Workers'Weekly On-Line
Volume 41 Number 13, April 26, 2011 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

All Out for May Day!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

All Out for May Day!

Responding to the Party's Call:
On the Fight for the Alternative

The Westminster Voting System Referendum:
The Need is for a Real Alternative Based on No Election without Selection

May Day 2011 - London

Tyne And Wear May Day 2011

News International Wapping - 25 Years On

Tyneside Public Meeting Stop the Bombing! No Military Intervention In Libya!

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The Line of March Monthly Publication of RCPB(ML)Subscribe


All Out for May Day!

March 26thWorkers’ Weekly calls on workers throughout the country to make May Day a significant day regionally in the fight for the alternative, in the implementation of the independent programme of the working class to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes!

May Day is the day of unity in struggle of the working class nationally and internationally. It is the day when workers pledge to reject the world outlook of the rich and the owners of capital, and instead implement their own world outlook of a world without exploitation and oppression, a different kind of society, one based on the rights of every human being by virtue of their being human.

No one can forget that this May Day in Britain takes place shortly after the March for the Alternative, when half a million organised workers and their allies affirmed that there was an alternative, that they would fight for it, and that they would not allow a society which stood for cuts to the wellbeing of the people, to public services, to wages, conditions, pensions, health and education.

As the call of RCPB(ML) points out: “It is this voice of the working class and its allies fighting for the alternative which is being excluded from government. Just imagine if the half-a-million who marched for the alternative were to put into effect their thinking on the direction of the economy, apply their collective wisdom to the social and political problems of society. Just imagine if they were able to bring into being some new mechanism whereby the organised workers’ movement were able to decide on the direction of society. Their viewpoints would be brought to bear, they would be able to sum up their experience, and resolve the affairs of society in their favour. They would be the decision-makers.

“The cuts to social programmes and public services are a manifestation of the ideology of the rich in practice. This much is common knowledge. It follows that to oppose this anti-social programme of the rich effectively, the workers must have their own independent programme which reflects their interests and ideology. This is what is meant by the alternative. It is this debate as to what is this alternative that must be engaged in by working people in the course of their developing practical politics to defend the rights of all, to defend public services, to defend pensions, to safeguard the future of the health service and the education system, to ensure peace and security for all.

“Fight the cuts, yes! Defend public services, of course! But release the initiative of the workers throughout society to consciously participate in summing up their experience, to discuss what the rich do not want them to discuss, to dare to envision the alternative. This is what the times are calling for!

March 26th “RCPB(ML) gives the call to its members, supporters, activists and friends, to the working class as a whole, to all social forces which stand opposed to the anti-social offensive of the rich ruling elite of the owners of capital, to develop and broaden this discussion on the alternative for which they have been marching, for which they are fighting. The working class and people are fed up with the establishment saying that there is no alternative. There is an alternative! It is the very opposite of what the establishment is doing. Let us discuss how to change the situation and turn things around, let us unite not just to fight the cuts but to make the voice of the working class and its allies heard. This voice is demanding the pro-social alternative. Let us discuss this alternative and the solutions it proposes.”

Let us go all out to make May Day a day of putting on the agenda the building of the Workers’ Opposition, of planting the alternative on the soil of Britain, upholding the spirit of the working class that An Injury to One Is An Injury to All! Let us celebrate that new world that begs to come into being as an urgent necessity!

An Injury to One Is An Injury to All!
Build the Workers’ Opposition!

Fight for the Alternative!
All Out for May Day!

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Responding to the Party's Call

On the Fight for the Alternative

The North East Line of March Forum met on April 16, and there were reports on the present situation following the March 26 demonstration when more than 500,000 from the workers’ and people’s movement marched for the alternative. Thousands of working people also travelled to London from the North East to take part. That the fight for the alternative was becoming the battleground for the working class movement was further confirmed by the national health conference of Unison (reported on in last issue) as well as the RCN and other conferences held since. Also, actions by the Gateshead Public Service Alliance and South Tyneside Public Service Alliance had both received an overwhelming response from the people in these areas to safeguard the future of the NHS against the market system and privatisation that the government was trying to further impose and for keeping the private out of public.

The meeting discussed the space that the Party had identified in the Call to the Workers’ Movement and All Concerned People that was opening up to build the Workers’ Opposition and expand the space for communism in Britain. Topics included a report on the discussions had with doctors and other health worker activists and the importance of building serious discussions for the alternative amongst these circles. The importance of uniting health professionals around the most advanced and class conscious workers in health and looking to give priority to new mechanisms that unite the health workers' movement around a direction that can resolve the affairs of health in favour of society.

The meeting also discussed May Day and the importance of intervening under the banner of Fight for the Alternative, Stop Paying the Rich and For an Anti-War Government with the main content of distributing the Party's new publication The Line of March.

The meeting concluded with great optimism for the tasks ahead in meeting the challenge to make the voice of the working class and its allies heard in the fight for the alternative in Britain.

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Commentary

The Westminster Voting System Referendum:

The Need is for a Real Alternative Based on No Election without Selection

That the party-dominated political system is in a profound crisis of legitimacy has become increasingly apparent over recent years. Political parties provide the link between the electorate and the government, so says the theory of representative democracy. However, the situation has become so dysfunctional, practice so out of line with theory, that political parties no longer express the political will of the people at election time. In reality, the big three Westminster parties no longer even hold that theory in practice. The conversion of the big parties into a political cartel, which has grown like a cancer in the heart of the political system, means that even the arrangement of party-in-power versus party-in-opposition no longer carries any meaning.

