development of socialist sectarianism and that of the real working class
movement always stand in inverse ratio to each other. Sects are justified
(historically) so long as the working class is not yet ripe for an independent
historical movement. As soon as it has attained this maturity all sects are
essentially reactionary.” (Engels, November 1871)
May 1st was certainly ‘Black
Thursday’ for the Brown New Labour government. It was the worse result for
Labour in 40 years! In the local elections, Labour received only 24% of the
national vote (compared to the Tory’s 44%). The party was even driven into
third place behind the Liberal Democrats. The party had not experienced such a
set-back on this scale since the time of the Wilson government of 1968.
In London, Boris the Barbarian beat Ken
Livingstone for Mayor, a position created by New Labour. In Wales, the
strong-hold Labour constituencies of Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent (once held
by Nye Bevan) were lost. The Tories even gained seats and councils in the
On the basis of these results, there is now
the real prospect of a Tory government at the next election. On the present basis,
the Tories would have a 150 seat majority.
This disastrous situation is the
consequence of New Labour, whose pro-capitalist policies has demoralized its
traditional working class supporters. The argument that only right-wing
“moderate” policies could guarantee victory has gone up in smoke. Right-wing
policies are only serving to prepare another Tory government.
Another consequence of these elections has
been the complete disarray of the sects, fussing and fiddling on the fringes, who
are now licking their wounds after a disastrous performance. They were all
singing from the same hymn sheet that the Labour Party was finished and the
working class would soon turn to them. They all poised themselves as parties to
the left of the Labour Party. However, the working class simply ignored them.
Despite the colossal discontent with New
Labour, the workers to not see these groups as an alternative. They had no time
for the 57 Heinz varieties of sects. They simply stayed at home and ABSTAINED
As we explained repeatedly, despite
Blairism and New Labour, which are nothing more than capitalist infiltrators,
the Labour Party has deep roots in the British working class. The Labour Party
was built by the trade unions. They finance and sustain it. This gives the
Labour Party its class character, despite its pro-capitalist leaders.
The reason which the party moved
dramatically to the right and Blairism dominated was the low ebb in the class
struggle. With the lack of participation of the masses, the pressures of
capitalism bear down a hundred-fold on the upper layers of the movement. This
explained the domination of the right-wing in the Labour Party AND the trade
unions during the 1990s and beyond. In fact, it was the trade union leaders who
supported Blair and his right-wing agenda.
However, despite all his efforts, Blair
failed to change the Labour Party into a capitalist party. He failed to break
the trade union link, which is the conduit through which the Labour Party will
be transformed in the future.
This is a closed book for the sects. They
are blinded by their sectarian approach to the mass organizations. They have absolutely
no confidence in the ability of the working class to change their
organizations. They therefore attempt to create their own artificial parties as
“alternatives” to the Labour Party. But they have all failed in this endeavor.
And this election proves yet again their false perspectives. All their efforts
to replace Labour have simply collapsed. They receive derisory votes every time
and lose their deposits with monotonous regularity. They never learn. “What
these gentlemen all lack is dialectics”, wrote Engels.
They even tried to encourage the RMT to
stand candidates in London against Labour, but fortunately the RMT decided not
to go down that road. This is just as well as they would have gone the same way
as the sects, which would have served to discredit the union. It shows the
danger of sectarian views if they succeed in getting an echo.
squeeze hit the Left List. It polled just 0.92 percent (22,583 votes) in the
London-wide assembly list and 0.68 percent (16,796 votes) in the mayoral
election.” According to the Respect/SWP, their poor results show a political
turn to the right. They simply blame the working class for this state of
affairs. “The whole political spectrum moved right in the local and London
elections”, explained the SWP/Respect. As always, the sects typically draw all
the wrong conclusions.
The Galloway group also wallowed in their doom
and gloom. “The local and London elections have been bad for the left and for
progressive voters everywhere”, explained Galloway’s Respect Renewal. “For
parties to the left of Labour, results were also generally poor with some
notable exceptions, particularly but not only in Birmingham. In London the best
results were posted by Respect with almost 60,000 list votes, 2.43%, but this
was still below the deposit saving level and less than half what was needed to
get a seat on the Assembly. The combined left vote, excluding the Greens, was
only 3.61% on the list.” Despite all their efforts, Renewal only managed to
pick up a single council seat in Birmingham. It concluded, “There is little for
the left to be celebrating after these results.” So much for their attempt to
Another sect, the so-called Socialist Party,
fielded about 15 candidates nationally in the local elections. They all sank
without trace – except one. And this was the exception to the rule. This was
Dave Nellist, the ex-Labour MP of Coventry SE, who retained his seat in St
Michael’s ward with 1,643 votes. This was clearly a personal vote as the other
two SP candidates managed to scrape a measly 142 votes (to come bottom of the
poll of seven candidates) and 135 votes (to come bottom of the poll out of six).
Other results included Alec Thraves in Castle ward, Swansea, who scored 172
votes, Pete Bradley in Nuneaton who polled 88, while in Stoke on Trent the SP
candidate got 130 votes. In London,
they fared no better, where they stood Chris Flood for the London Authority. He
managed to come bottom of the poll (10th out of 10 candidates), with
1,587 votes (out of 146,841 votes caste) in Greenwich and
Lewisham. This was even less than the votes cast for the fossilised sect of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which polled 1,588 votes in Lambeth and Southwark!
Totally ashamed, the SP website never
mentioned any of these results, except the Nellist victory. The article
entitled “Melt down for Brown” failed to mention the SP meltdown. While the
Nellist victory was described as a “shaft of light”, they failed to mention
they were shafted. But the SP has always been incapable of admitting their failings.
They were too ashamed to broadcast the truth. Their whole perspective of making
gains at the expense of Labour has ended in tears.
The working class has passed them by. But
this is not the end of the story. These election results indicate not a shift
to the right, but a mark of the profound disillusionment in the working class
with the Brown government. Unless the government changes course, they will face
defeat at the next election. They are sleep-walking to electoral disaster.
Under these circumstances, the working class
will turn to the industrial front to defend itself. However, a defeat for Brown
will also produce a groundswell of anger inside the Labour movement including
within the ranks of the Labour Party. Such a development will produce a shift
to the left as took place in 1970 and 1979 and will reopen the struggle for
socialist policies. The Marxist tendency around Socialist Appeal will
participate in these developments to defeat the right-wing and work to rearm
the Labour movement on socialist lines. As for the sects, let the dead bury the