THOUGH the date of the next general election has still to be set, the campaign has already begun and the Labour and Tory leaders are setting out their stalls to woo the voters. The Tory lead over Labour in the opinion polls has dipped now that Cameron has made it abundantly clear that he’s going to launch a massive attack on the working class if he wins and the media gurus continue to speculate on the possibility that neither of two major parties will obtain an outright majority this year.
Despite all the media talk of hung parliaments, the latest opinion polls still put the Tories ahead with a 10 per cent lead. Labour has a mountain to climb and only a few months to do it.
David Cameron once posed as the heir of Tony Blair. Now he claims to be following Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps but his programme is even more , reactionary than anything Thatcher or Major over-saw during the last Conservative administrations.
The Tories are not looking for coalition partners, least of all with the Lib-Dems, though their renewed alliance with the Ulster Unionists may give them a few more Westminster seats, following the scandal that brought down the leader of the rival Democratic Unionists in northern Ireland.
Though the Tory press is spreading Islamophobia to divert working people down the road of the neo- nazi BNP, this is a double-edged sword. The racist vote, such as it is, will clearly be contested by the much more sophisticated UKIP — whose anti-EU platform is targeted as much against the Tories as it is Labour.
Brown & Co are clearly banking on a coalition with the Liberal Democrats with proportional representation and seats in the Cabinet on the table.
The Tories, on the other hand, are gunning for the outright victory they believe is in their grasp, and they’re concentrating on getting their vote out in the traditionally Tory middle strata heartlands in England.
Meanwhile Labour’s leaders talk about getting their own “core” vote out with appeals to traditional Labour sentiment and emphasis on the very modest reforms that were part of Brown’s neo-Keynesian recovery package last year. Thee news that Britain is now officially out of recession may be of comfort to the City of London but it cuts no ice with workers plagued by grasping banks and debt collectors and struggling to live on poverty-line wages and benefits.
Labour’s funds come almost entirely from the major affiliated unions these days, whose leaders constantly stress that a Tory victory would be disastrous for their membership. That’s undoubtedly true. But it’s not going to be enough. The Labour Representation Committee and the centrist Compass group around John Cruddas MP are both calling for a progressive left manifesto that must make concrete pledges to the unions and the people if Labour is to have any hope of the support of masses at the next election.
State welfare and the NHS must be defended and expanded and the public sector must be restored. We need a massive council house building programme to end homelessness and cut unemployment. The anti-union laws must be repealed to allow a return to free collective bargaining. It can all be paid for by taxing the rich at the levels that existed under Labour in 1979.
The Brown leadership is opposed to even these modest reforms but they are winnable and they could be implemented by a future Labour government if there is sufficient pressure and demand from organised labour. They wouldn’t even be contemplated by the Tories who want to put the entire burden of the capitalist crisis on the backs of working people.
The New Communist party is committed to the election of a Labour government and to ensure the maximum socialist representation within it. All our supporters are urged to help in the Labour campaign effort across the board and assist in the campaigns of those candidates who are members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and those who supported John McDonnell’s leadership bid in 2007.