Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/299/13865

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 May 2003

Analysis:

Blair's 'Baghdad Trounce'

TONY BLAIR hoped his Iraq 'victory' would help New Labour in the 1 May elections. But rather than a 'Baghdad bounce', it was more like a 'Baghdad trounce'. New Labour lost votes nationwide due to anger on the war. In particular, they lost several councils in areas with large Muslim populations such as Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester.

Judy Beishon

A layer of voters remain in opposition to the war. Still more - two-thirds of people according to a poll - think Blair's warmongering has increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the UK. New Labour even had difficulties motivating their own election activists as a result of the war.

New Labour's loss of over 750 seats was also due to great anger over domestic issues, such as the recent 13% average council tax increase, the rise in National Insurance, cuts in services and the level of crime.

The Liberals gained their highest share of the vote in a local election but their net gain was only 185 seats and four councils. They are the traditional protest vote against Labour and the Tories but in this election also gained votes for not fully endorsing war on Iraq. Their results show that once in power they quickly repel people when it becomes clear they offer no real alternative.

The Tories gained 560 seats and 29 councils, mainly in rural and suburban areas. Tory shadow minister, Crispin Blunt tried to trigger a leadership challenge to Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith (IDS) by attacking him and resigning his position.

But it was an ill-timed move, made just hours before it was clear the party had won enough seats to save IDS for the time being. And despite IDS's lack of support amongst Tories, they have no credible alternative at present. Incredibly, Blunt's preference was to return to the failed leadership of William Hague!

The Tories are also well aware that they achieved nowhere near the votes they would need to win a general election.

Speculating on what the results would mean in a general election is a fairly futile exercise. With only a third of voters turning out, the 'snapshot' of views on 1 May gives no indication of how the bulk of the electorate will vote. And in any case, attitudes can alter considerably as a result of events over even short periods of time.

Disillusionment

THE TORIES were heralded as the largest party in local government, having gained 35% of the vote, as against Labour's 31% and the Liberals' 30%. But rather than significant increased support for them, their seat gains were mainly due to the fall in Labour's vote.

Taking into account the low turnout and the fact that 12% of the electorate was not involved in elections on 1 May, all three main capitalist parties received the votes of around only 8% of the total electorate! This is the inevitable response by ordinary people to their similar polices of cuts and attacks on living standards.

All three parties had major problems in even finding candidates for many of the 10,427 council seats contested. Labour had candidates in only two-thirds of the seats being fought for in England.

As well as showing disillusionment in the main parties, the low turnout reflects the view that voting will not change anything, particularly in local elections as councils have had many of their powers taken away by central government.

New methods of voting such as all-postal ballots, phone and e-voting boosted the vote in some areas. However, they will not change the present fundamental disenchantment with voting, particularly of working-class people. These methods could also encourage vote-rigging, and they create a passive role for the electorate rather than an active one.

There is a continuing trend for independent candidates and small parties to gain seats, which disturbingly has also included the far-right BNP (see article opposite). The Green Party now have 53 councillors in England and Wales, their highest ever number.

Socialist Party councillor Karen McKay was re-elected in Coventry - we have four councillors nationally. The Socialist Alliance gained one councillor in Preston.

The Scottish Socialist Party's gains in the Scottish parliament are excellent and there will be questions about whether socialists in England and Wales can achieve similar results. However, their gains were due to the system of proportional representation which is not used in England and Wales.

Nevertheless, steps towards left unity need to be taken in England and Wales, though these must be on a principled basis. The vacuum on the left and the successes of anti-cuts candidates and small parties, including the Socialist Party, shows the potential for a new mass workers' party. With more government attacks imminent, this is urgently needed.

Economy worsening

AS THE economy worsens, the government will strive to protect big business which will mean no respite for ordinary people. There was a small economic 'Baghdad bounce' when the FTSE 100 share prices increased by 15% since their pre-war level but economic growth in the first quarter of this year was only 0.2%.

Chancellor Gordon Brown recently underestimated government borrowing by 1.2 billion and has overestimated future growth rates. A massive accumulation of debt has been fuelling consumer spending, but this is unsustainable.

With house prices now levelling off and unemployment likely to rise, spending will slow, pushing the economy into recession. The Ernst and Young Item Club predicts that Gordon Brown will need tax increases of as much as 15 billion to plug the gap in his figures.

Blair and those around him are preparing to counter future workers' struggles against further attacks. He said recently: "We will not give in, in any shape or form, to any resurgent trade union militancy". John Prescott has tabled emergency legislation to try to force firefighters to accept a pay settlement and worse working practices.

But it is only a matter of time before a section of workers enters into struggle, whether it be further action by the firefighters or others such as health workers, council workers or teachers. Easter's National Union of Teachers conference voted to refuse to implement the SATS exam system next year - SATS underlies much of the government's education strategy.

Public-sector union leaders are reflecting the discontent from below on low pay by calling for a minimum wage of 6.50 per hour. While the new HSBC chief executive, William Aldinger has set a new UK record of greed by taking a pay and perks package worth 37 million, average earnings have been rising at below the rate of inflation.

Socialist Party candidates on 1 May condemned the capitalist system for such an obscene wealth divide. But rather than echoing those who just bemoan it, we include in our programme the need to take into public ownership the top 150 companies and banks that dominate the economy, under working-class control and management.

Almost every Socialist Party candidate gained an increased vote on previous elections, showing growing support for a genuine socialist alternative.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 10 May 2003:

No To Foundation Hospitals

Fight Corus Job Massacre

Airport Workers Demand The Truth

Nursery Nurses Step Up The Fight Against Poverty Pay

Iraq watch

Northern Ireland: Only Working Class Can End Sectarian Impasse

Elections 1 May 2003: Build The Socialist Alternative

Bootle and Wales: New Labour's lies and dirty tricks

Blair's 'Baghdad Trounce'

Needed - new policies, not new voting methods

Spectacular gains for Scottish Socialist Party

Neo-Nazis blast a warning

Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta


 

Home   |   The Socialist 10 May 2003   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

triangleThe end of the Tories?

Socialist:

triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Government:

triangleWorkers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

Election:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

Socialist Party:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Iraq:

triangle'From Militant to the Socialist Party' - new book now available

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2