March 26, 2005

Tariq's tactics

Tariq Ali says that we should think carefully and vote tactically at the forthcoming general election to punish the war party.
Normally, people vote to assert their political sympathies. But this is not a normal general election. It will be the first opportunity to punish the warmongers and, given the undemocratic voting system, the votes cast for the Greens, Respect and others will have no impact, with a possible exception in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London, where George Galloway confronts the warmonger Oona King. It is possible that in some constituencies the Green/Respect vote could ensure the return of a warmonger, as we have seen in the odd byelection. So why not treat this election as special and take the politics of the broad anti-war front to the electoral arena? If the result is a hung parliament or a tiny Blair majority, it will be seen as a victory for our side.
Now I agree almost entirely with Tariq Ali here. The war party should be punished if possible. It's extremely difficult of course given that the government of neo-conservatives is officially opposed by an "opposition" of equally pro-war old Conservatives. Also, Ali's dismissiveness towards Respect and the Greens has a whiff of self-fulfilling prophecy to it. And further there is one factor that he has omitted from his equation: the BNP. In some areas the tactic of anti-fascists and anti-war people will have to be, to paraphrase the leftist slogan of the Chirac-Le Pen stand-off, to "vote for the [war] crook, not the nazi."

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