According to the media politics experts, Brown and Cameron both made very effective speeches at their party conferences. A more relaxed Brown talked about his family background and his parents' influence on his politics, his belief in "British values" and a "good society", "A Britain where we can do better than we are. Where we do feel and share the burdens of others. Where we do believe in something bigger than ourselves. Where we can be inspired by the driving power of social conscience. And where by working together we grow more prosperous and secure. This is the Britain I believe in. A Britain where by the strong helping the weak, our whole society becomes stronger and where by all contributing, each and every one of us is enriched".
Cameron, even more relaxed, strode about on the rostrum for 67 minutes referring only to four sheets of notes, extemporising on such key notions as: "REAL CHANGE", "STRONG COUNTRY", not the "OLD POLITICS" but "POLITICS YOU CAN BELIEVE IN", "A NEW WORLD OF FREEDOM". Together with the Shadow Chancellor's promise of tax cuts, this ‘virtuoso' speech seems to have dramatically cut the Tories' deficit in the opinion polls (which, incidentally, are also a product of the media).
At one point in his speech, Brown dismissed those who "see politics simply as spectacle", replying "I see politics as service because it is through service that you can make a difference and you can help people change their lives".
As a matter of fact, "politics" - the bourgeois politics of Brown and Cameron - is both. It is a spectacle designed to hide what interests the politicians really serve: not the "people", a meaningless abstraction in a world riven by class conflict, but the present social system, ruled by the vast impersonal power of capital, by production for profit. The increasingly indistinguishable platitudes of our political leaders are aimed at preventing those who benefit least from this system from questioning its foundations. And so we are offered the prospect of a "good society" and a "new world of freedom" which leaves the existing social order - a social order which is spreading crisis, war, hunger and poison across the entire planet - entirely unchanged.
In the wake of the conferences, speculation about a possible autumn election reached fever pitch in the newspapers and radio and TV broadcasts, until Gordon Brown ruled it out.
From the point of view of the majority who do not enjoy the privileges of the capitalist system, it makes no difference which colours the politicians paint themselves - New Labour pink, green/blue Tories - or which party sits on the government side of the House of Commons. Not only will their ideologies be the same, but, with small variations, so will their policies: all will require us to sacrifice our living and working conditions to the insatiable demands of the national economy. None of their policies will be remotely capable of sparing us from the impact of an economic crisis which is both global and historic in its scope. None of them, driven by the relentless drive to maintain profits in the face of this crisis, will be able to put the needs of the natural environment above the needs of ‘the economy'. And none of them, however much they talk about peace and international justice, will be able to stop British imperialism participating in the escalating military free-for-all which is turning more and more regions of the Earth into a madhouse.
Real change and the fight for a "good society" involve something much more difficult and profound than listening to the phrase-making of the political leaders and voting them in or out every few years. It involves a bitter class struggle at the roots of social life, in the workplace and the streets, a struggle which cannot be entrusted to political specialists but must be controlled by its protagonists through organisations they create in the struggle, like the soviets created by the Russian workers and soldiers in 1917. It involves dispatching, not patching up, a social order which is already in its death-throes, and the construction of a wholly new society, based on the common need in reality and not in hypocritical rhetoric. WR 6/10/7