|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
The message of the June elections
‘It’s time to draw a line and move on’, said Tony Blair in January, as the Hutton report into the death of WMD expert David Kelly was published. But he can’t, as the June elections demonstrate. CLIVE HEEMSKERK assesses this biggest test of public opinion since the 2001 general election.
BY EVERY MEASURE, the June 10 ‘Super Thursday’ elections were a disaster for Tony Blair. The election of the 78 UK members of the European parliament (MEPs), with every registered elector eligible to vote, was the first all-Britain poll held since the invasion of Iraq. Labour’s 3.72 million votes produced its lowest share of the poll in a national contest (22.6%) since the December 1918 ‘khaki election’ at the end of world war one, when the newly-emerging Labour Party – not contesting every seat – polled 2.38 million votes for a 22.2% share.
Super Thursday also saw elections for 165 local authorities in England and Wales in which Labour came third on 26%, behind both the Liberal Democrats with a 29% share and the Conservatives on 38%. Labour suffered a net loss of 479 councillors and overall control of eight councils, allowing the Conservatives to claim the chairmanship of the Local Government Association – councils’ national representative lobbying organisation – for the first time since its formation in 1997.
In London, meanwhile, Ken Livingstone, re-admitted to the Labour Party in January but still perceived as an anti-war critic of Blair, was re-elected as mayor, but with a smaller share of the vote (35.7%) than when he first won standing as an independent against Labour in 2000. Then he polled 38.9% (667,877 votes), with the Labour candidate Frank Dobson picking up a further 13% share. Significantly, one third of the 685,541 Londoners who voted Livingstone this time (in a higher turnout than 2000), didn’t vote for Labour candidates for the London assembly. Labour’s vote was 444,808 in the London assembly constituency seats and 468,247 for the city-wide ‘top-up’ seats, reducing Labour to seven seats in the 25-member assembly, down by two.
Nevertheless, once the dust had settled, the initial response within the Labour Party was not to organise for Blair’s removal. The leaders of the ‘big four’ Labour-affiliated trade unions – UNISON, AMICUS, the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), and the GMB – issued another round of verbal broadsides and threats to withdraw additional funding for Labour beyond their affiliation payments. Derek Simpson, secretary of the AMICUS general workers’ union, following "a flood of vituperative telephone calls, letters and e-mails from his members" in response to his call to back Labour in the June polls, rhetorically threatened that "if Tony Blair’s not for turning, then we’ll have to turn him out". (The Guardian, 29 June) But no concrete moves to do this are being proposed. At the UNISON public sector workers’ union annual conference, the general secretary Dave Prentis also promised not to "keep our heads down, gobs shut for Labour, if this government continues to put forward rightwing policies". (The Guardian, 23 June) But he rapidly retreated when it came to a proposal to commit the union to back a leadership challenge to Blair, which was then heavily defeated.
Similarly, Labour MPs at the first post-election meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) were not planning for imminent leadership change. "The gossip of the last couple of months appears to have spent itself", wrote The Economist. "Whether or not there are some who believe him to be a liability, it would be hard now to find a single Labour MP who does not expect Mr Blair to lead his party into the general election". (19 June)
Not a Tory recovery
THIS APPARENT SHIFT of sentiment – amongst the Labour Party and union tops but not amongst ordinary trade unionists, pensioners, black and Asian workers, and young people – is largely because the results of ‘Super Thursday’ were also extremely poor for the main opposition Conservative Party. The Guardian’s Comment page editor Seumas Milne, urging a Labour leadership challenge, points out that "however hard Blair tries to shift the agenda back to domestic policy, there can be no moving on from Iraq while he is in charge". (17 June) Nevertheless, he concedes, "a change of leadership this side of the election [is] less, rather than more, likely" after the June polls. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), "by taking more than twice as many votes from the Tories as from Labour, has left Michael Howard’s Conservative party looking even less of a threat to a Labour third term than it did a month ago".
While the Tories picked up an extra 283 council seats their 38% share of the local elections vote was no greater than that won under William Hague’s leadership in May 2000, just 13 months before the 2001 general election debacle. The Tories’ local council gains moreover, did not include any real advances in urban areas, with the party still unrepresented in big cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Birmingham, seen before the elections as the Tories’ best prospect of taking a big city council from Labour, failed to fall.
