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If you think all the big political parties are the same - you're right! The bosses have got three parties - isn't it about time we had one of our own?
Pressure for a new party grows
Events over the last month have demonstrated yet again the dire need for a new mass political force to the left of the establishment parties that can fight in the interests of working class people.
Barely a month ago, New Labour was riding high in the opinion polls and an autumn election looked likely; now, the Tories are ahead and look stronger than they have at any time since 1997. The volatility on display here is a direct result of the closeness of all the main political parties and the narrow ‘centre ground’ that they each try to occupy.
It is clear that if an election had taken place in the autumn it would have been barely an echo to many people, taking place in the background of events. This is not because working class people aren’t concerned about what’s going on around them; you only have to look at the recent CWU dispute, the prison officers industrial action, the coming national demonstration in defence of the NHS on November 3 or the countless local campaigns in defence of jobs and services across the country to put pay to that lie.
Of course working class people are concerned about their living and working conditions, as well as international issues such as the Iraq occupation and climate change, and many are engaged in fights on these issues. But an election now would have been mere background noise to most people because the establishment parties are too busy trying on each others clothes, stealing policies and squabbling over a mythical ‘centre ground’ which in reality contains pro-big business, anti-working class policies that all the parties of neo-liberalism are imbued with.
A debate is going on within the workers movement about how to address the situation. Following the postal workers recent strike action, growing numbers in the CWU are sickened by the thousands and thousands of pounds of their money which is being handed over to New Labour on a regular basis. It is not unlikely that under pressure from their membership the CWU could disaffiliate from the Labour Party in a similar manner to the FBU – where a rank and file revolt led to disaffiliation in the aftermath of their strike.
That debate, and the mood of ordinary workers, is filtering through to those that previously had argued for the Labour Party to be reclaimed.
John McDonell MP, the Labour left who attempted to stand against Brown for the Labour leadership, for instance, has been forced to alter his position. Writing in the Morning Star last month he stated:
“The left has the difficult task of accepting and explaining to others that the old routes into the exercise of power and influence involving internal Labour Party mobilizations and manoeuvres have largely been closed down. We have to face up to the challenge of identifying and developing new routes into effective political activity.”
However, McDonell does not draw any clear conclusions from this. He correctly emphasises the importance of taking part in single issue campaigns, but does not raise the idea that these environmental, anti-war and other campaigns need to come together, along with trade unionists, to build a new party that stands in their interests. Were he to give such a clear call, there is no doubt it would quickly gain an echo.
Discussion around these issues has certainly increased over the last period and more and more ordinary workers are drawing the conclusion that we have to start afresh and fight for a new mass workers’ party.
For supporters of the CNWP, there are many important opportunities to build further support and raise the profile of the campaign over the coming months.
Regional meetings of the National Shop Stewards Network will give us the opportunity to discuss with trade unionists who want to build the fight back. See www.shopstewards.net for more information.
The national demonstration in defence of the NHS on November 3 in central London saw thousands of health workers and community campaigners take to the streets. Supporters of the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party were on the demonstration with a bold banner and continue to play an important role in local campaigns, both as activists and in raising the need for a political alternative to the establishment.
The likelihood of an RMT-initiated list in next Mays London mayoral elections represents an important step on the road to independent political representation for workers and will be an excellent opportunity to build support for our ideas.
While the mood on the shop floor, in offices and other workplaces across the country is open to the aims and ideas of the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party.