Phil Kent explains that the working class needs to be the class of democracy
Last Saturday was a pleasant, sunny day in Tottenham - just right for campaigning for Tusc you might think. Well not quite.
One young woman commented that she was not voting because politicians had done nothing for her. Another claimed to be putting her trust in god. Later I was told that only 162 new voters have come onto the electoral register in Tottenham over the last 12 months.
There is an obvious anti-politics mood out there, especially amongst the young, and leftwing candidates are seen as being no different from the mainstream parties by most people. In part this must reflect the fact that at each election we enter the fray under a different label, plus we stand on policies that, while for the most part perfectly supportable, associate us with traditional Labourism. We do not attempt to get the message across that we are actually against the system. This does not mean that we will not do well amongst the traditional committed left of Tottenham, which is a relatively large pool, but here too we are paying a price for ingrained sectarianism.
As it happened, the anarchist Haringey Solidarity Group was campaigning with a bit more success on the other side of the street with a black and red broadsheet calling on people not to vote. Perhaps a free paper with articles challenging people to think was a more attractive option than a free balloon and a glossy postcard. Perhaps they came across more clearly as not being part of the mainstream.
I went across to talk to the anarchists, who explained that they were for direct action and believed that single-issue campaigning, not class struggle, was the way forward. I pointed out that our candidate, Jenny Sutton, was very much involved in direct action and there was no contradiction between the two. She was right to argue that direct action alone was not enough and that the working class needed political organisation capable of uniting broad strands of resistance to the government.
From my own point of view, I explained that the working class needs to be the class of democracy. To impose our will against theirs and pave the way to a transition to socialism we must secure majority support. My anarchist friend seemed impressed, but asked how widespread this belief was amongst the socialist left. More, I said, than are prepared to admit it.
He went back to distributing his paper.