General Election

From Nick Cohen in today’s Observer:

“I’ve never liked the slogan ‘the personal is political’: it implies egotism and a narrowing of horizons and solidarities. But the cop-outs of reluctant Blair supporters – ‘he’ll get better’, ‘he’ll come to respect us’, ‘there is no alternative’ – resemble nothing so much as the excuses battered wives make for their abusers. …

If you vote for Blair you will also be lending your good name to the curtailment of the right to trial by jury, the turning of demonstrators into ‘terrorists’, the persecution of asylum-seekers, the imposition of tuition fees, the incessant manipulation of the media, the rigging of elections, the refusal to renationalise the railways, the abasement before corporate interests. I thought myself pretty cynical on 1 May 1997, but if a stranger had told me that this would be the record New Labour would be defending at the next election, I would have dismissed him as a raving fantasist.”

Does any good reason remain for voting for New Labour candidates at the forthcoming election? It is true — of course it is true — that a Hague government would be worse than a Blair government. It would be much worse. But since there is no possibility of the electorate sending Mr Hague to Downing Street, the “You Must Vote Labour To Stop The Tories Getting In” approach — which still had some bite in 1997 — is entirely unpersuasive. And the more votes Mr Blair’s candidates get, the more he will think he has a “mandate” for his new round of “radical” (i.e. right-wing) reform. If anyone thinks they do have good reason for voting New Labour, do pass it along.

Alec wrote [4.6.01]: Be careful of being too complacent about what is at stake on Thursday.

A lot of Labour Party supporters, perhaps unhappy about the right-wing policies being persued by sucessive Labour Governments, would have thought this about Mrs Thatcher in the second half of the 1970s. The British electorate, let’s face it, does have a record of sending ghastly, xenophobic right-wingers into office – we shouldn’t forget this, despite the mess in which today’s Conservative Party finds itself. Voting for (and campaigning for) the Labour Party still represents the most effective way of fighting against those values, and fighting for: greater tolerance, an end to poverty, rights at work, sustained investment in public services, a sensible apprach to the European Union, protection of the environment, tackling third world debt, etc etc etc

And just think of this: Voting for minor parties instead of Labour in Labour seats helps the Tories. Every seat won by the Tories means one more Tory in Parliament. If the Conservatives do well on election day and take back some Labour seats, isn’t there a danger that this might be seen as a demand by the British public for: even tougher policy on asylum seekers, limiting public spending, and a more isolated position in Europe? In other words, every vote really does count – in view of this risk, the Left should unite behind Labour on June 7th.

I’m sure you’ll disagree, and this is yet another manifestation of my right-wing fervour, as alleged by the Exeter Socialist Alliance. Still, there it is.