In this situation, the notion that elections are “free and fair” is seriously faltering. The existing First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system is a tried and tested component of keeping the people away from power. However, disaffection is rife and the demand is emerging for alternatives. The demands of early last century for the right to vote have been superseded by a demand for a decisive say in the electoral process itself.

A space for change therefore exists around the electoral system as a part of the wider issue of democratic renewal. This is the context of the referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) system on May 5. In this voting system, candidates are ranked in order of preference rather than casting a single vote for one candidate as in the FPTP system. It is argued by some that AV gives rise to a fairer reflection of the vote for a particular seat than FPTP. However, it is not a proportional voting system, and as a winner-takes-all voting system is subject to the same shortcomings as FPTP, such as the tendency to disproportionately allocate seats to the largest parties.

Simulations of AV for the last General Election, such as that by the Electoral Reform Society, tend to conclude that AV would have rebalanced the numbers of seats between the three big parties, but those won by small parties would have been the same. In other words, the cartel parties would have preserved their domination of political power, but each of the cartel parties would have fared a little differently relative to its competitors.

The AV referendum is both a reflection of this and an attempt by the big parties to occupy the space for change in their collusion and contention for power. The contradiction between collusion and contention is severe, and AV has itself arisen out of the inability of the big parties to sort out which kind of voting system best serves their interests.

The Liberal Democrats have traditionally supported Proportional Representation, from which, as the smallest member of the cartel, they stood to gain substantially. But even this modest reform has proven too much for the establishment as a whole. The two biggest parties have tended to side with the status quo. AV has arisen as a compromise, but the parties have ended up divided on the issue, with Liberals in favour, Conservatives against and Labour somewhere in between, unable to sort out divisions even with its own ranks.

The AV debate, therefore, on the terms presented, reduces the issue to the narrowest of yes/no questions, one which serves to divide the electorate. The choice between FPTP and AV solves nothing.

The Right to Participate in Governance

Voting Yes or No in the AV referendum will in no way affect the nub of the matter, namely the right of the electorate to participate in governance, to participate in formulating policy and ending the situation whereby no government can claim or even seeks to claim a mandate for its actions, and is unaccountable except in a very crude way on polling day. With the Westminster consensus over every crucial question, this is no answer.

Neither AV nor FPTP brings the end of the elector as a spectator to politics any the closer.

The Crisis in Working Class Representation

A glaring feature which requires addressing and which is also being left out of the debate, is that of the crisis of working class representation. Whose voice is being heard at Westminster?

As the March 26 “March for the Alternative” has shown, the working class has its own solution to the crisis, its own alternative, its own programme for the direction of the economy and the political affairs of the country. The reform which is urgently required is one which will facilitate that voice being heard and heeded in government. It has become quite a scandal the way that the personages in government have not come from the ranks of the people, who have chosen them as the best fighters for their interests, but rather have risen to power as Special Advisers to Ministers, or the like.

There need to be changes in the electoral mechanisms which will put a stop to this unacceptable situation, and allow the electorate to participate firstly in discussing which candidates from workplaces and educational institutions, as well as from among the ranks of the youth and pensioners, are suitable to be chosen to stand. There need to be mechanisms to allow the electorate to participate in setting the policies and agenda which these candidates will represent. And there need to be mechanisms in place so that the electorate can discuss on an ongoing basis the accountability of their elected representative, and participate in continuing to set the agenda. In short, the marginalisation of the electorate must be ended on the basis of the principle that The People Decide!

An Alternative Perspective

The referendum provides an opportunity for people to participate in discussing the disempowering political system and develop their demand for a say and an alternative from their own perspective. The people’s perspective on elections and the political process as a whole is that of working out the mechanisms needed to guarantee the rights of people to elect, be elected and participate in decision-making. This runs counter to the perspective of the ruling elite and the party cartel to further concentrate political power in their hands and bar the people from this power.

The need is for all-sided democratic renewal of the political process. On the electoral front, this is embodied in the call for no election without selection. To elect candidates without having any role in their selection or setting of the agenda of the issues surrounding the election is out of step with the times and increasingly meaningless.

The choosing of candidates should not be the prerogative of the political parties. The role of political parties should be to politicise the electorate. Candidates should instead be chosen, for example, in the workplaces and educational institutions as direct representatives of the rights and interests of objective collectives of the people.

The alternative will be brought into being as people actually work to put forward candidates from their collectives and create their own mechanisms for democratic renewal that place themselves at the centre of the political process. These mechanisms will facilitate the selection process and assist the electorate in making an informed vote on a level playing field.

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May Day 2011 - London

May Day
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Tyne And Wear May Day 2011

Saturday 30th April 2011
March and Rally March assemble 11am Time Square (Centre for Life)
March leaves at 11:30 for Rally at Exhibition Park 12:15

Speakers:

Ian Mearns (MP for Gateshead)
Karen Reay (Northern Regional Secretary, Unite)
Sam Gurney (TUC, Playfair 2012 Campaign)
Clare Williams (Convenor, Northern Public Services Alliance)
Pat Devlin (Ecumenical Accompaniment in Palestine and Israel)

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News International Wapping - 25 Years On


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Tyneside Public Meeting
Stop the Bombing!
No Military Intervention In Libya!

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