Workers get little out of bourgeois elections. Whoever wins the ruling class will still be there living off the backs of working people in Britain and throughout the world.
But we do get the chance to keep the most reactionary of the mainstream parties out of office and to elect the only party that is historically and organisationally linked to the trade union movement – the Labour Party. We also get the chance to raise popular demands that go far beyond the bourgeois agenda or the class-collaborationist policies of Blair and his side-kicks.
The Labour Party has been dominated by its right-wing throughout its history and when in office that right-wing has always sought to serve the dominant wing of the ruling class. Blair has aligned himself with the most venal, reactionary and aggressive section of the bourgeoisie – those that see their interests best served in alliance with US imperialism.
The anti-war movement vowed to make the Iraq war the key issue in this election and they have undeniably succeeded. The Tories, who supported the war, confined themselves to the question of Blair’s credibility. But the Liberal Democrats spent last week parading their anti-war credentials while ignoring that fact that it’s only this war they oppose – and that only on the grounds that they support the position of that part of the ruling class that wants to close ranks with Franco-German imperialism.
George Galloway’s robust campaign has certainly raised the issue in the East End of London but the same cannot be said for the other 25 Respect candidates across the country.
Blair’s masters of spin tell us that the only alternative to Labour is the Tories and in one sense that’s true as British bourgeois democracy revolves around a two-party system. They’re also starting to tell us that the only alternative to Blair is Gordon Brown implying that his succession is a foregone conclusion.
But there is a very real alternative to Blair and Brown and what they call “New Labour” and that’s the Labour Party itself.
Protest votes and maverick MPs cannot change the leadership of the Labour Party. Only the organised working class through its affiliated unions that provide the massive amounts of cash that keep Labour going can do that job. And that will only happen if there’s mass rank-and-file pressure on the leadership for change.
Capitalism can never solve the problems of working people nor is it intended to. It’s a system designed to ensure that the big bourgeoisie and those that serve them live the lives of Roman emperors through exploitation. All the wealth of the world is produced by workers in factories and peasants in the fields. All they get in return, apart from in the remaining socialist countries in Asia and the Caribbean is a tiny fraction of the wealth they produce.
All that “democracy” means to the bourgeoisie is manipulating the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people. Marking a cross in a ballot box every four of five years is a meaningless ritual unless it’s matched by a rising level of militancy and struggle. The anti-war campaign reached out to millions through mass actions on the streets in London and up and down the country. The demands for higher wages, better pensions, decent and affordable housing and a free health service that Britain can so easily afford will only be met through struggle against the employers and the bourgeois state that exists to serve the interests of the exploiters.
What we want is real democracy – people’s democracy; democracy for the masses that will pave the way for socialism and the end of poverty, classes and exploitation. The struggle began in the 19th century.
The election is over but the battle goes on!