Saturday, 20 February 2010

Four Reasons why even Socialists should Vote Labour this May

It may be a statement that is unpopular, even shocking. The very thought of voting for the current, neo-liberal Labour Party feels as uninviting to some as voting for the neo-liberal Conservatives currently in opposition. These natural and understandable inclinations are especially strong among the Labour Party's areas of core support, namely Scotland (who never once voted for Maggie Thatcher, but had to suffer her questionable 'leadership' for three successive terms) and the North. David Cameron may say that we are living in 'Broken Britain', but I am here to give you four major reasons why a Britain that has to endure at least four years of a Conservative party who appear to be trying to replicate their most infamous ex-leader's ideas, would be ruined beyond repair. I am here to give you reasons why it is important for even those with actual left-wing values and morals to be pragmatic and vote for Labour in May's election, even if only to avoid the horrors of a Tory government.

1: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson. The Mayor of London. I hardly know where to start in describing exactly how much of a favour he does every single day for those who point out how damaging a Tory government would be for Britain. Two of his deputies- namely Ray Lewis and Tim Parker- resigned amid scandals within the first two months of his Mayoralty. Surely this is enough of an indictment of his catastrophic leadership ‘skills’ to put people off voting another Conservative into power for a long time to come. But, after the lies, the fare rises, the suppression of the arts and attempted banning of strikes, he managed to surpass himself over the past week. Deciding that the foundations of five bridges in London need work is one thing- probably a correct decision, as maintaining bridges is very important. But to then brainlessly decide to close all five at once? Is he deliberately trying to bring travel chaos to London? Two of the bridges, namely Battersea Bridge and the Albert Bridge, are right next to each other, forcing all traffic to search for an alternative route across the river. Is this the standard of Tory decision making? If so, there is no better argument necessary to urge people to keep the Conservatives out of power at all cost, come May.

2: Nicholas Winterton

Over recent years, the Conservatives have tried to shed their ‘Nasty Party’ image. Of course, this is merely an attempted illusion, a whitewash over the real nature of the party: one that cares only about perpetuating and defending the class system, trying to allow those who can afford it to prosper and simply leave those who can’t, through no fault of their own, out in the cold to suffer. They claim to be against big government because it interferes in people’s lives, when they would be better off left alone. But once again this proves they only care about the middle and upper classes, those wealthy enough to look after themselves without state support. For the working class majority, this state ‘interference’ is actually a powerful tool to help them survive, and it is very welcome. A prime example of the fact that the Tories will never ever shed this image, no matter how hard they try is of Nicholas Winterton (no I don’t care that he’s been knighted), MP for Macclesfield. He is one of the Members of Parliament who are stepping down in disgrace at the next election, following the Expenses Scandal. Recently, he was quoted as saying that he was angry that MPs weren’t automatically allowed to travel first class on trains. Attempting to justify this, he said that MPs were simply a “different type of person” than those who travel in Standard Class. A vote for the Tories at the next general election is a vote for this kind of snobbery, which tries to separate people because of their social class, not something they have earned, thus widening the gap between rich and poor.

3: Recent Tory comments on Education:

It is well known that the more right-wing parties favour privatisation over nationalisation, valuing supposed monetary prudence over the actual quality of the service provided. The privatisation of hospital cleaning services started by the Conservatives (and, admittedly, continued by this ‘Labour’ government) has given rise to the current MRSA superbug, not to mention hospitals actually becoming extremely dangerous places to visit for the healthy, let alone for the gravely ill. So it won’t come as too much of a surprise to you that the Conservatives want to bring the unwelcome influence of private, profit-making companies into the field of education as well. Yes, you heard correctly, the Tories want to turn schools into profit making companies, once again attempting to make money, this time at the expense of the future of this nation and of the world. Likewise, it wasn’t a huge shock that Chris Woodhead, controversial former head of the National Curriculum Council has backed the idea, even going as far as stating that these schools should be free of the government and the national curriculum altogether- basically they should copy independent schools. As is typical of the Tories, they are favouring an environment where people are forced to fend for themselves, even when they are clearly incapable of doing so, over one where the state helps in any way- they see that as ‘big government’. To judge whether such plans for schools are wise ones, the most suitable people to ask are those involved in the sector- teachers. It is important to note that, as stated in a recent survey for Ipsos MORI, 25% of teachers would still vote Labour, a majority of 7% over the Conservatives. It is vital that we realise that they know best about the educational future of our children, and that we follow them on this decision. If we let the Tories into power, they will destroy our education system, just as they did our hospitals and our manufacturing industry.

