The race to be Prime Minister has started...

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.


Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass

There are still some in Britain who believe that the Labour Party will be born again through the appointment of a new Prime Minister when Tony Blair finally shuffles off. There are even some on the left who think that Gordon Brown is closer to ‘Old Labour’ than Blair’s New Labour – by which they mean that with Brown in the driving seat, the Labour Party will restore its allegiance to the working class, trade unions and ‘socialism’. ‘Give them another chance’, they will cry. Think again. Gordon Brown is every inch an imperialist, just like Blair and the Labour Party they both belong to. This is Brown’s record on some of the main issues.

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Editorial: London Mayor Election

'If voting changed anything, they'd abolish it' 

In May, Londoners will be asked to vote for a new kind of political animal - a London Mayor. There have been many mayors of course - most of them ceremonial like their chains. Even the Lord Mayor to the super-rich corporations in the City of London does not have power to do anything except promote the rich and patronise the poor through charity. But the 'new' political animal, the Mayor of London (Year 2K), will, they say, have the power to run London along the lines of the Mayor of New York City, USA. He or she (let's face it, he) will be a 'mover and shaker'.

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Editorial: London Mayor Election 'All that's solid melts...'

On 4 May, Ken Livingstone was elected London's first independent metropolitan mayor, gaining 667,877 first preference votes (38.9%). His nearest rival, Conservative Steven Norris, took 464,434 votes (27%) and the official Labour candidate Frank Dobson came a poor third with 223,884 votes (13%). Across the country, in local council elections the Labour Party suffered a consistent drubbing: Labour lost 573 seats compared to Conservative gains of 593. What was also consistent was the appallingly low turn-out for both mayoral and local elections. In London 1.7 million votes were cast out of a possible 5 million (32%); in some areas of the country the turnout was less than 25%.

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Editorial: Terrorised by the Tories

Suddenly, there is panic on the left: with a general election likely in spring next year, Labour is trailing in the opinion polls, for the first time since shortly after the 1992 election. And the margin is not small: a poll just before the Labour Party conference gave the Tories an 8% lead. Hague's brutal, racist and populist policies seem to be an attractive option for the middle class and their allies in the upper sections of the working class, whose votes determine the outcome of general elections in this country.

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.

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Budget: no choice for the working class

Every Labour budget since 1997 has been driven by one real consideration – to ensure that the coalition of forces that elected Labour into office remains on board. Labour has to be able to govern in the interests of banking and multinational capital yet keep the support of the professional, middle and upper working classes (middle classes).

Labour's first two budgets assured banking and corporate capital that British capitalism was safe in its hands. Monetary policy was handed over to the Bank of England and a ruthless fiscal policy put in place to slash the public sector deficit and reduce the level of public debt to national income. 'Enterprise' was to be promoted through tax cuts and privatisation. Policies were put in place to discipline the poor working class, and inequality continued to grow as Labour steadfastly stood by its promise not to raise direct taxes on the middle classes. This neo-liberal dogma was called 'prudence'.

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Editorial: Don’t vote – Organise!

This issue of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! is produced in the midst of a general election campaign. People in Britain are being bombarded with nonsense and harassed by politicians and the press into believing that this circus performance is a political highlight, representing ‘democracy’, which we are lucky to take part in once every four or five years.

In 1997, 44% of 18 to 24-year-olds did not bother to visit a polling booth. The overall turnout of registered voters at the last general election was just 71.3% across the country. This year even more people will decide not to vote on 7 June, because they know that the general election is a general fraud. Official statistics already show that 26% of black people in Britain are not even registered to vote, and of those who are, only 50% will vote. 50% of the unemployed will not vote either, whilst those in prison and the homeless don’t have the right to vote anyway.

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Torpor grips Convention of the Left

The Convention of the Left met in Manchester at the same time as the Labour Party conference; attracting fewer than 200 at its main sessions, it said more about the weakness of the left than anything else.

The Convention’s list of sponsors, those tired hacks who have been responsible for reducing the influence of socialism in Britain to its lowest point for over a century, belied its aim – ‘to ask ourselves the essential questions’. There was no chance that an event supported by Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, or by Tony Benn, or by leading members of Respect or the SWP, would ask the one essential question facing socialists today: how can we organise a total break from the Labour Party and finally bury its stinking corpse? Rather than hold Labour Party members to account for their affiliation to this rotten imperialist, racist and anti-working class party, audiences gave extra applause to those who announced their continued membership, whilst the charlatan Tony Benn received the loudest applause of all at the session he attended.

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