Thursday, April 07, 2005

Election Announced: Does Anyone Care?

It's Springtime in Britain. The buses continue to ignore their time-tables, the weather refuses to get better, plumbers remain under the delusion that refitting a shower should set them up financially for life, the government's been shown up by a TV cook over school-meals, our regressive Council Tax is easting away at the wages of the low-paid, Labour and the Tories are chasing The Daily Mail voters and the hang 'em 'n' flog 'em brigade, the Army continues to occupy a foreign country under false pretences, and it's time for another General Election in good ol' Blighty.

Widely speculated for several weeks, Blair has finally announced a new election scheduled for May 5th. The question is, does is actually matter? In 2001, despite winning a second term of office with another whopping majority, New Labour looked on as millions of voters abstained. The EU elections saw the lowest voter turnout since 1918. After eight years of neo-liberal privatisation and "social partnership", few now believe New Labour offer a progressive alternative to the Tories - and thanks to First-Past-The-Post, the so-called "mass workers' party", of which we hear so much from the opportunists of the Left, will never materialise.

Faced with a Labour Party intent on "healing the rift" between British liberalism and the labour movement, voters are now seemingly left in a most unappetising position, where an abstention may be the most progressive option available. However, there is good news for Socialists in the UK, however unlikely it may seem. The "Loony Left" lives on, several years now after Blair declared the class war dead and buried. Constituency Labour Party branches continue to propose Socialist candidates, and they are being elected, despite the spin New Labour woos the business community with. Hope lies within our ability, the ability of the British Left, to reclaim the traditional aims and goals of the labour movement and its representatives.

Opposition to the war in Iraq fuelled popular frustration with the distinct lack of progress under the current government. Trade Unions are beginning to stick up for themselves, electing left-wing leaders and taking a more political role. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, the Socialist Campaign Group, the Labour Left Briefing, Save the Labour Party, Labour Reform - all of these groups and more, not to mention legions of left-wing members, are working hard to bring the Labour Party back to the labour movement. The Labour Party is too ingrained in our culture to replace it with opportunist groups like the RESPECT Coalition.

Progress is being made, but it takes time and effort to make it happen. Sure, Labour isn't glamorous, it will always be a struggle against the traditional Labour elite, but Labour governments politicise the population, increase living standards and offer the working-classes representation. We mustn’t glorify Labour's past; it has many flaws. But we mustn't forget what we owe to it, and we can't forget how far it can take us. There is a struggle going on at the moment, but it isn't between the middle-class pro-business parties the media shows us, it's inside the British labour movement, and it's for the soul of our Labour Party.

If you think New Labour are just as bad as the Tories, you've never lived under a Conservative government. Support the Labour Party, but support it on your terms. Join the Party to change the Party. You have to participate to make a difference! Let's get left-wing Labour Councillors and left-wing Labour MPs elected, let's make sure those pesky backbenchers are ready to defy Blair and represent our interests in Parliament come May 5th.

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