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The Communist Party of Britain is contesting 14 seats under the slogan “Vote communist on 4 July”. Surely, Communists should deserve a vote against Starmer’s Labour? Not so fast…. The CP’s line is “vote Communist wherever you can” and vote Labour virtually everywhere else, with their overall line favouring a Labour government.

Voting for Starmer’s Labour is completely against the interests of the working class. As we have explained (see our article “To hell with Sunak and Starmer! Vote working class!”, Workers Hammer no 253), Starmer has made clear that his government will serve the rich and powerful, support Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians and attack public services and trade unions. The CP’s call to vote for Labour amounts to supporting just that and is a total betrayal of the interests of the working class. To justify this with the argument that Labour is the historic party of the working class is a complete capitulation (see our polemic with the CPGB on this question, “Debating with Labourites”, 27 May 2024).

If the CP wants a Labour government, why bother running candidates? The CP has been doing this for decades: they run a few symbolic candidates while supporting a Labour government. This enables them to maintain a “left” facade of opposition to Labour among some of their members while at the same time doing no damage at all to Labour and staying in the good graces of the trade union bureaucrats, who all support Starmer.

In the recent local elections, the CP also ran candidates, with glossy leaflets calling to vote Communist — “the party the rich can’t buy”. Then, a day before the vote, Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the party, penned an editorial in the Morning Star titled: “The overwhelming defeat of the Tories must be our top priority at the local elections” (1 May). In other words, we might run candidates, but we don’t want them to do well or else it will hurt Labour. Turns out the CP can be bought pretty easily....

So, should socialist opponents of Starmer’s Labour vote for the CP on 4 July? Given all the above, our initial impulse was to say “no”. However, some CP members are convinced these candidacies represent real opposition to Starmer’s Labour. Ok. We are ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. We are putting the following challenge to the CP and Morning Star:

If the Morning Star unambiguously calls on working people to vote for their candidates against the Labour Party, the Spartacist League will be happy to call for a vote for them. If, on the other hand, the Morning Star maintains that the “top priority” is to vote Labour (or strikes back on the eve of polling day with a similar editorial as during the local election), then no one should bother supporting a completely symbolic campaign designed to deceive people.

The Spartacist League rejects any vote for Labour and calls to vote for the Workers Party, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, pro-socialist independents and…maybe the CP. We will eagerly monitor the Morning Star.

— 1 July