The Croydon Guardian appears to have splashed over its entire front page this week the shock-horror headline “Labour Spending Plans = 27% Council Tax Rise”, followed by an article explaining that this estimate is arrived at by costing up all the proposals in Labour’s Croydon Manifesto. Only in very small letters on the front page does the word “advertisement” appear, and nowhere on this page can one find who the advertiser is. Only on closer examination is it apparent that the Tories have paid for an entire four page, full colour wrapper.
This raises an interesting question. It is not whether Labour’s manifesto, on the whole a mild and timid document that does not seek to reverse, or even halt, the savage cuts in services, would really result in a Council Tax rise of 27%. If the estimate of the tax rise necessary to fund Labour’s plans were accurate and reliable, it would say more about the extent to which cuts have undermined Croydon Council’s services than about the profligacy of Labour.
The interesting question is how can the Tories afford to pay for such publicity.
The Tory party can afford to spend huge sums on electioneering because it is essentially a conspiracy against the people. It receives vast sums of money from big business and wealthy individuals and rewards them with the laws, regulations and tax breaks they require to make more money and give further donations. That’s where the money to fight the forthcoming local government elections and, on a much, much bigger scale, the general election next year comes from. Furthermore, with breath-taking guile, they have even managed to seduce the hapless Lib-Dems into their conspiracy, getting the Lib Dems to prop them up in parliament for five full years in return for a few meagre ministerial posts, which have been filled ineffectually, and the promise of a referendum on proportional representation (which they lost).
Such is the success of the Tory election-money machine that Labour essentially adopted the same strategy –Tory-lite or, as they called themselves, New Labour. The best argument for voting Labour in the forthcoming elections is not the hope that Miliband will reverse the New Labour sell out, it is the same old argument we have heard for years: vote for us, we are not as bad as the Tories. For how much longer Labour can get away with this dispiriting argument remains to be seen.
In parliamentary democracy, with its two, or two and a half, party system, there is no real choice. Vote for Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee. Even then, unless you happen to live in a marginal constituency, most votes don’t count. There is no way of fixing this with PR. Even if the ultimate winner receives the most votes, or is, say, the least unacceptable candidate, the system is run by career politicians on behalf of big business and the wealthy. The mass media is, in consequence, controlled by these same interests and ensures that left wing alternatives, particularly the Communist Party, are shut out. Communists, however, aspire to something better. A society run to benefit ordinary working people, employing direct democracy so that they, not career politicians, have responsibility for decisions and where the mass media is owned by the readers and viewers, not a few media moguls with their own agendas. Meanwhile, however, and despite our lack of funds, Communists do stand in elections if only to give a few voters in a few constituencies and wards a real choice; and we do, where possible, enter electoral alliances such as No2EU – yes to workers’ rights. But never be fooled into thinking that this is democracy. That must await a communist future.