Why the pledge from the Labour Party to axe the Bedroom Tax doesn't mean we've won and, if we take it at face value, could mean that we lose.
The Labour Party has this week vowed to scrap the Bedroom Tax. The announcement, which has dominated headlines as well as a lot of talk on Twitter, comes as Labour prepares to hold its annual conference in Brighton.
I am leading a different Labour Party, a One Nation Labour Party, which listens to and will stand up for ordinary families like that of Danielle Heard, who I met this week.
We’ll fight for her like she has fought cancer heroically for 14 years.
She is disabled and battling cancer again. But now her family must pay £80 a month they can’t afford under this government’s hated bedroom tax.
The Bedroom Tax – not what the Tories call the spare room subsidy – the Bedroom Tax, a symbol of an out of touch, uncaring Tory Government that stands up for the privileged few but never for you.
So we will scrap that tax.
This has got a lot of people cheering, calling it a victory for the campaign against the Bedroom Tax. Certainly, it shows the amount of pressure that grassroots organisers and campaigners have brought to bear over this issue since it first arose. Although The Daily Mirror and the Sunday People are quick to claim the campaign - and associated victories - as their own, the real credit goes to working class people fighting tooth and nail for their own survival.
The campaign against the Bedroom Tax erupted on Merseyside, where the bar was set with autonomous community campaigns making their decisions in packed-out mass meetings. Since then the example has been followed elsewhere, and so strong is community control that Trot astroturfing projects - mainly in the form of "federations" parachuted in from the sky - haven't been able to compete.
The energy and anger that this campaign has channelled hasn't always gone in the right direction. Look at the row that erupted over the brief acceptance of fascists in the Merseyside Anti Bedroom Tax Federation, for example, or Stand Up In Bootle going from getting a thousand people on the streets on a Wednesday morning to imploding in a row over committees and control.
However, despite this, the anger remains. The Merseyside federation managed to pick itself back up after the storm and Bedroom Tax groups exist across half the country. There has been mass community action to chase off bailiffs and stories continue to come out about just how shitty and unjust the Bedroom Tax is.
That's the reason why Miliband has made his pledge. It has nothing to do with the potential of Labour to serve the interests of the working class in power because, in power, the realities of government take over. No politicians, and no party, will serve the interests of the working class unless this is the least disruptive approach for the interests of capital. In other words, unless they're afraid that if they don't we'll fuck shit up.
Miliband is making his promise not because he intends to scrap the Bedroom Tax, but because he hopes that we'll believe him. That we'll plough all the potential that exists for a ferocious struggle based around direct action into ensuring that Labour win the next election. That we'll channel our anger in a safe direction.
We don't need to believe the Labour Party, to work within them to push our interests, to vote for them without illusions or to vote for them at all. Because none of these things actually contribute to any gains for the working class and they never have. In fact, its worth noting that the fictional divide between "old" and "new" Labour is not based on the degree to which they served the interests of the working class, but the degree to which they gave the trade union bureaucracy a stake in managing working class expectations in order to serve the interests of capital.
Ed Miliband and the Labour Party are just another faction of the enemy class - the left wing of capital. To believe otherwise, as everyone making pronouncements about what "Labour should" do appears to, is to cling to a delusion. As long as we do that, and look to false watersheds like 2015, the only thing we are doing is diverting ourselves from the struggles we need to win.