Socialists and the Labour Party

Ken Coates


"What, then, is it reasonable to expect from the Labour Party in the years ahead? There are two entirely opposed ways of answering this question. The first proceeds from the view that the Labour Party, whatever its past and present shortcomings, can eventually be turned into a socialist party, genuinely committed to the creation of a radically different social order, which would be based on, though not exclusively defined by, the social ownership and democratic control of a prominent part of the means of production, distribution and exchange, including of course the 'commanding heights' of the economy. The second view is that it cannot be turned into such a party. Of the two, the second seems to be much the more realistic." With these words, Ralph Miliband opens the concluding section of his new postscript to Parliamentary Socialism, a work which has deservedly achieved the reputation of a classic, as is witnessed by the remarkable frequency with which it is paraphrased and restated, often shorn of its finer nuances, in the columns of the radical socialist press.

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