The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 23rd April 2010


by Daphne Liddle

THERE are just two weeks to go to the general election and the opinion polls have been thrown into chaos by the response to the first of the three-way televised debates between the party leaders.

THERE are just two weeks to go to the general election and the opinion polls have been thrown into chaos by the response to the first of the three-way televised debates between the party leaders.

The media commentators were unanimous that the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg had won the debate and his party won an immediate boost in the opinion polls with all three parties getting around 30 per cent — give or take.

It is likely we will have an inconclusive outcome with no party having enough votes to form a government.

What was it about Clegg’s performance that has shaken the mould of our traditional two-party bourgeois “democracy”?

Clegg himself seemed at first surprised by his success but one of his strategists described his party’s approach to the debate: “We realised this was going to be a televised event like no other. We had an audience in the studio of about 200 people and then we had up to 10 million people watching at home. We pretty soon made the decision that what mattered most was the television viewers?.

“It was about someone turning the telly off after watching the debate and thinking, ‘he’s alright’, or ‘He’s a decent bloke’.

not logic

“It was never about winning a logical argument with numbers or statistics. That’s not what television is about.”

On that basis Clegg decided to spend more time looking directly into the camera rather than at the studio audience and succeeded.

But it shows up the shallowness of these television debates. The words that Clegg, Brown and Cameron use are of little consequence — we know the promises and pledges won’t survive after the election. What we are watching is three actors auditioning for a starring role.

Up until now Clegg has enjoyed the traditional Lib-Dem privilege of being able to make promises and commitments that he will never be expected to honour. That may now have changed.

So the only way to judge these three politicians is as the leaders of their parties, remembering the vested interests that they serve and remembering how they have behaved when in power.

Most of us can remember the horrors of the last Tory government with the closure of Britain’s mining and steel industries, three million unemployed, the butchering and of local government and public services and the war against trade unionism. And they invented privatisation.


New Labour has restored some of our public services, including the NHS — but has used PFI and other forms of backdoor privatisation to do it. It has increased pensioners’ winter fuel payments from £10 to £250 but has not yet restored the link between the state pension and average earnings.

It responded to Sinn Fein’s approaches for a peaceful settlement in the Good Friday Agreement — turning a bitter and bloody war into a peaceful political process.

But it followed on George Bush’s coat-tails and got us into the catastrophes of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Through all this Brown supported Blair. But now Blair and Bush have gone and Labour has broken the link with the Murdoch media empire that supported Blair to the hilt and kept us out of the euro zone. In many ways “New Labour” died at last September’s annual party conference and Brown has taken a few steps back towards traditional Labour.

The Liberals have not been in power for nearly a century.

But in local government they have always favoured business interests over the working class. Clegg is a right-wing Lib Dem and to him the word liberal applies to freedom for money — and those who own it — rather than for the workers who make it for their bosses.

He is going to use his position to bargain hard and will ultimately ally his party to whichever will promote Lid-Dem policies. This will mean swift entry into the euro-zone and the introduction of a new proportional representational voting system that could leave us like Italy or Israel — forever ruled by unstable coalitions; or just part of a European super state.

It is certainly not socialism — just another form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Privatisation of health and education will be speeded up and trade unions will once again be declared the enemy of the state.

A clear election victory for Brown’s Labour — with all its faults — is the best hope for the working class in Britain.

Our only real option is to keep educating, agitating and organising among the workers until we have a movement strong and united enough to throw over this sham parliamentary “democracy” and establish a working class democracy.

That will take time. In the meantime voting Labour is the least we can do to support our class.