Monday, November 23, 2009

MPs - should they be hung?

I don't generally have the time to post simple comment on what is going on in "the news" out there in the wide world, but yesterday's opinion poll data suggesting that there really is a chance of a hung Parliament got me thinking about what John McDonnell had had to say at last week's Labour Representation Committee Conference.

In a hung Parliament, relatively small groups of MPs could exercise greater influence, which could be good news for what will probably be the tiniest group of socialists in Parliament for many years. This is not simply a product of Parliamentary arithmetic (as otherwise it would be hard to see how a dozen or so MPs standing to the left of more than six hundred others could have leverage).

Aside from wily tactics in Parliament, the left - and the trade unions - could gain from a hung Parliament in another way. Given that all three of the main Parties are committed to a greater or lesser extent, to public spending cuts and (for example) attacks on public sector pensions, a strong Government of any Party is likely to be a bad thing for those of us who want to protect the welfare state and the interests of trade union members.

A hung Parliament and a weak Government will be less able to defeat our movement - if (and this is sometimes a big if) we are prepared to stand up for ourselves. The immediate task we face are therefore to seek to elect the maximum number of socialists MPs and arguing in our trade unions for the combative policies and leadership that will be needed in the next few years. (So if you are in PCS I hope you are voting for Mark Serwotka!)

We also - which is most important since without this nothing else matters - need to build the strength of our movement to be able to face these challenges.

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