DAVID CAMERON went to America last week to make his ritual obeisance to a “special relationship” with US imperialism that no longer exists and to provide Barack Obama with some useful photo-opportunities for the US president’s re-election campaign.
While the Prime Minister basked in the reflected glory of the American president his Liberal Democrat minions back home were taking the flak over the Tory-led Coalition’s plans to semi-privatise the health service in the run-up to the local elections in England, Scotland and Wales, in which Labour hopes to make substantial gains.
Whether Labour does largely depends on the Miliband leadership. There’s no doubt that millions of working people are opposed to the Con-Dem government’s renewed attack on the NHS, public services and pensions. The people are sick of the brutal and futile war in Afghanistan and the imperialist drive against Syria and Iran, which threatens to involve British forces in another round of aggression in the Middle East.
But sadly this is not reflected in recent opinion polls. Last week one put Labour five points ahead of the Tories. Others put the Conservatives ahead and given the usual margins of error it’s safe to assume that both major parties are running neck-and neck at the moment.
And this is no more so than in London. The London Mayoral election and the contest for control of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) is a golden opportunity to pass judgement on Boris Johnson’s Tory administration and the Cameron-led government as a whole.
Though the GLA is but a shadow of the once powerful Greater London Council abolished during the Thatcher era, it does control transport and that’s going to be the focus of both camps’ campaign. All Johnson has to offer is his miserable “Boris bikes”, courtesy of Barclays Bank, and some lame excuses for pushing up fares above inflation for every year since his election in 2008.
Ken Livingstone, on the other hand, has re-entered the ring to fight Labour’s corner vowing to cut fares by seven per cent by this October if he’s elected or resign. Livingstone has also pledged to restore police levels in London to fight street crime and vowed to devote himself full-time to London.
Whether this will be enough to swing London for Labour remains to be seen. Labour’s grass-roots were cut by Tony Blair during his years of office in a deliberate campaign to break the Labour’s link with local communities and organised labour. There have been efforts to breath new life into the constituency Labour parties but much more work needs to be done to ensure that Labour is in a fit state to fight the Tories now and in the general election to come.
By now Labour should be streets ahead in the popularity stakes. The Cameron Coalition has implemented an austerity programme aimed at putting the entire burden of the world capitalist crisis on the backs of the working class. What it means is unemployment and benefit cuts for working people and tax breaks, bank bail-outs and another sell-off bonanza for the rich.
If Miliband & Co think Labour will return to office on the backs of disillusioned Liberal Democrat voters he’s got another think coming. The only guarantee of a Labour victory is a manifesto that reflects the agenda of the unions and the working class as a whole. That agenda exists in the programme of the Labour Representation Committee and other forces of the left within the labour movement as a whole. Ed Miliband ignores this at his peril.