The general election campaign has been a fraud. The major contenders – all three of them – failed to talk honestly about the cuts, engage with the horror in Afghanistan, or admit how hard life is for the majority of people.
You would not think we live in a country where poverty, unemployment, insecurity, crushing stress, management bullying and racism are a daily reality for millions of people.
On Monday 14 year old Tiara Sanchez spoke during the leaders’ debate at the Citizens UK event. Her mother and grandmother are cleaners at the Treasury.
Tiara talked about the difference earning a “living wage” would make to their lives. They could afford English classes so they could speak easily with my teachers. If they were paid a living wage then we wouldn’t have to eat lentils for a week.
“If they were paid a living wage my mum could afford the tube and I would see her for three hours more every day.”
Such questions rarely percolated through the media froth and the main parties’ trivial discussions.
Tiara’s mum and grandmother are not on the margins, exploited by some dodgy contractor. Their wages are set by the Labour government!
People like Tiara’s family rightly fear the Tories – but many have little faith in the alternatives.
Socialist Worker goes to press before the election, but it’s already clear that Labour has been hit hard by its abandonment of the working class.
A poll asked voters in marginal constituencies which party they identified with certain core values.
On “social justice” Labour came third (behind “none of the parties” and the Liberal Democrats). What a judgment on 13 years of a Labour government and an election campaign that fired such little hope.
Real issues will return after the election – above all the cuts. Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, is reported to have said last week that whichever party wins they will have to impose such severe cuts that they will be exiled from power for a generation. He reflects the scale of the oncoming assault, and how high the stakes are.
Every trade unionist must demand their leaders oppose every cut and every job loss. If they won’t, workers must organise independently of them.
Every fightback needs solidarity. In every community we need left-led campaigns to unite people to fight the cuts, on the model of the successful campaign in north London to save the Whittington Hospital.
The Right to Work post-election conference on 22 May is crucial. Every reader of Socialist Worker – worker, campaigner, unemployed, student or pensioner – should sign up today (see » A key date for all activists after 6 May)
When people ask “what next?” after the election, the immediate answer is to build the conference.
We will also need to build and strengthen Unite Against Fascism locally in order to confront the menace of the British National Party and the English Defence League.
And at the centre of all this we need a stronger socialist presence – a bigger, better rooted Socialist Workers Party.