- Created: Wednesday, 14 April 2010 13:53
- Written by FRFI
Today’s economic crisis is a crisis of the imperialist system as a whole. The ruling class can only solve it at the expense of the working class. The depth of the crisis is such that the British banking system would have collapsed on Friday 10 October 2008 if the Labour government had not intervened with its rescue plan, which, with the Bank of England, involves a total commitment of £1.04 trillion. In relation to public sector finances, the net amount added to the overall public sector debt at the end of 2009 was £130bn. Now there is to be a reckoning for this: with a public deficit estimated to reach 11.8% of GDP this year, and net public debt to rise from 38% of GDP in 2007 to 75% in 2014, savage cuts in public spending are required: 8% of GDP over the next eight years. This is the context in which the general election will take place.
The proposed cuts will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and decimate essential services for the working class. Already tens of thousands of local authority jobs are under threat in the new financial year. Although the main bourgeois parties – Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – are absolutely committed to these cuts, none of them will say where they will fall or how deep they will be, as to do so would cost them the votes of sections of the middle class that also depend on these jobs and services. The general election will be about little more than presentation. It will be a complete fraud, and, whatever its outcome, the working class will be made to pay for the crisis.
Just when socialists should be denouncing this swindle, yet again the opportunist left is giving it credibility by participating in it, whether as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), the Respect Party or the Communist Party of Britain (CPB). Even worse, all of them are urging a vote for Labour in the 600 or so constituencies they are not able to contest themselves, despite the fact that millions of workers will abstain out of disgust at Labour’s record. Hence:
• Socialist Worker (13 February 2010) reported that the SWP’s National Committee has agreed to ‘vote Labour against the Tories where there is no serious left of Labour candidate’.
• TUSC recognises ‘that there will be Labour and non-Labour candidates who agree with our policies, who share our socialist aspirations and who will be supported by left and labour movement organisations participating in our coalition’.
• The Respect Party at its November 2009 conference agreed that ‘The election of a Tory government would be a further setback for those who want to see a fairer Britain … Where there are good Labour MPs who deserve this support, we will back them’.
• The CPB says it ‘will also support some other left-wing candidates standing against new Labour types while stressing its overall preference for a Labour victory over the Tories’.
We should be absolutely clear, a vote for Labour is:
• a vote for more wars;
• a vote for state racism: attacks on asylum seekers and immigrants, racist policing and racist prisons;
• a vote for attacks on human rights, civil liberties and the right to protest;
• a vote for more privatisation of the NHS and education and for savage cuts in public spending.
It does not matter what subterfuge the opportunist left use to justify this. At exactly the time when they should be exposing the Labour Party, they are serving up the illusion that it is still a working class party and that it is still somehow better than the Tories. These so-called socialists will never break from Labour no matter what crimes it commits.
The Labour government’s record over the last 13 years has been one of unceasing war, racism and oppression. Yet there has been no serious opposition. Through their ties with the Labour Party, the opportunist left and the trade unions have together prevented a movement from emerging. The movement against war in Iraq was killed off as the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition sought an alliance with respectable bourgeois politicians and drove away radical new forces and anyone who wanted to fight back. The trade union leaders, concerned to protect their assets and investments, have refused to fight the anti-trade union laws and have time after time sold out working class struggles in favour of supporting the government. The so-called socialist candidates in this general election represent nothing – no serious struggle, no new movement, no real opposition to Labour. Drawn from the petit bourgeoisie, they do not want to see beyond their privileged position in society. They are the forces of the past, a barrier to the development of anything progressive.
Whatever the outcome of the election, the ruling class will have to step up its offensive on the working class. The resulting economic and social conditions will inevitably lead to working class resistance. The opportunist left are the biggest obstacle to creating a new movement out of this opposition as they try to prevent it from going beyond the bounds set by the Labour Party and the trade union leadership. To be a socialist today, to help create a new movement out of the resistance, means irrevocably breaking with Labour and shattering the stifling grip of opportunism. The first step is to expose the general election for what it is: a general fraud.
Contributions by: Anthony Rupert, Jane Bennett, Hannah Caller, Robert Clough, Susan Davidson, Nicki Jameson, Mark Moncada, Trevor Rayne and Cat Alison
FRFI 214 April / May 2010