Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Power of Our Vote

The right to vote is enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.” It is a right that was hard won. Without question, the struggle for voting rights was a noble struggle and its achievements go beyond simply casting a ballot. Organising themselves and vigourously fighting for a political goal gave workers (and in particular women and blacks) a social and political presence that had been denied them for centuries. The struggle waged to win the vote set examples for those who wish to engage in political struggle, regardless of the cause. But the vote itself, what it literally meant, what it produced, who it benefited, what its value was to society in political and social terms was not submitted to careful study. And so it is conceivable that many of those who risked their lives to gain the right might now question the wisdom of relying upon such a system for selecting those who govern.

The fact that a people participates in electoral assemblies does not mean that they direct the government or that the class that is ruled chooses its own rulers. When we say that the voters ‘choose’ their representative, we are using a language that is very inexact. We end up voting for those who are pre-selected. The voter, for his vote to have meaning, ends up having to choose from among a very small number of contenders, the two or three who have a chance of succeeding, and the only ones who have any chance of succeeding are those whose candidacies are already championed by party committees and by lobby groups. The relative handful who are selected to speak for the citizenry are rarely, if ever, a random selection. They are rarely, if ever, representative of the population at large. And they are rarely, if ever, open to the wishes of their constituencies. Instead, those selected to speak for the citizens speak not for their constituency but for the organised minorities who put them in power, minorities with certain values in common, based on considerations of property and taxation, on common material interests, on ties of class.  If you are bold enough and fool hardy enough to try and run for higher office on an independent ticket you will have very limited press coverage and you will be denied access to televised debates. You will be sidelined in every way conceivable way as insignificant. The official election campaign is a travesty of democracy. Whatever the make-up of the next government, its agenda has already been determined. Finance capital, big business and the major parties agree that working people must be made to pay for the economic crisis that is not of their making.

What does the Socialist Party do? This can be ascertained from the practice of socialists around the world. While conditions differ from country to country, one common element is that socialists contend with the bourgeoisie in every place and in every way possible to win the hearts and minds of the working class, and challenge for political power. An important field of struggle is elections. Many dismiss running because socialist candidates cannot win. This is true, today. But we lay the groundwork for tomorrow, today. There is a distinction between running and winning. We know we can't win. But we know that by running we gain access to the notice of tens of thousands. At the hustings we can even confront the capitalist candidates directly. Elections are one of the best ways for socialists to get a public hearing. Elections should be seen as a great arena to publicise and populise socialist ideas. It is marvelously morale–raising to discover while canvassing that there are already a great many socialists out there, and many more potential socialists. It would be difficult to campaign for election without making new contacts, new recruits and increasing the working class' understanding of political realities and socialist ideas. Party members and volunteers grow immensely as speakers, and organizers. And voters are refreshed by real solutions. If we socialists don’t speak up for socialism in the electoral arena, who will? And if not now, when? The Socialist Party appeals to real socialists, those who, to quote the Communist Manifesto, “disdain to conceal their aims.” We take on those phony socialists who pin their hopes on backing capitalist reformers as a way to build for socialism. Why go south to reach the north. A socialist is not a member of, or supporter of, any capitalist party whatever. This is the first test of socialist seriousness and sincerity. The problem is this gives socialist cover to a capitalist party. For example, though the Greens may desire a kinder, gentler capitalism, the practical outcome of their dreams can be seen in Europe where they have been in coalition. Greens prosecute wars, impose austerity, and more. Why would socialists feed the Green Party’s false hopes that capitalism can be fixed?

The Socialist Party and its 10 candidates are alone in speaking for the working class and fighting for its interests in the 2015 election campaign. The working class cannot defend its independent class interests except through a complete political break with all the parties and organisations that defend the profit system—above all from the Labour Party. Workers must reject all forms of racism, nationalism and xenophobia, including the demonising of migrant workers and political refugees. The aim of our campaign is to develop a working class, imbued with socialist consciousness, and armed with the understanding that nothing less than the abolition of the capitalist profit system and the establishment of world socialism can provide a future for humanity as a whole; free of war, poverty and oppression.

Some on the Left are less than enthusiastic about throwing themselves into the battle for votes, not seeing the viability of change through elections. Their approach doesn't see the need for for elections relying more on the idea that radical change and the revolutionary transition to socialism will not occur via the electoral path but via a general strike during a crisis of capitalism. The capitalist state will be smashed in one blow and a “socialist state” established in its place through force and violence.  The Socialist Party has long argued against this mischaracterization and misrepresentation of socialist political action. Just like the socialist society we envision - peaceful, humane and democratic - so too must be the path as it will shape every aspect of the new society. Marx and Engels foresaw the possibility of peaceful transition particularly under conditions of the democratic or bourgeois republic. Engels wrote in Critique of the Erfurt Program:
"One can conceive that the old society may develop peacefully into the new one in countries where representatives of the people concentrate all power in their hands, where, if one has the support of the majority of the people, one can do as one sees fit in a constitutional way; in democratic republics such as France and the USA..."

