LONG TERM PERSPECTIVESCategory: Politics
All this is not just of immediate relevance, but the big issue for the longer term development of the Party,
Our last Congress, correctly, called for — as the other side of our campaign for unity — the development of the public role of the Party as an independent campaigning force with extensive public work on political, social and economic issues.
This can’t take place without participation in elections. If our branches and the Party nationally work properly in a public way, they must contest in local and Parliamentary elections. If we don’t, we would artificially cut off this public work at the point of its normal democratic expression, namely elections.
Of course there are longer term considerations which we should work for — namely electoral agreements and proportional representation.
ELECTORAL AGREEME NTS
Can we find the way to put to workers in the labour movement the issue of electoral agreement? For the problem of Communist representation with others of the left is not just a problem for us but for all workers in the labour movement.
. As we have already said, the fight to advance our electoral position in existing circumstances is part of all this. One of the things we should do is to work more extensively in union branches and shop stewards committees to get our candidates to be given a hearing and for financial support.
Proportional representation has now become an ever sharper public issue. It used to be Labour’s position when it was a minority party.
If the argument is that with P.R., because of recent voting patterns, Labour would not nor ever would have a majority in Parliament, this is an untenable position. The real issue is, Labour has to win a majority politically in the country. The present electoral system could equally give the Tories a majority of seats on a minority of votes. We have got to campaign still harder on P.R.
SCOTLAND AND WALES
We believe that both these issues will come up in an immediate practical political way in connection with the elections to Scottish and Welsh Parliaments.. This is a realistic perspective in the next two years.
These elections will be a great historic occasion. All the parties in Scotland and Wales will go all out to get their maximum vote. We must do the same as all other parties. In both cournties the Tories can be routed.
We are in a unique position. The Nationalists are striving to make the issue one of nation versus class. We can marry the two, and argue that the great point is not only a Scottish and Welsh Parliament but the class representation in these Parliaments.
It should be noted that the Kilbrandon Report advocated that these elections should be on the basis of P. R. We should go all out to fight that Labour’s Bill setting up these Parliaments incorporates P.R. If so, then our Party should contest on the maximum scale and win the biggest possible vote in both Scotland and Wales.
But suppose there is not P.R. What should, we do, especially in Scotland where the Nationalist challenge to the Labour Party is obvious? In my view we should announce that we will contest on the widest possible scale, but being clear as to the political position and the need for working class majorities in each Parliament. We should suggest early discussions with the Labour Party and the left generally in Scotland and Wales on the possibility of electoral agreement.
These-, therefore, are the immediate decisions the EC should take on our electoral position.
This whole issue will be dealt writh at our 34th National Congress in November 1975 in the Congress draft resolution and the pre-Congress discussion. Congress will decide its position for the next period and the next General Election.
(Comment, 1974, N 16)