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Fighting against a Tory majority

30th December 2009 Socialist Action 0

By Stephen MacAvoy

The narrowing of the Tory lead in the opinion polls over recent months underlines that the outcome of the next election is not certain. The political implications are clear: a shift by Labour to policies that motivate the overwhelming majority of the population threatened by the Tories’ planned harsh economic policies could prevent a Conservative government.

Despite the backdrop of a deep economic downturn and strong backing from most of the press amongst other factors, the Conservatives are still only polling on average at around 40 per cent (see UK Polling Report 28 December).

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Why Blair and Mandelson are paranoid about the Labour left

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

An unprecedented and well-funded operation was launched over the summer to back the Blairite slate for the constituency section of the Labour Party national executive. This included spending at least £50,000 on half-page adverts in national newspapers and magazines, direct mail-shots to thousands of party members, printing thousands of glossy promotional brochures and employing a private marketing firm to undertake telephone canvassing. The centre-left slate was publicly denounced by party general secretary Tom Sawyer – who is supposed to uphold the impartiality of the election – and by former party leader Neil Kinnock. At issue was not control of the NEC, because the constituency section makes up less than a fifth of the NEC seats, but the elimination of all possible dissent from the leading bodies of the party. This looks like paranoia. But it is, in reality, rational.

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Battle joined over Labour’s future

1st March 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: March 1998

The first nine months of the Labour government have confirmed that Tony Blair is not simply ‘another’ right wing Labour leader. Blair’s project is to dismantle the Labour Party as a party based on the unions, to destroy the elements of democracy which exist within the party and to transform the British political party system, through electoral reform, to make possible a long-term governmental alliance with the Liberal Democrats and, if possible, the Heseltine-Clarke wing of the Tory Party. The obstacle to this project is the Labour left – linked to the growing opposition to Blair’s attacks on the welfare state in the labour movement.

Blair and Mandelson believe, like those who walked out of Labour to form the SDP in 1981, that the risk of political radicalisation by the trade unions linking up with the left in the constituencies and parliament, makes the traditional mechanisms for right wing control of the Labour Party unsafe. But, unlike the SDP, Blair is using the central apparatus of the party and of government, to try to break up the Labour Party’s structures from within.

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The left after the general election

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

Labour’s 179 seat majority in parliament will not be taken by Tony Blair as a mandate for progressive social reform. Instead it is going to be used to impose the most right wing economic policy of any Labour government in history.

In the period between now and when the voters, trade unionists and party members start to realise this, Blair will use the good will he starts out with to move as fast as possible – starting at this year’s conference – to suppress the mechanisms whereby alternative policies could be expressed within the Labour Party.

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Votes on 1 May – a Tory collapse, not a Labour landslide

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The 1 May general election did not simply close 18 years of Conservative government. It brought to an end an entire era in British politics – a 111 year-long political party system based on the dominance of the Conservative Party.

This assertion may cut against the grain of the media coverage – which has been mesmerised by the scale of Labour’s majority in parliament – but it nonetheless corresponds to the facts.

On 1 May Labour won its biggest parliamentary majority in history – an overall majority of 179 seats. But it did so with a share of the UK vote, at 43.2 per cent, which does not remotely qualify as record-breaking. The party won a larger proportion of the vote in 1945, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964 and 1966 – that is, in every single general election between 1945 and 1966. That included three elections which it lost and Harold Wilson’s 44.1 per cent in 1964 which gave him a majority of just four seats.