Fight bomber Blair at polls

May Day statement

June 10 sees elections to the parliament of the European Union. These will be the first United Kingdom-wide elections since Tony Blair and New Labour swept to power in May 1997. They will also be the first UK-wide elections fought on the basis of a system of proportional representation. To all intents and purposes then they are a plebiscite on two years of New Labour government.

Yet there is another vitally significant factor. The EU elections take place in the midst of an ongoing Nato air war against rump Yugoslavia and preparations for a bloody ground assault. Thousands upon thousands are set to die.

Nato’s day-and-night pounding of Serbia, its people and infrastructure is a moral crusade, boasts Blair. A sickening lie. Neither Blair nor Clinton are concerned with the right of Kosova to self-determination. Rambouillet was about legitimising Nato intervention and domination of south-eastern Europe. Allowing the Kosovar people to freely decide their own future up to and including full independence was noticeably omitted.

The west still refuses to unconditionally supply or sell arms to the guerrilla forces of the Kosova Liberation Army: ie, those actually physically resisting Slobodan Milosevic’s barbaric pogrom in Kosova. The ‘Marxist-Leninist’ KLA is not yet trusted. Such popular forces could easily turn into Frankenstein’s monsters.

Clinton and Blair are warmongers. They serve imperialism, not humanity. The United States and its allies - most bellicosely Britain - are politically constructing a new world order and doing so using violent means. Not surprisingly William Hague and Paddy Ashdown have loyally rallied round the Nato flag. So have a range of liberal, green and leftish icons. Ken Livingstone, Joschka Fischer, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Clare Short.

Under these testing circumstances the left in Britain has both a golden opportunity and a moral obligation to take full advantage of the EU elections. We should fight bomber Blair in the ballot box. The growing anti-war movement can and must find a powerful voice in votes. A language no establishment politician can afford to ignore. What is more, on the basis of gaining even a relatively small percentage of the poll, a springboard can be created which can take us a long way towards building a genuine socialist alternative to the Labour Party.

There must be an end to calls to vote Labour in the name of socialism. Auto-Labourism is thoroughly bankrupt. That and the ‘lesser of two evils’ approach to politics belong in the museum of abject failure. The ‘vote Labour, but ...’ strategy produces nothing but the ashes of disappointment. New Labour’s parliamentary landslide did not trigger the crisis of expectations predicted by so many leftwing seers. Blair presides over the most rightwing Labour government in history.

However, to vote Labour in June is not only to vote for big business, the anti-trade union laws, a poverty minimum wage and strengthening the monarchy system. To vote Labour is to vote for the Nato war. So there must be meaningful opposition to, not ‘critical’ support for, New Labour’s carefully selected clones on June 10.

Unfortunately our allies on the left proved unequal to the task. Led by the Socialist Workers Party, one after another they fell by the wayside and into programmatic incoherence. They were either unwilling or unable to stick with the Socialist Alliances - the united left bloc formed to fight the June 10 Euro election.

The SWP’s political committee split down the middle and was paralysed for three weeks. Eventually the claim was made that Arthur Scargill’s decision to head his party’s list in London rendered the Socialist Alliance no longer credible. A cynical cop-out. The SWP withdrew from the Socialist Alliances not just in London. Disorderly retreat occurred throughout the country.

Now the SWP indicates that it will call for a vote for Scargill’s SLP. Frankly this is not merely cowardly. It is grossly irresponsible. Scargill, if given the chance, will lead the working class to utter disaster. Scargillism is far nearer the red-brown politics of Milosevic than working class socialism. His model of socialism is the bureaucratic socialism of Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung and Castro. Scargill aspires to be Britain’s labour dictator.

Scargill might still have a reputation amongst some militant workers. He is though extremely vulnerable. Half the candidates on his London list are members of the Stalin Society (no joke). His is a little England national socialism whose only slogan for the EU is withdrawal. As to the SLP, it is a husk. No hint of opposition is tolerated. Wave after wave of dissidents have been purged (‘voided’) till now barely a handful of branches function. The prospect of a Scargillite Britain is nightmarish. Scargill would rule over an island prison house inhabited by state slaves. Who will expose Scargill? It might be the BBC and the capitalist media. It ought to be the revolutionary left.

