If you tweet about politics regularly, or are predisposed to ostracising yourself from polite company by talking to ‘normal’ people about politics, you will not have failed to notice that a lot of people in Britain are really quite angry about our political system. Such anger has driven voters towards UKIP and, more recently, the Greens. Indeed, a burgeoning theme looking ahead to May's general election has been rising support for fringe parties, led and supported by people disenchanted with the windy rhetoric of the mainstream.
The North East Party, which is committed to securing more powers for the North East of England through devolution, is set to field 12 candidates at the general election, while the National Health Action Party, who campaign for a more concerted focus on the NHS and oppose privatisation, have also come into the limelight in recent months.
In addition to these nascent protagonists, a party gaining increasing media attention for their direct, combative style of politics is the Class War Party. Originally founded as an anarchist magazine in the early 1980s, the Class War Party say on their website that they 'see no difference between any of the parties' and are adamant that we live 'in a feudal society dominated by an oligarchy of privately and Oxbridge educated toffs who run not just the government, banks, diplomacy but the media, music, comedy and even the opposition.'
Class War are preparing to launch 'a furious and co-ordinated political offensive against the ruling class' and will field 27 candidates in the general election in constituencies ranging from the Forest of Dean to Aberdeen North.
Jon Bigger, the party's candidate for Croydon South, told Backbench: “I consider democracy to be direct and participatory rather than distant and representative. I don’t think for a moment that I can represent anyone other than myself and I find it amazing how our system is full to the brim of arrogant people who think otherwise.
“I’m standing in Croydon South where the Tories regularly get over 50% of the vote. The rest might as well not bother and yet, if the rest united, the Tory candidate, Chris Philp, could be kept out of office. What incentive is there to get involved in elections when you know who’ll win before you start?”
The last few days have seen important developments on the T.V. debates ahead of the general election, with the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru all being invited by national broadcasters to take part. UKIP had already secured its place in the events, thus highlighting the power of smaller parties in what is being dubbed “the most important general election in a generation”.
Yet Jon isn’t convinced by either UKIP or the Greens, the two fringe parties arguably the most likely to have the most influence come May and says we need a different system entirely - a system of anarchism: “The rise of UKIP is incredibly worrying. It’s a racist, homophobic and sexist party full of racist, homophobic and sexist people. The Greens have been disastrous in power in Brighton Council. They’ve implemented cuts that have devastated lives.
“In the case of them and UKIP what we’re seeing is people grasping out for something different and actually being given more of the same. We’re still seeing narrow politics along neoliberal grounds.
“Anarchism is self-government,” he says. “It is freedom, peace and equality. It is a system in which everyone can thrive. Class War is about standing up to the ruling elite in a brash way. We won’t apologise for it either. We’re here to campaign for a better world.”
Class War are certainly no shrinking violets, and are clear about what they want. Their manifesto includes a 50% Mansion Tax, doubling pensions and all benefits, in addition to the abolishment of public schools. Moreover, it is not just their policies that are radical. The party is rapidly gaining a militant reputation thanks to their direct approach to democracy that recently saw Conservative MP Chloe Smith chased through Norwich, while you can buy bags and t-shirts bearing the legend ‘Women’s Death Brigade’ from the Class War website.
Jon says that he thinks Russell Brand’s foray into politics is interesting but that the actor and comedian is ‘also a brand in a corporate sense’ as he ‘has a strong, wealthy position already’. He has his doubts that Brand will be with the ‘real people on the frontline’ when it comes to fighting inequality.
Fighting inequality and its causes is what Class War is all about, Jon tells me.
“I hate injustice and inequality. The fact that they are ingrained in our society shows we have such a long way to go. The richest people set the wages of everyone else. They buy the politicians, they own the media, they run the courts. Meanwhile, we’re told to respect authority, accept things the way they are and get to work.
“Democracy that is direct and participatory should be extended to our communities and our workplaces. We need to do this ourselves and not wait for permission. Actually, so much of our social lives are like this aren’t they? We organise things all the time without the need of a government. It isn’t difficult to imagine us expanding democracy and therefore tackling inequality and injustice.”
Jon says he isn’t expecting to be elected but that the general election presents a crucial chance for him to ‘raise issues and suggest an alternative’ to an economic system where wealth "cascades up", instead fighting for a society where "everyone can thrive".
“Class War is about standing up to the ruling elite in a brash way. We won’t apologise for it either. We’re here to campaign for a better world.
“The ruling elite have spent decades stealing our resources and using the power of the state to prevent us all from getting even. We’re going to highlight that. It will be a forceful campaign but we’ll have some fun along the way.”
Despite concerted efforts to the contrary, it is unlikely that Class War will excessively occupy the Prime Minister’s strategy unit in the run-up to May. Their policies and strategies are part of a growing movement however, one that harbours deep-rooted despondency for our political status quo. Revolution may not be sweeping the nation, but the dominance of our Red-Blue elite is gradually waning – a trend that will be fundamental to the outcome in May.