The contest for power involves winning the ideological and political battle in civil society and the institutions of state as well, chief among them the democratic legislative arena. With the decisive conquest of political power, the working class will use this power to "wrest by degrees all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state..." wrote Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. The state it seems is not smashed but "reshaped" (in the words of Engels) in accordance with the balance of class and social forces from an instrument of class oppression and repression, into one of liberation. In the process the state is transformed, and the foundations are laid for its withering away. In this view, power is attained through democratic means, through the working class electing its representatives to legislative bodies and through political action, including strikes and demonstrations. Democratic institutions are transformed in the process - existing ones become more democratic and new ones arise to extend and deepen participation. Political power is wielded to transform the state apparatus at every level, curbing the capitalist power to restrict their ability to resist, obstruct and use violence against a revolutionary working class movement. Marx foresaw the possibility of achieving socialism through universal suffrage:
 "A historical development can remain 'peaceful only for so long as its progress is not forcibly obstructed by those wielding social power at the time. If in England, for instance or the United States, the working class were to gain a majority in Parliament or Congress, they could, by lawful means, rid themselves of such laws and institutions as impeded their development, through they could only do so insofar as society had reached a sufficiently mature development."

In Scotland our two branches have not got the necessary resources to stand any candidates in this coming election. Some voters will support the candidate who is the “least worst” until such a time “WORLD SOCIALISM!” upon your voting paper.
that there is a real candidate who truly represents us. In this election, the arguments don't pit capitalism against socialism. It's about trying to decide what kind of capitalism there will be – we have a choice of capitalisms. Sometimes not voting is the way to be heard yet non-voting is often indistinguishable from apathy. It sends no message at all. The only thing that can transform "apathy" into an actual political force is to organise the non-voters. This is why Socialist Party always advocate workers to vote even when there is no one to vote for. We suggest a spoiled ballot or as we describe it, a write-in vote for socialism. It may not help much – it might even seem to some just a pointless gesture — but at least it can’t hurt. Don’t degrade yourself by sinking to the “lesser of two evil” mentality. On this occasion, go to the polling-booth and inscribe

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Revolutionary Vote

Socialist Party politics is utterly different in nature from all other politics. Its aim is not to improve conditions or gain reforms or stop corruption or accomplish any other end within the framework of existing society. It is the expression of the interests of the working class to overthrow the existing system and to establish a new society.

Conventional politics revolve within the structure of the existing order. Non-socialist political parties, pleading for votes and begging for office, represent different sections of the ruling class vying for their own share of profits and privilege. Different groups of employers and business seek the lucrative control of the government and the state bureaucracy such as local councils. Their various think-tanks dream up different theories of how best to maintain the existing order and keep the support (or at least the tolerance) of the masses by securing this or that reform or a concession for this or that section of the population. But all the non-revolutionary politics presuppose the continuance of the capitalism, that is to say, the exploitation of the majority by the propertied minority and their class domination of government.

The central political issue of our time is the issue of the class struggle for socialism. Every other question is of altogether minor importance, since its answer can be found only in the solution of the central issue. The chief function of mainstream  politics is to deceive the voters as to the real and central issue which confronts them. So long as the people believe that their only significant political choices lie within the capitalist order, capitalism itself, no matter what internal shifts take place, is never threatened. Every device serves: two or more  parties, tweedledum and tweedledumber, splitting hairs over agendas they all agree upon. Whenever that sham is seen through, fringe parties like Ukip hi-jack dissatisfaction into safe channels still within the safe limitations of the capitalist state. These “outsiders" frequently adopt the practice of pandering propaganda and policies to the prejudices of their audience, without regard to the truth or correctness or workability of it, exploiting the electorate’s ignorance.

The baseness, hypocrisy and corruption of Westminster by the City of London speculators and the ruling class cannot be sufficiently expressed in words. There is no depth of dishonour to which they have not descended with their cronyism and greed. We are not here to play the filthy game of capitalist politics. Capitalism can only rule by corrupt means. The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands squarely upon its principles in making its appeal to the workers. It is not bargaining for votes. It is not in the market to buy or bribe votes. The Socialist Party wants votes, but only of those who  recognise it as their party and come to it of their own free will. We want all the votes we can get but only as a means of developing the political power of the working class in the struggle for freedom, and not that we may revel in the spoils of office, claiming MPs expenses and accepting retainers from lobbyists.

