There have been modest gains since Labour was elected in 1997, such as increased spending on the NHS and education, the peace process in Ireland, devolution in Scotland and Wales, the restoration of local power in the Greater London Authority, pensioner winter fuel payments raised from £10 to £250 and extension of the use of bus passes.
Anti-union laws have not been repealed and the railways remain privatised but workers, through the trade union movement, enjoy greater influence under a Labour government and can now force bosses to recognise unions. These small victories would not have happened under the Tories.
This is why the New Worker, the paper of the New Communist party, is calling for workers to vote Labour in the general and local elections.
We support Labour even though we oppose New Labour’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we do not believe Brown’s economic policies can solve capitalism’s ills.
Our call to vote Labour is based on the concrete conditions in Britain today.
A Labour government with its yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co-operative movement offers the best option for the working class in the era of parliamentary democracy.
The Conservative Party is the party of the wealthy. Its natural allies are big business, finance and big landowners and it is fundamentally hostile towards organised labour.
The fight for socialism
To permanently organise society for the benefit of working people can only happen through a socialist revolution that puts the working class in power. That can never happen through bourgeois elections.
The New Worker fights for socialism because it is the only way to end exploitation, unemployment, poverty, economic crisis and war. Socialism is the only answer to climate change and pollution.
But that doesn’t mean turning our backs on the immediate demands for social justice and state welfare put forward by the labour movement representing millions in the Labour Party and the trade unions – that would mean isolation from the working class.
At the same time we oppose the class collaborationist ideas of social democracy where financiers are courted and trade union leaders ignored.
We work for working class unity to strengthen the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions to create a democratic Labour Party that, when in office, will carry out the demands of the labour movement.
Such a left-social democratic government could bring about social reforms comparable to the creation of the “Welfare State” after 1945. This could be paid for by taxing the rich and scrapping Britain’s weapons of mass destruction. But only Labour, with its organic links to the working class, could bring this about.
The “Left” alternatives
The various parties offering an “alternative left” instead of Labour and standing candidates in general and local elections are actually dividing the labour movement and the working class. In the current electoral system, voting for the “alternative left” parties, tactical voting or abstaining, effectively means a wasted vote and ultimately benefits the Conservatives. A Conservative government, with or without support from the Liberal Democrats, will always be much worse than any Labour government.
The reality is that these “alternative left” parties are rejected time and again by the same working class their programmes claim to advance. There isn’t even a remote possibility of any of them taking office as the rhetoric and wild promises of these parties do not reflect reality.
The New Worker works with the working class as it really exists—a class that sees the Labour Party and the trade unions as representing its interests.
So the choice is: Conservative or Labour, regardless of unpalatable Labour policies. And if Labour is to win then every vote needs to be brought out.
A Labour government is the best possible outcome for the working class right now and the best way of taking forward the fight for socialism.