Friday, 14 January 2011

Labour Trounces Liberal-Tories

Labour has completely trounced the Liberal-Tories in the Oldham East and Saddleworth By-Election, despite all of the disadvantages they faced. First of all, the by-election was called after Labour MP, Phil Woolas, was removed by the Judicial wing of the ruling class, following a complaint by the Liberal-Tory candidate, Elwyn Watkins, that he had lied.
Given the lies told by the Liberal-Tories during the election, for example over Tuition Fees, VAT etc. that charge is, of course a bit rich! Secondly, although it is usually the case that the Party of the sitting MP get to set the by-election date, in this case the Liberal-Tories rushed to get the by-election called for as an early a date as they could.

The reason for that is simple, next week students return from their holidays to their Universities and Colleges. Given that a large percentage of these students gave their vote and their support for the Liberals prior to the election, on the basis of the lies they were told about Tuition Fees, its likely that the vast majority of these students would use their votes in favour of Labour, and against the Liberal-Tories. Thirdly, elections called in January, and the other Winter months, always result in lower than average turn-outs, and a low turnout always favours the Liberal-Tories.

In BBC's Election Programme both the Liberal-Tories, and the BBC's psephological expert Professor John Curtice, attempted to limit the damage for the Liberal-Tories from what was increasingly apparent was going to be a Labour win.
Professor Curtice, said that given that Labour was ten points ahead in the Opinion Polls nationally, then Labour would need a 42% share of the vote for that to be reflected. But, of course, that fails to take into account that this was a by-election where the turnout would be lower than in a General Election, and historically it has always been the case that Labour does best when turnout is high, and when Labour voters turn out. As it happens, even that high hurdle was beaten by Labour, who obtained 42.1%. In fact, despite a much lower vote than in last May's General Election (48% as opposed to 61%), Labour managed to actually increase their vote by nearly 600 votes! The Liberal-Tory vote fell from nearly 26,000 in May last year, to just over 15.500 yesterday, a fall of almost 50%!!!

And its clear, that increasingly we must now look at the Liberal-Tories as being a single party. On the one hand the Liberals have lost huge numbers of their members, and those that remain will be those on the Right-wing of the Party - the Orange Book Liberals, whose politics have always been indistinguishable from the Tories. It is that wing of the Liberals, which dominates its leadership. A look at the body language of the Liberal front bench in Parliament sitting with their Tory compatriots, shows that these are soulmates, they are people who feel at home in the bosom of a right-wing Tory Party, far more than with the rice and sandals brigade of their own Party.
In the Cabinet, the Tory wing of this new Liberal-Tory Party, have openly spoken about how they could help the Liberal wing of the Party. That was manifest in the by-election. From reports on the ground it looks as though much of the actual Liberal vote collapsed. What has happened is that the voters supporting the Tory wing of the Liberal-Tories, simply voted for the Liberal wing of the Party, because it had the best chance of beating Labour. That is why the Tory vote collapsed by 7,000 votes, a fall of around 70% since last May. Its no wonder that the Tory voters acted in that way, because the Tory wing of the Liberal-Tories essentially told them to do that. The Tory wing of the Liberal-Tories did the very least they could in terms of running a campaign in the Constituency. Despite all of that, the Liberal-Tories got trounced.

The result indicates what is likely to happen in the Elections in May. That is likely to spur a rapid realignment, and consolidation. Already, some of the Uber Right supporters of the Tories are defecting to UKIP, such as the Tories large financial supporter, Stuart Wheeler.
As contradictions intensify as the new Liberal-Tory Party consolidates, more of these Uber Right-wingers are likely to look to supporting alternatives be they they the BNP light UKIP, or the BNP itself. There are always some of these mavericks who are thrown off in these processes, and in the case of the Tories, the financial position of these mavericks always tends to give them more attention than they would otherwise deserve.