The Socialist Party breaks through the deceptions of capitalist politics. Socialist politics are based on principle. We cast aside all secondary reformist distinctions, and pose directly the central issue: the struggle for socialism, unlike the Left parties such as the Greens and the TUSC who enter elections with a programmes solely of “immediate demands”, designed to be acceptable to capitalism. All the Socialist Party’s propaganda, all its discussions, and its only demand, is for socialism. It shall not compromise nor offer concessions. We hold aloft only the socialist idea. The workers have never made proper effective use of their political power. Many have in their disillusionment renounced politics and refuse to see any difference between the capitalist parties financed by the ruling class to perpetuate class rule and the Socialist Party, organised and financed by the workers themselves, as a means of wresting the control of government and of industry from the capitalists.

 There is but one issue for the Socialist Party and it is the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class. Our manifesto is an indictment of the capitalist system which demands the abolition of that system. We  proclaim the identity of interests of all workers and appeal to them to unite for their emancipation. We declare relentless class war upon the entire capitalist regime in the name of the workers and demand in uncompromising terms the overthrow of wage-slavery and the inauguration of social democracy. The time has come for the workers of the world to shake off their oppressors and exploiters and put an end to their age-long servitude.

To this end it makes its appeal to workers and call upon them to vote on the single vital issue of socialism which confronts them and place the X on the ballot paper for the Socialist Party whenever and wherever possible. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Marx and Engels on the power of the vote

It's often pointed out that our political system is completely corrupted by money yet history teaches that people's influence on their governments is much more powerful than we usually imagine. It's weakened primarily by people's failure to do anything and the mistaken belief that we don't have the power to shape the world as we wish it to be.

Marx and Engels strongly supported political action in the sense of participating in elections. They stressed the importance of the vote. Engels explains that universal suffrage "in an England two-thirds of whose inhabitants are industrial proletarians means the exclusive political rule of the working class with all the revolutionary changes in social conditions which are inseparable from it." Marx argued along the same lines, for example, in 1855, he stated that "universal suffrage . . . implies the assumption of political power as means of satisfying [the workers'] social means" and, in Britain, "revolution is the direct content of universal suffrage."

In 1852 Marx wrote, concerning the Chartists:

“But universal suffrage is the equivalent of political power for the working class of England, where the proletariat forms the large majority of the population, where, in a long though underground civil war, it has gained a clear consciousness of its position as a class and where even the rural districts know no longer any peasants, but only landlords, industrial capitalists (farmers) and hired labourers. The carrying of universal suffrage in England would, therefore be a far more socialistic measure than anything which has been honoured with that name on the continent. Its inevitable result, here is the political supremacy of the working class.” [Marx emphasis]
His meaning is clear - a working class majority in Parliament, backed by a majority of the population, can bring about the real transfer of power.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Revolutionary Vote

If they won't vote for socialism, they won't die for it

The capitalist system fails to supply the needs of the vast majority of people and it must be overthrown before the workers can have freedom. The ruling class is never going to solve its problems through the capitalist system, therefore, the objective conditions for revolution are going to crop up over and over again. But there is considerable difference of opinions as to the means by which this can be accomplished. Some advocate the ballot, or parliamentary action; some armed insurrection, or military action; and some the general strike, or industrial action.

Armed insurrection to have any reasonable chance of success the workers would need to have as large and well equipped an army as the capitalists. Yet the working class are unarmed and most unskilled in the use of weapons. They have no military organisation. They have no means of securing arms. An untrained, undisciplined and badly equipped army of workers going forth to overthrow the system might as well be committing suicide. As long as the means necessary to equip, supply, and transport armies remains in control of the capitalists, it is impossible for the workers to gain military power. The revolutionary army would be slaughtered like sheep. The best tactics on the part of the workers is to avoid armed insurrection unless it is actually forced upon them andworkers should beware of those who urge them to armed insurrection.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Why Vote SPGB?

We should not over-emphasise the counting of noses at election time but it does serve as a barometer of the maturity of the working class. All the votes of the people would do the Socialist Party no good if we ceased to be a revolutionary party by modifying our principles for the sake of capturing a higher vote. Some Left parties have sought to make their propaganda so attractive that it serves as a bait for votes rather than as a means of education. The SPGB rejects such an electoral strategy judging the votes thus secured do not properly belong to us and does an injustice to our party as well as to those who cast them. These votes do not express a wish for socialism and in the next election they can equally be cast for another party. The Socialist Party has no interest in swinging these type of votes to its favour. It is better that these sort of votes are not cast for the Socialist Party, for they will only misrepresent the degree of progress the party and indicate a political position the party is unable to sustain by obtaining what is a fictitious vote. We seek only the actual vote for socialism, no more and no less. Of course, we want the support of the workers, but only of those who desire socialism and are ready to vote and work with us for the overthrow of capitalism. We make it clear that the Socialist Party wants the votes only of those who want socialism, and that, above all, it discourages vote-seeking for the sake of votes and holds in contempt office-seeking for the sake of office.

In our propaganda we state our principles clearly to convince and win workers to our cause through an intelligent understanding of our object. We make no coalition with those who we disagree. No possible good can come from any kind of a political alliance.

