Onn the 21st of May Leeds Socialist Party played host to Hannah Sell (Deputy General Secretary of the Socialist Party) who introduced a discussion on Britain after the elections.
Michael Divers, Leeds North West Socialist Party
Hannah first made it clear that to appropriately comment on the situaton in Britain after the elections, it was first necessary to analyse what was happening in the rest of Europe, particularly in Greece. People in Britain are looking to Greece both in fear an anticipation regarding the Greek people’s refusal to accept the austerity measures from the eurozone, and the rising success of the left.
Greece has two prominent parties on the left- Syriza (“Coalition of the radical left”) and K.K.E (Communist party). Syriza’s popularity has increased phenomenally since the austerity measures were imposed, and is now the second strongest party in Greece behind New Democracy (the equivalent of the Tories here) and embrace austerity (the ex-social democrats of PASOK saw their vote plunge to around 12%). If Syriza were to colaborate with K.K.E, as they have proposed, they could form a government of the left. However, K.K.E react to offers of coalition with nothing but doctrinal sectarianism. Whilst both parties fall short of our programme put forward by the CWI (whos Greek section is an affiliate of Syriza), it is only fair to agree that a coalition against austerity between these two groups would mark a step forward for the Greek working class
A recent poll in Greece showed that most Greek people, although disgusted with the austerity measures, would still like to exist within the eurozone. This feeling in society stems from the fear of regression, similar to what we see in Ireland- small countries fear that without the eurozone, a body which was sold to them as a shining path into wealth, that they would slip backwards socially and economically.
Cameron attacked Greece this week, saying, “ If you don’t accept the austerity that you’ve signed up for, you’re out of the eurozone”. But it was not the Greek people that signed up for this austerity- it was the greed of bankers and large corporations, combined with the benign greed of Merkel and the IMF which plunged Greece into this uncertainty. However Greece need not fear, because they will not be isolated- never before has their been such a widespread case of capitalist oppression to the working class as the EU austerity measurements. If Greece were to set out a clear, anti-austerity programme and march on with their heads held high, they (a country which accounts for only 2% of Europe’s GDP) would show the rest of the continent that we do not need to accept these measures.
Britain, needless to say, is an entirely different story. In the local elections we saw sweeping victories for the labour party, and a low turnout in general. The message by this is clear and twofold: the people have lost faith in the politics of this country, and they wish to punish austerity. We are now at a point where the government is more fragile than it has been in living memory, the coalition only held together by Clegg’s fear of the Liberal Democrat’s demise should he leave.
The support of TUSC in the recent election increased form last year. TUSC gained an average of 6.7% of the votes the wards we stood in, half of UKIP’s average of 13%, which was blown out of proportion by the media, whilst we were perhaps underplayed. Our role in the capital was (if only small) crucial to the TUSC movement; with Alex Gordon and the RMT campaigning on our behalf- the help of strong Unions and trade unionists is a clear path to the progress of TUSC.
It is also a commonplace statement that for a far left party to break through in a country, the weak left party must be in power- Greece is a testament to why this is not always the case. Although it is two years until the next general election in Britain, it is important for TUSC to build within the community, and to unite the working class into a new mass party. When the cuts start biting in this country, mass movements (such as Ireland’s anti- household charge movement or mass trade union struggle) will be what galvanises the people. With Greece’s refusal to accept austerity, Ireland’s anti-tax movement, general strikes in Spain and Italy planned, and the boom of the left in France, Holland and across Europe, it is only a matter of time before the benighted con/dem government shoot themselves in the foot, and push the people of this country too far.