British Perspectives 2008
British Perspectives 2008
War, the environment and social issues
While economic issues are likely to be key to the development of a new party, they are not the only issues which are having a radicalising effect, particularly on young people.
There has been a certain increase in the number of 'single issue' campaigns that young people are involved in.
However, far more than was the case in the 1990s, they quickly lead the most conscious layers to question the system as a whole.
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, while they do not currently mobilise large numbers on the streets, are nonetheless bitterly opposed by the majority.
One factor in the rapid shattering of illusions in Brown was that he was seen as continuing Blair's policies of craven support for the Bush regime.
The likely coming to power of the Democrats in the US will raise hopes that the occupation of Iraq will end quickly.
When this does not happen a renewed anti-war movement in the US could lead to a certain rekindling of the movement here.
The bombing of Iran, either by the US or Israel, would be horrific, and would enormously complicate the situation from the point of view of imperialism, but it cannot be ruled out as a last act of the Bush regime and would undoubtedly lead to major protests.
The environment is a crucial issue which is bringing increasing numbers of young people into activity.
The Greens are also picking up the support of a layer of youth, mainly from a middle-class background.
However, this includes a minority who consider themselves to be socialists. If there are further delays in the creation of a new mass workers' party it is possible we could see more significant developments in this direction.
However, while the Greens have not been in power nationally and, therefore, are not discredited in the way most Green parties in Europe have been, when they have been elected at local level they have generally shown themselves to be utterly lacking in principle, even being prepared to take part in coalitions with the Tories in some areas.
Over time this will repel those young people whose desire to save the planet is leading to them questioning the whole nature of the capitalist system.
We have to aim to win them to our ranks. Another important movement likely to develop on the environment is in opposition to the government's plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, ironically in the name of saving the environment.
There is also a new generation of women becoming active in defence of their rights. It is particularly noticeable over the threats of attacks on a woman's right to choose. A number of lobbies and meetings have taken place, all involving young women, including young women trade unionists.
We have intervened in these events and have found a real openness to socialist ideas. Even if there are no major attacks on abortion rights at this stage the pro-choice protests could reawaken a significant movement of predominantly young women prepared to fight against women's oppression.