Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/484/2329
New Labour - lowest poll ratings since 1983
IN THE Thursday 3 May elections, 10,456 seats across 312 local authorities in England are being contested. Elections for the Wales Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and every Scottish council seat are also on 3 May.
Political 'experts' in the media repeatedly reflect the mantra of capitalist politicians when they say that after years in power - ten now in the case of the New Labour government - it is inevitable that the ruling party will suffer electoral losses.
This is a way of helping to perpetuate the rule of the capitalist parties. They come to power by dominating the media and spending huge sums of money on making false promises and spreading illusions in what they will do. Then, when they place the interests of big business first in their actions, targeting attacks in living standards at the majority of people or the poorest sections of society, the backlash at the polling station is dismissed as an inevitable consequence of having to carry out unpopular measures over a prolonged period.
But carrying out anti-working class policies and becoming unpopular is only inevitable for pro-capitalist parties, that remain within the framework of capitalism.
Britain does not have to be a tax haven for the super-rich, now ranked alongside unregulated jurisdictions like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands by the International Monetary Fund.
The government did not have to sit back while the bosses of Britain's ten biggest companies took home an average of more than £5.8 million each last year, 250 times the average annual income.
Nor does nearly £600,000 of public money have to be given to multi-millionaire turkey farmer Bernard Matthews as compensation for having turkeys culled, while turkey farm workers who were sacked during the bird flu outbreak have received nothing. Matthews should be prosecuted, not compensated, considering he placed a vast number of people at risk from bird flu through laxness in handling poultry waste at one of his plants.
In its serving of big business, the government has not stopped short of overt corruption, as the cash for peerages scandal - with the police now recommending prosecutions - shows.
Gordon Brown will be little different to Blair; he has been the architect and executor of many of Labour's policies. He will also face extra pressure from big business to carry out anti-working class measures when the economy worsens decisively, as is inevitable at some stage, possibly soon.
Inflation has recently exceeded the limit agreed between the government and the Bank of England, which in turn is leading to interest rate increases, in a situation where household debt levels are much higher than when New Labour came to power. Higher interest payments on debt, combined with endemic low pay, job insecurity and further attacks on public services will be disastrous for working-class people.
The unpopularity of New Labour - now on their lowest level in the polls since 1983 - has opened up the possibility of a return of the Tories at the next general election. Few workers want a return of the Tories, who are still strongly hated for the attacks they made when in power. New Labour leaders say we have to vote Labour to stop the Tories, but New Labour has carried out Tory policies.
Further than the Tories
Incredibly, Blair went further even with many of his attacks on workers' living standards and civil liberties than the Tories did in their 18 years of power up to 1997. Present Tory leader, David Cameron, positions himself as Blair's rightful heir. Regarding warfare, Blair has sent British forces into more war zones than any other prime minister since 1945.
All three main political parties want to continue with neo-liberal policies, ie attacks on the welfare state, on trade union rights, working conditions, pay etc. This is at a time when the two leading promoters of neo-liberalism in the world - the US and British governments - are the worst 'industrialised' countries for children to grow up in, according to the UN Children's Fund.
Some Labour apologists argue that the 3 May elections are not for electing the British parliament, so it is therefore pointless to use a local election or Wales Assembly ballot box to take revenge on the Labour government's crimes.
Even John McDonnell MP, the left-wing would-be challenger for the Labour leadership, has written: "Local Labour candidates are not responsible for the unpopular policies the government is pursuing. They are doing their best to provide high quality services to their residents within a difficult framework."
But where are any Labour councillors around the country taking a stand against cuts and privatisation as the Militant-led Liverpool council did against cuts in the 1980s? New Labour is no longer representative of workers' interests at any level.
In future elections it is essential that there are more and more working-class people standing as candidates to defend workers' interests. These campaigns would be hugely strengthened by coming together under the umbrella of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP), and by doing so, would lay firm foundations for building a new workers' party.
The Socialist Party is standing in its own right on 3 May in a number of seats and urges people to vote socialist in those areas. But inscribed on our banner is also our promotion of the CNWP, with the aim that a new workers' party will soon exist to take a lead in all workers' struggles, and also to completely change the electoral landscape.
In The Socialist 26 April 2007:
Socialist Party election analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news