4: Margaret Thatcher

Seeing as we just talked about destroying parts of the country, this makes for a very neat transition into my final reason why even socialists who are disillusioned with Labour should vote them in, in May, to keep out a potential Conservative government. That reason is simple: Margaret Thatcher. It is quite amusing to note that Thatcher, in a public survey about past British Prime Ministers, received the most first preference votes- that is, the most people thought she was the greatest ever Prime Minister (there are obviously a lot of people out there who don’t think about anyone other than themselves). It is also interesting to note that she received the second most LAST preference votes, behind only Gordon Brown- which, in itself, I find rather disappointing and unfair. The most pressing reason why we should all work as hard as we can to keep the Conservatives out is the simplest. The last thing we want is to go back to the dark days of the 1980s, with the poll tax, the tearing apart of communities and strikes galore caused by a government that simply didn’t care about anyone other than the aristocratic elite. Lets just say that the Labour posters that contain a mixture of Cameron’s face and Thatcher’s are very accurate.

I’m urging all Socialists out there to, just this once, put the fact that the Labour party hasn’t been in touch with its roots for at least 60 years behind you. It is vital to vote pragmatically and tactically to prevent further damage to this country and keep Cameron’s Tories from getting into power. New Labour may not be an actual Labour party, but it is far better than what we could suffer if we make the wrong choice in May.


  1. Surely Thatcher can't be a valid reason for what you're suggesting, she's actually going senile and wields next to no political power. With all of the good reasons out there to criticise the Tories it just seems a little shrill to wheel out the tired old 'remember how bad Maggie was' line. We know. But she's gone. I doubt she'll even live much longer, she's positively ancient now.

    Meanwhile, as Labour and the Conservatives are essentially the same party now (that we *can* blame on Maggie...) how can the solution lie in voting for one of them? By doing so we perpetuate what is effectively a bi-party system that is doing a lot of damage to the political environment in this country, where instead of voting on the basis of what you want to see happening you vote to keep the party you dislike most out of office. The Tories will probably win the next election and whilst I'm not looking forward to that one jot, I doubt it'll be as bad as Thatcher's time in power or much worse than Britain under Blair and Brown.

    What I'm more interested in, though, is not who *wins* but who gains votes. If all socialists in the country decided not to be 'pragmatic' as you suggest and instead voted for a single socialist party then it would show that other parties can challenge the Douche/Turd choice that we're left with now. Personally I'll most likely be voting Lib Dem or Green.

  2. Totally agree with your points about boris johnson, except that I dont really think he is incompetant enough for people outside of london to choose labour over the conservatives. I think we need a conservative government to ensure that they are seen as incompetant across the country (not that im going to vote for them). Once they've been in power for 4 years people are going to be so sick of budget cuts that they wont be back in power for another decade after that.

    I think the same point can be said about your nicholas winterton paragraph, the image of the party has changed, as you said, and it is only skin deep, but the image of labour has changed aswell. The right wing media has had 13 years to rip into labour and people have forgotten what a conservative government was like, simply put, they need a reminder.

    I can't really judge on the conservative profit driven education idea as I havent heard anything about that. I do agree however that education policy should be left largely to teachers, theyre the ones which know which techniques work best, which methods of management are most effective.

