After 7 May, what should workers do? We don’t have the luxury of just preparing for the next election, as the Labour party is doing – though it looks like it is seeing how to lose the next election too. MPs know what to do. Their first priority is to vote themselves a £7,000 a year pay increase.
Be honest. In the general election we got what people voted for. More people voted for the Conservatives than for any other party. If people had wanted above all to defeat the Tories, they knew what they had to do – vote tactically for the candidate most likely to beat the Tory in their constituency. But people didn’t choose to do this. Likewise in Scotland with the SNP.
‘There will be no advance without a change in people’s minds, without a change in the ideology of the working class.’
The election result shows the measure of our task. There is no quick fix through electoral reform, nor much democracy in the parliamentary version. Democracy is far more than just putting a cross on a piece of paper once every five years. If it means anything, democracy means we all take responsibility, not leave it to others, and certainly not to parliamentary parties.
Forget elections, or revisions to electoral systems. There will be no advance without a change in people’s minds, without a change in the ideology of the working class.
The same tasks
The tasks facing British workers are the same as before: the employer is the same, the government is the same, so is capitalism, so is the European Union, so is NATO. We have to fight now to survive as a nation and as a class.
Above all, that means fighting on four key issues – key not just because they are needed to survive as a class, but because they have the potential to unite us, not divide us (see “Take part, take heart” ).
Those issues are straightforward: pay, an issue for all; national unity, the answer to separatism and the opposite of division; control over the supply of labour, without which we cannot hope to control its price; and national independence, as opposed to control from Brussels.
The last three of those issues are ones on which most unions display the least clarity. The European Union is a capitalist club lauded by the international monopolies. Every employers’ organisation is for the free – not free, actually, more like uncontrolled – movement of labour. They know it’s good for them. Yet many in the unions defend the EU and the endless search of workers round Europe for work wherever they can find it, on whatever pay and terms the employer dictates. That’s the measure of the task.
Already since the election the tone has been set by Cameron on the EU referendum – we’re in for a prolonged period of half-truths, outright lies and bullying, coupled with a large dose of ineptitude. We cannot look to Westminster for a lesson in principled debate. We are going to have to start it ourselves.