June 18, 2021 at 8:22 am #219217
While the media are concentrating on the LibDem victory over the Tories in yesterday’s by-election in Chesham and Amersham the performance of the Labour Party has not been given much prominence.
Their candidate managed to get 622 votes or 1.6% of the votes cast. We’ve done better that.June 18, 2021 at 9:15 am #219223
If you look at historic elections it shows a massive drop by Labour, I suspect there has been a massive amount of tactical voting, this might be the sign of things to come, i.e. Labour and Tory voters combining as an anti-Tory block.June 18, 2021 at 11:16 am #219230
You mean Liberal and Labour voters get together? Though as Labour and Tory are Tweedledee and Tweedledum their voters could easily get together. Or are they Tweedledum and Tweedledummer?June 18, 2021 at 11:47 am #219231
From school days, I think it works as follows:
Labour – Tweedledum – Adjective
Liberal – Tweedledummer – Comparitive
Tory – Tweedledummest – SuperlativeJune 18, 2021 at 1:24 pm #219232
This result of this election in May for the position of “Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough” shows what could happen if tactical voting against the Tories caught on. The voting system for mayors (where voters have a second preference vote) allowed Labour and Liberal voters to gang up against the Tories with their second preference votes.
It looks as if electoral reform to extend this voting system to parliamentary elections might be the only way for Labour professional politicians to ever get a crack at trying to run capitalism again. But will they offer the Liberals that?June 18, 2021 at 4:38 pm #219234
Ironically in the early years of the Labour Party they were in favour of proportional representation, something that the Liberals strongly opposed. By the time Labour took over as the country’s main opposition party they started to oppose it and th eLiberals began advocating it. Shown how much real political principle either party has.June 19, 2021 at 10:36 pm #219287
John Bercow, the former Tory MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, announces he has switched his political allegiance to Labour.
Bercow says he regards today’s Conservative party as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”.
“I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand.”
I do recall that he came to the defence of Corbyn in the anti-semitic smears but how can he cooperate with one of the people who orchestrated it?June 19, 2021 at 11:30 pm #219288paula.mcewanParticipant
When the party was born in 1904, it was advocating revolution via democracy – quite rightly. But the party seems to have ignored the fact that some property-less men and ALL women didn’t have a vote at that time. Since then, we’ve opposed women having a vote (“a reform”) and we’ve refused to participate in any attempts by other parties to change the electoral system (“a reform”).
Despite the fact that we give one member one vote and this is a mainstay of our party, we are silent about the need to end the first past the post electoral system. We should have been, and always should be, advocating electoral reform. We’re not going to change society until capitalism gets democratic.June 20, 2021 at 12:10 am #219290
Paula, what the party always supported is effective political action which in the UK meant using the existing political apparatus.
The majority of working-class males already had the vote so were the majority and the contemporary campaign for female suffrage was for parity with the existing eligibility rules, meaning only propertied women, not property-less working-class women in their own right, would be granted the franchise which would have strengthened the anti-socialist voters.
The Women’s Social and Political Union was described as “essentially a rich women’s organisation.” by the Party.
In a Socialist Standard answer to a correspondent, it said
“E.C.R. asks “How do the S.P.G.B. propose to overthrow the present system of society and establish Socialism on Democratic lines and legislative means without Man and Woman Suffrage?”
Reply – “The Socialist Party is not opposed to Adult Suffrage, but maintain that the working class have quite sufficient votes at their disposal to effect the revolutionary purpose when the class are sufficiently class conscious to make the time opportune. It is a question of education, not of extensions of the franchise; and since the line of social cleavage is drawn through classes and not through sexes, there is nothing undemocratic in proposing to proceed even with our present limited male suffrage.”
For comparison, the ILP position at the time was not to support a separate women’s bill to get the vote but which (unlike the SPGB) did include a campaign for full suffrage for all adults as a reform in its manifesto.
Many claim that PR is progressive. We already have a version in Scotland for the Holyrood Parliament. It hasn’t made too much of a political difference.
