Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On the Tories and 'People Power'

The current election posters dotting the British landscape urging 'Vote People Power' on first sight do indeed seem refreshing - until one reads 'Vote Conservative' in small print at the bottom. What ought to be remembered amidst all the Tory rhetoric about the empowerment of voluntary grassroots organisation and the 'big society' is that the single biggest collective group of voluntary organisations symbolising 'people power' in British society are er, trade unions, and the relationship of the Conservative Party to the trade union movement, past and present, kind of speaks for itself... As Seamus Milne notes, the Tory Manifesto is 'a people power fraud that promises mass privatisation: The reality of Tory Big Society rhetoric will be corporate control of schools and the breakup of the welfare state...' That David Cameron, an immensely personally rich Tory, who is solely devoted to boosting the wealth and power of other rich people, can even dare to pitch himself as the champion of 'people power' and 'working people' in this election is of course an indictment of the current intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy of New Labour. However, the Left in this election can't just condemn New Labour for its crimes and failings in the intellectual manner of a Tony Wood in the New Left Review or a Ross McKibbin (see his otherwise excellent series in the London Review of Books) and then just say 'Labour deserve to lose'. They do deserve to lose - in fact half of their leadership deserve to be in prison - but neither do the Conservatives 'deserve to win' - and the awful truth of the matter is that the Left will have to reluctantly vote Labour where there is not any kind of left alternative like TUSC standing in this election, if only to wipe the smug smiles off the face of David Cameron and his friends in the City of London. Real 'people power' however lies on the streets and in the workplaces - not on any parliamentary ballot paper.

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