Friday, 11 December 2009
Tower Hamlets referendum is a travesty!
On Monday I was surprised to read a report in the London Evening Standard (7 December) about George Galloway’s Respect Party, and it is very much his own Respect Party, but perhaps without the respect or acceptance it had once for those who whiff from the differing categories of the Trotsky trojan horse type organisations that setup Respect and were part of its conception, the biggest being the SWP of course. Many are crying out following its recent conference that it had moved to the political right or to be totally blunt closer to New Labour.
This post has the intention of not being antagonist, but if you criticise another organisation there will always be those who will try to cut you down in the long grass of confusion, which they often cultivate for there own political facilitation, besides shouting out sectarianism. Such a charge could be made towards this blog, but it would not hide the fact that the Respect organisation has been baptised, dousing in the fount of demonolatry and very much led by Galloway himself with much assistance from gofers, the Socialist Unity misnamed forum is run by one close gofer, habitually facilitating the Respect stance and concordantly posting comebacks to numerous critics. It will be interesting to see what position will be taken if as many are predicting Respect is wiped-out next year following the local and general elections?
However the Evening Standard drew reader’s attention belated and I do suppose uproariously, as it had been some weeks ago that Respect was able to trigger off a borough wide referendum in Tower Hamlets on whether to be governed by one individual an elected mayor. The petition organised by Respect attracted 10,000 valid signatures. Another 7,000 people signed but were not on the electoral register or did not give their name or address.
The poll will take place in May and if there is a yes vote the election will be held in October. The mayor would serve for four years and could appoint between two and nine councillors to form a Cabinet. The Respect party currently has six councillors in the borough of Tower Hamlets.
During the course of New Labour’s stint at the helm of HMS prison ship the United Kingdom it has found favour with this concept of local administration, with Londoners being governed by a City Boss the current incompetent Tory Boris Johnson. The King of his own pushbike.
Whatever arrangements are supported and made by Respect for local government they won’t make much difference. This is because such arrangements are to be implemented within the context of the profit system, whose economic mechanisms require all levels of government, however structured, to trim their spending so as not to endanger profit levels whatever people want – or vote for.
An elected mayor is not a good idea and runs away in the opposite direction to a socialist prospective. A proposal to elect an individual, an elected single leader, a mayor who will not just have more power than the elected council but will be paid a fat cat salary of £75,000 a year and have the remit of managing Tower Hamlets as if it were a capitalist enterprise. The whole proposal is a travesty of democracy. The proposal for an elected mayor is a proposal to endorse what passes for democracy under capitalism: a choice not of an alternative social systems or even policies but of rival leaders who are all packaging without any substance. And at worst, it encourages people to think that some leader can solve society’s problems for them, whereas these problems can only be solved by people refusing to follow leaders and acting for themselves and co-operatively. The only kind of politics that is going to work is a do-it-yourself politics aimed at abolishing the profit-system.
Real democracy is not possible under capitalism where a minority own and control the means of production and are therefore more equal and privileged than the rest of us and where the mechanisms of the profit system work to frustrate what people vote for from being carried out. The only way everybody can participate and have a genuinely equal say in how things are run is in a classless society based on common ownership.
Such a socialist society will mean the end of production for profit and the coming of production geared directly to meeting people’s needs. There will be no longer any barrier to ending problems like transport chaos, pollution and crumbling social services, which are unsolvable today because they arise out of the system. People will cooperate to carry out the necessary work of society and be able to take freely from the common store of wealth according to their needs. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need” will be the guiding principle.
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