Socialist Worker

Time to change gear

Issue No. 1737

The following resolution was passed at last Sunday's national meeting of delegates from SWP branches:

The General election presents revolutionary socialists with a magnificent opportunity to build a left focus for the sense of disillusionment and betrayal with New Labour. This requires us to throw all our efforts into campaigning for the Socialist Alliances in England and Wales, and the Scottish Socialist Party in Scotland.

The main stress in our electoral agitation must be on mobilising other people to campaign for and vote for the socialist candidates. Our members in constituencies where socialist candidates are not standing should try to mobilise people to campaign in nearby constituencies where there are socialist candidates.

For our Scottish comrades, in every constituency where we have members we should approach the local Scottish Socialist Party branch to organise election campaign meetings, activities and fundraising, with a view to involving all those who are looking for an alternative to New Labour's neo-liberal agenda. The level of disillusionment with New Labour among the best people in the working class and anti-capitalist movements is such that the centre of our agitation in these constituencies can in no way centre on the question of voting Labour.

There will be cases in which candidates not belonging to the Socialist Alliances or the SSP will be putting forward a clear left alternative to New Labour. This does not apply to the Liberal Democrats or the Scottish National Party candidates, even when they occasionally use left of Labour language. But it will apply to Scargill's candidacy in Hartlepool and some Green candidates-although other Green candidates are closer to the position of the governmental Greens in Germany and France, and do not represent any sort of left alternative to Labour.

This does not mean we abandon our traditional stance that Labour is a bourgeois workers' party, and continues to depend to a large part on the votes of workers and the financial backing of the unions. The Blairite project is to change this state of affairs and transform Labour into a fully bourgeois party, like the American Democrats. It has made considerable gains in getting mainstream big business backing, but is only part of the way towards its goal.

This was shown by the dependence of New Labour on the union leaders during the fuel price crisis last autumn and its use of Old Labour language at the autumn party conference. It is also shown by the involvement of many Labour activists and even some councillors and MPs in anti-privatisation campaigns.

Most unionised workers still continue to look to Labour, while those with reactionary ideas still look to the Tories. And in the unlikely event of Labour being driven back into opposition, there might well be a swing back to Old Labour rhetoric-as happened in Australia and New Zealand.

For these reasons we still prefer a Labour victory to a Tory (or for that matter Liberal Democrat) one, and in marginal seats make it clear that we want to see the Tories beaten.

But in the concrete circumstances of a spring general election our central stress has to be on the need for workers to break to the left from Labour. This means voting Labour cannot be the centre of our propaganda and agitation, and our main effort should not be going into arguments with those who mistakenly believe the Blairite project has fully succeeded and that Labour as a party (and not just its leadership) is indistinguishable from the Tories.

Our central slogan should be 'Vote socialist-build a left alternative to Blair', and we should use the slogan 'Keep the Tories out' only as a subordinate slogan.


Back this campaign

Socialist candidates will be standing in constituencies across England, Scotland and Wales at the general election. Some of those where a decision to stand has already been taken are listed here, along with candidates where they have already been selected. In some areas candidates are being selected in the coming week and decisions being taken on whether to stand. Everyone who can should get involved in the fight to make sure the socialist message comes over loud and clear in the election.


Plymouth Devonport – Tony Staunton Exeter – Fran Choules Southampton Itchen, Southampton Test, Portsmouth South, – John Molyneux Hove – Andy Richards Bristol South – Brian Drummond Bristol East, Streatham – Greg Tucker Vauxhall – Theresa Bennett Peckham and Camberwell – John Mulrenan Greenwich and Woolwich – Kirstie Paton Lewisham Deptford – Ian Page Brent South, Tottenham – Weyman Bennett Hornsey and Wood Green – Louise Christian Poplar and Canning Town – Kambiz Boomla Dagenham – Berlyne Hamilton Leyton and Wanstead, Hackney South – Cecilia Prosper Holborn and St Pancras – Candy Udwin Islington South – Janine Booth Ealing Acton and Shepherd's Bush – Nick Grant Ipswich – Peter Leech Norwich South – Dave Manningham Cambridge, Luton South – Joe Hearne Watford – Jon Berry Oxford East – John Lister Stevenage, Walsall South, Walsall North – Dave Church Dudley South – Angela Thompson Telford – Mike Jeffries Coventry South – Rob Windsor Coventry North East – Dave Nellist Birmingham Perry Barr – Caroline Johnson Birmingham Northfield Leicester West Steve Score Leicester East, Nottingham East – Peter Radcliff Ashfield, Chesterfield – Jeannie Robinson Sheffield Brightside – Brian Wilson Sheffield Central – Nick Riley Huddersfield East – Graham Hellawell Wakefield – Mick Griffiths Hull North, Leeds Central – Steve Johnston Bradford South – Ateeq Siddique Manchester Withington – John Clegg Manchester Blackley – Karen Reissmann Salford, Liverpool Bootle – Peter Glover Liverpool Wavertree – Mark O'Brien Liverpool Riverside – Cathy Wilson Wigan – Dave Lowe Blackburn – Mark Tebbutt Darlington – Alan Doherty Middlesbrough, Tyne Bridge – Terry Rogers Tyneside North – Pete Bartlett Cardiff Central – Julian Goss Cardiff South and Penarth – Dave Bartlett Torfaen – Steve Bell Swansea West – Alec Thraves

To get involved phone the National Network of Socialist Alliances on 020 7536 9696


The Scottish Socialist Party plans to stand in all 72 constituencies in Scotland. Get involved-phone 0141 221 7714


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Sat 3 Mar 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1737
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