Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh, to be in England, now that an election is here


Just as Tony Blair when he became a Catholic doubtless had one hell of a lot of confessing to do, I too must like any honest revolutionary face up to making a tactical mistake recently. No, I didn't spend time reading the websites of The Tony Blair Sports Foundation or go looking for that of The Tony Blair Faith Foundation. No, even worse than that - I sadly missed out on the first decent piece of class struggle in Britain for some time on 'Fightback Thursday' (which saw among other things the first national teachers strike in Britain for 21 years), and I also missed out on the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in London, which was apparently also kick-ass.

I am therefore hardly in any sort of position to provide any sort of Marxist analysis of the state of British politics at the moment - other than to say that it is in a right state. For those outside Britain, the main things to note about the parties are as follows.

New Labour are currently living through a nightmare of their own making, the result of their complete and utter dependence on attempting to satisfy the every whim of big business. Gordon Brown, the one-time intellectual heavyweight of legend, has in power proved himself to be a cultural philistine who when he isn't banging on about 'Britishness' spends time denouncing Robert Mugabe, presumably on the grounds that the Zimbabwean dictator is just about the one world leader on the planet who makes Brown's own leadership style and abilities look good. Brown has however achieved one thing few would have expected - making Foreign Secretary David Miliband look charismatic.

Given New Labour's ever steady march to the right, the Tories - led by David Cameron, George Osbourne and Boris Johnson (three Old Etonian members of Oxford's exclusive Bullingdon Club - see picture above) - are currently trying a clever if tricky political manouevre - sneaking up on the Left by attempting to pass themselves off as working class heroes determined to make poverty history. This would be laughable if only there wasn't a danger that the Tories might make gains - not because of any particular rise in support for them but because New Labour's incompetence and general betrayal of working class interests mean that the Labour core vote will stay at home in dismay.

What kind of protest vote will be seen on Thursday remains to be seen. The British Nazi Party remain a threat - even though their London Mayoral candidate seems to have had other things on his mind recently than politics. That there is a palpable interest in giving Brown a kicking is, however, apparent even from the limited amounts of election leafleting I have done myself. It is to be hoped that those like the Left List putting forward an anti-war and anti-capitalist alternative to the mainstream parties succeed in galvanising this mood to some extent, and in the process strengthen the movements on the streets, which still seem to remain quite vibrant, and in the workplaces where an outbreak of militancy looks increasingly decidedly on the agenda. Lets hope May 1 this year is not simply an official day of the working class - but becomes a day in which the long awaited fightback of the British working class against neoliberalism, racism and war is registered in the electoral arena.

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