Yet another election in which the working class has no voice

1 May 2012

Local elections have never had a high profile in this country. Turnout is traditionally low. But, apart from the rather grotesque pantomime played out by Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone in London, the campaign for this Thursday's elections will have been even more low-key than usual.

Not that this should come as a surprise. After all, local councils are used as the main screw-turners on working people! Haven't a large number of the "austerity" measures decided on since the beginning of the crisis, first by Labour and then the ConDems, been imposed by local councils?

So it's hard to see how any of the main parties could claim, with any credibility, that they have anything to offer working people (let alone the unemployed) in this election. Not when they stand for even more cutting back of vital services and jobs in order to plug the black hole created by the bankers' bailout.

They can't represent our interests

Of course, the real problem is that all main political players work for the benefit of the profit system - a system designed to allow a tiny minority of capitalists to control the economy at the expense of the working class majority. Never mind that the past 5 years have shown conclusively how incapable the system is of meeting society's needs!

Not only are these parties bent on protecting the profits of the capitalist class in the crisis, but they consider that it is their job to help companies use the crisis to increase their profits - they call that helping to "boost competitiveness"!

The scandal around the aborted BSkyB bid gives the politicians' game away. The close links between Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Cameron and media shark Rupert Murdoch, lift a corner of the veil covering the politicians' world - where a handful of big companies and banks have more say than 35m voters! And this was just as true under Labour. One only has to remember how "Lord" Sainsbury, the supermarket king was co-opted into government under Blair!

Is it any wonder, therefore, if, after the Sunday Times' Rich List showed that Britain's 1,000 richest individuals share a bewildering £414bn, that no-one stood up to argue for the immediate reversal of the punitive cut in Working Tax Credit forced on 200,000 low-income households since April 6th? After all, according to government figures, it will only "save" £550m - equivalent to a mere 0.001% tax on the wealth of these 1,000 super-rich!

The truth is that none of the main parties would ever even dream of being seen - let alone acting - as representatives of working class interests against the wealthy.

We need a workers' party!

The universal franchise was an important gain in the history of the working class movement, which was eventually imposed on a hostile capitalist class through mass mobilisations, in which workers defied the law and were often jailed as a result.

For a while, in Labour's early days, voting was a means for workers to express their class interests. The vote did not and could not change anything fundamental in society, but at least workers could stand and be counted by voting for political activists who stood clearly for the interests of the exploited against the greed of the exploiters.

But this did not last long. The Labour party was co-opted into the institutions of the system. In the middle of the Great Depression and during WWII, it joined governments to force brutal measures on the working class, for the sole benefit of British capital.

Since then, whether in office or not, Labour politicians have brushed shoulders with big business and competed with the other main parties for capital's managerial jobs. The fact that Blair went on to become a consultant with financial and oil businesses is no accident - these were always the social interests he felt responsible for. But just as much as Miliband does, when for instance, he dares to tell workers fighting to defend their pensions that they should back off from taking industrial action!

For decades now, Labour leaders have abused the word "Labour" to get the working class vote. But today, at a time when the capitalist class has embarked on an all-out offensive against the working class, we need another kind of party.

We need a party which, instead of seeking the perks and privileges of the capitalists' institutions, sets itself the task of being our voice in elections as well as taking our lead in fighting back against the attacks of the profiteers. We need a fighting party whose aim is clearly to change society by getting rid of this criminal profit system. We need a communist workers' party, because it is the only way for society to move forward.