first thoughts - nasty but weak
WORKERS, JUNE 2005 ISSUE
RE-elected for a second time, Blair wasted no time putting his cronies into jobs — even lavishing a peerage on policy adviser Andrew Adonis, the "brains" behind university top-up fees. Adonis, of course, was not elected by anyone. But then again, not many voted for a Labour government either: just 36%, or around 21% of the electorate, barely 1 in 5 of the adult population. Many of those hate Blair as well, voting Labour only because the alternatives seemed even less acceptable. But what, exactly, is more acceptable about Labour?
All the parliamentary parties stood on the same manifesto: capitalism. Whatever the flourishes round the edges, all are anti-worker, pro-privatisation and pro-EU. Labour is privatising areas even Thatcher could not touch, and Blair is even more war-hungry than Thatcher was. The gutting of Britain's manufacturing industry has continued far faster under Blair. Why is one evil less than another, when both would destroy us?
But the election has left Blair as a lame duck, even if a rather nasty one. Expect more viciousness from him, but do not underestimate his weakness and his isolation, even from his own spineless party. Right now, Blair is besieged. His main strength is our weakness, our own lack of conviction.
Now, then, is the time for workers to demand a future for our industries, our services, our country. The viciousness from No. 10 will keep coming only so long as we stay silent and do nothing. Given how worried they are by petty opposition in parliament, think what real opposition in action — in factories, offices, hospitals and schools — could achieve.
In that sense, the election was a low point for the working class, marked as it was by a shameful silence from most of the unions. While Rover workers lost their jobs and their pensions, the TGWU kept its head down. Others lay low, spending members' money on support for Labour. To its credit the RMT continued with its march for rail, from Glasgow to London. Stopping in Birmingham, they invited Rover workers and pledged their collection to them — but not one Rover worker turned up to the rally.
The capitalist class's house magazine, The Economist, headlined over its election cover picture of Blair, "There's no alternative." But there is always an alternative. What if nobody voted? What if we had more democracy, more control over our country, than just marking a piece of paper once every four years?
The real alternative is staring us in the face. Stand and fight, for everything we have won in the past and for everything we have yet to win in the future. For jobs, industry, education and health. For class, country and control. For socialism.