In 1999 Hague’s Tories also won the European parliament elections, with a 35.7% share of the poll to Labour’s 28%. While the Tories’ share fell to 26.7% this time, largely due to the rise of UKIP, most significant was their failure to substantially increase their absolute vote. In an election where turnout rose from 23.3% to 38.2% and an extra 6.44 million people voted compared to 1999, the Tory vote only increased by 820,000, from 3.57 million to 4.39 million. There was no evidence, in other words, that the Tories are winning new support or that the fabled ‘ABC1 voters’, the professional, service sector and skilled manual workers who were the ‘new social base’ of New Labour, are shifting back to the Tory Party in significant numbers.
This reflects the fact that – despite a growing discontent with the state of public services, the dire transport system, the intensity of work in Britain’s ‘flexible labour market’, the private pensions disaster, etc – the worsening long-term position of British capitalism has yet to fully impact on the living standards and conditions of this social strata. There are signs of a potential future ‘tax revolt’, seen in the hostile response to the 2003 national insurance and council tax rises, and the proposed September fuel tax hike (now deferred). One poll showed that, while 44% of the population still believes that taxes should rise to fund better services, this is the lowest number in favour of extra spending since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher unseated the last Labour government. (The Economist, 13 December, 2003). But at present, buoyed by rising house prices that are underpinning consumer spending (total household debt has now reached one trillion pounds, 135% of post-tax income), and with Gordon Brown’s inevitable drastic squeeze on public spending seemingly deferred into the future, Labour is still seen as the most ‘economically competent’ party in most opinion polls. There is a mood of dissatisfaction, protest and anger but, as The Guardian columnist Martin Kettle observed, the June elections revealed "no mass defection to the Tories of the kind that might signal a big change of national mood in Michael Howard’s favour. It is more than ten years now since the Tories reached the 40% threshold that wins general elections, and even in highly favourable conditions they did not get there last week either". (15 June)
Nevertheless, events between now and the election could still transform the situation. The Tories could yet still recover, with the mood changing rapidly, for example, if interest rate rises trigger a house price collapse. The Butler inquiry findings could create an irresistible pressure on Blair, compounded if Bush is defeated in November. It is still too hasty to assume that the question of Blair’s leadership will not be revisited.
The ‘shadow of Iraq’
AN ELECTION DAY YouGov/Sky TV opinion poll asked voters what mattered most to them about what the government does. Their priorities were improving public services, mentioned by 46%, with ‘getting Iraq right’ (5%) way down the list (behind Europe even, mentioned by 11%). This confirms the findings of other polls, even as they have shown a growing opinion that the war was unjustified.
So why can’t Blair ‘move on’ from Iraq? Ruling class critics of his role in the Iraq conflict –exemplified by the 52 former British diplomats who drafted an open letter to Tony Blair in April this year – were concerned at its wider impact on the Middle East, for Britain’s relations with Europe (as France and Germany tried to counter the Bush administration’s disdain for ‘multilateralism’ and the role of the UN) and for Britain’s world role, including trade links to the Muslim world. They are determined that such a ‘mistake’, a reckless pre-emptive strike, shall not be repeated. But while personal distaste lingers – "because ‘Iraq’ is about grave error of judgement and arrogant obstinacy" argues The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, "it’s a Blair character thing" (16 June) – they could nevertheless reconcile themselves to the ‘accomplished fact’ (if it were to be so) of a continuing Blair premiership.
But there is a growing realisation that even in the almost excluded event that Iraqi ‘stability’ is achieved, this will not enable Blair to regain his pre-Iraq levels of personal electoral support and concomitant political authority. ‘Iraq’ is more of a catalyst for an underlying broad public discontent, a breakdown of confidence – measured in opinion polls showing a massive fall in how ‘trustworthy’ Blair is seen to be. The drip-feed of news, from the Butler inquiry to events in Iraq itself, will continually re-enforce that sentiment. And so, a growing section of capitalist strategists and commentators ponder, if Blair’s authority is fatally undermined by Iraq, what’s the point of a ‘tarnished king’, an executive unable to ensure the smooth delivery of policies to ‘reform’ public services or other pro-business measures?
