As time runs out for the New Labour government, the big question is how do we stop the Tories? The answer is made more difficult by the fact that there is no practical electoral answer to this matter.
For example, there is no way that you could advocate a vote for New Labour at the forthcoming general election. The party led by Gordon Brown is essentially capitalist in its outlook and practice, as it has shown in more than 12 years in power. From the beginning under Tony Blair, it assumed the role of the political management team in Britain for global corporate and financial power.
Policies inherited from the previous Tory governments have been deepened and applied in a ruthless fashion across the public sector, from education to health, while the private sector was set free to pursue profit and promote globalisation. Internationally, the government pursued neo-imperialist policies by invading Iraq and Afghanistan while domestically New Labour constructed the edifice of an authoritarian state.
Now that the world capitalist economy has plunged into crisis, New Labour government is in trouble politically and with the electorate. Tough! There’s no way anyone should help them out by lending them a vote at the next election and certainly not on the spurious ground that the Tories “will be worse”.
As for voting Lib Dem, well the party has swung so far to the right under Nick Clegg that even a forensic scientist would be hard-pressed to tell them apart from David Cameron’s Tories.
Over the last couple of decades not only have the three main parties have coalesced while the capitalist state, including the Parliamentary system, now openly rather than covertly functions in the service of economic and financial elites, as the bank bail-outs demonstrated.
So where does that leave us? What is certain is that the economic crisis is set to get far worse over the next six months, that whoever wins the election will be faced with an immediate political crisis and that we will have to produce some unconventional solutions to find a practical way forward.
In an interview with the Financial Times today, Michael Geoghegan, chief executive of HSBC, warns of a second downturn in the coming months. One of the better capitalised banks, HSBC is holding off from expansion plans in the expectation of a W or “double-dip” recession.
Geoghegan has no doubt studied the latest unemployment figures from the United States, which show that 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the current recession in December 2007. The total population of the unemployed in America is now 15.1 million. One estimate is that about one-in-six employable Americans are without a job.
Meanwhile, California – the eighth largest economy in the world – is bankrupt. Thousands of public sector workers are losing their jobs and having their pay cut. Students are revolting against plans a mid-year increase in tuition fees. This is the kind of crsis that the Tories, or whatever political formation comes out of the election, will face. Not some cuts here and there but ruthless, savage, drastic and draconian cuts in the midst of a recession. And beginning the day after the election.
So to answer the question about how to stop the Tories, it means building a movement that recognises what’s at stake. A World to Win’s People’s Charter for Democracy suggests how economic and political power could be transferred out of the hands of the powerless majority. The way forward, in our view, lies beyond putting a cross on a ballot paper for a Parliamentary system that masks the need for the state to dispense with democratic niceties in order to impose the crisis on ordinary people.