It may be apt to post what the Socialist Standard said the last time a British election resulted in a hung parliament in 1974. Very little actually changes even after all those passing decades .
In the last few weeks the politicians and commentators have been disputing about what the electors wanted, what the new Government will do, what will be in its next budget, will the policies work and will it mean more "socialism" or less. They are wasting their time and yours. The main outlines of your future in the next few years are already determined, and it would be just the same with a Tory Government, a Tory-Lib. coalition or a three-party government — a little more there, a little less here but nothing essentially different.
Thirty one Million Voters all Agreed
On a superficial view the electors who voted on 28 February wanted different policies, Tory, Labour, Liberal; or Scottish, Welsh and Irish Nationalism. What in fact they voted for is capitalism, with small variations of no importance. Capitalism with a face lift; capitalism inside or outside Europe; capitalism with a degree of autonomy in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The electors wanted capitalism not Socialism. They have got what they voted for.
What about Nationalization?
But isn't the Labour Party different? Does it not stand for more nationalization? Indeed it does. As a result of the work of the Attlee Government after the war we have had a quarter of a century of nationalization in a number of major industries. A quarter of a century for the workers to discover that it doesn't make a ha'porth of difference. Nationalization is State capitalism; the so-called "mixed economy" is a mixture of private and State capitalism. Nationalization solves no problem for the workers either here or in Russia and other State-capitalist countries. It has nothing to do with Socialism.
One small event in the recent election shows what kind of party the Labour Party is, for that life-long Tory, Enoch Powell, a dedicated supporter of capitalism, found it possible to vote Labour and tell others to do the same merely on the issue of keeping British capitalism out of capitalist Europe.
Back to the "Good Old Days"
A farcical aspect of the present situation is that these parties of capitalism, Tory, Labour, Liberal and Nationalist, have been forced by capitalism itself to abandon their belief in the futile doctrine of managing capitalism so as to make life better for all. In fact, if not in words, they have had to admit that they can't manage it and that the best hope they can offer is to go back to the mythical "good old days".
Replace a prospective 15 per cent rise of prices by perhaps getting it down to 12 per cent or 10 per cent. Back to poverty on £20 a week instead of poverty on £25 a week.
Get unemployment down to the level it used to be.
Go back to the "happy" days before the Prices and Incomes policy and the Industrial Relations Act.
Get house-building up to the levels of a few years ago.
Not forgetting that permanent feature in the speeches of every Prime Minister at all times and in all countries — call on the workers to work harder!
Nothing can be done to make capitalism satisfactory for the working class. Socialism is the only hope, not only for Britain but for the world.
Socialist Standard, May 1974