Voting for socialism is not socialism any more than a menu is a meal. Socialists must be organised to achieve it. With the workers bound together by the common tie of their enlightened self-interest, they will express their solidarity in political terms and cast a united vote for the party of their class. The Socialist Party scorns any compromise and wants no votes that can be bought nor any support gained by false pretense. What other parties can say the same? The Socialist Party stands upon its principles and relies wholly upon combination of the forces of social progress and the eduction of the working class.

The Socialist Party is to the working class politically what the trade-unions is to them industrially; the former is the party of class, while the latter is the union of their occupation. The difference between them is that while the trades-union is confined to his or her occupation, the Socialist Party embraces the entire working class, and while the union is limited to bettering conditions under the wage system, the party is organized to conquer the political power to wipe out the wages system and make the workers the masters of the Earth.

Leaders and intellectuals offer themselves up as the wise men and shepherds to lead us out of the wilderness into the land of milk and honey. They would have us believe that if we had no “intellectuals” to lead, we would have no movement. They would have the workers’ party controlled by party-bosses as the other capitalist political parties are controlled. The working class are no unthinking flock of sheep.

When we vote together on election day and act together on the industrial field we shall conquer state power and take possession of all the means of production and distribution then we will have an industrial democracy of and by and for the people. By voting into power the enemies of the labour movement many of the working class are responsible for the crimes perpetrated upon their fellow workers and sooner or later they will have to suffer the consequences of their miserable act.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

All Change for the Council Elections

Capitalism is well past its sell-by date, and can now be replaced by its alternative: a wageless, moneyless, classless world community based on production for human need, not profit. This change can only come about once the majority understand it and want it. It won't come about by following leaders or voting for someone else to do it.

The world can now easily produce wealth sufficient to adequately house, feed, care for and educate the global population. Instead, we see hunger, disease and homelessness around the world despite the concerns of governments, charities and show-biz stars. Closer to home, in a "developed" nation like the UK, we see child poverty and an increasing gulf between rich and poor. Rates of depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic.

Capitalism is failing: it now acts as a barrier, preventing production being geared to human need. Rather than keep trying to tinker with this system we should start looking beyond it to an alternative: a wageless, moneyless, classless world community based on production for human need, not profit. This social change can only come about once the majority understand it and want it. It won't come about by following leaders or voting for someone else to do it.The candidates contesting this election (whether openly pro-capitalist or avowedly socialist) are asking you to believe that they can run this society a little bit better. We argue that history shows that the money system actually ends up running them. Their manifesto promises usually amount to nothing - it only encourages the idea that capitalism can be made better. So don't vote for them.

The one good thing about the Labour Party these days is that it no longer pretends to have anything to do with socialism. Perhaps they realise that if they did people wouldn't believe them anyway. They are not even the left-of-centre "labour" party they once were, but have stolen all the Tories's clothes. Not that "Old Labour" was any better when in government, imposing wage freezes, cutting benefits, opposing strikes just like all governments of capitalism as an economic system that imposes that profits must come before people. Socialism meant, and still means, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, where goods and services are produced directly for use and not for profit and where every member of society has access as of right to the things they need to live and enjoy life. Nobody who wants such a society would dream of voting for the Labour Party, so don't.

The so-called "Scottish Socialist Party" (or the newly created Scottish Anti-cuts Alliance coalition) claim to stand for "socialism". In fact, the SSP stand for is a system under which all industry would be nationalised. They follow Lenin and Trotsky in thinking that workers cannot understand socialism, but must be led there by a vanguard party offering attractive reforms of capitalism (take a look at the SSP wish-list). Nationalisation and rule by a vanguard party is not of course socialism, but something called "state capitalism". It's a travesty of the word where production is to satisfy people's needs and would be on the basis of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". The Socialist Party are accused of "splitting the Left". We are not a part of this "Left". We are opposed to measures which tinker with and attempt to reform capitalism with palliatives. It has been a "Leftist" tactic in the past to hypocritically ask workers to vote for a "workers'" party to get reforms which they know they cannot obtain, on the parliamentary road which they dont support, to "socialism", which is not socialism. The Socialist Party is opposed to such trickery of workers and this cynical political opportunism. Simply, the "Left" are not socialists. Far from splitting the "Left", we oppose the "Left" for its political cowardice, (being unable or unwilling to describe socialism to workers and nail their true colours to the socialist mast), of opportunism, (interference in workers struggles and grass-roots movements to recruit and subvert them to their cause), and for its pretensions, (of assuming to know what socialism is, and presenting itself as a leadership to-wards it). If you want state capitalism, vote for the SSP. But if you want real socialism - don't cast a vote for them.

