Mark Steel: laughing off class politics

April 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm (class, comedy, elections, Green Party, Johnny Lewis, labour party, political groups, Respect)

A fund-raiser for people who think petty bourgeois self-indulgence and the feel-good factor are more important than class politics.

To Mark Steel and other socialists now backing the Greens and Respect:

Where would you stand on the Labour government that sent in troops to break a dock strike
in the 40s – the same government that gave us the A bomb and tied the UK by treaty
(Nato) to US foreign policy?
Would you have called for a vote for them? The Communist Party at the end of
the war campaigned for a coalition with Churchill’s Tories: wrong but at
least realistic.
It is sad but true that the age profile of today’s left activists means that
we include a disproportionately high number of comrades who campaigned
against the Wilson and Callaghan governments’ policies. By 1979 we had convinced
people of what was wrong with the Labour Government -but we failed to convince them of
the method or even the necessity of organising to build an alternative that
could do a better job for our class.
Would you have called for a vote for Barbara Castle, the pioneer of
anti-union laws ?
Are your anti Labour candidates guaranteed never to sell out? Do they differ
in some way from the good left candidates who have been elected to
parliament (or as local councillors or union General Secretaries or even stewards) and failed to
Yes of course they do: they will never sell out because they will never have
anything to sell .  Is it the case that making sure you don’t win and
therefore have no responsibility for the actions of goverment that is the
attraction of these candidates?
I can understand members of religious organisations being more concerned
with the state of their souls on judgment day than the passing affairs of
this world but we on the Left exist to improve the position of the
working class here and now.
We should judge all our actions on the probable effect they have on the
lives of our class.
The probable outcomes of your Green/Respect campaign are (in order of likelihood):
1. A Tory goverment
2. A Tory-led coalition
3. A Labour-led coalition
4. A Labour government
Do you believe that the difference between these is negligible?
On the eve of the 1979 election Duncan Hallas from his then lofty position
in the leadership of the SWP expressed the opinion that the election was not
something to get excited about. Many on the left agreed with him that there
was not enough difference between the (old) Labour Party and Margaret
Thatcher’s Tories to warrant an active campaign for Labour. I do not think anybody is going to argue now that they
were right about that.
I don’t think left (and not-so-left: Respect and Green)  alternative candidates are going to pick up many
votes, but as in 1979 I do believe that if the left is not out working for
Labour we can find ourselves saddled with a Tory government elected by a
minority of the electorate. And we will face this in a mileu in which New Labour and the Cruddas soft-left control the politics because the
hard left is not prepared to do the work.

* Johnny Lewis is a senior lay trade unionist, not a member of any particular political faction and writes for “Shiraz Socialist” in a purely personal capacity.


  1. Lobby Ludd said,

    Is it OK for the AWL to stand Jill Mountford?

  2. Waterloo Sunset said,

    So we’re back to “Vote Labour with no illusions”. And people wonder why the far right are on the rise. It’s because idiots like this insist on aligning themselves with the same political mainstream that has brought us to this point.

  3. voltairespriest said,

    Would you vote for the party that introduced student tuition fees, spent 8 years kissing up to the most right-wing US administration in decades, which has crushed public services under bureaucracy, which has attacked group after group of workers in the public sector, which has shown such contempt for the labour movement to which it owes its existence?

    I wouldn’t.

  4. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Nicked shamelessly from the Commune:

    ** From So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams, best known as author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

    “No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On this world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

    “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”

    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in…”

  5. “Left” (and not-so-”left”) anti-Labour candidates: the effect on the lives of our class « Shiraz Socialist said,

    […] But the crucial issue in this election – like all general elections – will be that of government.  Even the most optimistic assessment of non-Labour “left” (sic) candidates’ prospects of success, does not amount to a governmental alternative to New Labour or the Tories. As Johhny Lewis wrote in an earlier post: […]

  6. Voting Labour: time to kick the habit « Shiraz Socialist said,

    […] at 12:18 pm (Green Party, Respect, Socialist Party, elections, labour party, voltairespriest) In Johnny Lewis’ post on April 1st, he states that a progressive who casts their vote for anyone other than the Labour […]

  7. Edward said,

    This post is a bit nasty! I seriously fail to grasp your arguments as to why these three candidates wearing different badges working together in solidarity is such a bad thing? Because all

    You are unfairly implying, without much evidence these people have no class politics and that simply is not true.

    Obviously you view this “Green Trade Unionist & Socialist Respect Coalition” as an unholy alliance that poses some kind of threat to your own beliefs more than anything else. Class struggles are still at the centre of all Socialist beliefs, but I can accept there are other struggles beyond that.

    These are hard working class people. Not middle-class careerists with senior socialist status living in some time bubble with nothing original left to offer the left.

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