1950s >> 1959 >> no-662-october-1959

Editorial: The Use of
 the Vote

Issues that will be decided
Before the next issue of the Socialist Standard appears the General Election will be over. You, the wage and salary earners who make up the great majority of the electorate, will have had your little hour of prominence in which you decided the fate of individual candidates and their political parties for perhaps another five years.
The Tories will know whether you have favoured them with the unusual prize of three consecutive general election victories. The Labour Party will know whether those of you who wanted a change of government are numerous enough to have put them back after nearly eight years in the opposition wilderness. And the Liberals will have had your answer to their plea for enough Parliamentary ‘ seats to be able to exercise a restraining or enlivening influence on the bigger parties. It is you who will have decided these issues in the way you cast your votes.
The power you have

In the weeks of electoral excitement before polling day you will have been made to appreciate, at least a little, that you are, for the moment, important people. Between elections you look up to politicians and big business men as important, but during elections it is they who go to endless trouble to influence you and win your support for them and their policies. It is you who can make or mar the career of a politician and you who can place power in the hands of a government which during its term of office can, by taxation and tariff policies or by subsidies, raise some industries to prosperity and bring others to their ruin. It is you who give power to governments in whose hands rest decisions about peace and war.

Illustration by Alwyn Edgar.
Power for no use
Since the Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed there have been fourteen general elections in this country: this is the fifteenth. Fifteen times the Tory, Liberal and Labour Parties have appealed to you to help them with your votes. Fifteen times you, the workers, have used your votes against your own interests.

 

Although the parties we have mentioned use different names for their programmes and promises of legislation, there is very little of importance dividing them. They are all concerned with trying to administer British capitalism as well as may be in a troubled world of rival capitalist groups. In any big emergency like the crisis of 1931 or in war they come together and form coalition governments.

 

Whichever of them, you, the workers, vote for in an election, it is a defeat for you, a betrayal of your own interests.

 

The Socialist Alternative
The Socialist Party of Great Britain was founded with one purpose, that of achieving Socialism. Socialism is not something akin to reformists’ efforts to improve capitalism, but an alternative social system. One in which class ownership of the means of production and distribution would be replaced by common ownership, buying and selling, profit-making and the wages system would disappear, and with them the wars that are caused by capitalism’s commercial rivalries.

 

The Socialist Party of Great Britain has carried on propaganda all these years to increase the understanding and acceptance of the Socialist message, and from time to time have contested elections. What we can do in this direction is strictly limited by our meagre financial resources—even the £150 election deposit is a serious item to us. On the present occasion our comrade J. Read stands as [the] Socialist candidate at Bethnal Green.

 

By that candidature in Bethnal Green and by our propaganda elsewhere the Socialist Party of Great Britain seeks to shorten the day when you. the workers, will recognise that your interests, and indeed that of the human race, demands the abolition of capitalism and establishment of Socialism through the intelligent use of the vote by an international Socialist working class.