Socialist Worker

Revolt at the ballot box

Activists are campaigning in a number of seats in the May elections across Britain reports Charlie Kimber.

Issue No. 2299

Campaigning for Michael Lavalette in Preston (Pic: Steve Wilcock)

Campaigning for Michael Lavalette in Preston (Pic: Steve Wilcock)


The leaders of Britain’s political parties have never, as a group, been so unpopular.

Pollsters often ask people whether they think a leader is doing well or badly. And the result is expressed as an overall positive or negative. If 60 percent of people think a leader is doing badly and 40 percent think they are doing well, that’s minus 20 percent overall.

David Cameron’s rating is now minus 27 percent. Ed Miliband is on minus 41 percent. Nick Clegg is on minus 53. Most people think they are all useless.

As polling expert Mike Smithson wrote, “After I’d tweeted the latest leader­ship numbers, I was asked whether the overall aggregate negative of 121 percent was a record.

“I stand to be corrected but I cannot find a period in modern UK political history when all three leaders have registered such poor numbers at the same time.

“Generally when one or two are down then the other is up. What we are seeing is quite exceptional.”

This is just one indication of the deep bitterness against all three parties. It has been fuelled by their demand that workers accept slashed living standards and shattered public services to pay for the bankers’ bailout.

The gulf between millions of people in Britain and the three main parties is expressed in many ways.

At the end of 2010 it was seen in the student revolt. In March last year it found a focus in the biggest trade union demonstration in British history.

That June and November, it was channelled through mass strikes—and this was the most powerful expression of the mood. We are fighting for there to be more such strikes.

And now the anger against Cameron, Miliband and Clegg has exploded to the surface in an election—the political earthquake of George Galloway’s by-election victory in Bradford West.

Voters took the chance to slaughter Labour in a safe seat. And they pummelled the other parties as well by electing a candidate who stood squarely against austerity, racism and imperialist war.

Elections matter. They are not as central as big strikes, occupations and mass demonstrations. And electing people to a parliament or a council won’t bring socialism.

But they are an important arena.

They can express a mood, give confidence to broad layers of people that others agree with them, unify opposition to the bosses and the government and launch non-electoral campaigns.

And they can elect people who will be champions of the working class, a voice for the voiceless and a thorn in the side of our rulers.

Across Britain the Bradford result put a smile on the faces of all those who are fighting this black-hearted coalition. We need many more such results.

Confidence

More good election results for the left will boost the confidence of workers in struggle and campaigners.

They will cause further divisions among our enemies. They will make it easier to talk about socialism to a wide audience and they will boost the idea that our side can win.

After Bradford the major parties fear a deluge. They speak of it as a “one off”, but they quake at the thought that a new force may rise in the land, giving expression to the fury and frustration felt by millions.

Labour in particular fears that we might become like France, where over 15 percent of people will vote for the left of the Labour-type party in the presidential election.

Even worse for them would be a Greek-style election, where according to the latest polls some 25 percent will vote to the left of Labour next month.

We are a long way from that in Britain, but the anger that led to such results exists here as well.

That’s why we urge all our readers to actively support the election campaigns of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition (SACC), Respect and other left challenges in your area. Every vote won will make it easier to win real struggle in the weeks and months ahead.

And there is one election which is particularly crucial for building the resistance against the coalition and shaping the left in the future. Michael Lavalette is standing in Preston to win back the council seat he won in 2003 and 2007.

Having Michael as a councillor will mean a high profile for someone who did not buckle to the argument that the cuts were needed, and who has battled Islamophobia and for Palestinian rights.

It will be a win for someone who encourages and supports every workers’ battle in his area and nationally, who stands for socialism and is capable of uniting people in action.

Michael can win. But Labour is fighting tooth and nail to hang on to the ward. Micheal’s campaign has been leaked an email from a Labour supporting student that refers to “Countering the Galloway/Lavalette threat” and makes a desperate call for local supporters to flood the town centre ward.

Whether he is victorious on 3 May depends on the strength of the campaign. Please join it.

For the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s campaigns go to www.tusc.org.uk.

For the Scottish Anti Cuts Coalition go to www.scottishanticutscoalition.org.uk

To join the Preston campaign phone 07739 729214

Michael meets Mukhtar Master (right)  (Pic: Steve Wilcock)

Michael meets Mukhtar Master (right) (Pic: Steve Wilcock)



If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.