2005 General Election: Vote Effective – Vote Alternative
If you agree with this aim, then In May 2005, this is the most important general election ever.Or was that in 2001? Or in 1997? Or 1987? The big political parties want to convince us about this because we may then be persuaded to vote for one or other of them, under the impression that by choosing between them we are making a difference to this social system. Vote for this party and our future is secure; vote for the other party and we put everything at risk. Here, for example, is Neil Kinnock in 1987:
“Every election is a time of decision. But this General Election … faces the British people with choices more sharp than at any time in the past fifty years”. To which the “British people” sharply responded by emphatically rejecting Kinnock and his party.
Here is John Major in 1997: “British people now have the opportunity of a prosperous future. But that prosperity cannot be taken for granted… If we relax for one moment, our hard won success will slip away again”. By “relaxing” Major meant voting for the Labour Party, which was what the “British people” did, ensuring that Major himself slipped away into well-merited obscurity. Finally, here is Blair in 2001:
“This general election is in many ways even more important than the last…Now is the chance to build the future properly…”
Blair did not say why, after four years of Labour government, the future had still not been built “properly” but he obviously did not need to elaborate in that way because the electorate returned his party to power by a hefty margin. So how are things now, after the threats and the promises? Whether in gratitude or fear, the workers will vote for capitalism again with the only uncertainty the pattern of their voting.
Blair and Howard
One factor which is likely to affect that pattern is the developing awareness that there is no significant difference between the Labour Party and the Tories. Because of this, solid Labour supporters who helped elect Blair in 1997 and 2001 now feel themselves disfranchised. Another factor is that, like so many of his predecessors, Blair has been exposed as a trickster and a liar, so that he is no longer the easeful vote harvester he once was.
On the other side, Michael Howard is looking more and more like a man who is desperately trying to throw off his past; for example wearing his customary oily smirk he urged us on TV to “Let the sunshine break through the clouds of disappointment we all feel”. The problem for Howard is that his time as a Tory minister is not remembered for being at all sunny. As Home Secretary he was in the habit of using his time at the rostrum in Tory conferences to excite the ugliest of prejudices – and not just about crime. In this election, as Tory leader he has tried to exploit racist neuroses about immigration by promising to establish a Border Control Police, forgetting the time in the 1990s when, according to the Public and Commercial Services Union, he actually hampered immigration controls by slapping on a recruitment freeze. Howard has told a heart-wrenching story about his mother-in-law dying of an infection she picked up as a hospital patient but during the last Conservative governments all was not well with hospitals for there was a shortage of nurses and doctors and waiting lists – for anyone unable to afford anything better – were a problem then as they are now. Schools also suffered, being cut back on their teachers, books and other equipment. The last Tory government, under John Major, descended into such chaos that when they were defeated in 1997 it was almost an act of mercy by the voters.
However those who voted in the Blair governments have no more cause for satisfaction. There have been Labour Home Secretaries who have exceeded Howard in their punitive response to those crimes which capitalism places outside the law. A succession of Criminal Justice Acts has tightened the screw on offenders while nourishing the ambition of those Home Secretaries to become party leader.
Detention – imprisonment – without trial, or even being told the reasons for being in prison, has become established. Blair’s sound bite about being tough on crime and on the causes of crime has been discredited as the causes of crime – poverty, stress, alienation, social disability – remain. Blair’s claims that under his government the British economy has been in controlled health have been exposed by the collapse of the Rover car company. The company was losing millions of pounds and cars are not manufactured in order to provide the workers with a wage stable enough for them to make assumptions about their future. The bottom line – to use an irritating, although apposite, phrase – is that if there is no profit there is no employment, even if that mean thousands of workers being transferred from a just
tolerable level of poverty to one of abject degradation. That is the basis on which capitalism organises its wealth production and no government can affect it.
Blair’s popularity has been seriously eroded by the exposure of his lies over the causes of the war in Iraq. But this was by no means the only example of a politician lying because none of them could readily admit to their impotence to control the events of capitalism. For them the only way out is through deception, at times to the extent that they begin to believe their own lies – as, it is rumoured, is the case with Blair. What this amounts to is that there is a basic unity among the parties which stand for the continuance of capitalism, which can only be solidified by every vote for those parties. But there is no need to waste the vote in that way for we have the means of basically changing society so as to eliminate the problems which now disfigure it.
The Socialist Party is standing alone as a party which aims at the capture of political power by the working class, to abolish capitalism and replace it with a society based on common ownership of wealth production and distribution and making that wealth freely available to everyone.
That is Socialism – the only alternative to capitalism and its political parties.