Date(s) - Thu 14 May
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The election result is a disaster. It’s a disaster for the NHS, for workers’ rights, for people on benefits, for disabled people and for the battle against climate change.
The Tories will feel they can unleash even sharper austerity, and loot even more from working people to hand over to the super-rich. They will intensify their scapegoating of migrants and Muslims.
Labour lost because it was too right wing, not because it was too left wing. Look at Scotland. There Labour has been the biggest party since 1959. But it was all but eradicated in political earthquake that ran through the country.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) went from six seats to 56 seats. This wholly unprecedented shift happened because the SNP was able to portray itself as to the left of Labour. Its leaders spoke out against austerity, Trident nuclear missiles, war and much else.
Ed MIliband saw his poll ratings rise when he offered some hope of change—an end to the non-dom status that enables billionaires to avoid tax, a higher tax rate for those grabbing over £150,000 a year and a mansion tax.
But the glimmers of progress and class politics were battered aside by the clunking fist of financial “iron discipline”, “not a penny more” of borrowing, and “cuts in the deficit every year”.
Miliband and his circle have betrayed people by their pallid and right wing campaign. It will be a disaster if the supporters of Tony Blair and others now seek to drive the party even further rightwards.
Among a somber set of results, it was wonderful see Nigel Farage of the racist Ukip party defeated. He failed because Stand Up to Ukip and others campaigned against him.
But the threat has not gone away. Ukip grabbed nearly 4 million votes and came second in 118 parliamentary seats. We will need to keep up the arguments against Ukip and the wider racism and Islamophobia that it thrives on.
But the Tories will not have an easy time. They will now seek to impose massive additional austerity with a small majority in parliament. They will have to hold a referendum on European Union membership that will divide their own party.
They preside over a slowing economy with further troubles ahead. They have no legitimacy in Scotland.Struggles and political explosions will break out—just as they did after the Tories took office in 1992 and in 2010.
We need to fan every flame of resistance—from strikes to housing campaigns, to the People’s Assembly demonstration on 20 June, to the battles against racism, to the mobilisations over climate change. We need to challenge the Labour and trade union leaders who have led us to this disaster.We need to understand what happened at this election, to agitate and organise, and to argue stronger for a socialist alternative to capitalism.
Organised by Bristol Socialist Workers Party. Main speaker Weyman Bennett (SWP and joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism).