2007 - 2022

Porty, Clause 4 and Election Fever

( a response to A Liminal Moment)

Elections are always liminal moments, moments of ‘in between’ when the normal state of things is turned upside down and there is the possibility for completely other outcomes.

In the few weeks of an election there is a chance that people could completely kick out those who govern them. The classic picture of politicians kissing babies sums up the fact that those in power are – for these few weeks – dependent on the goodwill and support of ordinary people in order to resume their normal state of power.

The most important aspects of our lives depend on liminal moments – those moments when we fall in love, step out of the everyday routine to make decisions that change everything, risk talking more deeply with a neighbour or work colleague and find unexpected friendship.

Liminal in-between moments – when we are waiting for a bus, looking out the window, pausing for some reason – are moments when we are unexpectedly free of all the rush and are surprised to find ourselves here, aware of how precious it is to be alive, aware it doesn’t last forever, and aware that life is lived in connection in the moment, not in chasing (or being chased by) deadlines, gratification and isolating power.

That 17th century poet Thomas Traherne poem sums up the potential of the liminal state beautifully:

“You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars; and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.”

Society-wide liminal moments always either transform or more deeply entrench the status quo.

Social structures look solid but actually entirely rely on people believing in them and recreating them day after day. Liminal moments enable us to see that we can recreate the world differently and not just the same, but the juice of our openness, our awareness that the world can be different, has to rapidly self-organise to transform if it is not to be used to feed into and strengthen the power of the structures that dominate.

Such dominating structures of thought and society only have power to control to the extent that they allow themselves to be fed by liminality and at the same time deny their dependence on it, fed by the earth and the work of others while insisting that their wealth and power is the consequence of their unique ability.

This denial is the foundation of dominating systems, and the dominating system we feed is dependent on us believing the myth that humans are exceptions, that Western progress (or more specifically American destiny) are exceptions to the fundamental law of reciprocity: which is that you get what you give, that there is no escape from the consequences of your actions – there is only acceptance and deepening into relationship with all that you depend on, or there is flight from that responsibility and relationship which can only end in self-destruction

Our system (both the economic entrepreneurial aspect, and the political persuasive aspect) depends on liminality – on the innovative liberating creativity of people working together to create new ideas and new possibilities. These can transform and liberate, but they can also be used to further appropriate people’s personal time and relationships and be used to put them at the service of fuelling the flight from connection. However, the distinction between – for example – when the internet is enabling us to connect, and so enabling us to open to the unexpected, and when it is further entrenching us in narrow beliefs and isolation is subtler than often thought. Eli Pariser’s TED talk about how internet search engines such as Google and Facebook filter what information we receive so that it conforms to our personal worldview is pretty scary on this:


Elections force us to choose between parties, but there is as much difference within parties as between them.

There are always those more inclined to assert their power by curbing the autonomy of others, and those more inclined to ensure all are empowered. In trying to distinguish between when someone is in thrall to power and when they are seeking to empower others, the most useful question may be: “Does this person shine in a way that puts others in the shade, or shine in a way that illuminates those around them?”

The old saying ‘don’t vote, it only encourages them’ points to the fact that to vote is to give support to the system. On the other hand there are some we may want to encourage by voting for them.

Here today in Portobello, Edinburgh, May 5th 2011, I have the problem of having to choose between two constituency candidates who have both shown real courage, leadership and integrity when in positions of power.

Ewan Aitken was the Council leader who showed real courage in trying to introduce congestion charging to Edinburgh and held anti-Trident events in the Council chambers, and Kenny MacAskill stuck his neck out in releasing al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

As a Green I want the SNP to win as many constituency seats in Lothian so that there is more room for Greens to win a seat or two on the top-up list, and as a constituent I have appreciated Kenny MacAskill’s prompt responses, and have appreciated his willingness to engage positively with the Faslane 365 anti-Trident campaign and the Holyrood 350 community climate change campaign, as well as appreciating the SNP’s unambiguous anti-nuclear position.

Ewan Aitken is a long standing member of the Iona Community and, as someone who was practically born into the Iona community (or Iona communities: the Abbey community my parents were involved in, but also the Island community where we moved to for a few years when I was 6 months old), I think the Parliament would be hugely enriched by having his integrity, depth, independence of mind and strength of vision on the Labour benches. As others have pointed out: if you vote for Ewan on the constituency ballot you still get Kenny through the Lothian-wide ballot where he is number one on the SNP’s Lothian list

When I described my dilemma – including describing Ewan’s record – to a couple of not very political friends, they were hugely relieved: “At last we can vote Labour again” they said. If Ewan doesn’t win today, or even if he does, it might be worth his reflecting on this. So many people have felt completely betrayed, not by the Labour Ewan represents, but by the way Labour sold out under Tony Blair – whether over Trident, the Iraq War, or the broader collusion with rampant financial greed. Ironically, if we move to an independent Scotland the Scottish Labour party may once again be able follow a social democratic (even socialist?) agenda.

The Scotsman came out for Alex Salmond as First Minister yesterday, hoping that he would align himself with the Tories (the party that paper supports). The paper asks whether, if he triumphs today, this will put him in a powerful enough position to do what he has so far denied he would do, which is to formally ally his parties with the Tories: ”Might such a revolutionary change be Mr Salmond’s ‘Clause 4’ moment?” it asks.

What was the original ‘Clause 4’ moment?

It was when Tony Blair signalled to the world that his election to office would not trouble the powers that be, that his New Labour had given up on the fight for greater equality, given up on its core purpose. Nick Clegg had such a moment, not when he entered coalition with the Tories, but when he reneged on his parties commitment on Tuition fees (a commitment he had never wanted in the first place, but one which represented the notion that voting LibDem would either help keep the Tories out or curb them from tearing apart yet more of those aspects of society which are about people caring for each other across generations, classes, gender and ethnicity).

For the SNP, a ‘Clause 4’ moment would have to mean reneging on their core purpose of seeking independence. Such an outcome may seem far-fetched until you remember the power for untold possibilities that liminality unleashes. Is Salmond’s allegiance to independence and renewables and making Scotland a ‘Green dynamo’? I would think and hope so, and if so then an alliance with the Greens could enable this vision to become a reality if the opinion polls are right.

But the polls predicting the SNP gaining over 60 seats and the Greens gaining enough to provide a majority in a 129 seat Parliament may not be right.

The Greens can get 7 or 8 seats or can get 1 or 2 or no seats, depending on the whim of a few thousand votes pushing our vote up above 6% or leaving it languishing just below in a way that leaves even Patrick Harvie out cold as George Galloway or the LibDems squeeze in on the list in Glasgow.

The last few weeks polling suggests that the SNP should beat Labour, but recent polls saw the gap narrowing. If the SNP beat Labour but not by enough, and if they find they have too few Greens to support them, might Salmond opt for the dramatic ‘Clause 4’ moment of proclaiming that the Tories are closest to his business and banking background and the independence question will have to be left until after another election.

A ‘Clause 4’ moment for the Greens would be to enter a formal or informal coalition with the SNP based on accepting the need to expand economic growth to fund environmental projects and get us out of the economic mess. A Clause 4 moment for the Greens would involve giving up on our core purpose: that of creating sustainable livelihoods that are fulfilling and purposeful rather than based on increasing economic growth and so further plundering the planet and further entrenching inequality.

A ‘Clause 4’ moment is not just about abandoning a party’s core purpose, it is about ‘triangulation’, which involves triangulating in one direction only (Clinton, Blair and Obama): towards shoring up the power of those who dominate. Such ‘Clause 4’ moments are achieved by leaders claiming that they above the fray, that they can achieve the party’s purpose through appearing to do the opposite. In this way leaders can use an exceptional moment to claim that they can achieve what previously seemed impossible through accommodating themselves to the powerful.

For progressive movements the cost of such an accommodation is that they lose the only power they really have: their vision for change, and the trust people have in them that they will act on that transformative vision rather than absorb peoples ideas, energies and enthusiasm and use them simply to seek power.

Hopefully all is well in the world; hopefully today’s voting will bring real progress within and between parties.

With the AV referendum looking lost, this election in Scotland is maybe the best chance England has of being enabled to shake off the illusions of Empire. It may also be the best chance the Labour Party in Scotland has of rediscovering its core purpose – something it may only be able to do if other progressive parties win, and not only win but then abide by, rather than abandon, their own visions.

Comments (20)

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  1. wangi says:

    Have linked from http://forum.talkporty.org/viewtopic.php?p=87180#p87180 (feel free to use the image if you want).

  2. Tom Hogg says:

    Another superb post on this blog, which goes from strength to strength. I have sympathy with Newsnet and the job it is trying to do, but Bella offers a less strident, more measured voice that I personally think is more in tune with current sentiment.

  3. Vronsky says:

    A few years ago (2008?) the SNP approved a resolution dropping their long-standing opposition to coalition with the Tories – in local government. The rationale was that in several councils Labour remained in power when such an alliance could finally remove them, an obviously desirable outcome. At the same time the SNP’s opposition to coalition with the Tories in Holyrood was firmly re-stated, and I really cannot see that changing – they would lose too many members, not to mention voters (the sad fate of the Lib Dems will have been noted).

    Second Tom Hogg’s remarks – great blog (although I know I bleat sometimes).

  4. bellacaledonia says:

    Thanks Vronsky – bleating allowed (consensus is inertia). We think Newsnet is a different thing and room for both (and more). The MSM backing of SNP is a false dawn, they certainly won’t support wider deeper change. The Scotsmans hilarious editorial showed exactly what they’re after, a safe right wing cosy Scotty-dog nationalism, the sort of reality that would be the death-knell for Scotland.

  5. svenja says:

    Yes! And additionally the Scottish Green Party would send a powerful signal to other Green Parties in Europe and the world who have had their ‘Clause 4 moment’ – e.g. the German Green Party who abandoned their pacifist core beliefs when deciding to take part in the Afghanistan invasion; the Irish Green Party who took part in the growth frenzy before the bubble burst. I’d love to see the Scottish Greens show that it’s possible to stay true to a radical, socially just, strong green vision!

  6. Scottish republic says:

    There’s room for both, I just gave a donation to Bella and Newsnet.

    The more the merrier frankly as long as the quality is top.

  7. Scottish republic says:

    Good article and the very latest poll yesterday shows just the narrowing you describe. I suspect that the parliament will have a similar make up to the present but the SNP will ahve 3 or 4 more seats.

    Voting Labour is a pro nuke choice.

    Salmond will not go into

  8. Scottish republic says:

    … a deal with the Tories, he’s too smart.

  9. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    A liminal moment beyond liminal moments given the poll results!!!!

    Looking forward to getting my Scottish passport from the former British Embassy here – across from the imperial palace – and seeing the section already designated as the Scottish Embassy flying the saltire not too far in luminous future.

    A paradigm shattered and about to fall apart like bits of broken crockery?

  10. Dougie Strang says:

    Truly exhilarating!

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      A good day, Dougie, start of something new, here’s hoping for a big green result as we hear through the day!?

  11. Vronsky says:

    I was on a polling station all day, and texted my son around 2:00 pm saying it was looking like a landslide, just based on the obvious enthusiasm I was seeing from the voters. He told me to chill out.

    I’ve been up all night watching the results coming in, miracle after miracle. What is most wondrous of all is listening to Foulkes, Baillie and other talking Labour heads: jeez – they still just don’t get it. They have crashed and burned with a campaign of fear, negativity and insult, and their solution to their woes, already announced, is more fear, negativity and insults. If they keep that up their next set of results will make the Lib Dems look popular.

    Looks like Greens getting three – I’d hope for more, especially as there is now a faint whiff of endgame in the air.

  12. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    I can smell the end game from here also (as can many others and not only Scots) from far away many waters: The “union” is, de facto, dead; and the question is how to bury it with the minimum of fuss.

    Am not on the ground at home, but this is my take and other exiled Scots who are NOT narrow-minded and parochial, but globally operative, multi-disciplinary professionals working amidst the creme de la creme in our respective fields unlike Prof Curtice who seems to be, forgive me, a hack for hire.

  13. Donald Adamson says:

    Too many highlights to take in for one lifetime never mind one bleary-eyed, hung-over Friday morning and oh, what a beautiful morning this is.

    Must single out, though, the BBC at around 4.00am and the unedifying spectacle of the Lib Dems’ Alistair Carmichael and Labour’s Anas Sarwar arguing with each other about which of them had done the worst. Surely too close to call?

    England had its ‘Portillo moment’ but that was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the events of the last twelve hours. Never has Westminster looked more irrelevant to Scotland’s future than it does today. Let’s keep it that way.

  14. bellacaledonia says:

    Agreed Donald, what a brilliant weekend ahead! 5 years not 4 too!

  15. How can I contact Bella Caledonia? It is not related to this thread but I couldn’t find contact details.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Email us at bellasletters (at) yahoo.co.uk Terri

  16. Justin Kenrick says:

    David – a “liminal moment beyond liminal moments” is a great way of putting it!

    So “the polls predicting the SNP gaining over 60 seats” were right, but there was something happening here that was far more than polling and voting.

    Salmond has a mandate (to put it mildly). The question now – with the Greens being so squeezed too by the SNP – is how that mandate can be fulfilled not just to reach independence for Scotland and the liberation of peoples across these islands from the Empire fantasy and the sense that nothing fundamental can ever really change the powers that be, but whether it can help liberate us from the techno-fantasy that is driving ecological destruction.

    We may boom on renewables as we could have done on oil, we may bust on cuts to feed the financial casinos, but how do we recover a sense of belonging that is not just about being equals in the world, but about changing our world and so helping our neighbours and those beyond to really change in a fundamental sense?

    Can we help unhook Salmond and his team from the growth fantasy, and help keep them connected to community? The SNP MSPs I have met have real respect for community, they seem to know that communities exist and matter in a way that few other members of so-called mainstream parties do.

    Can we help them to stay grounded in seeing and meeting the ecological challenges through supporting community resilience, or will they get caught up in the power play that always sees somewhere beyond and above as being where the action really is? Bringing power home to Holyrood, and beyond that bringing it home to communities – it makes sense, one follows from the other, but we may need to put our shoulders to the wheel to help keep this one turning.

    But for now: what an extraordinary, extraordinary day. Who said history was over?

  17. Chris Robinson says:

    Francis Fukuyama? And how wrong was he? He said it as a triumphalist comment following the old Warsaw Pact countries people’s revolutions – that was it, he thought, capitalism has won, we can all relax and make lots more money than before. And ‘they’ did, obscene amounts and now we have the ‘grotesque chaos’ of a multitude of billionaires dancing around a bonfire of big fat dividends, printing money on the backs of ordinary working people and the millions of impoverished people in the post-colonial world.
    You’re right, Justin, about Blair’s ‘Clause 4 moment’. It put the cap on the process that Neil Kinnock started back in 1983. He changed the Red Flag for the Red Rose and promptly jettisoned most of the remaining socialist policies that made Labour the workers’ party it was at its base.
    It was never a socialist party, though it did have socialists in it. When the Labour Party was formed back in 1900 it was mainly the political vehicle of the trade union movement and gained more support once it tore itself away from the tailcoats of the Liberal Party. It gained more support in the afterglow of the 1917 Russian Revolution which pushed it further to the left. Unfortunately, by then, it was led by the likes of Ramsay McDonald and the circle around him who were basically middle class and, at heart, Liberal interlopers who, if they wanted a political career, had to jump ship and join Labour’s rising star as the Liberals’ fortunes began to correspondingly plummet.
    Revolution was abhorrent to these leaders and they did everything they could to discourage any moves towards genuine socialist transformation of society, more tellingly in the 1926 General Strike when they deliberately turned their backs on the radicalised workers’ movement that ably demonstrated that, albeit for nine days, they could run the country.
    Failure on the industrial front meant workers turned to the political plane and Labour came to power in 1929 but McDonald crossed the floor and joined the Tories and Liberals in – yes – a coalition just in time for the ‘Great Depression’.
    And so the process continued – compromise and betrayal. Labour became part of the political musical chairs, taking its turn in ‘minding the shop’ as and when needed. They could be relied upon to hold the workers back from revolution.
    The end of WWII saw a massive revolutionary wave sweep across war ravaged Europe, and workers demanded a better world and US capitalism demanded a safe bulwark against Stalinist Russian expansion to the centre of Europe, hence the Marshall Plan which underwrote European recovery along capitalist lines. Left reformist/Social Democratic parties of government swept the board. In Britain, Labour won a massive majority and were forced to carry out their manifesto – nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy, a welfare state, a massive housebuilding programme, full employment and the NHS.
    Such historical concessions gained from capitalism’s banker (the US) kept Western Europe ‘on side’ preventing those nation states from ‘turning red’.
    The new breed of Labour leaders were often US-sponsored placemen who could be relied upon to keep the nuclear option (power and weapons), and maintain strong military presences at a variety of strategic sites across the world.
    Britain, however, as an imperialist power of the old school, was finished. From 1947 onwards, colony after colony tore itself free, or as free as the IMF would allow it to be. So, while Empire was let loose, UK plc had to turn to its biggest trading partner – Europe.
    From 1950 to 1973, the global economic upturn gave us the safety net of a ‘golden age’, living on the concessions won after the war, but for every concession given, capitalism always tries to claw each one back. Most of the wealth was generated by the unfair trading agreements with the so-called ‘Third ~World’, prices of raw materials and foodstuffs plummeted to western advantage. This helped to foot the bill for the relatively high social wage that had kept political peace in western societies like Britain. But it was a bill that was never going to be paid for indefinitely by the capitalist class, sooner or later they would be back with their knives clasped firmly behind their backs once profits began to be squeezed. And squeezed they were. America could no longer ‘afford’ to pay for their ‘Great Society’ AND the arms race AND the war in Vietnam. So ‘the Great Society’ had to go. Milton Friedman, the godfather of monetarism, showed the way, General Pinochet put his theories into practice in Chile to horrendous and bloody effect.
    Less bloody, but equally socially horrendous, this economic/political experiment was adopted by other parties – in particular our very own Tory Party, Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell picked up the ball and passed it on to Thatcher.
    By the mid-70s, Wilson’s Labour government was back in power following Edward Heath’s administration being severely trounced by a near general strike by workers who were moving rapidly to the left. But the Labour leadership and their shadows in the trade union movement did their utmost to delay the momentum for a fully left programme as favoured by the likes of Tony Benn. Instead of embracing the direction workers were moving towards, the Labour leadership preferred an IMF loan with strings (or chains) attached. Pay cuts and pay freezes were demanded and delivered by union leaders, holding their workers in check.
    But, by 1977, the bubble burst when the so-called Social Contract was broken as ordinary working families could no longer tolerate the low pay coupled with high prices. The first strikes began that led towards the ‘Winter of Discontent’ (1978-79). Labour voters’ abstentions (in disgust with Labour politicians) meant Thatcher came to power and she and her circle could now fully apply the monetarist flamethrower which had only been a blowtorch in the hands of Labour.
    Of course, recriminations followed between left and right in the Labour Party. Some rightwingers left to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP), while intercenine strife was to plague Labour for the next ten years.
    The liberal middle class interlopers in Labour who did not leave to join the SDP needed a suitable figurehead preferably one who came from a ‘left’ background to represent their interests. They found this figure in Neil Kinnock, an out and out careerist, who made ‘leftwing noises’ but who was politically ‘safe for capitalism’, one of the so-called ‘soft left’. Almost immediately, he set about witch-hunting the socialist left in the party.
    His mission was to bring the party back to the ‘centre ground’, to appeal to middle class voters, to make Labour more palatable to middle England, this meant that socialist ideals had to be abandoned.
    Kinnock kowtowed to the capitalist press critics by attacking left wing councils and trade unions. In particular, he attacked the Trotskyist Militant Tendency which had deep roots in the party, especially since the 1970s and had won Liverpool City Council based on a manifesto to build homes and create jobs. What irked the Labour leadership was – this Labour council meant to keep the promises it was elected upon.
    Egged on by the capitalist press, Kinnockites poured scorn on the left, refused to back the councils who refused to set a rate in defiance of Thatcher’s rate support grant being slashed; the Kinnockites also refused to support the mighty year long miners’ strike.
    While the miners were defeated, due to the refusal of the TUC to come out in solidarity action, sanctioned by Kinnock, the Liverpool Labour counsellors – 47 of them – were suspended and then removed from office by the (unelected) House of Lords. There followed expulsions from the Labour Party of socialists and a fine of £105,000 plus a ban from office for five years – all this for carrying out the programme on which they were elected!
    The mini-boom of 1986-87, built on largely selling off public assets and the income from the North Sea oil bonanza, ensured a third election victory for the Thatcherites. Boosted by this hat-trick, Thatcher’s arrogance prompted her to introduce the poll tax which proved to be her downfall. Millions resisted and a nonpayment campaign soon mushroomed, its organisational backbone provided by socialists – the campaign was later to be known as ‘Militant’s Revenge’. The poll tax was abandoned, and Thatcher herself was forced to resign due to her electoral liability. Yet, still Kinnock could not win an election, even at this highpoint! Working people just did not trust his leadership, neither did they forget his failure to support the miners and the councils’ rates rebellion. His chief selling point had been that he expelled socialists. People weren’t falling for it. With his third political defeat, he resigned and went on to gain a lucrative post on the European Commission. He was later rewarded for ‘services rendered’ with a seat in the House of Lords.
    Following the death of his successor, John Smith, Tony Blair was placed at the helm of Labour. He was determined to change Labour from the, at base, workers’ party with some semblance of democracy, into a US-style Democratic Party which is basically an electoral machine. Conference was no longer the policy-making forum, party democracy was shredded, spin doctors were the order of the day – and, yes, he managed to get the party to drop ‘Clause 4’ from its constitution, you know the one, all about the redistribution of wealth etc. Socialist nonsense, he no doubt thought. Blair, and those around him who had come through to the leadership from the 1970s/early 1980s were a new breed, they were ‘New Labour’.
    New Labour was a combination of a younger generation of liberal, middle class careerists few of whom ever had ‘real jobs’ other than coming through university, acting as advisors, party machine people represented by Blair. Whereas Brown represented the old Labourite ‘soft lefts’ who were now disillusioned and cynical about the ‘fall of communism’ whose faith had been broken with the breaking up of the Berlin Wall. They had seen the social accomplishments of Soviet society in terms of bricks and mortar as a beacon, a living example of how socialism could change society for the better, though they always criticised the lack of democracy, freedom and openness in the Eastern bloc countries. With Stalinist stagflation, and the final fall of the edifice in 1989-90, the old lefts of the Labour Party lost their compass and could only turn cynically to ‘capitalism with a friendly smile’.
    When Blair came to power with an historic landslide victory in 1997, it was not for Labour policies the majority were voting for, rather it was to end 18 years of Tory misrule culminating as it did with the shambles of Thatcher’s hapless successor John Major. Blair’s policies set the tone of what was to follow – the Blairites promised to stay within the bounds of Tory spending policies and so began the slow ebbing away, the squandering of that historic landslide, which, in the hands of a genuinely socialist leadership, could have transformed society for the better.
    From Blair’s ‘pale pink Tory’ policies so it went on, up until the illegal Iraq War when credibility and trust in Blair went the same way as the Berlin Wall, it came tumbling down. Blair and his ‘Iron Chancellor’ and successor Brown had won two successive landslide elections and the scalps of four consecutive Tory leaders hanging from their belts.
    They, and their coterie around them, had managed to finally turn Labour into a successful electoral machine, but in the end, the final analysis, was it all image and no substance? Almost certainly. With socialism within its ranks emptied out and airbrushed out of its constitution, wealthy donors began to throw money at them as the Blair/Brown governments began to do the Tories’ dirty work for them better than the Tories. In power, New Labour did not really rely on union money. Yes, it was nice to have, but they were told not to expect ‘special treatment’. Yet the door was always open to the rich and the super-rich, some even gained government jobs in cabinet – eg. Lord Sainsbury!
    However, no matter how good, how slick, how oily an electoral machine is – image counts for little when a global economy is hit by a mighty financial tsunami. Once again, unfettered capitalism and the unrestrained greed of capitalists brings disaster, insecurity, poverty, unemployment in its wake. When profits are hit hard, ordinary working people are hit harder. The banks and the financial sector caused this global deficit, yet workers and their families, their communities, are being forced to pay for it.

    So…what is to be done?

    We need a new political party that truly represents the socialist left. Yes, there are already a few in existence, but left forces are gathering slowly. The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is a step towards that bringing together, as it does, trade union members, anti-cuts campaigners and environmental groups who are coalescing into an identifiable pre-party group who stood 148 candidates in the local elections. Together, they received more than 25,000 votes – a very honourable result given the squeeze by people’s determination to vote Labour in many areas in order to give the Coalition a well-deserved kicking, given its first electoral outing. This has provided a campaigning platform to move forward in recruiting further members and activists and more all year round campaigns whether that is supporting and taking part in industrial action, demonstrations, library/factory/community centre occupations – whatever it takes to win hearts and minds and escalate the fightback that began late last year with the students’ demos against tuition fees up until the March 26 TUC half million strong march in London.
    Now we have the prospect of upto a million public sector workers balloting for strike action co-ordinated for June 30. Already, cracks are appearing in the government’s coalition with news nearly every week of a new u-turn, the stalling on the new Health and Welfare Bill in particular. Cameron and Clegg know that a wave of resistance is about to hit as the effects of their merciless cuts take hold and millions of people are taking inspiration from the Arab Spring – if in Egypt, in Tunisia, why not here?
    Our representatives are expected to only take an average wage of a skilled worker and be subject to instant recall. We could make inroads to win over many of the six million workers in trade unions which will in turn attract many more workers, emboldened by the strikes about to take place.
    A fighting socialist manifesto will need to be adopted:

    – No to privatisation. Re-nationalise all privatised utilities and services, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.
    – Fully fund all services and run them under accountable, democratic committees that include representatives of workers and service-users.
    – Free, publicly run, good quality education, available to all at any age. Abolition university tuition fees now and introduce a living grant.
    – The NHS to provide for everyone’s health needs – free at the point of use under democratic control. Kick out private contractors.
    – Keep council housing publicly owned. For a massive house-building programme on an environmentally sustainable basis to provide good quality homes with low rents.
    – Major research and investment into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and into ending the problems of early obsolescence and unrecyclable waste.
    – Public ownership of energy generating industries. No to nuclear power, no to Trident.
    – A democratically planned, low fare, publicly owned transport system, as part of an overall plan against environmental pollution.
    – Oppose discrimination on grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age and all other forms of prejudice.
    – Defend abortion rights. For a woman’s right to choose when and whether to have children.
    – For the right to asylum. No racist immigration laws.
    – Trade unions to fight for increase of minimum wage to £8 per hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards £10 per hour. For an annual increase in the minimum wage linked to average earnings.
    – All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment.
    – An immediate 50% increase in state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension.
    – Decent living benefits, education, training or a job without compulsion.
    – A maximum 35 hour working week with no loss of pay.
    – No to war. Withdraw troops immediately from Afghanistan and Iraq.
    – Tax the super-rich. Take the top 150 companies into public ownership and the banks that dominate the British economy to be run under democratic workers’ control and management.
    – A democratic plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, in a way that safeguards the environment.
    – Trade unions to disaffiliate from the Labour Party and aid the building of a new workers’ party.

    A new world is possible

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