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.

Not surprisingly most of the people who don’t join the circus are working class. This is not apathy, it is antipathy – a hostility to the entire process. It is recognition that none of the candidates represent the interests of the working class.

The middle class takes the parliamentary game seriously. In the 19th century, before the secret ballot was introduced, votes were openly bought and sold in the street. Today, instead of hard cash or favours, votes are bought with tax cuts or selective education for the middle class. The general election is a cynical game of statistics, a battle for the decisive middle class vote in ‘marginal’ seats. In 1997, the Labour Party’s victory was called a landslide, but its total of 13.5 million votes was less than the Tories received in 1992!

A number of organisations on the left in Britain have joined together as the Socialist Alliance (SA) to stand candidates in the election. They include the SWP which says ‘vote socialist where you can, vote Labour when you must’. Despite claiming to act in the interests of the working class, they refuse to organise opposition to the racist Labour Party which constantly attacks the poor (see page 14). This is a historical trait of the British labour and trade union movement based on their privileged position in society (see pages 8-10). Now, when it is absolutely clear that the exploited and oppressed in Britain are too intelligent to be fooled by the electoral game, the SA is attempting to drag them back to the polling booths. The coalition of forces out on the streets on May Day shows that the real anti-capitalist movement rejected electoral politics a long time ago (see pages 6/7).

The ‘vote nobody’ campaign in Bristol is hoping to get more people to write ‘nobody’ on their ballot paper than vote for the winning candidate. This will show that refusing to vote for one capitalist party over another is a political statement, not a sign of a lack of interest in politics. ‘Incidentally, the Socialist Alliance are more annoyed than anyone!’ they report.

The Labour government elected in 1997 has blurred the distinction between the government and corporations more than ever before. The government is bankrolled by the rich and its policy-making bodies are dominated by big business directors. The ruling class always wins the parliamentary game because whoever is elected will serve in its interests; by privatising our industries (see page 5) and forcing schools to seek private investment (page 3), for example.

None of them will tackle the growing inequalities in Britain, where one in three children live below the poverty line (see page 10). Young people are leaving school without qualifications, unemployment is forcing millions into poverty and onto exploitative schemes like the New Deal, debt is rising, drug use is increasingly common, and the government’s racist immigration policies are giving confidence to racists, both on the streets and in institutions like the police force (see pages 12 and 16).

Capitalism has no solution to the social problems of poverty and alienation. Only a system founded on economic equality can form the basis of a society where there is social equality, without racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination. A society based on people not profit is a socialist society.

Previous socialist countries had their problems, but human beings are certainly capable of working through those, as socialist Cuba is showing. We have to get there collectively first. The British government which has terrorised the Irish people for centuries (see page 4) has the nerve to condemn Cuba for human rights abuses (see page 11) while it refuses to oppose the brutal Zionist policy of genocide against the Palestinian people (see page 2).

The media is just as controlled by corporations as the government. In Britain, just seven companies control 98% of the media. Rupert Murdoch alone owns over a third of national newspaper circulation in Britain.

That’s why the Revolutionary Communist Group produces Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI), so we can counter the lies of the corporate state, which makes us believe that we cannot change anything. Through FRFI, we aim to arm the people with knowledge, as the basis of collective action.

Don’t vote for class enemies, organise the fightback!

FRFI is produced by a collective effort and we rely on you — please send your contributions to the address below.

FRFI Fighting Fund, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX

FRFI 161 June / July 2001