Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/505/3244

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 October 2007

Editorial

Brown's expedient election climb-down

Gordon Brown and David Cameron play "Snap", cartoon by Suz

Gordon Brown and David Cameron play 'Snap', cartoon by Suz

Gordon Brown's rapid recoil from the idea of holding an autumn election was a blatant example of the opportunism that typifies all the leaders of the main political parties. No-one was convinced by his declaration that he wanted time to show his "vision for the future".

If his "vision" had been an end to NHS cuts and privatisation, an end to student fees, abandoning the 2% pay limit for public-sector workers, significantly increasing the state pension and minimum wage, and other policies along these lines, he would have had no trouble in winning an autumn election.

However, his vision is one of further cuts and privatisation and other attacks on living standards. The similarity between the main parties on these issues contrasts with huge frustration and insecurity in the population as a whole. This has created a highly volatile situation in Britain.

The Tories only had to throw in the hand grenade of an increased inheritance tax threshold to undermine New Labour's support in crucial marginal seats. Within the space of a week, Brown went from an expected clear general election victory, to a likely reduced majority or even loss.

An ICM poll of 83 key marginal seats found the Tories on 44% compared with 38% for Labour. It also confirmed that Labour voters were less likely to turn out than Tory voters. Even Home Secretary Jacqui Smith could have lost her seat.

Tax measures

Labour's strategy is now to undermine the Tories by stealing elements of their recent proposals, just as the Tories have stolen repeatedly from Labour, both attempting to occupy the 'centre' ground. The chancellor, Alistair Darling, has signalled he will make some limited tax increases for private equity fat cats and 'non-domiciled' super-wealthy individuals.

Badly stung by the Tories' proposal to increase the inheritance tax threshold from its present 300,000 to 1 million, he has promised to increase it to 700,000 by 2010.

The Tories were easily able to exploit the issue of inheritance tax because house prices have increased by over 130% since Labour came to power in 1997, whereas the inheritance tax threshold has increased by just 32%. It was estimated that the families of over a quarter of house owners in the 30 most key marginal election seats would be liable for inheritance tax when the owners die.

These figures show that New Labour has increasingly used the tax to penalise middle class and more well-off working-class people rather than to stop inheritance of massive wealth by the children of the super-rich which perpetuates vast inequality. Over 70% of the government's income from inheritance tax has come from estates of 500,000 or less.

For the Tories, Brown's election decision was ideal; they did not seriously expect to win an autumn election and they succeeding in avoiding it and damaging Brown at the same time. The Labour leaders' arrogant confidence came crashing down as they recognised the damage they had done to themselves. Their 'spin' had badly backfired particularly as they had not realised how much the threat of an imminent general election would motivate the Tories to pull together and produce some election bribes.

The climb-down created new divisions in the parliamentary Labour Party, with many MPs blaming Brown's 'youthful' advisers like Ed Balls and Ed Miliband for the fiasco.

One called them "teenagers" and MP Peter Kilfoyle derided them by saying: "They've never been anywhere, they've never done anything, they owe their positions to the prime minister". This is the pot calling the kettle black as Kilfoyle's only claim to fame was being a leading witch-hunter of Militant supporters in Liverpool in the 1980s.

Gordon Brown himself has been damaged most of all. Having played on the idea of being a 'conviction' politician, in this case he based his policy on expediency. He made things worse by dashing to Iraq in the week before the anticipated election announcement and making misleading statements on troop withdrawal, which was seen as shabby opportunism.

An anonymous cabinet minister was reported as saying that the hastily postponed election "isn't an issue that ordinary voters are talking about". But he or she was overly-dismissive. While not being of great interest to most voters and coming as a relief to many, Brown's volte-face has certainly been noticed widely and recognised as a sign of fear and weakness.

As articles on the socialist's front page and below indicate, the public sector unions should make the most of this weakness by pushing ahead strongly now with their pay demands to achieve decent settlements, and to stop the privatisation of Royal Mail.

Spending cuts

The out-going managing director of the IMF has warned that the global credit squeeze will force governments worldwide to make substantial reductions in their budgets.

This is in a situation where the Brown government is already only planning 1.9% a year growth in spending over the next three years. This compares disastrously with the inadequate 4% a year increases over the last eight years.

Brown may well regret not calling an election this autumn if he goes on to face much greater economic problems as is very likely together with a backlash from working-class people against government imposed austerity. The Tories and Lib Dems have nothing better to offer. It is therefore becoming increasingly urgent that concrete steps are taken to build a new mass workers' party that can pose a working-class challenge to the present three main parties.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 October 2007:

Unity with the postal workers

Gloucestershire shows determination

Marching in support of the Burslem 12

Anger at Leighton, Crozier and Brown

Picket line round-up

Determination to continue the battle


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Private hands off our NHS!


What we think

Brown's expedient election climb-down


War and terrorism

Anti-war movement upholds right to protest

Burmese students join London march


Socialism 2007

Socialism 2007: Debates to sharpen your socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Windscale 1957

Super-rich super-donators

Any spare cash?

Beat back the profiteers

Cuts kill - no reductions in the fire service!


Socialist Party feature

1917 October Revolution: the working class took power


International socialist news and analysis

Darfur bloodshed fuelled by land and oil grab

Iraq occupation: Brown's token gesture


Workplace news and analysis

Civil servants march against cuts and privatisation

Bolton care workers fight on

National Shop Stewards Network holds meetings around the country


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 October 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Election:

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Tories in Crisis - Force a General Election!

triangleTories fractured... election possibility... give us the resources!

triangleTories in crisis - Act now to get them out!

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Bitcoin

triangleStrike together to kick Tories out

Tory party:

triangleDesperate divisions in Tories - Corbyn and unions must act

triangleTories prepare for possible snap election

triangleTories in crisis

triangleMay's EU speech kicks the can down the road

Labour:

triangleUnite conference sees union go in a fighting, socialist direction

trianglePressure building on councillors to stop fire service cuts

triangleWelsh Labour NHS hypocrisy at Tredegar rally

Tax:

triangle600 more retail jobs on the line: workers must not pay for the bosses' high street crunch!

triangle#AmazonTax shows need for socialist fighters

Privatisation:

triangleBig victory for Wigan NHS strike against privatisation

Gordon Brown:

triangleHow Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

16/7/18

Donald Trump

250,000-strong human tide sweeps London against visit of bigoted billionaire Donald Trump

11/7/18

Water

Britain bakes as water pipelines leak

11/7/18

Retail

600 more retail jobs on the line: workers must not pay for the bosses' high street crunch!

11/7/18

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/7/18

Universal Credit

Minister's benefits lie: sack the Tories - and scrap universal credit

10/7/18

The Socialist

Tories in crisis - Act now to get them out!

9/7/18

Tories

Walk Out against Trump and Tories

4/7/18

NSSN

NSSN conference 2018

4/7/18

Public services

Social care funding crisis: no to an age levy - make the super-rich pay

4/7/18

What we saw

What we saw

4/7/18

Them & Us

Them & us

4/7/18

State

British state complicit in torture and rendition: put Blair and Straw in the dock!

4/7/18

Refugees

EU lets 200 refugees drown in three days

4/7/18

Housing

Tories pledge three-year private tenancies: fight for rent caps and council homes

4/7/18

NHS

NHS at 70: a fight for our lives!

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999