 In Scotland, the Socialist Party has not had the resources to stand any candidates and contest these local council elections. We suggest that you express your preference with a "write-in vote" for the Socialist Party as a statement that you think another world is possible. If you have confidence that humans can live and work co-operatively without need of the wages system, then write Socialist Party of Great Britain (or SPGB) across your ballot paper. And then get in touch with us to do something about changing the world.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Local Issues or Class Issues

 When Scotland goes to the polls next week in the 2012 local council elections, voters may be confused about whether they are deciding on local or national issues. In some cases the electorate is being asked to vote on manifesto promises that can’t in fact be delivered locally declares the Public Finance web-site. Each of the political party manifestos for the local elections contain a mix of local pledges (not unexpected in local elections) but also pledges that can, in fact, only be made by a national government.  The most extreme example of this is a pledge to cut VAT – clearly a reserved matter with no powers in Scotland at any government level to do so.

What is important to recognise is that those so-called “local” issues that are high on the agenda of many in the local elections (such as the NHS, local housing and transport) are pressing issues everywhere else. But these are not really local issues after all. Its just that many people (and all of our opponents) think the solution is usually a local one, so there is no point looking elsewhere for the answer. In fact the problem under-pinning most of the supposed “local” issues is usually much broader.

 Its not just specific local problems (like poor quality consultation documents, or ill thought through proposals). The whole issue of provision of essential services such as health care and fire emergency cover is dictated by the level of resources allocated . And whether it is Linlithgow or Largs, the same picture emerges: social services are stretched. Public sector workers are under pressure to work harder, for less money. The capitalist class don’t want to pay any more than they have to; they don’t want public services that will be able to do anything more than the bare minimum. The reason? Ultimately,  these costs come off the profits of UK Capitalism PLC. Let’s be in no doubt, despite the politicians platitudes, the reality is that profit does come before public health and and peoples' general welfare. Somewhere in the local authority, there is an accountant doing a cost-benefit analysis. They are working out how small a public sector department can be maintained, and at what point the cost savings from this are outweighed by the costs of the human suffering, which will surely follow.

In reality, the councils, and at a national level, governments, are in control of the economy the same way a duck bobbing around on the ocean is in control of the tides. You don’t need to be told not to place too much faith in whichever politician gets elected  - history has shown that promises made before the election are quickly discarded when the pressure of trying to run the profit system in the interests of humanity proves too difficult.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Don't bet on the GGs

With the endorsement of the Socialist Party Scotland (Committee for a Workers’ International), the Socialist Workers Party and Sheridans's Solidarity, George Galloway will head the Glasgow list under the humbly named ‘George Galloway (Respect) - Coalition Against Cuts’ in the upcoming Scottish parliament elections. Once mor we witness the personality of the cult developing. Charismatic politicians have a propensity to capture public worship either through making articulate speeches or wearing fine suits. Galloway has a gift of making fine speeches and a flair for fashion. This emphasis upon the individual has been an increasing symptom of the emptiness of capitalist politics. The emptier the politics, the bigger the personalities.

The leaders we are asked to support, and sometimes choose between, are a myth, created and maintained by--leaders. They are poor examples of honesty, integrity, even of humanity. They are not interested in truth, justice, or any of the grand notions they spout about. They exist, have always existed, will always exist, for one purpose only: to line their own pockets and empty yours. They are parasites on the social body, unwanted, unnecessary and destructive. To follow leaders is to hand over your heart on a platter, with knife and fork attached.

The Socialist Party has no leaders. Socialism wouldn't operate that way and neither do we. All decisions are made by common vote, all administration is above-board and open to inspection, and all work is voluntary. None of us is perfect, and that's why democracy works better than leadership. Mistakes by one person are not disasters for the many. Private interests don't count. Power doesn't exist. Socialists are their own leaders, and they follow nobody but themselves. Socialism could not work with people unwilling or unable to think for themselves, to take responsibility, or to co-operate, but fortunately it doesn't have to. Human beings are better than that. We can think, and we can co-operate, and we don't need rescuing by some "heroic" and entirely untrustworthy leader of the Left. Galloway is a living confirmation of the Socialist Party’s case of avoiding leadership and leaders in our movement.

To Galloway we say the Socialist Party are unable to support your list of demands. None of them addresses the essential problem of our society - the ownership of the means of production by a tiny number of capitalists and the enforced exploitation of the working class through the wages system. Lacking an honest revolutionary stance for a new society, the reformism of Galloway becomes caught in a pointless and frustrating circular battle with an economic system that is based on exploitation. As long as the accumulation of capital takes precedence, either in the hands of the individual capitalist or state institutions, the primary concern of exploitation of labour and making profit will take precedence over the concerns of human need. So long as the essential resources for living are controlled by their owners - whether as western style private capitalists or monopolist state bureaucrats, like that of the Soviet State-Gangster Capitalism you so venerated - the strife and anguish of the class struggle will remain.

The effect of your election campaign will be to help continue this mystification and confusion of the workers as to their own interests, as well the sullying of the name of socialism. The job of socialists is to bring the class struggle to an end, not to try and accommodate themselves with this system. Once we understand our real interest and begin to consciously organise to get it no leader or deceiver is going to be able to deflect us from our course, and the days of the likes of George Galloway will be numbered.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Labour's success??

