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UK: Don’t Vote – Prepare the Resistance

By • Apr 28th, 2010 • Category: News & Analysis

Source: International Communist Tendency-

Our first struggles will be against the austerity policies of our elected leaders. Join us in the fight. We have a world to win.

What the Politicians are Not Saying

Politicians will usually say anything to get elected. The difference in this election is that that they are saying nothing to get elected.

Faced with the biggest crisis since 1931 none of the political parties is telling us what will happen after 6 May. Faced with a £167 billion deficit which will get bigger as interest payments pile up all three major parties have a £30 billion hole at the heart of their manifestos. This is equivalent to 50% of the NHS budget for a year or a tax increase of £1,100 for every household in the UK. The parties are united because our capitalist ruling class is united. Once the election is out of the way, whoever wins will begin the attack on the living standards of the millions of workers who just voted.

The ruling class are trying to pretend that “recovery” is on the way. What they don’t tell us is that their recovery can only be sustained by more unemployment, more wage freezes and more job insecurity for millions of workers. And if you vote that’s the limit of your participation.

The “democratically elected” government wil do what the ruling class want anyway.
Vote for Lower Living Standards

And that is the aim of the game. Voting reduces us to individuals who have no voice. In the isolation of the ballot box you vote for one party which is scarcely distinguishable from the next.

The “choice” has already been pre-arranged by those who have control of the means to finance parties and media. In short this means the capitalist class. Once the capitalists realised that voting would not harm their interests they gradually began to allow universal suffrage (although it was only in 1970 that every single individual over 18 had one vote). They knew that the choice would always be limited to a capitalist one. They also knew that in the ballot box individuals are cut off one from another. In short class solidarity is absent.

But this is what is going to be needed in the months ahead since the real price of a crisis which workers have not caused will be dumped in our laps. In some ways we will just see an intensification of things that have been going on for some time. Pension schemes will be closed (and re-opened on worse terms), permanent job contracts will be torn up, and more of us will be turned into “agency workers” who have fewer employment rights. Wages will remain frozen or even reduced. And throughout it all the ruling class will trumpet the message that “we” voted for this government. We will be told we have to accept it as we have to obey the democratically elected legitimate government in power.

Some Votes are More Democratic Than Others

Any workers who strike to defend what is left of their conditions will be stigmatised as “selfish”, “greedy” and a threat to the democratic way of life. We have already seen this with the postal workers, the BA strikes, and the RMT vote for a strike this year. Oddly enough the rules of democracy didn’t apply when workers in these industries voted overwhelmingly (in BA’s case it was 90%) to strike to fight for their conditions.

Instead the firms could use the laws brought in by both Tories and Labour to challenge (on the flimsiest of grounds) the technicality of the vote.

But then this will always be successful as long as we play by the rules of their democracy.

When the votes were declared void workers should have walked out immediately. And not just in the one threatened group but in all those who are in a position to support them. This happened in July 1972 when 5 London dockers were arrested for picketing and put in Pentonville Prison. Every docker downed tools immediately and sector after sector of the working class threatened to join them. Pentonville Prison was surrounded by a mass demonstration of workers from various industries and even the union leaders were talking of supporting what was in effect an illegal and political strike. The Government was terrified and had to resort to an obscure civil servant called the “Official Solicitor” who turned up at Pentonville to release the dockers. It is no accident that 22 million strike days occurred that year, strikes which destroyed the Heath Government’s plans to make workers pay for the crisis with unemployment.

Solidarity and Unity

The moral of the tale is that solidarity and united action are our only defence. Much of this solidarity has been lost in the last thirty years.

We have been told that “there is no alternative” to capitalism, that the Labour Party is very “relaxed” about the gap between rich and poor continuing to widen. We were told that, with the collapse of Stalinism “socialism had failed” and that we had reached the end of history.

But Stalinism was never socialism. Workers in the USSR were exploited like workers here.

The main difference was that the owner of the factories etc. was the police state. This is not socialism. Under socialism private property is abolished while the workers themselves run the economy and society. Under socialism there will still be voting but it will be for workplace committees, local councils and everybody elected will not be a permanent politician but subject to immediate recall if necessary. This is a democracy in which every vote counts. And this is a society which is worth fighting for.

The Enemy Within

A number of barriers stand in our way. The first is that many workers don’t really believe that we can achieve anything by fighting. Many still think that being a wage slave is about as good as we can get. But the future which capitalism increasingly offers us is an increasingly bleak one. Not only will we see a long drawn out crisis in which living standards fall but we will also see more wars all around the planet. This is because the capitalist crisis has increased competition for control of raw materials and strategic routes. Already trade wars are intensifying (e.g. between China and the USA). However our first struggles will have to be against the austerity policies of our “elected leaders”.

And here we will be faced with the unions. They are the enemy within. They want to negotiate with the bosses when an all out fight is the only hope we have. We saw this in the BA dispute when the union gave BA months to prepare its strike breaking tactics. It is the same with the RMT where the union leaders have called off strike after strike that workers have voted for. They have in fact simply used the vote as a negotiating tactic. And the victims of such negotiations have been the workers themselves.
Beyond Abstentionism

To fight successfully we have to go beyond capitalist legality and the unions. We need to hold mass meetings to elect strike committees which must be kept accountable. We need to support each other with solidarity actions between one section and another. We need to challenge the limits the capitalists want to put on our right to fight meaningfully. Capitalism has failed. The collapse of the speculative bubble shows this.

It cannot be reformed. It has to be abolished.

Only the united working class can do this but it can only do it by organising. We need both an international political organisation to fight all the attempts by capitalism to divide us and we need class-wide bodies which involve everyone in the struggle. Not voting in an election is easy (more people abstained than voted for the government in 2005) but preparing the resistance is a lot harder. This is what the CWO, and organisations like us, will be doing in the months ahead. Join us in this fight. We have a world to win.

Labor


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