THE PRIME Minister has, as expected, called for a general election on 6th May with Gordon Brown fighting to win on a platform focusing on Labour’s record in handling the economy, taxation and public services and what the Tory austerity agenda would really mean for working people.
This, Labour says, is the “big choice” facing voters and in a very real sense this is true. Come May the people will be asked to chose between continuing Brown’s neo-Keynesian economic “recovery” programme or returning to the Tory monetarism of the Thatcher era.
At the moment the Tories are still ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. The Labour leader is closing the gap by appealing to working class sentiment and making the most of the modest reforms that will appear in Labour’s election manifesto. The affiliated unions — the vast majority of the TUC who fund most of Labour’s efforts — will be urging their members to give Labour another vote of confidence on 6th May. But Brown’s biggest problem will be in mobilising support to get the traditional Labour vote out on polling day.
The exposure of sleaze and corruption in Parliament, the opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and the continuing occupation of Afghanistan and the disappointment at Labour’s record over the past 13 years have taken their toll.
Some will no doubt be taken in by the blandishments of the Liberal Democrats who pose as all things to all men but are essentially a bourgeois party out of office. Others will fall for the lies of the BNP — wolves in sheep’s clothing posing as racists but led by neo-Nazis. A handful may even vote for futile leftist platforms in the belief that the derisory vote they will undoubtedly get will somehow raise the consciousness of the working class. Many however will simply stay at home.
No one should have any illusions about what would follow a Tory victory. Their leader, David Cameron, has made it clear that the entire burden of the slump will be put on the backs of working people. Massive cuts in public services, greater unemployment and a renewed attack on trade union rights, including the outright banning of strikes in key sectors, are on the cards.
The key issue is to ensure that the Tories are defeated in May and only Labour can do that. But in itself another Labour victory will bring about no real change without the mobilisation of millions of working people in the trade unions and on the street to force the Labour leadership to carry out the policies of its supporters and the millions of affiliated members whose contributions keep the party afloat.
As a first step the Labour Representation Committee has launched a People’s Agenda to generate the real political discussion we want at election time. Communists have a crucial role to play in not only fighting to ensure that Labour win in May but in taking that discussion into the heart of the labour movement to build a democratic Labour Party and fighting trade unions that can act as the voice of the working class in the struggles to come.