Something to remember at the coming by-election in Glasgow East constituency as reported here and here
Male life expectancy is 63, which is 14 years below the UK average. Life expectancy is lower than for Palestinian males living in the Gaza Strip according to Channel 4.
Unemployment runs at 25 per cent and about 40 per cent of the constituents live on benefits. About 40 per cent of the children live in workless households.
The teenage pregnancy rate is 40 per cent above the national average.
The east end of Glasgow had Scotland's highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions. An average of 860 people per 100,000 were admitted between 2004 and 2006 in Scotland. But in the east end of Glasgow that rose to 1,505.
In 2002, a United Nations rating system taking account of life expectancy, unemployment, incomes and rates of illiteracy put the Shettleston area as the most deprived in Britain. Nearby Baillieston, also in Glasgow East, was placed seventh.

Nor will changing the MP have any real lasting effect on this poverty regardless of the promises made by the parliamentary contestants .

Monday, April 07, 2008

election address

What’s the alternative to the profit system?

That's the issue in this election, says THE SOCIALIST PARTY candidate in Lambeth and Southwark Danny Lambert.

On 1 May, you will have your occasional ration of democracy with the opportunity to vote for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly.

It's all very well having a vote but are you normally given any real choice? Let's face it, if it wasn't mentioned on the front of the election leaflet, could you tell which party was which?

It's tempting – in the absence of any real alternative – to get drawn into the phoney war that is political debate today. Whether Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Greens or the others, they all spout empty promises. And it all amounts to the same thing – vote, vote for us and we’ll do this, this or this for you. As if they could.

None of them offer any alternative to the present way of running society. That’s why they always fail to deliver. The profit system requires them to put profits before people, to put saving money above meeting people’s needs.

Do you really think who wins an election makes any difference to how you live?

And do politicians actually have much real power anyway?

Can they control world market and financial forces or do they have to adjust and trim their policies to fit in with these?

Reality Check
Do any of the political parties address any of the real issues:
 Why can money always been found to fight a war while hospitals, schools and local services are always strapped for cash?
 Why do some people get stressed working long hours while others get stressed from the boredom of unemployment?
 Why are there homeless people in the streets and empty houses with "for sale" signs?
 Why is there still child poverty even in Britain?
 Why is there no world agreement to limit carbon emissions when scientists say this must be done to avert the threat of global warming?
 Why is there world hunger in a world that can grow enough for all?

So what's the alternative?

This time, in this constituency, you have a real choice. We in THE SOCIALIST PARTY are standing to put forward an alternative to capitalism and the madness of the market – a society of common ownership and democratic control. We call it socialism.

But real socialism. Not the elite-run dictatorships that collapsed some years ago in Russia and East Europe. And not the various schemes for state control put forward by the old Labour Party. For us socialism means something better than that. We're talking about:
A world community without any frontiers where the Earth’s resources would be the common heritage of all.
 Wealth being produced to meet people's needs and not for sale on a market or for profit
 Everyone having access to what they require to satisfy their needs, without the rationing system that is money.
 A society where people freely contribute their skills and experience to produce what is needed, without the compulsion of a wage or salary.

If you agree If you don't like present-day society ... if you are fed up with the way you are forced to live ... if you think the root cause of most social problems is the profit system, then your ideas echo closely with ours.

We are not promising to deliver socialism to you. We are not putting ourselves forward as leaders. This new society can only be achieved if you join together to strive for it. If you want it, then it is something you have to bring about yourselves. Nobody can do it for you.

If you agree with what we say, you can show this by voting for THE SOCIALIST PARTY candidate, DANNY LAMBERT.And if you want to know more about us, call in at our election office at 52 Clapham High Street, SW4 or return the reply coupon on the last page (no stamp required). You can or email us or visit our website at

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Polling Stations are now open

A final message from Oor Jimmy before you head off to mark your cross and vote .

...what the politicians of all Parties are saying, is just a cocktail of the same pledges, about how they will deal with the same problems.

And guess what, when the next election comes round, we will get it all again, because the problems of capitalism never go away, they are always with us.When I first voted, and it's a good few years, and elections ago now, the politicians were saying practically the same things, about the same problems, with the same equally hollow answers, and promises, so fellow workers, what's new?

But, as long as we put up with capitalism, then we have to put up with capitalism's problems, with no resolution in sight, and this not only applies to Britain, it also applies to the World.

It's the never ending story of a few everyday rich folk, versus millions of everyday poor folk.

But, it doesn't have to be that way, surely it's not impossible for us, the millions of everyday poor folk, to collectively put our heads together, to revolutionize the way we conduct our affairs, to change from a society based on the private gain of the few, to a social commonwealth, where the well-being, and harmony for everyone, will be the priority, and incidentally, save the Planet at the same time?

