Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 47 Number 11, June 14, 2017 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

General Election 2017

Wishful Thinking about the Return of the Two-Party System
and the Stability It Allegedly Provides

The view that the general election in Britain marks a return to two-party politics is wishful thinking on the part of the ruling circles. The two-party system was introduced in the 19th century with one party representing landed interests and one party commercial interests. Together they represented the dictatorship of the propertied interests against the working class.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, including the universal suffrage and the creation of the Labour Party in 1906 as a consequence of the workers' striving for empowerment. Today, the Liberals have been largely displaced and the contest is seen to be between the Conservatives and Labour but a two-party system is about more than two parties periodically changing places.

For a century, the parties in the service of the ruling class managed to establish a social base amongst the people. Local party associations, as well as trade unions and other organisations such as cultural, social and economic agencies acted as the transmission belts of these parties to garner votes and the parties were the link between the rulers and the ruled, the governors and the governed. Even the thousands of charities presided over by the Royals acted as transmission belts and links to the governing parties. With the rise of Thatcherism in the 1980s the former aim for society was overthrown. Thatcher did not even recognise that society exists and demanded that everyone fend for themselves. As neo-liberal free trade and nation-wrecking took over, all the old ways of doing things became defunct. Attempts to resuscitate them by permitting small parties to play a role and by hoping that the formation of coalition governments would "work" have not been able to overcome the fact that the party system depoliticises and disinforms the polity but the people's striving for empowerment prevails.

Today, the electoral democracy has no credibility. Political parties pay private interests to run their campaigns which disinform the electors. They deprive them of an outlook of their own and keeps them tied to what others decide on their behalf. Elections are no longer means which turn "the popular will" into "the legal will" in the form of party government.

Also, in the past, elections were used to sort out the contradictions within the ruling class based on a system of reasonable accommodations. They re-established peaceful coexistence in the form of party government and thus provided stable government. If a majority could not be reached, minority governments were a short-lived affair used to restore a balance between the contending interests and a majority government would follow.

Today, the conditions are no longer there for "reasonable accommodations" and stability. Anarchy prevails in the economic base and pervades all political, social, cultural, national and international affairs. No oligopolic private interest will accept an authority above its own. Negotiations, which include elections as a form of negotiations, are no longer the method used to sort out differences within the ranks of these private interests and all the arrangements from the past have been or are being discarded.

Anarchy is accompanied by violence and the increasing use of government of police powers, not government of laws. Just as in economics so too in politics - power is concentrated in oligopolies which have directly taken over the state institutions and social functions - armed forces, intelligence agencies, functions of the civil service, health care, education and even charities. These private interests run everything for profit not "the common good" and this includes elections.

Whereas it is true the Labour Party is prepared to form a minority government, not by a "progressive alliance" but by asking for others to support its popular manifesto, the ruling class will not permit a change in the direction to the economy out of goodwill. The people will have to organise themselves to deprive the ruling circles of their power to deprive the people of what belongs to them by right. Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Labour Party will move an alternative Queen's Speech on June 19 when the House of Commons reconvenes. It shows that the people's demand for an anti-austerity agenda and the demand of the ruling circles for private interests to prevail are face-to-face in Britain as never before since the austerity agenda was unleashed during the Thatcher years and New Labour became its champion under Tony Blair. This experience must be summed up by the working people so that their striving for empowerment remains in their hands.

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All! Now is the time for the people to step up the work to renew the political process and demand the recognition of their rights!


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