The European and local elections are looming and it looks like New Labour is, predictably, in for a battering. Unfortunately, the beneficiaries of the protest vote against sleaze and corruption could be the far right UKIP or even the Nazi BNP. There is the spectre of the far right being elected and racist thugs getting their hands on the loot that goes with Brussels, where MEPs can be millionaires within five years.
Trying to do something about this, I volunteered for the Searchlight Hope Not Hate campaign and delivered some Daily Mirror tabloids around Leicester. However, the organisers had targetted Keith Vaz’s constituency – overwhelmingly Asian, with not a BNP supporter in sight. The reason for their choice? This was an attempt to get out the anti-BNP vote, rather than offer a positive alternative to the main parties. The message was that the BNP are hardline racists who do not stand up for ordinary people. It is important to cast your vote to keep them out. (Fair enough as far as it goes, but will appealing to voters in a solid Labour ward work anymore, with New Labour at an historic low in the polls and with Vaz himself completely discredited?) At least some of the tabloids I handed out had a NO2EU leaflet inside advertising our public meeting.
I think the campaign should have targeted a white working-class area in the city and engaged with voters about their concerns. However, this takes commitment, honesty and a programme to really benefit ordinary workers – all of which the Labour Party are completely lacking in.
It is vital, therefore, that for the first time in over 100 years, a fighting trade union, the RMT, are backing candidates to the left of Labour. My hope is that the No2EU Yes to Democracy campaign will appeal to those dissafected with the complete lack of representation for ordinary people, and will provide a protest vote for those rightly disgusted with the sleaze and corruption at the heart of Parliament – in Westminster and Brussels. This is the only campaign whose candidates will not take any expenses in the event of them being elected.
It is wholly wrong to suggest that the far right, despite what their propaganda might say, stand up for British workers. They would be hostile to trade unions and seek to divide us along lines of race, when we need to unite together on a class basis to fight back. They only offer lies and hatred.
Equally, we cannot have any hope left in a Labour Party which has completely sold out ordinary voters. At last years Campaign for a New Workers’ Party conference, Bob Crow said that anyone with any principles left in New Labour should leave, as they were only giving the party some false respectability. Recent events have shown how corrupt and rotten all three mainstream parties are and posed the need to urgently build a new, socialist alternative.