75 years ago an earthquake shook the very foundations of British capitalism. In the greatest display of militant power in its history the British working class moved into action in the General Strike of 1926. For 9 days, from May 3, not a wheel turned nor a light shone without the permission of the working class. In such a moment, with such power, surely it ought to have been possible to have transformed society? How can such a position have ended in defeat?
On 7th June, the people of Britain will go to the polls to elect the next government. According to all the polls Labour is set to gain a hefty majority over the Conservatives. The polls show that Labour is now leading the Tories by a massive 28 points. Yet the election campaign has been as dead as a Dodo, and the great majority show little interest and less enthusiasm for either New Labour or the Tories. The general election turnout is likely to be low - some have even predicted the lowest for over 100 years. The reason for this alleged "voter apathy" is not hard to find.
Editorial note: The following is a full version of the shorter article we published on 8 June on the British election.
Labour has won the elections with a majority of 167 seats at Westminster,
slightly down on last time when they won a landslide majority of
179 seats. On the face of it, it is an outstanding triumph for Tony
Blair. But these results do not adequately express the contradictory
nature of the mood in British society. The mood of the masses is
sceptical. The working class is disappointed and frustrated with
New Labour. Despite Labour's landslide victory, the underlying
mood is extremely volatile.
There have been a lot of disasters on the railways in Britain. But the real disaster has been rail privatisation itself. There was a lot of rhetoric from the Tories about the 'dynamism and efficiency' private capitalism would bring, but experience has shown that the only people to benefit from rail privatisation have been the profiteers, not the general public that has to use the railways. So what is the alternative?
The cornerstone of a freedom established almost 800 years ago is now
under threat from a Labour government. The latest reactionary piece of
legislation hands power to the Home Secretary of the day to hold those
he claims to be suspected terrorists under house arrest indefinitely.
Tony Blair has called the general election for May 5. He did this as
opinion polls show a sharp fall in Labour support, down to 37% of the
electorate, with the Tories close behind at 34% and the Liberal
Democrats at 21%. This would indicate another Blair victory but with a
much reduced majority and with significant layers of the working class
voting for nobody. There will be no street parties this time.