Sunday, May 05, 2013

No Right Turn

While the Tory right-wing are seizing on UKIP's performance in the local elections to promote their obsessions, those who want to insulate Labour from any possibility of posing a radical alternative to austerity aren't keeping quiet either.

The "Blue Labour" boys club recommend we embrace social conservatism, believing that this is UKIP's appeal to its working class supporters (http://www7.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2013/05/05/henry-g-manson-on-the-ukip-challenge-to-labour/). This perhaps misses the point that there have always been socially conservative working class voters - and that they have voted Conservative.

Progress, who prefer some social liberalism as it makes them feel better about their craven capitulation to economic liberalism are less prescriptive, but equally pessimistic, Paul Richards arguing that; "UKIP took votes, not only from disgruntled Tories, but white working-class voters in hitherto Labour areas. There's an important lesson there for Labour too. The surge in South Shields should not just worry the Tories. If white working-class voters desert Labour in the heartlands for the UKIP, it will dent Ed Miliband's chances in 2015. It certainly should kill stone dead any notion of a 'progressive majority' just waiting to be led to the New Jerusalem." (http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2013/05/03/not-just-gin-and-jag/).

Typically, Progress watch as the political right try to shift the centre of political gravity in a reactionary direction and then consider how to accommodate this (in the interests of their political careers?) They also join "Blue Labour" in missing the point that not all "white working class voters in hitherto Labour areas" have necessarily been Labour voters.

The fact that Labour lost no seats (and probably - directly - very few votes) to UKIP does not mean that we should sit back and simply enjoy the Tories losing votes. If we do that, Farage will pull Cameron to the right and Progress will link arms with "Blue Labour" to push the Shadow Cabinet in the same direction. That way leads away from the path to popular support for a Government carrying out policies in the interests of working people.

Socialists within the Labour Party and trade unions need to organise far more effectively to mobilise support for a radical alternative to austerity, the formal basis for which can be found in the policies of the trade unions - who need, as I was saying (http://www.jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/unions-need-to-answer-ukip.html?m=1) massively to raise our political game.

As implausible as this may seem to some, we need to try to do this from within the Labour Party. Attempts to build a "UKIP of the left" outside Labour's ranks are proving lamentably unsuccesful.

The candidate of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) standing for Hampshire County Council in Eastleigh who was beaten by the candidate of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party (http://election.hants.gov.uk/hwdivisionresult.aspx?year=2013&id=175&distid=2&divelecid=4423) may have been particularly unfortunate, but anyone who came away from last week's elections thinking that the time is right for a socialist electoral challenge to Labour probably wasn't paying attention.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The sense of identity to which UKIP speaks and from which it draws strength is reactionary, xenophobic and homophobic."

Utter shite.