So, my fellow Human Beings, I urge you to think about it, because there's nothing in the whole wide World to prevent us, if we have the desire, and the will to carry it through?

The need is urgent, because time is running out!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nats Whae Hae?

Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. We have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to live and work. The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One world, one people,where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we'll all be citizens of the world.

It is clear, then, why socialists don't take sides in the debate, aired in this month's elections to the Scottish Parliament, about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh (as the SNP says) or from London with a little help from Edinburgh (as say the British Nationalists of the Labour, Liberal and Tory parties).

The SNP argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to "Westminster rule". If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times. This view is echoed by the so-called Scottish"Socialist" Party and Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity (-with -Sheridan) party. But it is patently absurd.

This would be a purely political, not to say mere constitutional, change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now.

Maybe the pillar boxes would be painted tartan but that would be about all.

An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries.

In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits. And as the government of Ireland,which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1922 and where things have never been any different. Not even the national state-capitalism proposed by the SSP and Sheridan would make any difference. As in Cuba, exports would still have to be competitive and popular consumption restricted to achieve this.

Since it is this class-divided, profit-motivated society that is thecause of the problems workers face in Scotland, as in England and in the rest of the world, so these problems will continue, regardless of whether Scotland separates from or remains part of the United Kingdom.

The SNP is promising a referendum in 2010. What an irrelevant waste of time and energy that would be, but it's their alibi. If they get to form the regional government of Scotland their excuse for not delivering (as capitalism won't let them) will be that their hands were tied and that their promises will only be able to be honoured after separation. Some of their naïve, lower-level members may believe thus, but we don't think too many other workers will be fooled. They will have switched their votes to them, not because they want a breakaway Scotland but as a protest against the Labour Party.

So, the SNP leaders will be the prisoner of their non-separatist voters and will have to settle down to life as regional politicians. Not that that will necessarily displease them if they get to be regional ministers. Which, as professional politicians, is probably their realistic aim anyway.

Our opposition to the SNP should not be interpreted as support for the Union or the Labour, Liberal or Tory parties that support it. We are just as opposed to them.

A plague on both their houses is what we say.

To adapt a slogan ,

Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism.

From May Socialist Standard

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh No...!!

Yes, but hang on - this one's different.

They don't all mean it, though. And they don't all know what they're talking about!

We're not promising you anything.

Asking you to think. Then vote for yourself. For a change

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Election Fever

With the elections approaching , the media are hyping it all up as if some sort of real change is about to be in the offing , and the political party apparatchiks are out and about trying to convince the cynical and sceptical public to vote for their same old tried and tired solutions and policies .
We in the Socialist Party offer something a lot different .

Extracts from previous election statements .

Capitalism is past its sell-by date .

The world can now easily produce wealth sufficient to adequately house , feed , care for and educate the global population . Instead we see hunger, disease and homelessness around the world despite the concerns of governments, charities and popstars. Closer to home, in a "developed" nation like the UK , we see child poverty and an increasing gulf between rich and poor . Rates of depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic .Capitalism is failing : it now acts as a barrier , preventing production being geared to human need . Rather than keep trying to tinker with this system we should start looking beyond it to an alternative : a wageless , moneyless , classless world community based on production for human need , not profit ...

...candidates contesting this election (whether openly pro-capitalist or avowedly socialist) are asking you to believe that they can run this society a little bit better . We’d argue that history shows that the money system actually ends up running them . Their pre-election promises usually amount to nothing .So don’t vote for them - it only encourages the idea that capitalism can be made better. A vote for the Socialist Party in contrast, is a statement that you don’t want to live this way and that you think another world is possible .If you have confidence that humans can live and work co-operatively without the pressure of the wages system, or the rationing system of money , then visit ...

...What is apparent so far in this election is the extent to which all the parties try and manage the agenda for the election. They all want to encourage the debate to be round the handful of high-profile “flagship” issues where they feel on strong ground.

But its always phrased along the lines of “knocking on doors, we keep hearing that XXX is the real issue of the day”. Funnily enough, we don’t hear the Lib Dems, for example, say “recent canvassing returns indicate that voters actually don’t give a damn about our policies one way or the other”.The assumption is that voters are stupid and can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time, so why give them more than that to consider.What it all means is that the campaign may centre around a handful of issues only. That may appear to appeal to the Socialist Party. After all we are the ultimate single issue party - Abolish Capitalism. But while this is a single issue no-one is pretending that it is a simple case. Sure its not complicated, the case for putting human need ahead of profit, but soundbites don’t do our case justice.

We are also handicapped in the eyes of the modern voter by the fact that we are not in a position to make promises, and what’s more, we aren’t going to “do anything” for anyone. The other parties are falling over each other to be seen to be offering some immediate palliative...

