Vaux Populi: London based Socialist Election Campaign Blog
Friday, March 22, 2013
Socialist election activity in IslingtonWe have stood in Islington before, but mainly in the south, in the Islington South & Finsbury constituency, three times in general elections (1979, 1983 and 1987) and in 1981 in the GLC election. Despite having a super-active branch we never did well in terms of votes or percentages (around 0.2%). This was attributed to the constituency being a marginal Labour/SDP (remember them?) one. But then we contest elections, at the moment, to publicise the case for socialism.
We did contest Islington North (into which Junction ward falls), forty years ago, in the 1973 GLC elections and got one of our best results ever in London:
Labour 7463, Con 2798, Socialist 284 (2.7%)
But no doubt this was in part due to us being the only opposition to the two main parties, but there was an unpopular Tory government in power centrally under Ted Heath.
Our percentage of 0.8% in Junction ward is in fact higher than the 0.3% we got in Vauxhall in the 2010 General Election. If we'd have got that percentage there, we'd have had 300 votes.
We'll probably be back again in the London borough elections in May next year.
Just a bit of fun...Just a bit more analysis, based on the vote movement: Junction: #Lab 1343 (62% +23%), #Green 381 (18% +6%), #LibDem 276 (13% -27%), #Con 120 (6% -4%) #BNP 31 (1%) #SPGB 18 (1%) #Lab GAIN Also last night, this ward took a vote too: St Georges: #Lab 1,698 (71% +37%), #LibDem 371 (16% -27%), #Green 206 (9% -5%), #Con 87 (4% -6%) #BNP 20 (1%) #Lab HOLD Noticeably, Labour have gained, hugely. I recall noting when going through our historic London votes how our vote rose during an unpopular Labour regime, and then fell under the Tories, as people veered back to Labour. I would have expected a higher vote for us if we'd stood three years ago, say, in the same ward. Those numbers look horrific for the Lib-Dems (and the Greens in Junction may be soaking up some of their votes and the general protest vote).
Out for the countIf it'd had been an episode of some soap or other, the audience would have tutted at the lazy clichés: the tousle haired besuited Tory; the shabby bejumpered Greens; the studenty Labourites; the naked goat sacrificing Lib Dems (OK, small lie, earnest and bebeiged Lib-Dems); and the BNPers keeping themselves to their own, which in this case meant two lads in bomber jackets and DMs, and an agent-cum-ring master in a smart suite and dodgey glasses.There were more polling agents than counters, and for some reason they spent the night trying to guess the result, rather than just watching the process for fairness. Why on Earth they were trying to count the votes for their party during the ballot verification count I'll never know. As you'll have seen from the size of the turnout, the whole process didn't take long, about an hour and a half, beginning to end.I did at least come close to taking Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn's seat from him, when I realised he was sitting on my jacket, but he stood up anyway before I could make that joke. Bum. When the results we announced he cried "Shame!" when the BNP vote was announced. For a while I thought we were in with a chance of beating them (I was disturbed to hear their Glorious leader say they'd only distributed a couple of hundred leaflets on their easier to post-through streets). I spotted him looking twice at a Labourites lap-top why was emblazened with "This machine kills fascists" on it's top, he didn't seem fazed by it.Thanks and praise are due to the election count staff who did their job efficiently and accurately (and with good humour). Also they gave out a little sheet explaining the process of the night, which I told them other councils haven't done, it was good to have some grasp of the order of events.
The people have spoken...
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Vote early, vote once...Well, that's what I did today. I made my way round the warren of a School to find the ballot box (I kind of went through the wrong door, but was pleased to see, unlike my old school, this primary school has a school council made up of infants, so at least in Islington they are being taught about democracy from a young age).There was a Labour polling agent, who informed me that they were only checking my number so they didn't come round later knocking me up: I'd be impressed if they were actually organising a get out the vote campaign. More likely, they just want the data for future canvassing purposes.So, for the third time in my life, I vote me! (No ego kick there, then). I always enjoy voting, it's strange how a quiet prosaic act, so insignificant in itself, can wield such power and, I'll say it, majesty. I look forward to the time when we have enough of a base to put out polling agents and a get out the vote campaign, that's the other lesson of contesting election, you see how it's done and organised, something stay away rrrrrevolutionary groups won't see.
