New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

No grounds for complacency

Last week’s local elections were bad news for the Tories. The Conservatives lost control of more than 40 councils in the polls, which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says has set them "on course for a Labour majority at the next general election".

It was certainly good for Labour but there are no grounds for complacency. Labour ended up nine per cent ahead of the Tories, picking up more than 500 seats and winning control of 22 more councils on the night. But the swing is nothing like the astronomical levels recorded by the pollsters at the beginning of the year, and although the Conservatives lost over a thousand council seats nearly half of them went to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

Although there’s still a year or more to go until the next general election, if nothing changes a nine per cent swing will not be enough to give Labour an overall majority in the House of Commons. Starmer says Labour isn’t interested in cutting a deal with the Liberal-Democrats or the nationalists, but this hasn’t stopped speculation in Westminster and in the bourgeois media about a coalition to avoid a hung parliament.

The Liberal Democrats did join hands with the Tories to form a coalition under David Cameron. But it ended in tears at the 2015 general election with loss of 48 seats in the House of Commons, leaving them with only eight MPs. Nevertheless, the Lib-Dems would still like to be king-makers and if Starmer won’t play ball then Rishi Sunak might have no choice.

Although local elections generally reflect national issues, local issues sometimes benefit campaigns like the Canvey Island Independence Party that increased their share of seats on their local council. But unlike the Scottish or Welsh nationalists, the only ‘independence’ they want is that of their old Canvey district council in Essex.

Needless to say, the left posers who call themselves part of an imaginary “revolutionary left” were well down with the also-rans in this election. The reality is that these ‘alternative left’ parties are rejected time and again by the same working class whom their programmes claim to advance. There isn’t even a remote possibility of any of them taking office because the rhetoric and wild promises of these parties do not reflect reality.

The glittering display of pomp and circumstance for the coronation of King Charles at Westminster Abbey may have thrilled the royal fans and the gaping tourists who delight in these spectacles, but it did nothing to change the lives of the millions of working people trying to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

In ancient days the slaves were kept quiet with free food and entertainment in the arenas and circuses, the ruins of which can still be seen across what was once the Roman Empire. When the going was good even the barons and their feudal church would provide feast days, religious holidays and sports for the peasants who tilled the land that kept the lords in clover. But the workers get nothing from the capitalists.

The incompetence, greed and indifference towards the unemployed and the homeless sums up all that is rotten within the British ruling class.

We don’t want the ‘austerity-lite’ of Starmer & Co. We don’t want a mealy-mouthed compromise with the worthless Liberal Democrats that the liberal bourgeois pundits who pose as friends of the working class are now advocating. What we want is an end to austerity and the restoration of trade union rights. Saving the NHS, capping rents and building cheap council homes, raising wages, getting rid of the need for foodbanks, saving our schools, restoring the right to independence for the disabled, restoring proper care for the elderly and restoring legal aid to bring justice for all – restoring the public sector, cutting the defence budget and taxing the rich to make them pay for the crisis of their own creation will pay for all of this and more.

Getting rid of capitalism and replacing it with socialism is the ultimate objective of working people. Getting rid of austerity and replacing it with social justice must be the immediate objective of the working class.