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From: The Socialist issue 486, 10 May 2007: Workers need a political voice

Search site for keywords: workers - Labour - Tories - Privatisation

After the no-choice elections

Workers need a political voice

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

THE 3 MAY council elections for most workers were a choice between New Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems. These were really the 'no choice' elections.

Greg Maughan

On the one hand, there was New Labour, who since they came to power in 1997 have overseen cuts and privatisation in our public services, war and occupation in the Middle East and a growth in the gap between rich and poor that's unlike anything seen in this country since Victorian times.

On the other hand, there were the Tories, whose Old Etonian leader Cameron has tried to rebrand them as 'cuddly conservatives'. But most ordinary workers weren't fooled by this. They know that the Tories stand for the same diet of cuts, closures and privatisation that New Labour do and that they answer to the same big business paymasters.

The same goes for the Lib Dems, who will pose left or right depending on where they stand. But they in reality adhere to the same neo-liberal agenda as the other establishment parties.

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

This election was in some ways a judgement on both Blair's 'legacy' and Brown's future, with the overwhelming majority of workers and young people rejecting both.

New Labour only achieved 27% of the vote. This was not, however, the wholesale haemorrhaging of New Labour's vote that many commentators were predicting.

Fear of a newly resurgent Conservative Party under David Cameron saw a layer of workers put the 'x' next to New Labour through gritted teeth. Many of these voters will be workers who swore never to vote Labour again. But a key feature of this election was 'negative voting'.

People didn't like the party they were voting for but hated the party they were voting against! Of course, a huge number of people didn't even turn out to vote - who can blame them when in most areas they don't believe it will make any difference?

What we need is a new party on a mass scale that actually represents our interests and can bring together different workers' struggles and help build support for them.

Instead of 'negative voting', where workers are forced to make do with what they see as the lesser evil, we need a mass party with positive policies - one that stands up against cuts and privatisation, that opposes war and occupation and that fights for the millions, not the millionaires.

This Saturday, 12 May, trade unionists, socialists and campaigners will be coming together at the Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference to share our experiences of the recent elections and discuss how we can fight for just such a party.

If you're sick of bosses pulling the politicians' strings and want to help fight for a political voice for workers that was so desperately lacking in most of the elections, then you should be there too!

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Article dated 10 May 2007

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