How can socialists and trade unionists become popular? How can we become popular enough to win representation in the council chamber, at Westminster, at Holyrood, and inside the European Parliament?
There is no single solution to this. There are in fact many things we can and must do at the earliest opportunity. In the first place we need to think strategically when it comes to first-past-the-post elections, negotiating non-aggression pacts. We need to condemn socialists who refuse to make any compromises whatsoever. We need to appeal against sectarianism for the greater good of all the exploited and oppressed. That is not a call for surrendering to Ed Miliband’s front bench. They are part of the problem. It is their sharing the same agenda as Nick Clegg and David Cameron that has allowed Nigel Farage to exploit their unpopularity for his own purposes.There are more than enough seats to go round for every socialist provided we agree to fight for our common cause, and that means not standing against genuine socialists in the Labour Party, like Jeremy Corbyn for instance.
Secondly, we need to win the ear of the public. We need to have our voices heard in the mass media. But the mass media in Britain are no friend of ours. There is in fact a very substantial chicken and egg dilemma here: the broadcasters may have a statutory duty to at least pretend to be neutral provided we can secure a substantial percentage of the electorate behind our candidates. But we won’t find it too easy to win that many vote without airtime. Is there a way out of this Catch 22? Yes. In significant part it comes down to what I said earlier about making compromises to avoid any sectarian splitting of the vote between – for instance – TUSC and Left Unity, or the handfuls of decent Labour and/or Green candidates scattered across the country. But there is a lot more to it than that.
Socialists need to maximize airtime immediately, in time for May’s elections. There are things we can do to get that. One thing we can do is embarrass the BBC over, for instance, the revelation that they have been for some time members of the Confederation of British Industry. The BBC’s Glasgow members voted yesterday by 99% to demand this relationship is ended immediately.
In Scotland the BBC is in serious trouble over this, with head probably set to roll. But the problem persists well beyond the narrow issue of our independence referendum. Coverage of industrial relations, and of politics more generally (for instance the role of profits), is utterly tainted over this.
The BBC bosses can be forced into a humiliating climbdown, and we can force them to do this very quickly indeed: within days, weeks at most, maybe even hours.
Having been brought down a peg or two – by the voters, license fee payers, trade unionists working inside and outwith the BBC, journalists all across the print and broadcast media – the employers’ organization and their puppets on a string inside BBC management will be on the back foot. At last.
Not if, but when, we succeed in bringing the BBC bosses to their knees over the scandal of their being members of the bosses’ organization, both the CBI and the BBC will have been dealt a body blow. That humiliation is one we can press home our advantage. It is a victory for us that will reverberate far beyond the BBC staff, to other broadcasters, inspiring whistle-blowers at SKY News and Channel Four News also.
The BBC editors will feel under pressure to bend over backward to prove to the viewers and listeners that they have learnt their lesson. Regardless of whether they are merely paying lip service or not, we will have won a victory. That will give us all more of a level playing field within which we can continue the struggle for real objectivity. And that, in turn, is all socialists need to pile on the votes.
In parallel with winning elections, trade unionists will win solidarity from the wider public during industrial disputes. Everyone’s a winner, right? Everyone that is apart from the Thatcherites and Blairites and the rest of the anti-socialist bastards who have been polluting the BBC studios in so called balanced political debates.
I would appeal to every socialist and trade unionist, and every democrat, to add your voice to the 99% of Glasgow NUJ members who call on the BBC to immediately resign from the CBI by signing this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/lord-chris-patten-resign-immediately-from-the-cbi?recruiter=7035201&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition