Sunday 13 July 2008

Electoral dysfunction?

The crisis within Respect reached a new low recently, as our remaining 3 councillors in Tower Hamlets - including, most shockinghly, Oliur Rahman - defected to Labour (Respect's statement on the defection). In addition, one Respect Renewal councillor there has also defected to Labour (Respect Renewal statement on the matter). This is exspecially shocking, coming so soon after Labour's disastrous results recently.Tickets for the Titanic, anyone :-P

Sadly, this does show clearly the problem with bourgeois democracy in general, and with the UK electoral system in particular, which is heavily biased against small and fledgling (no cat jokes, please!) parties.

On a happier note, the Nazi BNP were prevented from winning in a recent council by-election in Eckington - Labour won, the BNP came 4th with 11% of the vote. Although they still got over 200 votes too many, and we must still be vigilant, it at least proved my fears that they may win (I myself suffered abuse from Nazis in Eckington as long ago as 2000) wrong.

Also on an uplifting note, the Green Party came a good second in the recent Haltemprice (David Davis' seat) with over 7% of the vote. According to the Green Party report of the Haltemprice result, their vote in Brighton Pavilion has now surpassed that of Labour, so they may get their first MP at the next general election.

But all this is still eclipsed by the Respect crisis. Especially at a time when the Establishment parties are pissing on us more than ever; Brown gives us hyper-inflation then tells us to 'stop wasting food', while the Tories want to bring in boot camps (reminiscent of the 'skivvy schools' of the early 20th century) for young unemployed people (BBC News: Tories outline plans for jobless). Has the left, left us in the lurch?

One crumb of comfort is the coming by-election in Glasgow East, where both Solidarity and the SSP are standing, not to mention the Scottish Greens. What's more, if Labour lose this by-election, we may well see the back of Brown in September.

But far more hope can be gained by ignoring the electoral mess, and looking instead to the extra-parliamentary fightback. The Shell tanker drivers led the way by winning a 14% pay rise over 2 years, and this has been followed by a number of significant strikes - notably the strike this coming Wednesday and Thursday by 650,000 local government workers (Socialist Worker: 650,000 workers to strike against Brown's pay freeze). I urge all readers of this blog to support this, and any other, strike. It is by striking, that the working class exercise real power and can take on not only their bosses and the government, but the capitalist system in general.

Real power does not lie in parliament (although many politicians do!). Real power lies in the boardrooms of the big capitalist companies who control the capitalist system, including the British state. But it also lies among organised workers, without whose labour, not only the capitalists' profits, but also their power, will dwindle to nothing.

Stuff the politicians ... the workers have the real power!

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