The by-election and the ructions that are likely to develop within the Liberal-Tories as this process develops indicates what I said last year, that this Government is based on very shaky foundations. It is organisationally weak, it is wracked with contradictions, and its populist approach has meant that its policies are not even based on the direct interests of the dominant section of Capital.
This is not the 1980's, and Cameron is not Thatcher. In the 1980's the global economy was already enmeshed in the Long Wave downturn. Objectively, that created the conditions under which Capital had a strong bargaining position, whereas workers had an even weaker position, and lower levels of confidence. Today, ten years into a global expansion that is reversed. In my 2007 Blog, Prepare To Dust Off The Sliding Scale I wrote,

"How these struggles manifest themselves will differ. In China wages are rising by 10% plus per year, and there are clear signs that Chinese workers are beginning to become more organised. The same is true of workers in South Korea and other rapidly growing Asian economies. Under these conditions workers struggles are likely to take on increasingly an offensive nature. Yet in the US, the UK and Europe despite signs of economic growth it is anaemic compared to China and elsewhere. The reason is that these economies are hugely inefficient compared to China which combines the latest technology, with low wage labour. Consequently, we see Delphi declaring bankruptcy with GM looking to be not too far behind.

In Britain we see Peugeot closing Ryton etc. Britain and the US also have a problem with huge levels of public and private debt which has been run up as an alternative to their economies cratering during the downturn, but it now acts as a drag on recovery. As with the PCE in France, it is quite likely that workers struggles in these old economies are likely to have more of a defensive nature, but as the victory of the workers and students in France demonstrates, and following on from the victory against the neo-liberal EU Constitution, which no doubt also helped develop confidence for this current victory against neo-liberalism, there is an air of change beginning to sweep into the Labour Movement even in Europe. In the US too, the demonstrations against the regime’s attempts to bring in new Immigration Laws shows that within the lower depths things are beginning to stir.

Soon the nature of the struggles will noticeably change from being defensive to offensive struggles, and Marxists and Trade Union militants must be prepared to reorient to that situation, or there is a danger of being left behind the class."

Indeed, we tend to forget that just over two years ago, before the Credit Crunch, Capital's main concern was rising inflation, and the increasing willingness of workers to fight for higher wages. In my June 2008 Blog Does Darling Think We're Daft, I examined the statement made by then Chancellor Darling, on the Andrew Marr show, imploring workers not to fight for wage rises to compensate for fast rising prices for fear of creating inflation!!! I wrote,

"The oil tanker drivers have shown the way forward in Britain, just as German workers over the last few months have shown similarly that by militant strike action large pay increases can be won to cover rapidly rising prices."

Today we hear that Tanker Drivers To Be Balloted On Strike Action.
Over the last few years, developments in the fuel industry have followed a pattern I described in my blog A Momentous Change. That is that work has been decentralised. We saw the same thing a few years ago with the catering dispute at BA. In the Fuel Industry, the big Oil Companies have similarly decentralised, parcelling off bits of fuel distribution to a series of small companies. As a consequence, the ability of workers to negotiate with a single large employer, and to exert their own collective strength has been weakened. Despite the victory of 2008, tanker drivers, who were once some of the best paid workers in the country, have seen their wages and conditions deteriorate. Now, UNITE, is demanding that a central forum be established so that rational collective bargaining can take place. They are absolutely right to do so. In 2008, right-wing pundits were claiming that the workers could not win just hours before the bosses conceded. That should be the message that the workers take on board now. An effective strike could win not just the necessary collective bargaining framework, but a significant improvement in pay and conditions. The workers should not be palmed off by the union leadership into just accepting the former without also winning the latter.

As the Bank bosses continue to pay themselves millions of pounds in bonuses, as the CEO's of Britain's top companies have paid themselves an average rise of 55%, and as the Royals prepare to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers money on two weddings, the Liberal-Tory claims that we are all in this together ring completely hollow. Workers should have none of it, and prepare to take whatever action is needed to defend their pay and conditions, and to prevent the privatisation and reduction in provision of Public Services. This Government is in reality too weak to resist such a concerted struggle.

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