On holding your nose to vote Labour

As the 2015 General Election looms ever closer, more and more media commentary is going to be dedicated to who people should vote for. Rather than talking generally about the problems and limitations of representative democracy, this is the first of several posts looking at and debunking specific 'tactical voting' strategies and election narratives from an anti-electoral perspective.

A number of commentators ‘on the left’ (for lack of a better term) tell us that in the coming elections we need to ‘hold our noses and vote Labour.’

If we don’t, then all we’re doing is helping the Tories to win and bring on the apocalypse. It’s the bloke who looks like a meff in any and all situations or the harbingers of hell will eat the souls of the most vulnerable while wearing their fancy new fox-pelt coats.


The only viable alternative to Toryism?

I don’t want to understate the menace of the Tories, of course. They’re shameless purveyors of the fuck-awful and that’s even without being amongst those mired in a massive scandal for harbouring and covering up institutional child abuse. If you don’t react to seeing David Cameron speak by wanting to hit him in the face with a shovel, then there’s something wrong with you.

But does this mean we have no choice except to vote Labour as so many liberals and leftists advocate? Well, obviously not.

The reason that their argument holds any weight at all is that, in purely electoral terms, it’s true. Without any doubt, either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party will get the most seats in this election. This means that one or other will either be forming a majority government or the major partner in a coalition government.

With upswings for the Greens, the SNP in Scotland and UKIP respectively, a number of different coalition combinations have been touted in opinion pieces but the one or other of the two main parties will be the power broker.

Thus, it follows that if you don’t want one - you need to vote for the other.

But suppose Labour get in instead of the Tories. Then what? They’ve pledged to match Tory spending plans, won’t reverse the cuts of the last five years, and promise even more cuts. While liberals get excited about pledges to scrap the Bedroom Tax (see Nick Clegg’s famous pledge on tuition fees for why not to trust that), the continue to fart out reactionary bullshit about benefits, migrants and other subjects.

All of this fits in with their record. The first attempts to privatise Royal Mail came from Labour, as a considerable chunk of NHS sell offs through the Private Finance Initiative. They introduced the tuition fees that the Tories later tripled. They made over two thirds of the cuts to staff in HMRC in the last ten years. They made the first attempt to attack civil service redundancy rights that the Tories later succeeded with by changing the law.

Nor is this limited to New Labour. The ‘spirit of 45’ nonsense glosses over the Labour Party government holding down public sector wages, building the welfare state off the back of the empire, breaking strikes, attacking trade unions and propping up capitalism throughout its history rather than as a brand new idea with Kinnock and then Blair at the helm.

In other words, there is no dragging them to the left. They’ve never been there, and they’ve spent decades destroying every possible route back even to the unduly mythologised past that people like to pretend was on the left.

So yes, voting Labour might mean you’re not stuck with the Tories. That might be enough if you don’t want job cuts, benefit sanctions and service closures to be overseen by grinning maniacs who probably power-wank at the thought of other people’s suffering and misery. But what if you want those things to actually stop rather than those implementing them just to be less gleeful about it?

The only way to stop or slow down the current onslaught, let alone win actual positive improvements, is to organise. We need a working class movement willing and capable of taking disruptive direct action against the state, landlords, bosses and the ruling class.

You can’t vote for that.

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