Better late than neverThe Islington Gazette's website has this morning published the names of all the candidates. This, apart from the official council communications, is the first time that any of the local media have published the names of all the candidates together. So, in most cases those going to vote will only discover who they can vote for when they get their ballot paper. It is unclear what a team of foreign election observors might make of this. A low turn-out seems inevitable.
No doubt, our candidate, who lives in the ward, will be reporting later today that he voted for himself for a change.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Beware of fakesThe ex-Militant Tendency organised a meeting earlier this evening in Archway using our name. Their leaflet for the meeting, about the Whittington hospital, could have caused confusion but, while we can stop them using "Socialist Party" on the ballot paper when they contest elections, unfortunately we can't stop them using this on leaflets. For the election tomorrow we're on the ballot paper as "The Socialist Party (GB)".
We made sure that all 8 people who turned up received a copy of our election address.
Last pushesWell, I've not done my Robo-leafletter routine this time out, for many and several decidedly pedestrian reasons. I finally got out last night, and, is it me, or are the stairs getting steeper? I only did one street and council estate. I decided to disregard my usual compliance with 'No Junk Mail' stickers, since I was giving out so few. I know our counter argument is that an election address isn't junk mail, but that won't make people actually read it or look to twice to see it isn't a pizza flyer.I was looking forward to leafletting Aveling House (a reminder of Islington Loony Left days, no doubt), however, I found that having got myself buzzed past the external intercom, that each landing had a locked door/intercom system. Obviously, people on an estate are entitled to feel secure, but there is a democratic question of how we can get to deliver leaflets to them. I know I've ranted about this before.On my way home, I discovered quite a crowd of Labour activists actually canvassing my street, which is quite intensive to any local election. They didn't call on me, someone must have had the sense to take my name off the list.Maybe Labour are learning the lesson of Eastleigh, national level elections are won one ward at a time. Certainly, we've now leafletted the entire ward, so thanks and congratulations to hard working comrades for managing that at short notice. I overheard one woman point blank telling the Labour canvassers that she simply wasn't going to vote, I hope there's not too many of them, and of those who do vote, they at least consider the message we have distributed.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Turn up again, Dick WhittingtonAs I write, otherwise placid people are outside, demonstrating. In modern political parlnce, demonstration simply means the right to petition. More pertinently, it means demonstrating how strong you are; how many you are; and just who you are. Clearly, the civil society of Islington, Camden and other nearby boroughs have turned out, and a good couple of thousand are marching in the cold and rain; supported extempore banners from nearby residential windows and the beeped horns of cars. I wonder if politicians take their holidays in summer, because that is the time we'd have bigger and better demos -- best for them to make the unpopular decisions at cold times of the year.A small group of us turned up at Holloway tube, and handed out our leaflet (based on my blog post, below, about the Whittington sell off). The march passed us by in fifteen minutes, and we got shot of a few hundred leaflets. We'd turned up a bit too early, because I'd suggested meeting at the same time as the march's muster, even though that meant it wouldn't be passing that station for another 45 minutes. My appologies to those who waited in the cold and rain. Our leaflets were taken pleasantly,by the contingents in the march. As predicted, Jeremy Corbin, the Islington North MP, and the leader of Islington Council were at the forefront of the march (actually, behind the jazz band in the bus, only in Islington). The Green Party, Labour Party and even the Liberal Democrats had contingents. There were leafleteers from the SWP, Militant andeven the fabled Socialist Equality Party.The campaign has already had some success, the hospital had an advert in the Gazette for a series of public meetings, so that's going to be the second chance top make the point clear, whether or not the cuts are stopped or changed, a clear point has been made by the local community.
Friday, March 15, 2013
What they printedHere's what they printed:
In contrast, Bill Martin, the Socialist party candidate in Junction, highlighted their lack of focus on his election. “My colleagues out and about have run into someone from the Labour party, but it has been a very low key,” he said.
“I haven’t had any leaflets through my door, put it that way. I haven’t seen anything that looks overtly Liberal or Labour in the area, which you do get in other campaigns. I think it’s treading water. I’ve only seen one or two election posters in windows; one was Green and was I think the other was maybe Labour, but that could have been from five years ago.”
The grammar is all wrong as Bill was talking about the Labour campaign not ours. At least people will know we're standing.