That's the issue in this election, says THE SOCIALIST PARTY . You will have your occasional ration of democracy with the opportunity to vote for a member of Parliament. It's all very well having a vote-but are you normally given any real choice?

Let's face it, if it wasn't for the politician's head on the front of the election leaflet,could you tell which party was which?It's tempting, in the absence of any real alternative, to get drawn into the phoney war that is political debate today.

Whether Labour, Tory, SNP, Lib Dem orSSP they all spout the same promises.But it always amounts to the same thing-they offer no alternative to the present way of running society.

Do you really think who wins an election makes any difference to how you live?

And do politicians (whether left-wing,nationalist or right-wing) actually have much real power anyway?

OK, they get to open supermarkets and factories, but it's capitalism and the market system which closes them down...

...We have endless problems of poverty, poor services and all the issues politicians love to spend time telling you they can solve, if only given the chance.

We don't believe any politician can solve these problems, as long as the flawed basis of our society remains intact. In fact, we believe only you and your fellow workers can solve these problems.

We believe that it will take a revolution in how we organise our lives, a fundamental change. We want to see a society based on the fact that you know how to run your lives, know your needs and have the skills and capacity to organise with your fellows to satisfy them.

You know yourselves and your lives better than a handful of bosses ever can.

With democratic control of production we can ensure that looking after our communities becomes a priority, rather than something we do in our spare time.

We all share fundamental needs, for food, clothing, housing and culture, and we have the capacity to ensure access to these for all, without exception.

If you agree with this aim, then we ask you to get in touch with us, get involved and join in our campaign to bring about this change in society. Together, we have the capacity to run our world for ourselves. We need to build a movement to effect that change, by organising deliberately to take control of the political offices which rule our lives, and bring them into our collective democratic control.

Our candidate makes no promises, offers no pat solutions, only to be the means by which you can remake society for the common good...

...The crumbs or the bakery?
Politics today is a game of Ins and Outs in which gangs of professional politicians compete with each other to attract votes, the gang securing a majority of seats in parliament assuming responsibility for running the political side of the profit system.To win votes the politicians have to promise -- and be believed -- to improve things both for the population in general, as by managing the economy so as to avoid slumps and crises, and for particular groups within the population.

When the economy is expanding or even just ticking over the Ins have the advantage. They can claim that this is due to their wise statesmanship and prudent management. Such claims are false as the economy goes its own way -- expanding or contracting as the prospect of profits rises or falls -- irrespective of which gang of politicians is in office. But making such claims can backfire as, when the economy falters, the Outs can blame this on the incompetence and mismanagement on the Ins. But that's not true either since politicians don't control the way the economy works.

But throwing crumbs to the people (or to carefully targeted sections of the people whose votes could swing things) is not the main purpose of government. Marx once wrote that the government is "but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". And it's still true. The function of any government is to manage the common affairs of the capitalist class as a whole. This involves a number of things. Sustaining a context in which profit-making can continue. Spending the money raised from taxes (that are ultimately a burden on the capitalist class) in a prudent way on things that will benefit the capitalist class as a whole, such as providing them with an educated, relatively healthy and so productive workforce. Maintaining -- and if need be using -- armed forces to protect sources of raw materials, trade routes, investment outlets and markets abroad. That's what most government spending goes on, and balancing this against income from taxes is what budgets are essentially about.It is only because wage and salary workers, active or retired, have the vote that, occasionally if there's a small margin of money spare, a few crumbs are offered to some section or other of the electorate. No doubt, the pensioners, the home buyers and the families offered a few hundred extra pounds a year will accept these crumbs cast before them by Gordon Brown in yesterday's pre-election budget. Hopefully, they won't accept them as bribes to vote for his particular gang of politicians, but simply because it would be stupid not to pick them up.

Nowadays most people have learned by experience and are, rightly, just as cynical about the politicians and their promises -- and crumbs -- as are politicians about how they get people to vote for them. But cynicism is not enough. This should be turned into rejection. The game of Ins and Outs, to decide which gang of professional politicians should manage the common affairs of the capitalist class, only continues because most of us agree to take part in it. But by voting for them we in effect give them the power to keep the capitalist system going. And that, not which particular gang of politicians happens to be in office, is the cause of today’s problems since built-in to capitalism is putting making profits before satisfying people’s needs.

Socialists are only too well aware that most people put up with capitalism, and go along with its political game of Ins and Outs in the hope of getting a few crumbs out of it, because they see no practicable alternative. But there is an alternative... Politics should be more than individuals deciding which politicians to trust to deliver some crumbs that they think will benefit them individually. It should be about collective action to change society.
About taking over the whole bakery.

from B Gardner and D Lambert previous election addresses

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vote Socialist Party

Laying it on the line , with no weasel words , no kissing of babies , no false promises , no political platitudes .

And here once again , a clear , concise challenge for the voters to think before they choose .
Where no SPGB candidate is standing , declare for "World Socialism" by writing it across your ballot paper .