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Committee for a Workers International :: Socialist Alternative
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Public services are crumbling, schooll class sizes are growing, and many public-sector workers face a pay freeze. Birmingham council workers strike on 5 February 2008, photo S O'Neill
"Et tu, Crewe?" Gordon Brown might have muttered to himself as the knife of another electoral drubbing sank into his back. It shouldn't come as any surprise, though. The Labour Party abandoned working-class people years ago - New Labour have been haemorrhaging votes for the last decade as a result of their pro-big business, anti-working class policies in power and now it's becoming critical.
The Crewe and Nantwich by-election was an example of how to run an election campaign without any politics. So close are New Labour and the Tories in terms of whose interests they look out for, that the race for Crewe was boiled down to personality and cosmetic differences.
The sight of New Labour 'activists' dressed in morning suits posing as 'Tory Toffs' was a crass miscalculation. Yes, Tory victor Edward Timpson is heir to a shoe-repairing fortune. But Tamsin Dunwoody, the New Labour candidate, posed as heir apparent to the seat because her mother previously held it, and because she had a grandmother who sat in the House of Lords!
More to the point, the 'toff bashing' didn't wash because everyone knows New Labour look out for the toffs.
Under New Labour, corporation tax has been cut time and time again while ordinary working people are forking out more and more.
Teachers strike on 24 April 2008, photo Paul Mattsson
Meanwhile public services are crumbling, school class sizes are growing, and many public-sector workers face a pay freeze. The only people on the up-and-up in Brown's Britain are those at the top of society and those sitting in parliament. £61,820 as a starting wage for MPs isn't bad. And that's before you start to factor in expenses, second home payments and the like. It's not a bad life.
But poor old Dunwoody will miss out on all of that now and instead Tory Timpson will be decking out his second home with the aid of a John Lewis catalogue!
Labour or Tory, they get into parliament and find themselves very comfortably paid, living in a bubble with no idea how the rest of us live. What's needed are political representatives who have to get by on the same amount as the rest of us, paid no more than a worker's wage and not lining their pockets on the sly with their expenses 'slush fund'.
Elements of the New Labour machine are now gunning for Brown and there's a question mark over whether it will be him leading the battle against Team Cameron at the next general election.
But whoever's in charge you can bet it will be more of the same. Few workers want a return of the Tories - working-class communities across the country still have deep scars from last time they were in power - but many workers will no longer hold their noses and vote Labour to keep the Tories out.
The fight for a new party of socialists, trade unionists and community campaigners which puts working-class people's interests above those of the fat cats is more urgent now than ever.
We need a positive, socialist alternative to the negative politics of the bosses' parties. The up-coming conference of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party is an important step on the road to building such a party. Without one, we're stuck with a choice between toffs with blue rosettes or toffs with red ones.
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Article dated 28 May 2008
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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