Elsewhere across the globe, one complaint is that it strengthens the right-wing fringe parties because the thresh-hold for parliamentary representation is too low. (likewise also for the left-wing as in the case of the Scottish Socialist Party)
But, more importantly, for us as a Party, there is an even bigger issue, with the most popular electoral reform proposal, the alternative vote
We call for votes from only those convinced of socialism and who agree and support our ideas. Yet, we could have our candidates elected on 2nd choice votes, meaning the voter’s favoured option is a pro-capitalist party but their alternative vote may be cast for ourselves. How can we reconcile that contradiction?
We will still be calling for a form of ballot abstinence.
However, to be politically relevant in other countries, such as numerous African nations and also in the increasing number of US states where voters’ rights are being curtailed we may have to engage in political activity to obtain a democratic vote.June 20, 2021 at 7:49 am #219293
I don’t know how the myth originated that we opposed votes for women arose. Probably from some malicious opponent. As Alan has pointed out, what we were opposed to was the Suffragette demand for votes for women on the same terms as it then was for men. This, on the grounds that it would have meant more votes for members of the propertied class than for workers.
As to universal suffrage, we weren’t against this but argued that it wasn’t necessary as enough workers already had the vote that could be used to win control of political power to bring in socialism. I think there’s another quote from an early Socialist Standard saying that universal suffrage would be introduced as soon as the socialist-minded workers won political control.
Ok, we didn’t campaign for Universal Suffrage but that’s not the same as being opposed to it. There are lots of things we don’t advocate but are not opposed to. And if the implication is that we should advocate whatever we are not opposed to, then that really would be the thin end of the slippery slope to reformism.
Incidentally, in the referendum I think it was in 2011 on whether to change electoral system to introduce the Alternative Vote the Party didn’t take up a position either for or against, effectively giving the working class including party members a free hand. I don’t know about you, Paula, but I voted for it.June 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm #219403
This: “As Alan has pointed out, what we were opposed to was the Suffragette demand for votes for women on the same terms as it then was for men. This, on the grounds that it would have meant more votes for members of the propertied class than for workers”, contradicts this: “As to universal suffrage, we weren’t against this but argued that it wasn’t necessary as enough workers already had the vote that could be used to win control of political power to bring in socialism”. How could granting voter equality (between the sexes) have ONLY increased the size of the bourgeois electorate but not the proletarian one?
The SPGB SHOULD have advocated universal suffrage because that was (and still is) the best way for the proletariat to peacefully and democratically create a free association.June 23, 2021 at 7:15 pm #219404
It wasn’t universal suffrage that would have increased the percentage of the propertied class in the electorate but the demand to extend the suffrage to women on the same basis as men which is what the Suffragettes we’re campaigning for (before 1918 about one third of men didn’t have the vote as they didn’t own or rent property above a minimum level). As women were even less likely to meet this condition, the proportion of women left without the vote would have been even higher. Most of the women that would have got the vote on these conditions would have come from the 10% who owned 90% of the wealth.
The reason the SPGB didn’t advocate universal suffrage (while not opposing it) was because they considered socialism as the immediate aim and enough voters had the vote to win political control once there was a socialist majority.
In places where this wasn’t the case, the SPGB was in favour of workers there demanding the vote. For the reasons you give. See for instance the conclusion of this article on India from the June 1932 Socialist Standard (quoted here):
“Workers in India should unite on a basis of Socialist principles and organise for the establishment of Socialism. They should take what steps are necessary to secure a franchise for this purpose, but they should not unite with any other parties or give adherence to any other bodies, even those masquerading as pure, and simple franchise organisations, as by so doing they would lose independence.”June 23, 2021 at 8:32 pm #219405
I can’t understand why that was the Party’s position. What if the majority of voters wanted socialism, but the majority of the women and the third of men didn’t?June 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm #219406
Don’t read very much into the Chesham and Amersham by-election. Voter turnout was only 52%, whereas, it was 77% for the last two general elections. Although, it does say something about Labour’s strategy of attracting voters by copying the Conservatives.June 23, 2021 at 10:05 pm #219408
Matthew, our position is that ideas are social and not necessarily gender-based.
If we had taken your stance, wouldn’t it have meant that we should not have founded the SPGB in 1904?
The Party has no age-bar on membership just as we never had a gender-bar but does that mean we discount the ideas of the female under-29s (which was their first age rule), under-21s, then the under-18s (Scotland permits 16-year-olds and up to vote albeit in not general elections)
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