Labour’s 87th Anniversary


The Mauritius Labour Party is celebrating next Sunday the 87th anniversary of its foundation in 1936. Indisputably, the oldest party in the land was born out of a lofty idea about society. At the root of its philosophy lay the political principle of giving the population decent living conditions through the fair distribution of the fruits of labour and capital and a better future for all. It drew its inspiration from Fabian socialism which sprouted up in Britain during the post-World War period.

The philosophies of other political parties, bent on defending the privileges of the owner-proprietor class, helped foster the mass appeal of Labour as an alternative political force at its beginnings. Its followers – the large mass of the population without distinction of race, religion and communal belonging – adhered to the party because it promised hopes of a better future for everyone.

Labour’s struggle for national emancipation resembled closely that of several other societies ranging from Africa to Asia and to Latin America, many of which also drew inspiration from the UK Fabian Society. The persistence of conservative, ultra-liberal politics across diverse societies of the world today – resulting in the most unequal distribution of wealth for large swathes of the world’s population – pleads to this day in favour of the type of ideology Labour stood for at its origins. An ideology and a vision espoused by the political leaders of those times who did not join politics to forge a career for themselves but to respond to a higher call of service for the general good.

Sometime later, the poison of communalism – and casteism – was distilled in local politics in the pursuit of divide-and-rule objectives by other forces inimical to the welfare of one and all and leading to micro-partitions of the social construct and kept distorting local politics. There is also the fact that political clientelism has affected most parties not only locally but across the world, resulting in most parties not abiding by the core values for which they were founded.

Another factor which has affected the standing of most parties is excessive power thrust in the hands of party leaders who have the final word in almost everything including the selection of candidates for general elections. Rather than seeking to perpetuate the noble idea on which the party was constructed, this system, coupled to the holy grail that electoral tickets have become, helps the leaders perpetuate themselves instead. When political leaders start believing that voters have no choice but to stick to them no matter how far they have run the parties down, then the party is set on the way to its perdition – and to the outcome that was obtained in 2014.

However, the Labour Party has a proven track record of notable past achievements and has been the architect of the very transformation of society for the better. The values by which the party has lived need to be preserved. But things cannot go on along the same ruinous trajectory the party has followed. It can build something better from the ruins it has ended up with.

The party which has given the country its Constitution with separation of powers and the necessary checks and balances among the different arms of the state has unfortunately not made a similar check-and-balances constitution for itself. Old hands would vouch that voices of sanity, which used to dominate the earlier Labour’s debates to help the party make the right decisions, are not heard anymore. What we hear now is that party members have to keep praising the party leadership if they want to conserve the chance of securing a ticket for elections. Surely, this monopolising trend cannot continue. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 24 February 2023

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