Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/199/8148
Labour fiddles while countryside burns
NEW LABOUR set their hearts on a 3 May general election over a year ago, but their chosen timetable is increasingly hard to stick to under the pressure of events.
Last week for the first time a majority in opinion polls (52%) thought it would be wrong for the government to proceed with a 3 May election. New Labour are no longer certain they can stick with their timetable. They must decide whether to call a 3 May election by 5 April.
Government scientists predict the virus will peak in May. The danger for Blair is that Labour will be seen as spending their time electioneering while the countryside plunges further into crisis.
New Labour's inner-circle are seriously considering putting the election off to June, possibly to 7 June. The crisis won't be over by then, but their spin-doctors hope that a month of supposedly combating foot and mouth, will help them turn to the election without being seen to put their own election plans first.
This is not risk-free - there's no reason to suppose that any of the problems of a May election will be solved by June.
Whenever the election, the Socialist Party will be fielding 14 candidates in England and Wales. We're taking part in the Socialist Alliance election campaign, which is fielding around 80 candidates.
In all our seats our election campaigns are already gathering widespread support. We're confident of winning the votes of many working-class people, despite the potential for many to abstain because of their disillusionment with capitalist politicians.
Nick Cohen wrote last week in The Observer on why fewer people bother to vote: "[The] idea that we're living in a bourgeois paradise won't work. Turnout is collapsing in the slums not the gentrified docklands. Large sections of the poor and the working class have concluded that no party will do much for them, and broadly, they're right."
Cohen fears a future where: "Politics will be about pleasing the corporations who fund parties and placating the comfortable half of the electorate which bothers to vote. The rest can be left to rot."
He correctly concludes that no mainstream parties offer anything for working-class people.
By standing Socialist Party candidates we're starting to offer an alternative that will assist working-class people in building their own party, which stands up for the millions instead of the millionaires.
In The Socialist 30 March 2001: