss. Ted pointed out that in this there was a warning for the British labour movement, because Kennedy’s so-called “people’s capitalism” was being presented as a model to follow by the Labour Party right-wing leaders in Britain.

A one-day massive strike of the railwaymen against announced sackings and closures on the part of the Railway Commission in October 1962 showed the potential strength of the workers when mobilised. The crisis was the result of privatisation policies, as Ted Grant pointed out, and therefore the working class should fight for a co-ordinated plan of all transport to be placed in public hands. But experience showed that nationalisation was not enough: the workers had to participate from top to bottom in control and management.

In 1961, economic crisis hit the British economy. Ted Grant pointed out that “the only remedy of the Tory witchdoctors is to bleed the victim in the new economic squeeze, for the benefit of their millionaire paymasters.” The attacks against workers’ living standards were a golden opportunity for Labour to expose the class nature of Tory policies and build an alternative, but the bankrupt policies of right-wing LP leaders were not offering the workers an alternative.

Labour Prime Minister Wilson inaugurated the year 1966 with a speech announcing austerity measures, wage freeze and further cuts in social spending. Ted Grant commented that Labour leaders were treating with contempt the modest demands of the workers while giving in to the pressure of big business. Any concession granted to the bosses would inevitably result in bigger claims.

For the first time in many years, a workers’ demonstration on January 15th for jobs was enthusiastically written up and supported by the Tory press” – Ted Grant ironically commented back in 1965, exposing the hypocrisy of the Tories. Ted Grant pointed out that the real problem facing the labour movement was the failure of Wilson’s Labour government to face the crisis of the aircraft industry and the Labour leaders’ subordination to the interests of big business.

British rule over Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was shaken in the early sixties by the rise of the African people against colonial rule. In order to preserve its interests British imperialism tried to start a transition towards so-called “partnership” between blacks and whites. In 1965 the white settlers’ government unilaterally declared its independence (U.D.I.) to keep racialist rule, threatening to unleash a conflict with the black majority. Ted Grant analysed the interests at stake and what the attitude of the labour movement should be.

In 1962 Gaitskell’s right wing clique was trying to consolidate and extend its grip on the Labour Party with all sorts of manoeuvres, expulsions, bans and tricks against the left wing. Ted Grant exposed those attempts and pointed out the need for the left to appeal to the ranks and fight back.

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