WHY WE ARE STANDING

The Communist Party will be standing in a handful of constituencies across the country in the forthcoming general election, including Ben Stevenson’s candidacy in Croydon North. Why make the effort when this intervention is unlikely to influence the outcome?

The large Parties, the ones that will form, alone or in coalition, the next government, are, with the exception of the Greens, essentially election machines. They are under the control of their leaderships, have little internal democracy and exist to secure for these leaderships high office.  The leaderships are dependent on funding from commercial interests – i.e. ‘capital’ and thus, reflect the requirements of these interests – consciously by the more self-interested from amongst their ranks and unwittingly by a few mistaken idealists. This illustrates the function of ‘democracy’ under capitalism: to manage the system in the interests of capital while giving the impression that the ‘will of the people’ is being expressed. The Greens, on the other hand, are in a transitionary situation. They still reflect the interests of their members who are fired with idealistic intention. They seek to promote a number of important and progressive policies, especially the vital need to curb global warming – an issue the other big parties choose to ignore as it conflicts with the commercial interests on which they depend. The problem for the Greens is that idealism is not enough. As they grow, they will face a choice: either allow themselves to be penetrated by commercial interests; or fuse with the only significant counterbalance to those interests in capitalism – the organised working class. Meanwhile, attractive as many of their policies are, voters need to be careful that voting for them in particular constituencies does not let the despicable Tories in.

Where does the Communist Party fit into this political structure? Our sole purpose, as originally set out by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto, is to provide leadership to the working class including the trade unions and that residual element within the Labour Party which retains an interest in representing ordinary working people. It is not to manage the capitalist system better. We are not interested in promoting our leadership, even our splendid candidate in Croydon North, Ben Stevenson, to positions of personal power within an unchanged system; and we distance ourselves from the tainted and conditional support so readily available from the capitalists. Nor are we interested in coalitions. The fate awaiting the benighted Lib-Dems demonstrates the price of joining a coalition as a junior partner and trading cabinet seats for election promises.

So, given this background, why are we standing? First, we are a democratic party and the members have decided that we should contest some seats. The intention is that, by this intervention, we will shift the debate leftward and strengthen the resolve of Labour candidates to support progressive policies such as stopping TTIP in its tracks, saving the NHS, abolishing the anti-trade union legislation, saving the environment and the other issues raised by Croydon TUC which I described in my blog last week. More important, however, for the Communist Party, unlike the other parties standing in this election, this is just the start of our campaign. The next government, whether it is the Tories, Labour, a coalition or even UKIP, will have no idea how to address the issues we face  other than by squeezing workers, their families, the unemployed, the sick and disadvantaged even harder than they have been doing for the last five years. Under the next government, even a majority Labour administration, inequality will continue to grow, the NHS will continue to disintegrate and our economic woes will continue to escalate. But the Communist Party will still be here: on the streets; speaking to you through the pages of the Morning Star; on the internet; in the trade unions; and. locally but not least, by helping to organise the Croydon Assembly which will reconvene at Ruskin House on 6 July. Watch this space!

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FOR A PEOPLE’S BRITAIN

Croydon Communist Party met this week to agree the key election message for Ben Stevenson’s general election campaign in Croydon North:

 

For a people’s Britain, not a bankers’ Britain – the people of Croydon cannot afford capitalism

 

Ben Stevenson also became the first candidate to declare his support for the entire ten point programme endorsed this week by Croydon TUC. This calls on candidates to commit, if elected, to vote in parliament to:

 

  1. End cuts in public services, pensions and welfare and restore grants for students.
  1. Replace the minimum wage with a living wage – currently £9.15 per hour in London and £7.85 per hour elsewhere
  1. Take public utilities including railways back into public ownership.
  1. Cease the underfunding and back-door privatisation of the NHS.
  1. Repeal all anti-trade union legislation.
  1. Scrap Trident and oppose any more military adventures.
  1. Bring all state education, including academies and free schools, back under the democratic control of local authorities.
  1. Build council houses and reform the private sector with rent controls and security of tenure.
  1. Oppose TTIP.
  1. Pay for this programme by taxing the rich and clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion by businesses.

Pressure will now fall on other candidates in Croydon to declare where they stand on these issues. True progressives will, of course, have little difficulty in endorsing the entire programme, while the Tories, their doomed former collaborators the Lib Dems and the UKIP uber-Tories will recoil at the very thought of endorsing any of them. It will, however, be interesting to see if any of the Labour candidates have enough socialist principles left and independence of mind to endorse any of these policies. We shall have to wait and see.