Labour's loss can be workers' gain - only if we fight for our own interests

7 May 2007

Labour's disastrous results in last Thursday's elections are already being overshadowed by the anti-climax of Blair's imminent resignation as party leader.

So we are duly being treated to the rewriting of recent history! Blair's 10-year "legacy" we are told, is not all that bad. For instance, erstwhile critics are now telling us that after all, the NHS is "better"! As if an expensive and glossy new hospital shell, built by PFI, can make up for the lack of nurses, doctors, cleaners, and beds within it!

However, it was still the case that only 27% out of the 30% or so of the English electorate who bothered to vote on Thursday, voted Labour. Not a lot! So despite Labour's upbeat spin, it increasingly looks as if the Tories will be ready to make a come-back at the next general election in 2009/10.

Democracy? For whom?

In England, Conservatives now control 205 local councils, having gained almost 900 councillors last week. Labour controls just 46, while the Lib Dems, who gained what used to be John Prescott's "solid Labour" constituency of Hull - control 27.

As for Wales and Scotland, Labour has lost control of the respective parliaments. But in Scotland, who knows what the result really was? After all, 100,000 voters (5-7%) were excluded, because their papers were "spoilt" thanks to a new (cheaper) way of voting! Talk about "democracy"?

Anyway, election results usually look the way they are meant to look. Whether they ever reflect the "will of the people", is another question altogether. Some councils were not even contested. And that is not even taking into account the fact that the 3 main parties, all offering similar policies, hardly present one with a choice, anyway!

Blair's legacy: doing it for the bosses

Ten years ago, when British business was looking for a way to privatise the NHS, the bosses' journals said the only way achieve this, was to get Blair to do it. They were all agreed, by 1997, that the Tories had neither the steam left, nor the credit, to continue the programme of "rolling back the welfare state" and handing as much of it over to business interests as possible.

So, accordingly, the City welcomed "New Labour". And it was Blair and his government who ended up doing the job for them - by tightening the privatisation screw in the NHS - and in the rest of the remaining public sector - something which the Tories would never have got away with.

...And creating the needed deception

This reasoning also holds true for the Iraq war and occupation. Who could imagine a Tory government getting away with such a bloody and catastrophic war, without being stopped in its tracks somewhere along the line? Before the deception over WMD, few probably believed that Labour leaders could, or would lie, to such an extent.

But of course, they did exactly what was required. Just as any other government under this system would have done. Because that is what the two-party system - so-called "British democracy" is designed for. That is its real function - to meet the desires and the needs of capitalist class, by hook, or by crook, when and where needed. And this political system, which ensures that the rich are taken care of, at the expense of the working class, is replicated, in one or other shape or form in all of the developed western countries.

The mirror image in france

Take what has just happened in France. There, the same process, which in Britain is not quite complete yet, can be seen, keeping the right-wing party in power to carry through privatisation and attacks on the working class. These policies, which began here under Thatcher, were introduced in France under their Socialist Party in the 1980s, but when it ran out of steam, the right-wing had to take over.

So the 2-horse race for president, between the Socialist candidate Royal, and the conservative Sarkozy, was just as much a "no choice" election for the French working class. Sarkozy calls himself a Blairite or a Thatcherite, depending on whom he is addressing. And Royal admires Blair's policies and thinks "boot camps" might be a good way to tackle youth unemployment!

We have to fight under our own banner

The truth is that whichever party is in government under this system, makes little or no difference for ordinary people. There is only one factor which is decisive, whether here, or abroad. And that is whether the working class is prepared to fight for its own interests, regardless, and behind its own party, under its own control. Only when that happens, will we finally be exercising our will and our "choice"!