    The main reason that thatcher remains so popular is simply her force of personality, her charisma and stonyness(?) are a symbol for what britain seems to need, a strong leader. Gordon brown simply isnt that and people are therefore looking towards someone else. The media has made them think that they've found this in david cameron so I think it is fair that you have compared him with thatcher. He's has to appeal to the thatcherites in his own party as being traditional and to the public as being somewhat revolutionary, and he is doing a good job of it. He needs to be exposed as what he really is, a thatcherite.

    I'm not sure I agree with what you say about tactical voting, the problem with it is that everyone who does it has to make the assumption that they are within a minority who do it. Theyre not able to tell if this is true as the election results would show that there is an overwhelming support for the main political parties. If it were a majority who were tactical voting then they are just causing harm to the system as it could prevent those who they really support actually representing them. It could end up that a party would come into power with a significant proportion of their votes coming from people who dont share their views and thats not democracy.

  3. It's not the current neo-liberal Labour Party that's the problem: it's the Labour Party as such. Throughout the last century, nice 'radical' Old Labour was the favourite tool of the bourgeoisie to win working-class support for an attack on their own organizations and living standards.

    Disastrously, it ensured working-class collaboration in the First and Second Imperialist Wars - and then in the state socialist consensus that followed. By tying the proletariat to the bourgeois state through nationalization and corporatism, it kept the workers passive so that, when the post-war consensus inevitably succumbed to the contradictions of capital accumulation, they were lined up like bowling pins for Mrs. Thatcher.

    Lenin foresaw this clearly ninety years ago: '[T]he Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party. ... It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to systematically dupe the workers'.

    Attempts to shift Labour leftwards through entryism and critical support have lead to utter defeat. Critical support for Labour turns into uncritical support as soon as the going gets tough for the Party - as you demonstrate. When a party with policies you despise is weakest, you refuse to rock the boat!

    It is only with an independent political body that we can get down to the proper task of Marxist propagandising among the working class and making the revolutionary assault on reformism, without fear of censure or expulsion by a right-wing party elite or of having to 'rally round' the reformists whenever an election comes.

    When the working class pulls itself together again from the present rout, it will only set itself up for another unless it smashes reformism and rejects the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in its entirety.

  4. MrMorningStar: While Thatcher, personally, may well hold little direct political power, it is anything but 'shrill' and meaningless to remind people of the dangers of Thatcherism, for the simple reason that this is what we will be going back to if Cameron wins the election- though a hung parliament may well lessen the blow; my main concern is that the economy improves (as it is currently doing, albeit slowly) with the Tories in power and the fickle public think they have caused it. Lets face it, most people don't even know what the hell they are talking about when they say 'recession' and 'economic downturn'. That's a huge flaw in this current democratic system- the public get bored and make changes based on this; they are very rarely well informed. I agree with you on the reasons why the Tories and Labour are now pretty much the same party. Also, as I have said on the facebook group ( I have sympathy for those who say we shouldn't be pragmatic and vote tactically, as it does harm the supposed 'democracy' we have.

  5. Alex: Hmm, not so sure about people getting bored of the budget cuts (look what I said in the above comment). And I would be worried they would get more than one term. I think, so long as people know what he is doing in London, BoJo's legacy of general crapness will be doing the rounds... at least I'm hoping it is!

    I agree that the papers will turn on Cameron once he has been in power- to be honest I think that has already started; they has been heavy favourites for so long, it's almost like they have been in power for a year. And poor old Gordon, he's like a deflating balloon!! To be honest, I do, as I say, think that Cameron's 'exposure' has already begun.

    And yes, a lot of people have pointed out the problems with tactical voting, and I mostly agree.

  6. Junius: When the Labour party had a socialist base, it was a socialist party- you could argue that any party that calls itself socialist is also an attempt to dupe the working classes; so real socialists could never win. It is not me who is being under-critical, it is you who are being overly so. Not that what most of the rest of what you say isn't completely correct. However, I would dispute the use of the word 'propagandising' in this context, as it brings up connotations of lying and duping the public, exactly what you are accusing the bourgeoirse of doing.