Sunday, May 03, 2015
Vote for a change of Government - and do all you can to persuade others to do likewise
In the next few days, as we approach the fifth consecutive election in which the Conservative Party (the most impressive electoral machine of the twentieth century) will fail to win a Parliamentary majority, the drumbeat of reactionary paranoia parodied by Mark Steel in the link above will dominate the print media and shape discourse about Thursday's vote.
The outrage of a wealthy elite whose sense of entitlement to rule is confounded by their inability to dragoon sufficient support is hardly to be imagined, and we shall see it at its most venomous in the coming days.
Of course, we are also on the brink of an election in which Labour will not win a majority - and will do incredibly well to win as many seats as the Tories (although I fervently hope we do). It appears that the same Scottish Labour voters who were frustrated at eighteen years of being governed by Thatcherite Tories they hadn't voted for are turning their back on a Scottish Labour Party which elected a leader from the Blairite wing of our Party (which is Thatcher's bastard progeny within our movement).
The poor fools putting their hope in the pointless electoral experiment of "TUSC" are wrong to dream that Labour could go the way of Pasok to their Syriza, but it does look as if Scottish Labour is facing a similarly crushing defeat at the hands of the (social democratic) Scots Nats. The outcome of this will presumably be a hung UK Parliament.
Having seen what strong majority Governments (of either party) have done (the Miners' Strike? the Iraq War?) a weak Government with a small - or no - majority is not something which workers and trade unionists should fear. On the contrary, we should welcome the opportunity to stand up to a Government against whom we may - with our socialist allies in Parliament - prevail (the question, as ever, will be whether our leaders will take the opportunity offered to them - and whether we will be able to replace them if they don't).
There are two elements of post-Thursday Parliamentary arithmetic which will make a difference to the capacity of our trade unions (given capable and confident leadership) to defend our interests - and workers should cast our votes, where we can, to influence this arithmetic.
The first element is the relative numbers of Labour and Conservative Members of Parliament. Other things being equal, each additional Labour MP makes it more likely that we get a Labour Prime Minister, and each additional Conservative MP makes it more likely that we get a Tory. Even a Progress-supporting Labour MP is better than a Tory, because a Government led by a Labour Prime Minister offers a less hostile environment in which trade unions can (if they will) defend workers' interests. (Every vote cast for a "more left wing" candidate in a Labour/Tory - or Labour/LibDem - marginal is a vote cast against the interests of the working class).
The second element is the absolute number of socialist Members of Parliament. This matters because every friendly denizen of the Palace of Westminster is of value to our movement (particularly if our movement is willing to fight) - and moreso because a bloc of socialists in Parliament willing to behave collectively could exercise disproportionate influence in a hung Parliament. With a very few exceptions, the socialists who stand a chance of being Members of Parliament are Labour candidates - and it is exceptionally important that trade union activists do all we can to return the maximum number of such socialist MPs. This is why Dave Prentis was absolutely right to canvass for socialist Labour Party candidate, Nancy Platts in Brighton Kemptown on Friday. (The potential influence of progressive voices in Parliament could be neutralised by any de facto Labour/Tory "deals" - such as to retain the useless, unaffordable, criminal and immoral Trident nuclear submarines - and we will also need to use union influence to lobby against any such cross-party unity as best we can).
Over the next four days everyone who cares about the interests of our movement and the future of our class should focus on persuading trade union members in marginal seats to vote Labour - and trade union activists to lend every support to socialist Labour candidates standing in those constituencies.
The millionaires and their mouthpieces in the media will be doing all they can to defeat us - we need to show determination and discipline in response. It would be foolish to believe that a Tory Government - even without a majority - would not press ahead with further shackles upon our union movement. This is a risk we cannot afford to run.
Vote Labour - and try to persuade all fellow trade unionists to do likewise.
(From Friday onwards, whatever the result, we shall have to focus on the debate we haven't been having about the future direction for our trade unions - and in UNISON that will mean discussing another election.)
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.