by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Personally I must say that I even have problems voting for the social-democrat model of Labour, as we have it today. The Labour Party, founded, originally, as a socialist party, has become social-democrat, and even, as far as so-called “New Labour” and its outcrops are concerned, neo-liberal, and thus an enemy of the working class themselves.
Social-democrats are dealing in socialism-lite, trying to create capitalism with a social face and -conscience, rather than abolishing capitalism and its structures and working towards true socialism.
In 1979 Margaret Thatcher “romped” to victory in the general election. That election was was to be the first of three consecutive election triumphs for Thatcher and the Tories and they immediately set about unleashing unfettered, laissez faire capitalism on the British public, the disastrous consequences of which are still being felt today. And a very crucial element in those Tory victories was the working class vote.
Working class Tories. What a contradiction in terms. That is like turkeys voting for Christmas (or Thanksgiving if they'd be in the USA). But it is nothing new. Ever since working class people won the right to vote a large number of workers have voted for the Conservatives. It beggars belief, I know.
And the question is, simply, why? Why do working class people vote for a party that so clearly and consistently attacks their interests and that of the class? What does someone eking out a living on the minimum wage or collecting benefits have in common with an over-privileged, multimillionaire Tory politician? Absolutely nothing as far as I can see. But, somehow, the Tories manage to persuade gullible sections of the working class to help put them – and keep them – in power. The lack of class consciousness may also have something to do with it, I hazard to guess, and it is this lack of class consciousness that gets those workers time and again to vote for the class enemy.
And Tories are still at it. Cameron, Osbourne, Lansley et al. Mostly Old Etonians, Oxbridge, filthy rich. That is about as elite as it gets. Yet, again, working class people, tugging at their collective forelocks, have voted for those toffs. Turkeys voting for Christmas. And the tragic (and this really is a tragedy) irony is that the present government is presiding over the dismantling of the welfare state whose whole premise was to provide a decent life for working class people.
It all is ominously, and depressingly, reminiscent of some of the characters in Robert Tressell's classic book: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Completed in 1910, the book was a detailed and scathing analysis of the relationship between working class people and their “betters”. The “philanthropists” of the book's title are the workers who, in Tressell's view, acquiesce in their own exploitation in the interests of their bosses. Some things, it seems, never change. They also blamed foreigners, such as French onion sellers, and others, for their ills rather than the capitalists and the politicians in their pay.
Robert Tressel's “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” should be mandatory reading for every member of the working class and maybe, just maybe, we need to get some working class education established again in several ways.
For any working class person to vote Tory is nothing short of a betrayal. In fact, at least to me, it is treachery of the highest order. A betrayal of the workers who fought and died to create a better world for their class. It is also a betrayal of future generations of workers who will have to start all over again.
Those people are the enemies of the working class and even more so that that they are of the that class themselves.