Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Election About Anything But Telling The Punters How Horrible We’re Going To Be If We Win, Whilst Still Boasting We’re Going To be Quite Horrible

Off we go then. Eyes down for a full house.

What the election should be about, of course, is the long term economic future of the country and how to move forward from being a set of occupied territories controlled by the City of London. About what a post industrial country should do if it never wants to be held to ransom by International Finance again. But, no, it’s going to be about boasting who can do the required – but always so, so vague – cutting of public services in a way that won’t affect the particular demographic niche the politico happens to be addressing today.

What’s the best thing that can happen? The emergence of a fractured social democratic voice in Parliament. We’ve lived for too long, too unsuccessfully with the idea that social democracy can express itself through Labour alone – or, under Blair and Brown, can be expressed through Labour at all.

We need overlapping circles of social democrats, spread through different parties with different 'dog whistle issues' so they keep each other honest. We need a few Green social democrats and more than a few Plaid and SNP social democrats. Even perhaps an Islamic social democrat in the personage of Salma Yaqoob. David Henry, the Anti-Blears candidate in Salford. & of course we need some good, old fashioned Labour social democrats. (Folk like the ever entertaining Paul Smith, down in Bristol West.).

What I'm dreaming of is the opposite of a Popular Front, where differences are buried to fight the common foe: its the creation of conditions for a ramshackle 'family argument of the left' in Parliament, one where different members of the family remind each other what family loyalty is supposed to be about. & the social democratic family is - or should be - about defending the welfare state and ordinary people, not pruning it back to keep bankers happy.

Mind, when I stop dreaming I still think the Tories are likely to win.


  1. Welcome back to Blogging - a much needed voice.

    Andy Coates

  2. Seconded @andy.

    My take here is that if you're left-leaning, and you're in a constituency where a Tory is one of the two leading candidates, you've a moral duty to vote for the other one (except in John Bercow's seat, where the other one is Nigel Farage). Otherwise, it's open season on Blarism, and it'd be nice to see a wide range of left and liberal voices in the next parliament.

    (although in my book, if none of them were affiliated with Respect that'd be better.)

  3. Many thanks to you both. For what it's worth I have been taking regular peeks at both your blogs whilst this one has been silent.

    But I think deciding who to vote for can sometimes be a bit messier than John suggests. Take my circumstance: Tessa Jowell is my MP with a majority of around 19%-20% (on the adjusted boundaries), but just about potentially vulnerable if either the Tory or Liberal vote collapsed in favour of the other party should a massively anti-Labour 'kick out the scumbags' mood emerge.

    Although she has been a reasonable constituency MP in terms of casework I can't abide Jowell and detest her politics. The Green vote has slowly crept up to c6.5% over the years, although the boundary changes may alter that.They're not going to win.But it would be good to see them begin to narrow the gap. So I'll vote Green.

    But the ever wise Mrs Charlie is so frightened of the Tories she's investing in a Jowell shaped nosepeg and will vote Labour. I suspect we won't be the only radical family split in this sort of way.

  4. Welcome back, Charlie.

    Tell Mrs Charlie that the Tories were third in 2005 and the seat doesn't appear to appear in a list of the LibDems' top 100 target seats or the Tories' top 200 target seats (I may have gone blind) http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/conservative-target-seats

    Check out the state of play in 2008 in your own ward at www.strategicvoter.org.uk

    So if that's not worth a place where a punt on the Greens is pretty risk free, I don't know where is. Shame Jenny Jones isn't standing (presumably having been moved into Peckham by the new boundaries).

  5. There is no reason why a Marxist should want to vote for candidates simply on a basis of "lesser evilism". Supporting such candidates only misleads the working class. If there were a large revolutionary Party standing candidates that was attracting workers to its banner at a time when support for an existing reformist party was collapsing that is one thing. Even if it had no chance of winning, and might spplit the vote Marxists might argue support for it, because it would be a means of popularising revolutionary ideas, and hastening the repalcement of the reformist party with a revolutionary Workers Party. Outside those conditions marxists have to support the existing mass Workers Party, however, bad it is, precisely because in doing so they are able to talk to the workers still tied to it, and to try to break them away from the right-wing.

    I've recently blogged on this in connection with an article from 1976 reprinted on the Workers Liberty site.

    See: Machinations and the WL article

    1976 Walsall By-Election.

  6. Ah, Boffy, I fear my capacity for ideological backsliding form the Marxist verities of my youth may horrify you. Not only do I any longer believe that Labour is a 'mass workers party', I've recently got engaged in a long argument on the Red Pepper forum that the institutional link between Labour and the Trade Unions could be broken to their mutual benefit.

    In the extremely unlikely event that anyone should want to read this long exchange of views the link is here: http://forums.redpepper.org.uk/index.php/topic,1541.0.html

  7. I think that the role of UNITE during the election ends all doubts about the LP being a mass workers party, even if a simple look at the number of worekrs who are individual members let alone who vote for the party were not enough.

    As for whether breaking the link would be beneficial I simply ask you to look at the US where no Workers party based on the Trade Unions exists, and where worekrs are left trying even more to bargain for crumbs from the table of the two bosses parties.