Labour should prepare for another upset

by Nick Wrack

George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West was remarkable.

It shows that Labour can no longer take its working class voters – be they Asian or white – for granted.

Writing in today’s Observer Andrew Rawnsley fails to comment on the most obvious factor at play here: Labour’s dismal record of opposing the government.

The break-down in the two-party or three-party system is taking place because they all of them say more or less the same thing. Labour has endorsed the government cuts. It backs the government’s pay freeze for public sector workers. It condemns workers who have taken strike action over pensions. It supports privatisation and PFI. It started the privatisation of the NHS. It supports Academies and Free Schools. How, exactly, is Labour putting up an opposition to the Tory-LibDem coalition?

All of this is against the back-drop of Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq and Labour’s support for the continued occupation of Afghanistan.

Even if Galloway’s victory is dismissed as Bradford exceptionalism, the processes at work are profound and will not stop.

There are now millions of working-class voters who are fed up with the three-party consensus in favour of austerity; making them pay for a crisis they did not create, while the bankers and bosses continue to pick up their million pound pay cheques, bonuses and solid gold pensions.

Trade union members are increasingly questioning why they pay money to a party that doesn’t support them in return. Take a look at the tanker drivers as the latest example.

Even more worrying for the Labour leadership than Galloway’s victory will be the prospect of large numbers of trade union members decamping to another party. In London the small Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition now has the support of three union general secretaries – the FBU’s Matt Wrack, RMT’s Bob Crow and the POA’s Steve Gillan – for its bid to win seats on the London Assembly on 3 May. The RMT national executive has backed TUSC in London, as has the FBU’s London region.

Labour had better beware. They may be in for another upset, this time in London.

4 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    April 01, 2012

    Very Interesting and good luck, I watch with great interest and totally agree that the media commentators completely ignore the blatantly obvious in Bradford West; that Galloway’s message was listened to by the electorate and the major parties were not heard at all….10000 majority is very, very interesting indeed. His acceptance speech hits many nails on their heads….

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  2. Avatar
    April 14, 2012

    This important item, originally from Louis Project’s blog, is by Simon Hardy, acting as spokesperson for a group of comrades who have resigned from Workers Power and are seeking to play a role in creating a new, broad organisation of the left. While I would have some reservations about the blanket use of the term ‘anti-capitalist’ – not all forms of opposition to capitalism are necessarily on the right track – nevertheless there is much in this item that is positive and certainly could be a basis for debate and hopefully much more.

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    A simple proposal for a new anticapitalist left

    I along with a number of other members of Workers Power in Britain, Austria and the Czech Republic have resigned from the organisation. The global capitalist crisis has posed tremendous questions for the radical left about how to go forward. We have increasingly drawn the conclusion that the historical legacy of the post-war left, in particular the Leninist-Trotskyist left, needs to be subjected to far-reaching critique and re-evaluation in light of the contemporary challenges.

    The organised left is dogged by sectarianism and opportunism. There there are quite literally hundreds of competing orthodoxies, with each sect promoting and defending its own, typically very narrow, conception of revolutionary theory and practice without subjecting their ideas to the critical re-evaluation which we believe is necessary if Marxism is to reach out to far wider layers.

    We came to the conclusion that a method of organising exclusively focused on building specifically Leninist-Trotskyist groups prevents the socialist left from creating the kind of broad anticapitalist organisations, which can present a credible alternative to the mainstream parties.

    full: http://www.facebook.com/notes/simon-hardy/a-simple-proposal-for-a-new-anticapitalist-left/10150680129112399

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    • Avatar
      April 19, 2012

      I totally agree with the above statement. I was a member of the Socialist Labour Party for many years – and other small radical groups – and this obession with the Stalin-Trotsky debate was not only destructive, and often purile, but only succeeded in ensuring that the left was isolated from the rest of the working class.

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