Scargill was asked to join the Socialist Alliances in fielding candidates by the SWP. He did not even deign to reply. Scargill might have rotten politics, but he certainly has more bottle and self-belief than those comrades who at present constitute the SWP leadership.

The SWP’s collapse before Scargill was followed in turn by Socialist Outlook, the Independent Labour Network, Socialist Party in England and Wales, and Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. The possibilities of a truly united campaign was thereby greatly weakened. Though all the above groups argue that Blair is deeply unpopular they dare not test the thesis in practice. The nettle was left ungrasped.

Of the constituent national parts of the Socialist Alliance the CPGB alone remains committed to challenging bomber Blair and refusing to hand the opposition movement over to the labour dictator Scargill.

It was against this sombre background that the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met last week to fully consider its position. After lengthy and fully considered discussion it was unanimously agreed that the CPGB will press ahead with a full slate of candidates in the London and North West England EU constituencies.

Deposits alone for this cost £10,000. So the whole of our £25,000 Summer Offensive campaign is to be devoted to the EU election. Our hard pressed members and supporters should not be left to shoulder the burden by themselves. The Provisional Central Committee therefore earnestly appeals to all militants, socialists and communists to lend a hand. Comrades, no matter what your particular differences are with us, you surely have a responsibility here, in what is after all a common fight for the interests of the working class.

Of course, thanks to the Blairites, the CPGB, like the Socialist Party, is banned from standing under our own name. We have been forced to register as ‘Weekly Worker’. Given the historically established record of the CPGB and the fact that we have fielded candidates since 1992 in Westminster, European and local elections under our Party’s name, this is an undoubted handicap.

Nevertheless we are determined that the CPGB does its duty. We will provide a focal point for principled opposition to bomber Blair. The CPGB is also determined to uphold the inclusive spirit of the Socialist Alliance and facilitate the work of other forces. The CPGB, it should be noted, is affiliated to the Socialist Alliances network led by comrade Dave Nellist.

Our list is open to any socialist who is prepared to accept the manifesto of the ‘Weekly Worker’ (to be based on an updated and adapted version of the Socialist Unity manifesto jointly negotiated and agreed for January’s North Defoe by-election by the CPGB, SWP, Hackney SLP and a revolutionary Turkish community association).

Hence, besides formulations around basic issues such as the minimum wage, the environment, smashing the anti-trade union laws and fighting unemployment and poverty, our manifesto emphases democratic questions.

As revolutionary democrats we stand for the immediate abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the whole constitutional monarchy system. We are for the maximum unity of the working class against our common enemy: ie, the UK state of the capitalist class. Today that best finds expression in demands for Irish reunification and the right of Scotland and Wales to self-determination in a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.

When it comes to Europe, here too we are for the fullest, most extensive democracy. That can most effectively be fought for through the call for an end to the corrupt system of unelected European commissioners and in their place a popularly elected constituent assembly of the EU. We are for the highest trade union and party unity of workers in the EU in the struggle for both democracy and socialism.

Unlike the Scargillites, reformists and Stalinites we insist that socialism is won by workers themselves. Socialism is an act of conscious self-liberation. It cannot be handed down from on high. Neither by a benign state nor by some self-appointed labour dictator. Socialism is necessarily democratic. Nor can socialism be confined to one country. Socialism is international or it is nothing.

Last and by no means least, our manifesto takes a position of complete opposition to Nato’s war in the Balkans. We say stop the Nato bombing now. That however does not lead us into the red-brown camp of Milosevic and his Serbian Socialist Party. We champion the Kosovar demand for self-determination and independence. The KLA has the right to arm itself and fight.

Naturally individuals and groups joining or supporting our list have the full freedom to criticise and put forward their own distinct propaganda. Allowing the expression of differences is no sign of weakness. It is a sure sign of our strength.

Provisional Central Committee
Communist Party of Great Britain
May 1 1999