Their election hokey-cokey: real change will only come from the street...

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
3 July 2024

The election puppet show here in Britain is nearly over. If the polls are right, Labour will win. Only the size of its majority is still in question.

    So, no matter how many times Sunak frantically repeats the words "tax", or "no surrender" this week, his Labour partner-in-crime against the working class will soon be taking over the misruling of the rest of us.

    But farcical as the electoral campaigns may be, it's no laughing matter that sorting out "broken Britain" is today in the hands of these dishonest snake-oil salesmen and saleswomen. They all want to prop up the profit system, whether it's with the far-right foot of Nigel Farage, "shaking it all about" in the hokey-cokey, the pink foot of Starmer, or Sunak's blue one.

    What's entirely absent from the political scene is any party which stands for the interests of the working class - although, in an attempt to get workers' votes, even the Tory Party claims it wants to put "tax- savings" (but not higher wages!) into their pockets!

    This, in a context where the social situation is terrible and getting worse. And where it's not tax, but the already-fallen standard of living of the working class which is at issue: 18% of the population lives in "absolute" poverty, without the means to put a square meal on the table every day of the week! And as poverty makes more people sick, a collapsed NHS can only offer an appointment in 2 years' time.

    Given the absence of any clear political answer to society's mess (since nobody dares to talk of social revolution) - what do we get? Yup, the far-right steps in - not with solutions, but with bigoted and ignorant nonsense! Like the claim that the reason for the economic crisis and crisis in public services is that successive governments allowed too many foreigners and immigrants into the country!

    It's a very old refrain. But when the social situation is seriously dire and when the mainstream politicians have consistently proven unable to fix it, politicians like Nigel Farage here in Britain, or Marine Le Pen in France can be slotted in to keep propping up the system... And all the better for the capitalist class if this has divisive social consequences.

Is it a "shift to the right"?

So, in the first round of the French snap election on Sunday, the far-right party of Marine Le Pen, called "Rassemblement National" - RN - which awkwardly translates as "National Rally", received 33.1% of the vote. In the second round this coming Sunday, the RN may well increase this score, when voters get a chance to vote again, after lower-scoring parties have been eliminated.

    What the commentators say, is that this demonstrates that there has been a shift to the right among the electorate. In other words, that the unsavoury racist ideas of a Le Pen or a Farage, are becoming more popular. But are they?

    In fact the "record" turnout in France which the papers here are talking about, was under 60%! It may be a lot for a French election, but it's not that great! And out of this 60%, fewer than 1 in 3 voted for RN. So, hardly a "big" shift...

    However, it is certainly worrying that the far right is getting an audience, whether it is Reform UK, RN in France, or Trump in the USA. These parties and politicians - if they do win power, may well suit a capitalist class in a period when it wants to turn the exploitation screw - which is already very tight - even further on workers. The bosses can utilise them, precisely because their racism divides workers from each other, in the hope they can better conquer the whole of the working class, i.e., force even worse conditions down our throats.

Kenyan youth heroically show the way

So let us say it again: whatever the result of a ballot, under this "bourgeois", capitalist version of democracy, the working class always has only one means to defend itself. And it's not by putting a cross on a piece of paper.

    It may not have hit the headlines of the navel-gazing British media, but the unemployed youth of Kenya took to the streets last week (and the week before) against the government, demanding that it drops its Finance Bill which would have increased the tax on fuel - its cost would have doubled - and on many other essential goods. President Ruto's armed thugs opened fire on the protesters, and shot dead 23 of them. The youth were nevertheless undeterred and stayed in the street. They have now forced Ruto to withdraw his Bill.

    The working class here in Europe may be more shielded - for now - from the deprivation and violence faced by its African brothers and sisters, but it could do well to draw the lesson: it is only action in the streets and in the workplaces which protects living standards - let alone brings the social change so sorely needed.

    However, mere action does not get anyone very far, as Kenya's youth too, will discover. It requires independent political organisation on the ground: so the sooner the working class builds its own political party, the better. And of course, it will be a party designed for fighting; not for vote-casting!