Letter and reply: would workers’ candidates let the Tories in?
The article in the Socialist newspaper, ‘Is Mick Lynch right that voting Labour is the only option at the next election?’ suggested that if a trade union-organised list of candidates were to stand at the next election there would not be a risk of letting the Tories in.
Well I’m not so sure. The article says that “today, in a situation where, as Mick says, ‘we lead, others follow’, why couldn’t the RMT play a similar role in getting at least a bloc of MPs to represent our class in parliament? Especially if Mick himself gave a lead?”
“For a start, under Britain’s electoral system, a general election is not one all-UK-wide ‘Tory or Labour’ contest, but 650 different elections to elect an MP in each constituency. So, for example, in the Islington North constituency, Jeremy Corbyn, who won in 2019 with 64.3% of the vote (with the Liberal Democrats second), could stand for a trade union-organised list without any prospect whatsoever of ‘letting the Tories in’.”
I think this is misleading. Yes of course, if Jeremy Corbyn stood against a Labour candidate in Islington it would not let the Tories in, in that constituency. But here’s the problem. In Islington North, as it stands at the moment, a Labour victory is the most likely outcome. But if Corbyn were to stand, it’s possible that he could beat Labour, and as a result, Labour would have one less seat. If there are several other similar situations, it’s possible that Labour could have several less seats. In a tight fought general election, this could make the difference between Labour being able to form a government or not.
Irrespective of this, I still think trade union-sponsored candidates should stand, but we need to be absolutely clear on this.
Alan Manley, West London
“If Jeremy Corbyn were to stand [in Islington North at the next general election], it is possible he could beat Labour, and as a result, Labour would have one less seat.” This is entirely possible – one less MP behind Keir Starmer’s policy of ‘fiscal responsibility’ (more cuts), one more MP ‘for the many, not the few’, whose anti-austerity policies as Labour leader in the past have inspired hundreds of thousands of young people.
At the next general election, many working-class people will be primarily concerned with denying the Tories as many seats as possible – leaving in no doubt their defeat. As Alan acknowledges, a Jeremy Corbyn challenge in Islington North has very little prospect of giving the Tories an additional MP. What is there to lose? So too in any number of other seats where a Tory victory is almost certainly ruled out, such as the 120 seats where, even in 2019, Labour won over 50% of the vote.
Imagine what an impact even just a handful of workers’ MPs could have, acting as a lightning rod for growing working-class anger at a new government overseeing further deteriorating living standards. The capitalists’ fear of such a pole of attraction is at the root of Keir Starmer’s ruthless purge to try to remove any personnel who would be susceptible to such working-class pressure.
In fact, Labour is by far the most likely to be the biggest party after a general election. Polls consistently project a Labour majority. One megapoll based on new constituency boundaries put Labour 12% ahead of the Tories. The worst-case scenario had Labour as the biggest party in a hung parliament.
The Tories are fractured with deep splits in multiple directions, getting ever more unpopular with swathes of traditional would-be supporters facing a mortgage repayment cliff face and even NHS consultants on strike. What possible circumstances would win them a swing big enough to stay in power?
How can the trade union movement best use its political muscle before, during and after a general election? By backing Jeremy Corbyn and others to stand as part of
a workers’ list of candidates. That is what Socialist Party members have been fighting for at this year’s trade union conferences. Such a stand would be an important step in the process of building a new mass party of the working class.
Young people need socialist change
The United Kingdom has a large gap between poor people and wealthy people. In 2022, incomes for the poorest 14 million people in Britain fell by 7.5%. The richest fifth saw a 7.8% increase, according to Equality Trust. This makes you ask yourself, why?
Why in the 21st century are there people that live in poverty, some working all their lives to not even be able to pay for the basics like energy or public transport?
Cities such as Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester, which suffer from some of the highest amounts of crime, are also cities that suffer from being some of the poorest.
According to the Trust for London, “52% more crimes were recorded in the most income-deprived areas in 2022”, rates of crimes such as violence, robberies and sexual offences are twice as high in deprived poor areas in London than in the top ten wealthiest areas in the mega-city.
Capitalist property developers drive low-income households out of their homes so they can be improved and passed onto wealthier occupants that ‘deserve’ them, shoving under-paid, poorer people into run-down tower blocks. This same trick has been played long before the Trotters, Del Boy and Rodney. Just because you are rich, doesn’t mean you deserve it – remember that, capitalists!
There is a lack of investment in young people’s future. I ask for the young people of this country – fight for your future, but also the lives of others too. I urge the people of my age and older to look for a better society, and that for me, and us, is socialism.
James Giraldi, Worcester
Labour – 105 years later
Contrast the 2023 Labour Policy Forum in Nottingham (see editorial) with Labour’s 1918 national conference in the same city:
“The Red Flag opened the meeting and three cheers were called for, for the Russian Revolution, and for the International [the Socialist Second International, which still included the Russian Bolshevik party]. When a delegate shouted for cheers for peace the hall rang with response. A cry from the audience: ‘Cheers for Mac’ evoked a spirited outburst, and was followed by cheers for Trotsky and Litvinov. Throughout the meeting ‘delegates rose from their seats in the unbounded enthusiasm of their greeting with a hurricane of cheers.’ Later Litvinov, the Bolshevik representative in Great Britain, brought fraternal greetings and was ‘received with loud cheers, punctuated with tremendous applause.’
“Beatrice Webb [a leading Fabian, on Labour’s right wing] wrote ‘the leaders of the Labour movement are distinctly uneasy about the spirit of revolt among the rank and file which openly proclaims its sympathy with lurid doings in Petrograd… the whole body of delegates seem determined that the social order shall be different after the war and for the first time they are keen on the International”.’ From Wyncoll, Peter Harold (1982). The Labour movement in Nottingham 1880-1918. PhD thesis The Open University