"Now is not the time for a change of direction", Blair announced at his first post-election press conference, though "it is the time for a change of gear". (The Guardian, 16 June) But following the struggle earlier this year to push through variable university tuition fees, when Blair’s 161-seat parliamentary majority collapsed to just five, what will be the fate of his third-term ‘proposals for choice’ for further use of private care in the NHS, or the planned expansion of city academies and other ‘foundation schools’ inside the state education system? This is the first government since 1966 – when England last won a major football tournament! – not to have lost a ‘whipped vote’ in parliament. But the broader opposition it is generating from public sector users, trade unionists and workers generally, will find an outlet. Blair will push on with the New Labour agenda – he still holds executive office – but a profound and deep opposition is guaranteed.
UKIP and the EU constitution
THE SENSE THAT, although Blair is still in office his authority is severely weakened, was re-enforced by the June elections, including the phenomenal rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Set-up in 1993 by a London School of Economics academic, Dr Alan Sked, UKIP contested 194 seats at the 1997 general election, polling 106,000 votes (0.3%). But it was overshadowed by the millionaire Sir James Goldsmith’s equally Euro-sceptic but better-funded Referendum Party, which polled 812,000 votes (2.6%). In the 1999 European elections, following the death of Goldsmith and the collapse of his party, UKIP finished fourth behind the three main parties with 696,000 votes (6.96%), winning three MEPs. Having then purged its leader, the MEP Michael Holmes, amidst accusations of ‘far-right infiltration’ – although the party announced it would refuse to accept into membership the expelled racist Tory MP, John Townend – UKIP made little impact at the subsequent general election in 2001, standing 428 candidates and polling 390,563 votes (1.5%). But this time round, having recruited the ex-BBC day-time TV ‘personality’ and former Labour MP, Robert Kilroy-Silk (sacked from the BBC for racist anti-Arab comments), and bankrolled by the ex-Tory millionaire Paul Sykes, UKIP leapt to 2.65 million votes in the European elections (16.1%), pushing the Liberal Democrats into fourth place and winning 12 MEPs (and two assembly members in the London elections).
In electoral terms the media portrayal of UKIP as a greater threat to the Tories than Labour is accurate. An ICM poll revealed that 45% of UKIP’s voters had backed the Tories in the 2001 general election, compared to 20% who had voted Labour and 11% Liberal Democrat. One fifth of these said that they would stick with UKIP at the next general election – giving UKIP a potential vote of 4% – which would have a greater, damaging impact on the Tories than the Referendum Party did in 1997. On this poll, Labour would still have a majority for a third term of more than 100 seats. (The Guardian, 15 June) But more important for Blair’s position than future electoral arithmetic, was how UKIP’s showing revealed the enormous difficulties that he will face if he attempts to get the new European Union (EU) constitutional treaty approved in a referendum, probably in 2006.
EU withdrawal, the position of UKIP, is not the considered policy of Britain’s ruling class. There is a ‘pro-Atlanticist’ section, led by Rupert Murdoch’s media stable, who – taking their cue from the US neo-conservative foreign policy establishment – seek to ‘disaggregate’ the EU, to obstruct the efforts of the different national capitalist classes of Europe to co-ordinate their diplomatic, economic and military activity as a counter-balance to the US super-power. While opposed to the EU constitution, however, even the Murdoch-owned UK tabloid, The Sun, felt obliged to state that it "does not agree with the UKIP policy that we should withdraw from the EU". (Editorial, 14 June) The right-wing historian Niall Ferguson, who supports the new constitution because it "changes very little about the way the EU works", points out that, even as "a young Thatcherite in the 1980s… there was never a time when I regarded departure from the EU as a serious option". (The Guardian, 29 June)
Yet, Blair’s gamble to go for a referendum on the EU constitution could profoundly undermine Britain’s position in Europe. A No victory would generate momentum for a new, semi-detached relationship with the EU. If Britain is the only big power to reject the new constitution, whatever the subsequent outcome – the scrapping of the constitution or a ‘new constitutional arrangement’ amongst the pro-constitution majority countries – it would only weaken British capitalism’s political weight in Europe. Already, Britain’s position outside the euro-zone has seen its share of EU foreign direct investment fall to 5.4% in 2003, from 28% in 1998 when the euro was launched. British capitalism’s economic position would be still further diminished. No wonder then that the self-proclaimed ‘one nation Tory’ Max Hastings (former editor of The Evening Standard), pro-European although sceptical of the constitutional treaty, has called for a Brown premiership as the only [outside] "chance of securing the British electorate’s assent to the European constitution". (The Guardian, 21 June)
"Brown is today far more trusted by the public than Blair", he wrote. Without a leadership change "our relationship with the EU [is] imperilled because the prime minister has been grievously wounded on the Middle East battlefield… he is no longer a credible purveyor of unwanted goods to the British people".
ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT FEATURE of the UKIP vote was that 15% (400,000) were people who had not voted at all in the 2001 general election (ICM poll, 15 June). This was one explanation of another feature of Super Thursday that, for the first time since New Labour’s election victory in 1997, saw the trend of declining election turnouts reversed. Turnout in the European elections increased from 23.3% in 1999 to 38.2%. The local elections saw a nine per cent rise to 40%, while turnout in the London elections was up, less dramatically, from 33.6% to 36.9%. All-postal ballots in four regions were a factor, although turnout rose everywhere (and in some local elections in the North East where all-postal ballots had been used before, turnout fell this time). But more significantly what was also involved was the early beginnings of a new shift in consciousness, from ‘protest abstentionism’ to more widespread protest voting. In the European elections 5.49 million votes (33.4%) went to parties without representation in the House of Commons, up from 1.87 million (18.7%) in 1999.
The previous, and still co-existent, trend to abstentionism had been a concern to ruling class strategists. "If more than a quarter of the electorate turns out in June’s European elections", reported a Guardian editorial in March, "then many experts will be very pleasantly surprised… this new British disease is at bottom a reflection of an honest popular disappointment – even anger – with post 1997 politics. People thought in 1997 that politics would be different and better. They have turned out to be neither". (25 March) Sam Younger, chair of the government-appointed Electoral Commission, launching a report on political participation, argued that the biggest obstacle to overcome was "a sense of it not really making very much difference which set of politicians are in power". (The Guardian, 12 February) This is a direct consequence of the ‘Americanisation’ of British politics, with two dominant capitalist parties following the transformation of the Labour Party into ‘New Labour’, which has had an impact on the perceived ‘legitimacy’ of government policies.
In the past too, Labour governments would carry out pro-capitalist policies. But the character of the Labour Party then as a ‘capitalist workers’ party’, with a capitalist leadership but a working class base, provided the ruling class with a social base through which they could attempt to secure acquiescence to their policies. (Although with the danger that the element of working class representation that formerly existed within the Labour Party could be used to push the leadership further than they would wish to go against capitalist interests). In a later interview, Younger warns of the dangers of ‘extremism’ being provoked by unpopular government polices in the absence of such legitimacy: "If the trend that there’s been for lower turnout continues then it is very worrying, because in the end there are going to be people outside the democratic system who start saying, ‘we can claim to represent people just as well as these politicians who’ve been elected by very few of the electorate’. That way lies a very dangerous future which in the end – and without trying to be too dramatic about it – can threaten the rule of law". (GMTV’s Sunday Programme, 28 March)
No doubt the establishment strategists have not forgotten the example of the poll tax, a law that provoked mass defiance in the form of a non-payment campaign (led by Militant, the precursor of the Socialist Party) that eventually led to the removal of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990. One factor that inflamed the opposition to the poll tax in Scotland in particular, where the first bills were sent out in 1989 one year ahead of England and Wales, was the fact that the Tories, with just ten out of 72 Scottish MPs, could not possibly claim an electoral mandate there.
But the same disenchantment – the feeling that voting ‘makes no difference’ and that ‘they’re all the same’ – are also the conditions in which right-wing populism can grow. A Joseph Rowntree Trust study, which asked voters how confident they were that the party they had voted for ‘would make a difference’, found more British National Party (BNP) voters ‘very confident’ that their vote ‘would make a difference’ than voters of other parties. At the same time though, BNP voters were also more likely to consider backing other parties, with many claiming that they had only voted BNP to register a protest against the Labour government or a Labour-run council. (The Guardian, 13 May)
This is not to underestimate the ideological weight of racism underpinning the appeal of the BNP, and the hold racist ideas can establish in the absence of an authoritative working class alternative. Along with other ideological weapons, (sexism, religion, the role of the monarchy etc) racism is sustained by the forces of ‘official society’, not always openly but at all times in the background. This includes not only the media but the education system, the police, the justice system and also the political representatives of the ruling class, the capitalist parties – including the Labour government – attempting to cement together their social base of support. If there is no alternative offering a way forward, the ready-made formulas of racism, already there in the background of society, provide a seemingly ‘cogent’ answer.
