It is a near-certainty that the next General Election in Britain will be held on 3rd of May. Three bourgeois parties – Tory, Lib-Dem and Labour – and one socialist party – the Socialist Labour Party – will be contesting these elections. Whatever little justification (in our view there was none) working people may have had for voting Labour in the past, there is absolutely no reason why the working class should give their support to Labour.
During the 1997 election campaign we warned the electorate that the ruling class was keen to help Labour win the election because, first, only Labour stood any chance of taking Britain into the Euro and, second, only Labour could be trusted to dismantle the welfare system as we have known it since the Second World War.
Since coming to power, Labour has brought joy to the ruling class and the privileged sections of our society, while piling misery on the most disadvantaged, the most destitute and deprived sections of the population. It has attacked the lone parents and the disabled; it has refused to restore the link between earnings and benefits, especially with regard to pensions; while indulging in all kind of gimmicks to divert public attention, it has engaged in the piece-meal privatisation of the NHS and education through the notorious PFI, under which public assets, hitherto sacrosanct from the encroachments of capital, are being mortgaged – which carry extra costs while reducing services.
It has refused to repeal the draconian anti-trade union legislation passed during 18 years of Tory Governments, something Labour had promised to do. And yet the trade union leadership, being in the hands of people who, just like Labour leaders, serve the interests of British imperialism and the privileged sections of our society (including the labour aristocracy), agreed at the beginning of March last year to contribute £15 million of the £20 million to be spent by Labour on the next election campaign. In the 1997 election they donated £9 million of the £26 million spent by Labour. The trade-unions’ promise to double their funding of the Labour Party was agreed after Tony Blair held a dinner at Chequers, his country retreat, to charm the key figures behind the deal, namely Roger Lyons, General Secretary of MSF.
“We are more than happy to pay”
, the union official was reported as saying,
” because it cements our relationship with the Labour Party…”.
Cements the relations – but for what? The answer must be to attack the poorest of the working people at home and the oppressed people abroad. After he had spent the day in the company of the Blairs, Kevin and Jean Keegan and Helen Mirrin until past mid-night on a Saturday in early March 2000, a union source to whom Lyons had spoken said:
“Roger had a great time, and was well impressed with the contents of the Chequers wine cellar”
. (quoted in
, 5 March 2000). The union leaders behind this deal included Bill Morris of the T&G and Rodney Bickerstaffe, former General Secretary of UNISON, the public sector workers union. While these leaders have little difficulty donating £15 million of the money belonging to their members to a party which has produced one of the most reactionary governments since the end of the last war, which has refused even to remove from the statute book a plethora of anti-trade union legislation, they are unwilling to support the struggles of its members against low pay and job losses. The betrayal by the T&G of the Liverpool Dockers and by UNISON of the Hillingdon Hospital Cleaners are just two of the examples of the betrayal by the trade-union leadership of their members.
Abroad, Labour has participated in waging a genocidal war against the people of Yugoslavia, killing 2,000 innocent civilians, forcing a million to become refugees, and destroying hundreds of hospitals, schools, residential blocks, bridges and even a television station. It continues to participate in a regime of sanctions against Iraq, which have claimed the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis during the past ten years. It continues its illegal bombing of Iraq. It is interfering militarily in the internal affairs of Sierra Leone. It continues to sell arms to the most repressive regimes in the world. It continues to provide diplomatic, political and material support to the Zionists settler regime of Israel, which continues to unleash death and destruction on the Palestinian people.
In view of this, we call upon working people to vote for the Socialist Labour Party led by Arthur Scargill. This is the only party with a socialist programme and a socialist manifesto – the only party that stands for getting rid of capitalism – the cause of all the misery of the working class – and instituting socialism, under which production will be organised for the benefit of the masses and not to satisfy the greed of the financial oligarchy in the latter’s never-ending chase for maximum profit.