April 12, 2010

[British] Communist party manifesto aims to woo the working class, posted by Hélène Mulholland, The Guardian, Monday 12 April 2010

Wide-ranging proposals deal with issues that will resonate with voters concerned about the banking bailout


I've just come back from another manifesto launch – that of the Communist party . While communist is regarded as a disparaging term, I should point out that some of the bread and butter issues of the party's manifesto will resonate with many voters concerned about the outcome of the banking bailout.

The proposals include: ending tax avoidance by the rich, levying a windfall tax on super-profits, taxing speculative finance transactions and big business profits, levying a wealth tax on the country's richest 10%, scraping Trident, bringing troops home and abandoning ID cards.

The party makes no bones about being the party of the working class, and it is one which is uncompromising in its condemnation of the capitalist system for creating our current deficit woes. But it's fair to say it occupies common ground with many on the left of New Labour when it says: "The big business elephant, having devoured unprecedented sums of public money – is on the rampage, trampling jobs, public services and people's livelihoods."

The party is not best pleased with the TUC for its silence over the national insurance contribution row raging between Labour, the Tories and big business. It is also unimpressed with what it believes is the level of influence unions have had on the Labour manifesto, unveiled earlier today.

The Communist party is contesting a nominal six seats to "put the case for socialism and for a revolutionary transformation of society". CP general secretary Robert Griffiths is standing in Cardiff South and Penarth, as is Ben Stevenson in Croydon North.

The party, whose energy for activism betrays their number, plans to support left Labour candidates where it can, but draws the line at sending its support out to what it calls: "right wing New Labour candidates". Members will lend support to left candidates from other outfits, such as Dave Nellist in Coventry, who is standing for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition party.

Griffiths was asked what he thought of those who say the communist party has become irrelevant. "It's a pretty lively corpse", he replied, pointing that while sectors of the media have pronounced the party dead, it is they who run stories talking up the party's clout.

Just last month, the Daily Mail claimed that the Unite union "is taking strategic direction from the communists on both the BA strike and the overthrow of New Labour". This so-called plot was based on emails written by Graham Stevenson, a senior Unite official, who is also on the executive of the British Communist party. They can't have it both ways, says Griffiths. Fair point.

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