In the event, while polling 808,200 votes in the European elections (4.9%) and increasing their number of councillors to 21, the BNP failed to make a breakthrough. The main beneficiaries of the protest vote this time were UKIP – the party for "men and women who want their country back" – with their anti-Europe (and anti-immigrant) platform and ‘charismatic’ figurehead.
To a lesser extent, and to the left of New Labour, the Greens were also a vehicle of protest, keeping the same share of the vote as in 1999 (6.3% – 1,028,283 votes, up from 625,378) and holding onto their two MEPs.
Filling the vacuum
OVERALL, SUPER THURSDAY was a continuation of the process under way of fragmenting support for the establishment parties but with no authoritative working class alternative yet to emerge to fill the resultant vacuum. But why didn’t the biggest anti-war movement in British history – after six mass demonstrations between September 2002 and March 2004, with participation ranging from a ‘low’ of 50,000 to a peak of 1.5 million in February 2003 – fill the political vacuum to the left of Labour?
The main responsibility lies with the Labour lefts, including the ‘awkward squad’ trade union leaders, with their refusal to recognise that the Labour Party can no longer be ‘reclaimed’. Inverting reality, the veteran Labour left-winger Tony Benn wrote at the time of the February 15 demonstration that "we should interpret the decision to go to war by the prime minister as, in effect, a resignation by him from the Labour Party [!] and begin to build it up from the bottom in a new way".
"Individual members should stay in the party but re-focus their efforts locally and nationally on campaigning with those others who share our views, instead of continuing [?] as mere local agents for the party HQ or even for Labour candidates who see their job as to follow the party line, whatever it is". (Campaign Group News, February 2003) But this evaded the question – what political alternative was necessary, including an electoral alternative, and how could it be built? ‘Individual members’ in fact have been voting with their feet, with Labour Party membership further falling during 2003 to 214,952 from 248,294 in 2002 (and compared to 407,000 in 1997).
Also responsible, unfortunately, for this equivocation on what political conclusions should have been drawn from the anti-war movement, were the leaders of the Stop the War Coalition (STWC), including the anti-war MP George Galloway and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). While privately arguing that the time had come for a new political formation, George Galloway missed the opportunity at the peak of the movement to make that call. The follow-up to February 15 was not a democratically convened convention to discuss the launch of a new political movement, using the authority gained from the mass demonstration, for example, to appeal to the ranks of the seven ‘awkward squad’ national trade unions affiliated to the STWC. Instead a ‘Peoples Assembly’ was organised, with Labour and Liberal speakers and no way forward offered but more (less effectual) protests. They missed one of those Shakespearean ‘tides in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, lead on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries’ (Julius Caesar). Subsequently, George Galloway was expelled by the Labour Party, at a time of their choosing, in October 2003.
Later Galloway and the SWP launched the ‘Respect – Unity Coalition’ to contest June’s elections. With proportional representation used to elect MEPs and London assembly members they confidently expected to win at least one London assembly seat and MEPs in the North West, the West Midlands and London regions. The SWP leaders also expected that, by not standing under an explicitly socialist banner and concentrating their campaign on the war, they would win broader support.
Respect’s best result was in the European elections in London (accounting for over one third of its national vote of 252,216, a 1.5% share) where the Respect list, headed by George Galloway, polled 91,175 votes (4.84%). This was a good score, although still substantially short of the 155,000 votes (8.25%) needed to win an MEP. In six of the nine regions outside London, however, Respect’s share of the vote was less than the combined votes achieved by non-Green Party left-of-Labour candidates in the 1999 European elections.
