Tuesday, October 29, 2019
A General Election is upon us.
Good. Since working class people won the vote, General Elections have been an opportunity, often missed, to promote policies in the interests of the majority.
In 2019 we need not miss this opportunity because our Party is articulating policies which reflect the interests of working class people.
Our role as socialists is now to do all that we can to secure a socialist-led Labour Government.
Labour candidates will stand in every constituency and we must campaign for every one of them.
We must campaign with particular vigour in those constituencies where, given our electoral system, the outcome of the General Election will be determined.
We must do this, as socialists, because we recognise that our politics are the defensive response of our side in the class struggle.
Class struggle is not some obscure “far left” idea. It is the practice of the political representatives of the ruling class in the here and now.
Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are simply the representatives of the wealthy and powerful.
They are pursuing class war against us.
They are promoting precarious employment (and their Brexit is entirely about weakening in every way the limited protections of current employment law).
They are undermining our health service, seeking to break it up for privatisation whilst starving it of resources (their Brexit aims to accelerate this).
They are demonising migrants (and their Brexit is founded upon promoting a divisive, racist nationalism).
As ever, their attacks upon our class fall with particular force upon those who also experience other forms of oppression.
We have no choice but to fight back, and to prepare to continue to fight to defend the interests of our people whatever the results of this (or any other) election.
That is why we do have to continue to build, and campaign for, our Party in every constituency, whilst particularly focusing electoral effort in the marginals.
Whatever the result of the General Election our class needs effective political organisation, whether to defend us against Government attacks or to defend our Government from attack.
Time to get busy.
Sunday, October 06, 2019
As if we didn’t already know how bad things were, authoritative research demonstrates that Tory-inspired (and Lib Dem supported) austerity has increased infant mortality.
The research – published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) finds that “overall from 2014 to 2017, there were a total of 572 excess infant deaths compared with what would have been expected based on historical trends” and that “about a third of the increases in infant mortality between 2014 and 2017 can be attributed to rising child poverty (172 deaths).” Not to put too fine a point on it, Tory austerity kills babies.
This is a startling reversal of a long term historical trend towards lower infant mortality. It is not a coincidence that the increase in infant mortality (which is disproportionately an increase in low income areas) has accompanied falling real incomes for much of the period since 2008. This has magnified the squeeze on wages over the last generation (as the TUC have reported; “For the last 30 years the British economy has seen a steady shift in the way national income has been distributed, away from wages and in favour of profits”).
These are the consequences of the historic defeats for our class over past decades. The Tories have got away with austerity over the past decade because our movement retreated following the strike action on 30 November 2011, and we continued to retreat because our movement is “shackled and timid and tame”. (and this is the proper link).
My generation of labour movement activists cannot shirk our responsibility for failing to reverse these defeats. We have bequeathed to our children a world in which their children are more likely to die as infants than they were. Our trade unions (at least the largest of them) are controlled by their paid officials, and therefore prioritise their own institutional survival over the vigorous pursuit of the interests of their members.
If we are to have hope for our movement (and our future), it must come from the possibility that we shall be able to copy our comrades in Portugal and secure a left-led Government which will loosen the shackles upon our movement, kicking off a virtuous cycle of progressive policies and rank and file militancy.
It’s a bit of a cliché to opine that a coming General Election is the most important in our lifetimes. However, if we can’t secure a socialist Government in the coming months there is a lot further down that we can yet go.