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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 June 2014

Editorial from the Socialist issue 813

Enough of 'all the same' capitalist politics!

Musician Paul Weller, when asked on breakfast TV last week if he's still political, replied: "Like the majority of people I'm disillusioned with it all.

"I can't tell the difference between the majority of the parties ... They all look the same to me and all sound the same".

A BBC reporter once pointed out that there are more members of the Caravan Club, or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, than of all Britain's main political parties put together.

Gone are the days when any of these establishment parties were 'mass membership' organisations.

In the early 1950s, the Conservative party had nearly three million members and Labour over one million.

Now though, only about 1% of the electorate is a member of one of the three main parties and active campaigners for them have become extinct in many areas.

Last month's local and European elections indicated a continuation of this trend of aversion. In the euro elections, the Tories - the usual favoured 'A team' of the British capitalist class - came third for the first time in a nationwide poll since their party was founded. Over half the people who voted in the euros chose neither the Tories nor Labour.

Lib Dem catastrophe

The Lib Dems did catastrophically, losing eleven of their 12 euro MPs and over 300 council seats. Their leader, Nick Clegg has received his comeuppance for aiding the government's austerity drive by plummeting to new depths - he's the least popular leader of any party in modern times, on a paltry 13% approval rating according to a YouGov poll last weekend.

In the same week Lib Dem peer Matthew Oakeshott stuck the knife into his party leader, saying in his resignation letter (after being exposed for undermining Clegg) that he was "sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg".

Oakeshott also reopened the cesspit of parliamentary corruption by revealing in his letter: "My efforts to expose and end cash for peerages in all parties, including our own... have failed".

The only saving grace for Clegg is that neither the Tories nor Labour are surging ahead. As Andrew Rawnsley noted in the Observer: "He would be in much deeper trouble with his party if it looked obvious that Labour or the Tories were striding confidently towards a general election victory guaranteed to thrust the Lib Dems back into the margins".

On the contrary, in the local elections the cuts-driven Tories lost over 230 council seats and are trailing 12 percentage points behind Labour according to polling by Tory Lord Ashcroft done in 26 key marginal constituency seats.

The party is acutely divided on many issues, with the extent of Britain's involvement in the European Union recently at the forefront of their infighting.

Meanwhile the Labour party has gone from a 14 point poll national lead over the Tories to a small one at present because it offers nothing substantially different to the government's agenda.

The latest Labour shadow minister to rub our noses in their 'prudency' on behalf of the rich was shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Chris Leslie, who asserted last week: "I'm not heading into this expecting popularity.

"Quite the opposite. All government departments in the next Labour government will have to face fundamental questions as never before.

"We won't be able to undo the cuts that have been felt in recent years ... A more limited pot of money will have to be spent on a smaller number of priorities".

However, the "fundamental question" that is occupying the minds of Labour MPs is how they can keep their seats if their party is "not expecting popularity", an unsurprising dilemma causing turmoil in the party regarding its campaign strategies and assessments of Ed Miliband's capability of leading the way to election victory.

But virtually none of them have any intention of proposing manifesto policies that would really inspire working class people to vote Labour.

The unstable state of the main political parties of British capitalism is a reflection of the decay of the capitalist system itself in this era - its inherent contradictions and unprogressive nature.

Given both the Con-Dems and Labour are completely wedded to capitalism, none of them can offer improved living standards for most of the population and at the same time satisfy their big business sponsors.

In the local elections 17% of those who voted kicked all the mainstream politicians by voting for Ukip, and 27% did likewise in the euros.

A Survation poll last week showed that people intending to vote for Ukip in the Newark byelection are again mainly motivated to do so by unhappiness with the main parties.

Yet the trend of growing alienation from 'politics' due to disenchantment with the traditional three main parties certainly won't be reversed by the likes of Farage's Ukip, that seeks to lower taxes for the highest earners and has a constant stream of corruption, bigotry and racism scandals in its ranks.

Ukip pro-capitalist

As the Socialist has explained, the policies of Ukip are those of yet another staunchly pro-capitalist party, in this case one that is dangerously trying to give the impression that a nationalist and anti-immigration stance will safeguard the living standards of ordinary people.

After Paul Weller had replied to the question on whether he is still political, the interviewer retorted: "But you were very heavily involved in the past".

Weller responded: "Yeah I was, back in the 80s. It was a different time with Thatcherism. Very definite - you were either with it or against it. There were clear lines drawn".

Today, it isn't 'politics' that's the problem, but precisely the lack of "clear lines" in mainstream politics.

Class lines. Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems have all gone further than even Thatcher dared to go in attacking the living standards of working class and middle class people, and Ukip will do too, given a chance.

This is why the Socialist Party has long been arguing the need for a new mass workers' party to be built with a socialist programme, and is closely involved in developing the electoral challenges of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Mass confidence in 'politics' will only be restored by a mass party that genuinely represents the interests of the overwhelming majority in society - working people, pensioners, benefit claimants, students, etc - and that is kept on the right track by being democratically run by those whose interests it serves.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 4 June 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Workers can win: Victory for $15 campaign in Seattle

Enough of 'all the same' capitalist politics!

TUSC: Next steps building political voice for workers

Inclusive capitalism? You're having a laugh!

Children handed poverty "life sentence"

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

US: How Seattle won a $15 minimum wage

Ireland: Electoral surge against austerity

Socialist Party workplace news

"Enough is enough!" - 1.5m could strike over pay

NHS: We demand a living wage!

Come to NSSN conference!

Unite conference: Fighting policies needed

UCU: Members losing patience with leadership

PCS-Unite merger: Will it strengthen our fightback?

Leeds unions prepare for action

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bakers' Union interview: "We can stop race to bottom"

Stevenage: March against the far-right, racist EDL

Rhydyfelin library occupied by protesters

Readers' comments

NHS: Night shift and a cold rage

Building the Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Plan now for the fundraising collectathon

'Join the socialists' week of action

Successful building in east London

Rapid recruitment in Plymouth


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