In 2000 there were five left-of-Labour candidate lists (aside from the Greens) contesting the proportionately elected London assembly seats, including the Socialist Alliance (a coalition of socialist organisations which, at that time, included both the SWP and the Socialist Party). Together they won 88,515 votes (5.33%) but, as separate lists, none reached the 5% threshold to win a seat. This time Respect had a clear field but, with 87,533 votes (4.57%) on a higher turnout, also failed to win a seat. While not ‘shallows and miseries’, an electoral breakthrough was not achieved.
Although no direct comparisons are possible, greater electoral gains were made by Militant in the aftermath of the mass anti-poll tax movement (when the dominant mood, moreover, was still overwhelmingly anti-Tory). Dave Nellist, expelled as a Labour MP for his leadership of the non-payment campaign, came within 1,000 votes of retaining his seat in the 1992 general election. Scottish Militant Labour (SML) won four seats on Glasgow council in their first electoral outing in May 1992. In all, from May 1992 to February 1994, SML polled 33.3% of the total votes cast in 17 contests with Labour (36.1%), winning six. This was followed by Tommy Sheridan polling 7.6% (12,113 votes) for the city of Glasgow seat in the 1994 European elections (in a more disadvantageous first-past-the-post contest), coming third behind Labour and the Scottish National Party but ahead of the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Similarly, in Dublin, the Socialist Party (the Irish affiliate of the Committee for a Workers International – CWI) won councillors and then a parliamentary seat (in 1997 and re-elected since), initially as a result of leading a mass movement against water charges. In June’s Irish elections the Socialist Party further consolidated its position, winning four councillors and 5.5% of the vote in the Dublin-wide euro-constituency.
There has subsequently been a parting of ways between the CWI and some former leaders of SML, including Tommy Sheridan, over the critical importance of maintaining a clear Marxist programme and organisation within the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), launched in 1998. But undeniably it was the successful translation of SML’s support in the mass anti-poll tax movement onto the electoral plane that laid the basis for the emergence of a broad, socialist party in Scotland. Respect, on the other hand, has neither achieved electoral success nor advanced an explicit socialist platform.
Respect’s average vote disguised low results in many parts of the country, which were combined with some notable votes in inner city areas with large Muslim populations. The Muslim vote for Respect is part of a process of predominantly Asian voters moving away from their traditional support for Labour. This turn away from what is now a capitalist party is a positive development, if it aids the development of the class consciousness of Asian workers. But unfortunately, under the leadership of George Galloway and the SWP, Respect has not so far acted as a bridge to a new workers’ party, but re-enforced the idea of ‘Muslim interests’ completely separate from those of other sections of the working class.
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which gave selective support to Respect, claimed that support for Respect amongst Muslims was higher "in the five regions where MAB specifically recommended Respect candidates… endorsing the Muslim bloc phenomenon". (MAB press release, First step in the right direction, 17 June) MAB also backed Ken Livingstone in London and hailed Liberal Democrat local election gains "in high density Muslim areas" as being the result of recommendations "to the Muslim community by MAB". MAB’s aim is clear, to establish ‘a Muslim bloc’ to bargain for the ‘best deal for Muslims’ from any party, including pro-capitalist ones, rather than to join a drive for a new mass workers’ party that could address the needs of all sections of the working class. Respect, by portraying itself as ‘the party for Muslims’, unfortunately has not challenged this approach, which will advance neither the real interests of workers who are Muslims nor aid the development of working class unity.
To establish a new workers’ party will not be an easy or straightforward task. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted at its recent conference to disaffiliate from the Labour Party, following Labour’s expulsion of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) in February. The RMT itself, at its annual conference in June, agreed a motion to build for a "national conference of trade unions and organisations of working class communities and political organisations to discuss political representation for workers". However, this was ambivalently amended to include support for involving members "in the process of rescuing the Labour Party from right-wing, anti-working class leanings". The RMT leader Bob Crow voted Green in the June elections and Ken Livingstone for mayor. (The Guardian, 2 July)
Yet events will make it ever clearer that it is more than ‘right-wing leanings’ but rather the inexorable needs of capitalism, that is driving the Labour government into further and further attacks on the working class. Under a Blair or a Brown premiership the task remains, as millions of people are turning their backs on the established political parties, to campaign for a genuine workers’ party, with roots in the workplaces and communities, that could start to develop into a mass force for socialist change.