On holding your nose to vote Labour

Ed Miliband being hit in the back of the head with an egg

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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Noah Fence
Jan 31 2015 19:28

The revolting piece of slime Milliband reckons that Labour activists are going to visit four million homes in the run up to the election. I feel really sorry for the poor sap that knocks on my door!

We've got 3 months of steaming fucking horse manure coming flying out of our TVs, radios and newspapers to look forward to - we don't have to vote labour to require a peg for our poor suffering noses!

Jan 31 2015 19:58

Feb 1 2015 11:54

It's probably true that at a superficial level the Green Party comes accross as the remaining true 'Social Democratic' Party with a breadth of electoral coverage beyond that of the other various cobbled together left coalitions and many people ( at least those who have not regressed to a totally inward looking nationalism) will be tempted to vote for them in the same way as might previously have voted for the Labour Party ''whilst holding their noses' - if only as some kind of protest. This is because looking at the drift of state policies over decades in the UK going back to a UK under something resembling 'social democracy' must look better than what we have experienced recently and which under the impact of the most recent economic crisis is getting even worse. Most people are not looking at Green Party policies (or most other party policies) with any inteligent rational understanding of their practical effect in current circumstances but rather voting at an emotional level in memory of something which in popular imagination was better for them, in the absense of any social movement offering hope for the future, and despite there being 'no going back' in reality!. As always these periods of capitalist electioneering represent a low point in any tendencies towards independent class conscious collective organisation and struggle, so I agree with Phil's conclusions even if our efforts to rationally argue against any expectations of positive change from these elections will be largely wasted on most (at least until later).

Feb 1 2015 20:42

Yes, I've noticed that already lefty and "anarchist" cretins are already starting to talk about how they are going to vote for the Greens. I hope a future blog will address this!

Feb 2 2015 11:38

Milliband eating a sandwich looks a bit like Gollum innit.

Feb 2 2015 12:44

Should have a hatchet job on the Green Party in the next issue of Resistance (anti-election special)

Feb 2 2015 15:19

Any chance of a blog post about people using scare tactics to persuade you to vote against ukip?

Feb 3 2015 20:02

Monbiot uses the theme of nose holding to promote the idea of voting for the Green Party. Although seeing the picture of his smug face also promotes the idea of nose punching.

I think that a link to this article may have already been posted on the Starry-eyed gushing over Syriza thread.

We are told at every election to hold our noses, forget the deficiencies and betrayals and vote Labour yet again, for fear of something worse.

The Lamps Are Coming On All Over Europe.

Serge Forward
Feb 5 2015 20:01
rat wrote:
Monbiot uses the theme of nose holding to promote the idea of voting for the Green Party. Although seeing the picture of his smug face also promotes the idea of nose punching.

grin So good, it needed quoting again and it would make a dead good t-shirt, our rat. Reminds me of when the AF's Resistance bulletin used to refer to him as George 'ludicrously posh' Monbiot.

Feb 11 2015 23:31

A short article by a pathetic, deluded apologist:

So as I prepare to hold my nose and vote Labour once again I can do it for the first time in a long time with hope that something will change.


Feb 14 2015 11:15

The Left are going for the #RegisterToVote push. Some of the stuff is quiet amusing in a very embarrassing way.

Chilli Sauce
Feb 14 2015 12:54
rat wrote:
The Left are going for the #RegisterToVote push. Some of the stuff is quiet amusing in a very embarrassing way.

You know, there's a whole blog to be written there as well - this idea that registering people to vote somehow counts as "organising". I think this is even more pronounced in the States where voter registration drives (and resistance to them) had a basis in the civil rights movement.

Obviously, not any better then than it is now, but it'd be good to have something that debunks that myths that the power of CRM somehow came from voting or the passage of various congressional acts.

Mar 1 2015 10:48

Why do you think Labour are promising to reduce tuition fees to £6,000 - is it internal democracy, threat of the Green Party/SNP and/or the student movement?

Joseph Kay
Mar 1 2015 11:09

Probably cos it may actually save money - £9,000 fees actually increased the costs to the state.

Mar 11 2015 14:50

This short article from the 'anti-parliamentary' ICT/CWO starts with an appropriately angry attack on the benefits sanctions regime in the UK and develops into a critique of the Labour Party and the current electoral offerings of the other left leaning parties and reinforces some of the points already made by Phil in his series of blog postings:

Noah Fence
Apr 16 2015 18:37

I'm trying not to let the whole election farce get to me but its all going into overdrive right now and it's doing my nut in.
Joining Robert Webb in support of the Labour Party is Jo Brand who has this evening been the star of a Party Political Broadcast on the box. People like Jo know what side her bread is buttered and while the smart arse comedians feign an anti establishment stance they probably do more to prop up the state than every politician in parliament. Webb and his Oxbridge buddies are easy enough to spot, their allegiance has never been in doubt and working class Jo and others are simply vile fucking traitors.
Fuck the new elite, fuck the election and fuck capitalism!!!

Apr 16 2015 18:50

Ah Webby, don't let it get you down mate. It'll soon enough be over. Turn the telly off, find something else to potter about with for the duration. smile

Noah Fence
Apr 16 2015 19:02

Thanks Fleur. How about I potter around kicking the shit out of smug comedians? Sounds like a plan to me!

Apr 20 2015 14:16

We can start with Russell Howard and the rest of those populist, funny-voice-comedian arserags.

Noah Fence
Apr 20 2015 16:22

Personally, I'd start with the little bald fella with a goatee, not sure what he's called. Actually, better still, Mel Whatshername and Sue Fucking Perkins.