The Independant working Class Association gives its view on the recent elections:
The Labour party is dying, and fascism is on the rise. Where does the working class go from here?
‘May you live in interesting times’ is an old Chinese saying. You might be forgiven for assuming it is a blessing but in actual fact it is intended as a curse. Of course, how you might regard the inherent implications of some major political or social upheaval most probably depends on what end of the political or social spectrum you inhabit.
In any event, for good or ill, ‘interesting times’ we are certainly in.
In 1994, at the beginning of the Blair era, Labour MP Roy Hattersley suggested that ‘the working class would continue to vote for Labour whatever the party does’. A number of years after New Labour had taken power in 1997, when the cracks between the governing party and the working class electorate were already beginning to emerge, mostly in the form of a collapsing turnout at elections, it was all airily waved away by current Justice Minister Jack Straw. He described the gathering disengagement as ‘the politics of contentment.’
The quotes are a useful reminder that New Labour’s problems did not begin with the ascension to power of Gordon Brown, or the credit crunch, or MP’s expenses. The real damage was done far earlier, goes far deeper and may indeed be irreversible.
In last weeks Euro elections the SNP won the popular vote in Scotland for the first time ever, while the Tories trumped Labour in Wales. With the South-East in almost complete meltdown – Labour taking a mere 8 per cent of votes cast – there must now be some serious question marks against Labour ever again being a party with a true national reach.
In short, New and indeed Old Labour have got what they deserved and so, predictably, have the BNP. Tony Lecomber’s forecast in 1997 that ‘The people who have been abandoned by Labour and have never been represented by the Tories will, in their desperation, turn to us’ has been handsomely vindicated. The BNP’s steady climb from obscurity also began in 1994 when they abandoned their battle to control the streets.
Approximately a decade ago the modernised BNP, under the control of a new leader Nick Griffin, gave cause for concern when they took 26% of the vote in a council by-election in Bexley in Kent. An alarmed Guardian covered the story on page two but despite the evidence, then and since, their true potential has consistently been underestimated and decried, particularly by ‘professional’ anti-fascists and the orthodox Left.In the run up to the local elections one poll commissioned by The Observer put their support level at just one per cent. If accurate it meant the BNP would do five times less well than in 2004. So don’t be fooled when they tell you that the recent success was purely down to the expenses row — if that benefitted anyone it was UKIP, who were down and out prior to the election. This has been a long time coming. Wishful thinking fools no one, least of all the BNP....
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