Forest of Dean & Wye Valley


In C.Spiby on April 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm

As unpalatable as it is, it is my opinion that the Tories can only lose the coming General Election: only some cataclysmic embarrassment or folly can surely deny them the helm of the country now. And while that is not entirely impossible, it is unlikely.

Having not voted Labour since they took us into Iraq in 2003, the time has come to reassess my support. Do I cast a losing vote? Do I opt for the Lib Dems in hope they become the main party of opposition and thereby fulfil the meagre hopes I have of it creating some space between them and the Tories, unlike what we had between New Labour and the Conservatives? If we want to remind ourselves of just how bad things are, think of the worst of New Labour and you’ll find that the Tories voted in support of that policy (Iraq) or want even more of the same (PPP, PFI).

As a paid-up member of the Communist Party of Britain I am expected to vote for any CPB candidate standing in my constituency and, where there is none (and there isn’t in the Forest of Dean), then I am to vote Labour on the premise that, despite all the Party’s own rightful criticisms of it, we still stand a better chance of putting pressure on Labour than we ever will with the Tories. I think this is a mature approach. Were Labour even likely to return to power.

Of course neither I am under any delusion that the British communist party (the CPB) will be forming a government any time soon, but it seems the chances for Labour are heading that way too.  Is their directive, then, a waste of my vote?

I fully expect our Conservative MP, Mark Harper, to retain his seat in May, as Parliament itself swings to the blues. I therefore remain undecided as to how best oppose the right-wingers, bearing in mind that New Labour, on the whole and in my opinion, is only slightly to the left of Cameron’s crew. I am also mindful that we need to be careful of the far right using the vacuum of a low turnout to make their own terrible gains.

One option I have never used before is the spoilt vote. I agree with many on the Left (if not the entire spectrum of politics) that a stay-at-home no-show, irrespective of how disenfranchised we are, is an offence to all those in history who fought for suffrage.

The difference today, however, is that while those who fought for suffrage believed in their representatives we do not. Do we for one moment believe that those same champions of democracy would sit idle while our choices saw us disenfranchised? Absolutely not! A high increase in the number of spoilt papers would send a message that i) the people remain unconvinced with what’s on offer and ii) but we remain engaged in politics. After all, it’s our politics because it’s our society, not theirs: politicians need to heed these warnings and return to being the executors of power – our power!

So, if I am convinced (despite recent polls putting the lead to the Tories as slim and the expectation of hung Parliaments) – which I am – that the Conservatives will take power in May, I contest it is to the long-view that we are to look now.

It is my prediction that David Milliband will become Leader of the Labour Party following its imminent trashing at the next General Election.

On the surface he will halt any reference to the New Labour project in all but spirit as he continues the trend in embracing the centre-right, middle class vote above and beyond the grass roots of his own Party. In the face of defeat and low turnout we will be told the Party is learning the lessons of the Blair/Brown years, while at the same time reminding us of their successes (some rightful, others diabolical (Iraq), PPP, foundation trusts etc.) as well as the advent of its longest term in government for Labour in its history.

Only after the second term of the Tories and the second defeat of the next Labour Party will we really have a chance to demonstrate that a refuelled, grassroots Labour Party is our only true hope for the left. If then the Party isn’t for our taking, be that by its mechanisms or our own impotency, then it is unlikely it ever will be. At that juncture our historical ties to it (trade unionism, socialist and social democratic support writ large) need to be thoroughly reassessed. It will be a critical time in labour and political history.

To help us begin that long journey I urge unaffiliated members currently lacking in a Party home join the Labour Representation Committee. We MUST build the movement of the Left back into Labour during the recess of the coming Tory darkness. You can do this with or outside of a union, as a private member as long as you are not currently in a political party other than Labour.

There is much work to be done. If you need a shock as to just how much is to be done then I also urge you to get a copy of the documentary film ‘Taking Liberties’ from your local library or DVD rental service. In only an hour and a half it will remind us how difficult the road will be, but, more importantly, also how essential it is to begin that journey back to a civil democracy now.

Only then can we even hope to demand proper socialism take its rightful place back in our Party.

LRC, c/o PO Box 2378, London, E5 9QU


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