Socialist Party documents

British Perspectives, March 2014 congress


Beyond the general election

75. The undermining of the social base of all capitalist parties is a feature of the post-Stalinist world, and is accelerating in the age of austerity. The Tories fear that their membership has fallen below 100,000, the lowest in the party's history. Labour's membership is only 187,000. Fissures and splits are inherent in all the capitalist parties. If Labour wins the election it is clear there will be no fundamental difference to the current government. Miliband will be the next François Hollande, the most unpopular president in the history of France's fifth republic, or even of PASOK in Greece which, having done the bidding of the troika, has been virtually annihilated electorally. If Labour manages to throw victory away, the union leaders' argument that they must 'continue to vote Labour to defeat the Tories' would become unviable. Whatever the 'colour' of the next government huge class battles will be on the agenda.

76. Consciousness has not yet caught up with objective reality internationally and certainly in Britain. This will not occur in one leap but in a series of battles, over an extensive period. As the working class and young people test ideas in struggle all kinds of different cross-currents can develop. The anger at the leaders of the capitalist parties, combined with the failure of the trade union leaders, can mean we see anti-party and anarchistic ideas develop among young people on a broader scale than we have seen up until now. This will be more pronounced if there is a further delay in the development of a new mass workers' party. For some it will be their own experience in struggle of the inability of these ideas to change society - and therefore the need for a mass revolutionary party - that will alter their outlook. Others can be convinced by our propaganda.

77. Our party has huge opportunities and challenges in front of us. We are preparing now in order to do our utmost to be equal to them. As the working class learns the lessons of recent years we have to be prepared for the possibility of it going on the offensive and for major struggles developing, possibly very suddenly, on a qualitatively higher level than anything which has taken place over recent years. Capitalism is putting every gain won by previous generations into jeopardy. There is no possibility of the working class meekly accepting this, even though there are bound to periods of hesitation and retreat. Opportunities to create a mass electoral voice for the working class will also be posed. At the same time we have a vital task in winning the most militant and thinking sections of the working class to a Marxist programme. At this stage this may be a question of winning hundreds to our party, but it can very quickly be possible to win many thousands.