Should workers vote in Birmingham’s council elections?

The answer to this question lies not in absolute principles, but in the day-to-day tactics of the class struggle.

The upcoming local elections in Birmingham will be the first time a radical, Marxist-Leninist working-class organisation has stood in elections of any form in many years. Why are they doing so now?

As far as communists are concerned, whether to vote or not to vote, and whether or not to put up communist candidates for election, are not questions of principle, but of tactics – to be decided according to the situation in which we find ourselves and by the general level of engagement of the workers.

Given the fact that so many people still have great illusions in the system of bourgeois democracy in Britain, our party is at the present time in favour of the tactic of putting up communist candidates for election.

In most places, owing to the relative weakness of party organisations, standing candidates, even for council elections, is an unnecessary burden on our resources. In Birmingham, however, it’s a different situation. We’ve got experienced comrades, a strong local organisation, and in some places a bit of support from the local community.

For that reason, there will be communists standing for election in Birmingham, and the campaign that is being run is not the shoddy CPB-style ‘Graham Stevenson for Mayor’ type of affair. We’ve distributed, not via Royal Mail but via our own members and supporters, more than 25,000 flyers to local residents and over 10,000 copies of our local newspaper, the Birmingham Worker.

We’re not apologising for the dictatorship of the proletariat either. Our message is clear: bourgeois dictatorship is an evil that must be overthrown, and the workers must become masters of British society; they must establish their own dictatorship over the rich.

Whilst it seems that’s not going to happen very soon, it is the inevitable outcome of the class struggle.

Standing candidates gives us an opportunity to bring communist politics into the wider debate and to spread the influence of a revolutionary understanding.