Labour Party

The Labour debate

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Working class people are angry at Labour, but at the same time they are fearful of the prospect of a Tory government. Judith Orr responds to the arguments about Labour and the election

The debate we are having on the pages of Socialist Review about whether socialists should call for a vote for Labour where there isn't a left alternative reflects a very real debate happening across the wider working class movement. After 13 years of Labour in government the bitterness against it among workers is intense.

Should socialists argue for a vote for Labour?

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Against: "A waste of time"

Ask me to vote Labour? Never again!

When the editor of Socialist Review rang and asked me for an article on why I believe we shouldn't vote Labour at the next general election, I jumped at the chance.

I recently heard SWP national secretary Martin Smith say that he was meeting more and more young people who vowed they would never vote Labour again. I can well see why.

Should socialists argue for a vote for Labour?

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In favour: "Hold your nose"

The looming general election and the possibility of a Tory government have reignited debates about the nature of the Labour Party and whether or not socialists should call for people to "hold their nose" and vote for it. From privatisation and the MPs' expenses scandal to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, New Labour has betrayed the hopes of millions of voters. But do these betrayals mean that Labour is now just the same as the Tories?

It is important to vote

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I was struck by an obituary in the Guardian a few months ago. It was in the "Other Lives" section, where friends and family write in to celebrate the lives of people who were their own "local heroes".

This man had lived in Plymouth, where he worked on the railways, went off to fight in the Second World War, then carried on working on the railways, was a member of Aslef, and a Labour councillor who became mayor.

Then in 2003 he left Labour because of the war in Iraq.

Labour's last throw of the dice

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Commentators in the Guardian were left clutching at straws in the wake of the queen's speech outlining the government's legislative programme in the run up to the general election.

Polly Toynbee described it as "a programme of substance flashing out a lighthouse reminder of what Labour stands for" and Seamus Milne opined that it is "a deathbed conversion to a more recognisably social democratic agenda".

Darling's budget - the shape of cuts to come

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Alistair Darling is "Red All Over", wailed The Times. "Return Of Class War", screamed The Daily Telegraph.

Newspaper editors are presumably part of the 0.6 percent of the population who will be hit by the 50 percent top rate of income tax announced by the chancellor in his budget. But this measure should be put in context. When Labour last left office in 1979 the top rate was 83 percent.

The Financial Times (FT) was more realistic about Labour's budget. Behind the headlines and spin, it argued, were a record budget deficit and a prelude to a savage assault on the public sector.

The grotesque bargain

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Last month Gordon Brown became the nearly man.

The debacle of his preparing for an election and then pulling back from it has confused and demoralised his own side, and given the Tories a major political advantage. While the election has probably now been pushed back nearly two years, Brown's own popularity has plummeted in the opinion polls.

Unity in action

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I was sorry that John McDonnell's campaign to stand as Labour Party leader came to a halt.

It was good that he stood. His campaign threw up issues of substance, by him openly opposing both the Iraq war and privatisation, for example. It is incredible that not even the requisite handful of Labour MPs could be found to nominate him.

Instead we have been offered a pale shadow of a contest - the deputy leadership race. Just how little of an alternative is on offer can be seen from looking at the material distributed to members of affiliated unions (of which my union, the PCS, is not one, I should point out).

Can Things Only Get Better?

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The decision by Labour MPs to deny party members the chance to choose their new leader means Gordon Brown will take office at the end of June. Judith Orr looks at the problems he will face and the state of the Labour left, while Michael Bradley examines the response from the unions.

Gordon Brown's time has finally come. On 24 June he will take on the post he has coveted for over a decade. Brown quickly received some good press. The Mirror's headline was "A Leader Born to Serve Us", and there was a three point boost in the polls. The fact that there is a bit of a "Brown bounce" is not surprising. It could hardly be otherwise - he is replacing one of Britain's most unpopular prime ministers. There is a palpable relief that Tony Blair is finally going, and for some a desperate hope that "things can only get better".

Sulphuric Publicity

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Margaret Hodge's claim that eight out of ten voters in Barking have considered voting BNP has given a massive boost to the far right.

I never had much time for Margaret Hodge when she was the leader of Islington council back in the 1980s, and I never knew what wrong the people of Barking, one of London's poorest areas, had done to deserve this millionaire as their MP.

But her behaviour in recent weeks has really put her beyond the pale. I simply don't believe her claim that eight out of ten white families she canvassed in her constituency were "tempted to vote BNP". Even the BNP don't believe that, or they would have put up a full slate of candidates across all the wards in the constituency.

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