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Break out of the grey

If the electoral process is such a sham, then why is the Revolutionary Communist Party standing candidates? Campaign organiser Elli Dashwood explains

When the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has stood election candidates before, one very common response has been that supporting the RCP is a wasted vote. Many people who might agree with our criticisms of the Labour Party would still argue that voting Labour was worth it, since they were 'the lesser evil' compared to the Tories.

In practice the differences between Labour and Tory policies were always more apparent than real. But, until fairly recently, Labour did at least make a pretence of offering an alternative economic strategy, and did take a radical stance on issues such as unilateral nuclear disarmament. It wasn't much, but for many it was enough to make voting Labour seem worthwhile. The 'lesser evil' argument seemed tenable.

Today, things are quite different. There are no alternative strategies or policies of any kind on offer from Labour. It is a fully paid-up supporter of the market economy, British militarism and just about every other Tory Party principle.

The consequence of this shift is that the old argument about Labour being the lesser evil has lost its force. Today, people who oppose the Tories are more likely to conclude that 'they're all as bad as each other'. Many who intend to vote Labour, or even Liberal Democrat, will do so not out of support for their policies but simply out of a desire to get something, anything, different from a Tory government.

It should now be clear, however, that the best way to waste your vote is to give it to any of the mainstream parties.

There are no substantial political differences among the parties. Whichever of them forms the next government, there will be little alteration in the direction of policy - or in the downward drift of the economy. Voting for Labour or the Liberal Democrats in the hope of bringing about some unspecified change seems to be a guarantee that nothing which matters will change at all.

Taking the 'vote Labour for a change' approach to the election is not just useless, however; it is worse than useless. It is dangerous, because it will reinforce low expectations. It will strengthen the idea that none of us can make much difference to what is happening in society. And that will prove a self-fulfilling prophesy when those who vote Labour find that it really doesn't make a shred of difference.

The end result of all this will be to endorse public cynicism about anything that smacks of politics, and to encourage people to disengage themselves from the entire political process. That is a mood which the RCP is keen to counter.

It is one thing for people to turn their backs on the parliamentary charade. But if their disaffection is only turned into apathy, the government will continue to get away with it. What is required is to convert that passive cynicism about the way things are into active support for an alternative way of running society, under the direct control of the majority.

Expose it

Given that parliamentary politics has nothing to do with such an alternative, it may seem strange that the Revolutionary Communist Party has chosen to stand several candidates in the general election. However, our aim in standing is not to become part of the process of parliamentary democracy, but to expose it as a front for the rule of the capitalist elite.

Parliament is an ineffective talking shop at the best of times. And today the discussion is more banal and irrelevant than ever before. But the RCP isn't standing to win seats in order to allow us to take part in that discussion. We are standing in an attempt to start promoting a discussion of an entirely different kind.

In the absence of any alternative, the consequence of the malaise in British politics will be more disenchantment with politics in general, and deeper cynicism about the possibilities of changing society for the better. For many people the only option appears to be a lonely struggle to survive.

Facing reality

This is where the RCP's intervention in the election fits in. We intend to take advantage of the high-profile election campaign to get the party's anti-capitalist message across to as many people as possible. We want to encourage the trend towards rejecting mainstream politics. But we want to go further, and show that it is both possible and necessary to set about creating a different kind of politics - one which bases itself on the ability of ordinary people to get organised and change the world.

Marxists are often portrayed as utopian dreamers who have no understanding of the real world. The irony of the general election is that the representatives of the Revolutionary Communist Party are the only candidates who will be focusing on today's reality - the fact that Britain is a slump society.

Tory, Labour and Liberal politicians' only role in life is to administer a decaying system. We are standing in the election to promote the need to get rid of it. They are guaranteed to bore you to tears and offer you more of the same. We can offer at least the beginnings of a genuine alternative. Don't waste your vote - Break out of the grey!

The Revolutionary Communist Party is standing candidates in the following constituencies:
  • Glasgow Hillhead
  • Manchester Gorton
  • Sheffield Hallam
  • Bristol West
  • Oxford East
  • Birmingham Selly Oak
  • London Vauxhall
  • London Hornsey and Wood Green
The RCP is also supporting the Irish Freedom Movement candidate in London City and Westminster, and the Workers Against Racism candidate in London Holborn and St Pancras.
Reproduced from Living Marxism issue 42, April 1992

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