Regional Assembly – careerist scam
As leaflets promoting the benefits of an Elected Regional Assembly drop through our letter boxes it is time for workers to ponder just what is on offer.
Firstly, this constitutional reform is of no real benefit or relevance to us. It leaves our lives and the problems the profit system causes completely unchanged. Exploitation via the wages system continues. Unemployment continues as does every ill that plagues society. As far as solving real problems is concerned constitutional reform is just a useless irrelevancy. Labour only wants to bring in such reforms to maintain their reforming image. They wish to give an illusion of change – and such change they know will not coming into conflict with profits.
You may ask, if elected assemblies bring power nearer to the people, how can socialists be against this? Socialists are indeed in favour of democracy and socialism will be a fully democratic society, but full democracy is not possible under capitalism. Supporters of capitalism – Labour, Tories and Liberals included – always mean only political democracy, since economic democracy, where people would democratically run the places in which they work, is out of the question under capitalism, based as it is on the workplace being owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority.
You can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this will not make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism.
Secondly, a regional assembly will get almost all of its money from central government and the only “power” it will have will be to rearrange slightly how the limited amount of funds it will be given is to be spent. In other words, it will have no more real power than existing borough or city councils.
A local regional assembly will thus be part of the administrative arm of central government and its members no more than elected civil servants spending central government money. All we are being offered is another layer of elected bureaucrats – another trough for the professional politicians to get their snouts into, but of no significance to ordinary people.
If our rulers want to reform the machinery of capitalist government, that’s up to them. But spare us the pretence that it is some great extension of democracy.
As far as socialists are concerned, we are always grateful for any opportunity to contest control of the apparatus of government, even if that opportunity is handed out by the government as a careerist scam intended for its supporters. We have no preferences over the electoral systems, though we would use whatever access they gave us to these assemblies to provide a platform to shout about the interests of the working class.
The clearest message, though, from the government’s plans, is that power remains firmly at the centre, and that the elected bodies are only there to provide information flow in order to allocate resources effectively. The golden rule applies in politics – them as have the gold rule. So long as the purse strings are retained centrally, there is no possibility of the policies of these assemblies being anything other than the pale shadows of central government’s. Socialists look forward, instead, to having, within a socialist society, genuine, democratic freedom of association, where communities govern themselves through their own efforts; forming groupings where they need, rather than being stifled by sham-bureaucratic democracy engineered from above.
– statement put out by North-East branch of the Socialist Party for the 4 November referendum.