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Voters reject Labour: Build a new workers' party
Grodon Brown meltdown. Cartoon on cover of Socialism Today, June 2008 . Cartoon by Suz
New Labour suffered an electoral disaster in the Glasgow East byelection on 24 July. A 22% swing to the Scottish National Party (SNP) resulted in the overturn of a previous 13,500 Labour majority. The SNP won with a majority of just over 300.
Philip Stott, Scotland
This was payback. Payback for years of neglect by New Labour who long ago abandoned the working class for the rich and the capitalist establishment. Payback for increasing levels of poverty among the young and old; for rocketing costs of food, fuel and petrol prices while the storm clouds of an economic recession gather.
Glasgow's East End was the scene of a referendum on the New Labour project and its architects, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and on Labour's longstanding failures in Glasgow over decades. The fallout of this defeat may well end the political career of Gordon Brown, who could face a challenge to his position from within the Labour party.
Brown has become a prime minister with feet of clay. Like King Midas in reverse, everything he touches turns not to gold, but to ruin. Not once did Brown come to Glasgow East during the campaign - an indication of the liability he has become. In contrast, SNP leader Alex Salmond campaigned 12 times in the East End hoping to capitalise on the relative popularity of the SNP government in Scotland compared with the catastrophic performance of the Labour led Westminster government.
Whether Gordon Brown survives or not, the likelihood of the return of Tory government, under David Cameron, is increasing by the day. The deteriorating economic situation will increase the attempts of all pro-capitalist governments, including the SNP's in Scotland, to make the working class pay for the crisis in terms of cuts and attacks on living standards. Under these circumstances the need to build a powerful mass party of socialism that defends the interests of the working class is more important than ever before.
This defeat for New Labour shows again that the working class are looking for political alternatives now and have realised that New Labour isn't a force to represent them.
This isn't a temporary state, as some would argue, whereby the left will regain a meaningful influence once again in Labour.
It all highlights the need for a new mass workers' party in England and Wales and an equivalent sister organisation in Scotland. It is due to the absence of such a party that the nationalists have won this seat.
That said, it is still a significant development, that large numbers of traditional Labour supporters are consciously withdrawing their support from the party of war and big business.
Chris Flood, Socialist Party councillor, Lewisham, London
This latest disastrous byelection result for New Labour comes as no surprise. In its latest talks with the trade unions, the Labour leaders have rejected almost all of the 130 union demands put forward, including repeal of the anti-trade union laws. Working class people see no point in voting for a party that only attacks their interests. The unions must break their link with the Labour party and fund candidates who promote workers' rights and living standards.
Rob Windsor, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
In The Socialist 31 July 2008:
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