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A party for the millions - not the millionaires
Join the Campaign for a New Workers' Party
AFTER THEIR disastrous showing on 4 May, New Labour now has fewer councillors than at any time since 1973. Tony Blair is clinging to power by a thread - as Labour MPs and councillors realise that their own careers are a risk if they let Blair continue in office much longer.
Hannah Sell, Socialist Party executive committee and assistant secretary CNWP
But the press furore about the infighting that dominates New Labour's inner-circle ignores the real issue. New Labour is not only unpopular because of Blair but because of 'Blairism' - the relentless diet of cuts, corruption, privatisation and warmongering that Gordon Brown and the 'Brownites' are just as responsible for.
More than 60% of the electorate did not vote on 4 May. While a section of 'traditional' Tory voters could express their anger with New Labour by returning to the Tory fold, it was a very different story for the majority - the working class - who were effectively silenced in this election.
Where credible socialists, and other anti-cuts and anti-privatisation candidates stood, they received a good response. The Socialist Party, for example, came out of the election with seven party members as councillors. However, in the vast majority of seats around the country there was no candidate who opposed the sell-off of the NHS, or the raising of the retirement age, or the destruction of comprehensive education.
The need for a new mass party of the working class is now more urgent than ever. This is the lesson that the Socialist Party has drawn from this election and we will be helping to step up the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP), which was initiated in March, as a result.
Local launch rallies are planned in nineteen towns and cities across the country and at every trade union conference. To date almost 1,800 trade union and community activists have signed the 'declaration for a new workers' party' and we are driving to reach 5,000 in the coming months.
The far-right racist British National Party more than doubled its number of councillors to 46 in this election. They did so by falsely posing as a party of the 'white working-class'. In fact they are nothing of the sort. Where they have been elected they have voted for cuts in services and increases in council tax just the same as the big three parties.
But for as long as there is no major national party that fights against this brutal profit-hungry system and for decent jobs, housing and pensions for all working-class people, the danger that these racists succeed in dividing worker against worker will remain.
Most of the trade union leaders still argue it is possible to transform New Labour. Yet, since 1997 trade union leaders have given over £100 million of their members' money to New Labour, and the government has remorselessly attacked their members' interests.
In the CNWP we will be saying that the unions should stop funding New Labour now - and begin to build a party that will fight in their members' interest.
A few union leaders, such as the RMT general secretary Bob Crow and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, have correctly said that Labour is finished as a party of the working class and that a new alternative is needed. However, not even the best of the national union leaders have taken active steps towards the foundation of a new party. But there isn't unlimited time. The longer there is a delay in the foundation of a new party, the harder it will be to effectively undermine the BNP and their ilk.
On different issues working-class people are beginning to fight back. Just weeks before the election over one million local government workers were forced to strike action to defend their pension rights against the New Labour government and the Tory-controlled Local Government Association. Tens of thousands have taken part in local demonstrations against NHS cuts.
As working-class people become involved in struggle the need to, and more importantly the possibility of, building a new party becomes more widely understood.
You can get in touch with the CNWP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to CNWP, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG
In The Socialist 18 May 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis