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General and local elections 2010:
Vote for a socialist alternative
Three brands of the same cheap soap powder would offer more excitement than this election! It is as if we live in a one-party regime divided into three wings: New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.
Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary
'Change' is in the air - especially from Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems - and yet, as the French say, 'everything changes so everything remains the same'. All the parties agree that the axe will be taken to the living standards of working-class people, irrespective of which type of government emerges from the election; all that is under dispute is the size of the axe to complete the job. An unofficial coalition already exists on the need for 'sacrifices', cuts, from the working class.
Consequently, even the satirists are virtually redundant in this election campaign. The makers of Spitting Image complained that there are no "distinguishing lines" in the main parties or their leaders. To have caricatures, you must first have characters! It is a case of the bland leading the bland.
The presidential-style debates of the three main party leaders are a further degeneration of British elections into a personality contest - a political 'X-Factor' - with commentators swooning because Clegg looks straight into the camera with his puppy-dog eyes. Yet beneath the froth, the 'surge' for the Lib Dems after the first TV debate does denote the desperate search for an alternative to the pro-big business, pro-market, pro-wealthy and powerful interests, which all the main parties and their leaders in reality espouse.
The mass of the British people are way to the left of the marionettes who appear on our screens. Johann Hari pointed out in the Independent: "58% support a dramatic increase in the minimum wage. 58% want to ditch Trident - an act of unilateral nuclear disarmament. 77% want to bring the troops home from Afghanistan now, or within a year at the latest. 53% say people come out of prison worse than they go in, and would rather spend money on more youth clubs than on more prison places". Yet few of these proposals get onto the airwaves.
The shameful dumbing down of politics at the time of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, affecting millions, reveals a hollow shell of democracy. This goes together with the virtual outlawing of strikes by unelected judges and the crowding out of even the small voice of dissent of left forces like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which has been kept off the television and radio, let alone the press.
And yet, despite the domination of the airwaves by empty rhetoric , this election and its outcome could be very important.
The most striking feature demonstrated in the polls is the lack of authority, the absence of 'legitimacy' for any of the three major parties. They will lack a mandate to savage the rights and conditions of the working class after 6 May, as they intend.
In any post-election scenario, Britain faces a period of unprecedented turmoil. Even 'moderate' trade union leader Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, has warned that "the next government will face the biggest wave of militancy since the 1980s if it tries to force through thousands of job cuts". However Prentis has not matched his words with deeds in the past and therefore Unison members must press for this promise to be fully implemented.
Working class people generally must prepare for the events ahead, with the immediate step being to vote on 6 May for TUSC candidates (including those standing as 'Socialist Alternative' on the ballot paper) and other genuine left candidates where they are standing.
Socialist Party/Socialist Alternative candidates are standing in the general and local elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the STUSC in Scotland.
For more information see: www.tusc.org.uk
In The Socialist 27 April 2010:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news