- Created: Thursday, 07 May 2009 15:07
- Written by FRFI
FRFI 157 October / November 2000
These opinion poll results were a political thunderbolt for the left. Writing in The Guardian (21 September), John O'Farrell stated that `a Tory government is once again a genuine prospect that we have an urgent duty to prevent. So now is the time for everyone on the left to focus on returning a Labour government next year. To all the people who supported Ken Livingstone, all the people who backed Labour in opposition but would rather snipe from the sidelines than be tainted by support; all the people who vote Liberal, Green or Socialist Labour; the time for such luxuries is over now.' The chips are down for O'Farrell: forget the brutalities of the current Labour government, the same brutalities committed by a Tory government are too awful to contemplate.
O'Farrell is not the only one to be alarmed by the resurgence of the Tories. Socialist Worker also had an attack of the vapours in its editorial of 23 September: `But many who feel betrayed by Blair will also be horrified to see the Tories revive in the polls. The right must not be allowed to gain from New Labour's crisis.' It then moved into `pigs must fly' mode: `Union leaders should employ the militant tactics we saw across Britain last week to address the urgent issues facing ordinary people...Campaign blah blah...Back strike action and picketing blah blah...Lead demonstrations blah blah...fight blah blah...set up blockades and picket lines to save Dagenham blah blah...' In a tone of rising panic, it concludes `we have 60 days to force our agenda on New Labour. If we fail to do so, the beneficiary could be William Hague.' Well, it's a pretty tall order: to get the trade union leaders to do all these things within 60 days would require a remarkable if not revolutionary transformation of the state of the class struggle.
This explains the recent attraction of the SWP to the Socialist Alliance, until recently the property of a number of smaller left wing groups. The Socialist Alliance provides a convenient cover for the SWP. Under the guise of `non-sectarianism', the SWP and its left allies have found a vehicle for distancing themselves from Labour rather than confronting it. They describe themselves as a `socialist alternative' to New Labour or Blair, never an opposition. This enables them to retain their connections with the Labour left (Old Labour) whilst appearing to oppose the Labour government. They will select the constituencies in which they will stand candidates at the general election with great care. A recent leaflet from Islington Socialist Alliance says it is `thinking about whether we should stand a candidate locally in the General Election - obviously not in Islington North against Jeremy Corbyn, but against Chris Smith in Islington South.' Socialist Worker recently underlined the left's main concern: `Slamming the door in Hague's face means fighting for those (radical) policies now and at the election.' `Keep the Tories out' will be the slogan of the left to underline the fact that they do not want Labour to lose however many candidates stand on a Socialist Alliance platform.