The Young Communist League Executive Committee acknowledges that the result of the General Election was a great setback for the left and the labour movement. The election of a Labour government would have been advantageous, lifting morale and providing left and progressive forces the chance to regroup and mobilise for a new drive against austerity.
Labour could have very easily defeated the incumbent Con-Dem government if it had committed to essential progressive policies instead of failing to break with neoliberal ideology and promising only Tory-lite policies. Labour did make tentative promises of basic social democratic policies, and while ultimately not enough to demonstrate to working class voters they had broken with the toxic legacy of Blair, the potential success of such a shift was demonstrated by the number of Labour votes rising for the fist time since 1997.
The backlash of the bourgeois press and media, especially those owned by Murdoch, indicate the ruling classes’ fear and determination to avoid even meagre concessions in terms of the welfare state. In the Labour Party itself the ongoing leadership election has been dominated by Blairite rhetoric with the right-wing seeking to capitalise on the defeat. The lack of a strong left candidate demonstrates the continuing right-wing nature of the Labour leadership and that the left forces which still exist within Labour have failed to win broad support for an anti-austerity line.
The popularity of such a line is demonstrated by the success of the SNP who have managed to posture to the left – despite maintaining pro-business, pro-EU and pro-NATO policies. The anachronistic and anti-democratic nature of the “First-Past-The-Post” electoral system, from which the SNP benefited most, has been truly exposed. Extrapolated to a national scale even current levels of support would have seen the return of at least a few Communist MPs under proportional representation. Instead the votes of a vast proportion of voters count for nothing. Conversely it was only First-Past-The-Post which prevented UKIP from gaining more than one seat yet this should not be viewed as anything more than happy coincidence. A large section of Britain’s youth remain disenfranchised while the voting age remains at eighteen and above. While capitalist democracy is fundamentally hollow and inherently designed to maintain ruling class power it remains an important forum of class struggle, only 24% of potential voters managed to return an outright Tory majority and one-third did not vote at all. Winning electoral reform, in terms of proportional representation and votes at 16, and reversing the rise of UKIP will be two of the many challenges presented to the left by this election result.
Communists can be proud of the election campaign we fought in nine constituencies across Britain. Whilst the size of Britain’s communist movement remains small we succeeded in putting class politics back on the agenda in these constituencies. The age and quality of the candidates we fielded is evidence of the Communist Party and the YCLs renewal and growth since re-establishment. The Party’s most vigorous and visible election campaign to date, utilising new tactics and reaching a new generation of workers, shows the progress we’re making towards our historic role as the vanguard party of the working class. Already many new recruits have joined the CP and the YCL as a result of the election. These are successes to be celebrated but more importantly to be built upon.
One immediate positive arising out of the election has been a general outpouring of anger and a growing determination to prevent this Tory government from finishing it’s full term as seen in the series of spontaneous marches around the country. Most importantly the People’s Assembly 20th June ‘End Austerity Now’ demonstration already promises to attract tens of thousands. The People’s Assembly is the only viable alternative to develop the anti-austerity struggle with the widest unity of forces in Britain capable of creating a mass anti-austerity movement. This growth in support is a positive development and must be capitalized upon to raise both the profile of the People’s Assembly and its role as the united movement against austerity.
The General Election has shown how many are disenfranchised and are open to the idea of an alternative. For this to happen a positive campaign must be conducted and with the People’s Manifesto we are beginning to create this. The People’s Manifesto for the People’s Assembly is an important change away from a purely negative campaign to a positive one about what we as a movement aim to achieve.
For Communists in helping to found the People’s Assembly we aimed to create a broad popular movement to be developed from an anti-austerity campaign to a struggle for socialism. Developing the People’s Assembly will ensure that the people of this country have a vehicle capable mobilizing large sections of the population and the labour movement against austerity and any party that enforces it. As Marx said, the Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class. This must be defeating this Tory government who plan to redouble the intensity of the ruling class offensive, emboldened by their false mandate. But Marx also declared that in the movement of the present, the Communists also represent and take care of the future of that movement. For young communists this must mean continuing to increase our size and level of organisation, bringing a new generation of communists into the labour and student movement. It is essential we continue to rebuild a potent communist movement in this country with renewed vigour and a sense of purpose – achieving Socialism in Britain in our lifetime.
Through decades of struggle and sacrifice the international communist movement knows that defeats are temporary and fleeting. It is now more obvious than ever that Socialism can be the only solution, our task is no less than winning the working classes of Britain to this realisation.
Young Communist League Executive Committee