On 7 May, as local elections are held in many parts of England, the Labour Party has been administering capitalism from Westminster for just over a year. On many local councils, they have been doing so for much longer. The local elections are the first chance for voters to tell the Labour government what we think of them so far. We should build for a result that shows the widest possible class-based expression of dissatisfaction in the government. We can only do this by not voting for any Labour candidate.
There are of course many Labour councillors and candidates who have conscientiously represented their local areas and who say they are socialists, opposed to the New Labour ideology. But whatever their intentions, as Labour candidates they are tied to the Blairite machine and will have no prospect of implementing any kind of socialist politics. A vote for these comrades is a vote for the Labour Party as a whole. Instead we call on them to break with Labour and stand for election on a programme that will benefit the working class. Then they would be worth voting for.
Critical vote to Socialist Labour, Socialist Alliance and Socialist Party
Several organisations calling themselves socialist are standing in these elections: the Socialist Labour Party (which Marxist Bulletin supporters have recently left), the Socialist Alliance (a loose organisation largely made up of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and some former SLP members), and the Socialist Party (formerly Militant Labour) under its own name.
All these organisations have one important thing going for them. They are attempting to draw a class line they claim to stand for the interests of the working class against the interest of the capitalists, unlike Blairs New Labour. We call for a vote for these organisations against Labour and the bosses parties because we support the idea of the working class having its own needs and its own representation.
We should build for a result that shows the widest possible class-based expression of dissatisfaction in the government. We can only do this by not voting for any Labour candidate.
The programmes of these organisations, however, often fail to draw the conclusions of that class line, to get across the point that to truly meet the needs of the working class it is necessary for the class to take state power or they make that point abstractly, posing it as a future possibility, divorced from the struggles of today. In the final analysis their programmes propose a reform of capitalism to make it nicer for the working class. Of course, Marxists support any reforms that better workers material conditions or our ability to struggle, but this must always be done as part of the fight to overthrow capitalist rule. Reforms are never secure under this social system that constantly generates exploitation, oppression, racism and, periodically, war.
The Socialist Party has a history of standing candidates against the Labour Party in parliamentary and local elections, and already has some local councillors. However, its socialism, particularly in local elections, tends to translate into a shopping list of minor demands (such as opposition to the building of an Ikea superstore in Bristol), which taken as a whole fail to comprise a full strategy for real social change.
In the case of the Socialist Alliance, there doesnt seem to be one clear programme, rather individual candidates are standing on their own programme or that of one of the composite organisations. The CPGB has proposed a programme for adoption by the whole London Socialist Alliance a list of demands which is to the right of their own programme (and of most of their partners in the Alliance), presumably watered down in an attempt to attract a larger following, or to appear as if they already have. The failure of this attempt at a common programme illustrates the differences betwen the groups involved in the Alliance. An organisation that cannot even produce a programme falls far short of the ability to determine a strategy to fight for the real needs of the working class.
The Socialist Labour Party has developed a manifesto for London, leading with the demand for a fair and beautiful city! Policies focus on fiddling with the tax system to pay for more social spending, and on reforming the (capitalist) police force. Socialism, once again, is consigned to never-never land. Although some local branches have improved on this to some extent, the programme of the leadership only confirms that the SLP is a bureaucratically deformed organisation in decline, much less worthy of support than it was a year ago when it at least retained some of its initial promise.
Despite these criticisms, we recognise the important step these organisations are taking in posing a working-class alternative to Labour and for this reason they deserve the vote of class-conscious workers. In wards where no such candidates are standing we advocate voting for none of the candidates, as a message that parties supporting capitalism are worthy of no support from the working class.
Blairs mayor is no improvement