The General Election on 12 December

The Parliamentary Labour Party, with the abandonment of the pledge in the 2017 Labour Manifesto to implement Brexit, has significantly undermined the prospects of a Labour government implementing the other important pledges in that manifesto. These were to

  • Extend state aid to industry
  • Take the railways into monopoly public ownership
  • Reform VAT
  • Reform public procurement rules
  • Rebuild regional development policy
  • Negotiate fair trade agreements with dynamic and emerging economies beyond Europe.

These pledges were welcomed by the Communist Party at the time, and we have made clear subsequently that our support for Labour in the forthcoming election is dependent on the Labour Party not watering them down. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that none of these six pledges can be implemented if we remain in the EU. It will be interesting to see how Labour will try to square the circle in its new manifesto.

The prospect of a Tory government after 12 December does not, of course, bear thinking about. Johnson may enjoy playing the fool – his picture on the cover of City AM today giving the Benny Hill salute is no doubt intended to amuse and reassure, but he is a dangerous and slippery enemy of the working class who is clearly prepared to break any rule to secure his ends which include a trade deal with the USA that would make our current EU suzerainty appear benign. Nor can we expect another hung parliament to rein him in – both the Lib-Dems under Cameron and the Democratic Unionists under May demonstrated the ineffectuality of coalition government. Tory coalition partners quickly morph into Tories before they are dumped when no longer needed.

Fortunately, we are not quite back to the bad old days when the choice was between Tory Tories and Blairite Tories. Many Labour candidates in the coming election are worth supporting. Croydon South is solid Tory and Croydon North has a healthy Labour majority but with a right wing MP, Steve Reed, who voted to remove Corbyn. Croydon Central is a marginal constituency currently held by Sarah Jones for Labour. She’s not the most progressive of MPs but she seems to have realised that to get re-elected she needs to listen to her young, left-leaning supporters. Communists in Croydon will be tramping the streets for her. Let’s hope she doesn’t let us down when she gets re-elected.

 

Croydon and the General Election

The Communist Party has announced that it will not be standing candidates in the next General Election – provided Labour retains its left leadership and fights the election on a left and progressive manifesto. This is fully in accordance with the principles expressed in the Communist Manifesto where Marx and Engels wrote that communists fight for the current interests of the working class while taking care of the future of the working class movement.

This does not mean that communists in Croydon will be passive by-standers at the next general election. If the conditions mentioned above are met, we will be actively assisting Labour in Croydon while, at the same time and in the words of the Communist Manifesto, disdaining to conceal our views, aims and membership of the Communist Party from fellow campaigners.

Croydon has three constituencies. Croydon South is a safe seat for the overtly ambitious Chris Phelps who has recently been campaigning Nimby-style to oppose housing developments in his leafy constituency, blaming the local Labour Council while failing to point out that it is Tory relaxation of planning regulations that is facilitating these developments.

Steve Reed MP in Croydon North is on the right of the Labour Party and supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election. He has caused trouble for his leader, most recently when calling for a second EU referendum . It is to be fervently hoped that his local party will de-select him but, until then, he is sitting on a comfortable majority and would expect to get re-elected without the need for any active support from the Croydon Communist Party.

Sarah Jones MP is harder to pigeonhole. She was first elected as MP for Croydon Central, a marginal constituency, in the 2017 general election following heroic efforts by local Labour Party members, mostly on the left  and many in Momentum, with active support from Croydon communists. She subsequently disappointed these local activists by immediately removing her Constituency Office from Ruskin House, the Labour and Trade Union Centre for Croydon which has played a key role in the rise of Corbynism. She appears to be have shaken by the resulting furore and has subsequently sought to bridge the gap between herself and those who worked to get her elected. While she remains hard to pin down politically, her appointment in May 2018 as Shadow Minister for Housing provides some modest ground for optimism.

The real problem with MPs generally is that they mostly see themselves as members of a profession in which they can build a career, not as delegates representing those who chose them. This, of course, won’t change until we achieve the communist aim of overturning the entire existing social and political order.