Monday, May 1, 2017

Here We Go Again (2017)

Editorial from the May 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

For the third time in as many years we are being asked to make a decision for the capitalist class. Last year it was whether Britain PLC should or should not remain in the capitalist EU. The year before it was about which set of professional politicians should run the state machine on behalf of the capitalist class. Now, we are being asked to do this again.

The reason Theresa May gave for calling this election is distinctly undemocratic. The parliament elected in 2015, she said, was not sufficiently compliant with what the government wants over Brexit, therefore it must be dissolved.

It is true that the rather inaptly named Fixed Term Parliament Act does require two-thirds of MPs to vote for dissolution but Labour, the only party with a one-third blocking minority, was never going to employ this, if only to avoid being accused of being afraid to put their policies before the electorate. Besides, most Labour MPs will have seen a premature general election as a chance to get rid of the Corbyn leadership and resume their careers. Labour loses, Corbyn falls on his sword and their chance to become ministers is brought forward from 2025 to 2022.

So, here we go again. This time many more will probably, and understandably, abstain. But, despite the antics of the professional politicians, parliament remains the route to political power and, given that the electorate is made up overwhelmingly of members of the wage and salary working class, in the final analysis a general election is about whether or not the working class is prepared to leave political power in the hands of the capitalist class.

We have no illusions on that score. We predict that, unfortunately, the capitalist class will win this election as all previous ones, whether represented by Tory, Labour, Liberal, Nationalist or Green politicians. All these parties agree that the legal right of rich individuals to own the means of living should remain intact and that production should continue to be in the hands of profit-seeking enterprises, even if some of them may wish to tinker with the system or try to impose unrealisable demands on it.

But, in voting to continue with capitalism, those who bother to vote will be voting for the problems in fields such as housing, health care, education and the environment to continue, because the root cause of these problems is capitalism and its economic imperative to put making profits before satisfying people's needs.

We socialists will still be going to the polling stations to show that we consider the vote a potential weapon that the working class can use to dislodge the capitalist class and clear the way for the establishment in place of capitalism of a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that they can be used to turn out what people need. But, except in the few constituencies where they will be candidates standing for this, we shan't be voting for any of the candidates on offer but instead casting a write-in vote for world socialism by writing this across our ballot paper.

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