Saturday, April 30, 2005

Super saturday

As I write, party members are out at all corners of the constituency, handing out leaflets - our candiate is in briwton - go find him if you can!

I'm stuck here minding the phone - we're onour way to having given out all our leaflets - and what a joy it is to be told people don't want a leaflet because they've allready had one through the door.

If anyone out there, though, wants more information about our party and policies, please, ring, e-mail, drop us a line, and we'll rush an info pack out to you the day we get it - that's one of the reasons why I'm here.

It is a big old constituency, and we are quite few in number, but at least, for once, people are heariung and reading the socialist case who wouldn't otherwise.

One woman told us she was going to South America to follow in the footsteps of Che Guevarra and start the revolution - I didn't have time to tell her that we don't have that high opinion of Geuvarra's geurilla politics of revolution down the barrel of a gun. The thing is that revolution doesn't begin in the mountains and forrests of a sun-drenched land, it begin on grey high streets on warm April afternoon, with someone reading your leaflet while leaning against the railings.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pressing issues...

Well, I sent this letter last friday to the South London Press:
Dear Friend,

Your article 'Reformers bemoan lack of electoral competition' attributes the
problem of low electoral participation to the voting system.

The problem of super majorities, though, is not intractable. Just because
people voted one way in one election does not mean they will not change
their mind in another. What that would require, though, is that they have
the information to change their minds.

Reading the South london Press, it would be easy to imagine that a national
election is not happening - only two pages a week dedicated to it (and over
a third of that space is taken up with photos). This is hardly the actions
of a news service providing the inormation needs of a local community.

Without information, there is no democracy. Without information, the
democratic principle of giving minorities the chance to become majorities is
lost.

Yours for World Socialism,

Bill Martin (Election Agent for Danny Lambert, The Socialist Party,
Vauxhall).


Well, it was printed today, and seems to have had some effect - they've cut their election coverage down to one column of letters!

On top of that, where they used to have election coverage, instead they have a two page photo spread on roof gardeneing, featuring the beaming face of a charity Patron, Kate Hoey! No mention of her political role, but given her face is plastered all over Labour election material, this must surely help her campaign, and give her positive coverage.

Anyway, I sent this letter:
Dear Friend,

I see my letter of last week on the lack of election coverage in your pages had some effect - you cut coverage from two pages to one column.

At least no coverage could be said to be fair coverage, if it wasn't for the fact that the usual election pages were replaced with a two page photo spread of one of the candidates acting in her role as a charity patron.

Unaccountable journalists should really sit down and examine their due role in helping the community decide its future. Without coverage, minor parties, parties without bundles of money or who are not already incumbant cannot hope to compete or put across to the electorate the alternatives they may well want to hear.

Bill Martin
(Election Agent for Danny Lambert, The Socialist Party, Vauxhall).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Remember the dead, fight for the living.

Today is International Workers Memorial day.
'Preventable accidents'
The T&G union says 235 workers died at work in the UK
in 2004 - an increase of 4% on 2003 - with 30,000
suffering major injuries.


Other surveys suggest 70% of those deaths are preventable. Considering the number of actual horrific murders in the UK aren't that much higher than that, the amount of news space given to deaths at work is shockingly negligible. But then, it would swim against the tide of profit to try and make work a safe enjoyable place to be rather than a, well, gulag based ont he threat of poverty.

Via BBC.

War, Oil and Lies

Is Tony Blair a liar? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is clear: for the last 8 years he has been the head politician charged with looking after the interests of the British capitalist class. When, in late 2002, the Bush administration in America decided on going to war in Iraq to secure Iraq's oil reserves for the US capitalist class, the British government under Blair decided (rightly or wrongly) that it was in the interests of British capitalism to support this. After that, it was just a question of finding a political and legal pretext for going to war. That Iraq had weapons of mass destruction seemed a good enough one. Whether Bush and Blair believed this is open to question. In all probability, Bush at least didn't since his advisers would have told him that the real reason for going tp war was oil. Once the Blair Labour government had decided that it was in the best interest of the British capitalist class to throw in its lot with America (with more to gain by being on the side of the world's only remaining super-power than by being neutral or against it) Blair may well have genuinely believed the lie about WMDs put out by Bush, the CIA and the rest of the US war propaganda machine. Perhaps he was fooled, though on other matters he doesn't seem to be a fool.
In any event, whether or not he was a fool or a liar is irrelevant, as is the argument as to whether or not the war was "legal". Of course, once war had been decided upon this was not going to be changed by any legal niceties. And of course the Attorney General was leaned upon to say it wouldn't be illegal. As the German Chancellor declared in 1914, pieces of paper are not going to stop a state that has decided on war from going ahead. Howard of course is just a hypocrite. If he'd been Prime Minister he wouldn't have behaved any differently. Or would he have had the honesty to come out and said that the war (which he supported) was about oil and about the British capitalist class gaining by being on the side of the big battalions and that was why he was sending British workers to die and kill and destroy in Iraq? Kennedy is not so bad, but it doesn't make any difference to those killed in a war that the formal reason given for it could be deemed to be compatible with the scraps of paper known as "international law".
Even Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, has now realised that the Iraq war was essentially about oil. As a Sweish news agency reported earlier this month:
"STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Wednesday that oil was one of the reasons for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a Swedish news agency reported. "I did not think so at first. But the U.S. is incredibly dependent on oil," news agency TT quoted Blix as saying at a security seminar in Stockholm. "They wanted to secure oil in case competition on the world market becomes too hard." Blix, who helped oversee the dismantling of Iraq's weapons programs before the war, said another reason for the invasion was a need to move U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia, TT reported." (http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/Iraq/2005/04/06/985151-ap.html).
The Iraq war confirms the socialist analysis that the underlying cause of wars under capitalism is the competition built-in to it between capitalist groups over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets and strategic points and areas to protect these. Normally such disputes are settled by diplomatic negotiations, but when these fail, and a state feels its vital economic interest is at stake then it resorts to war.
If you are against war the only consistent course of action is to be against capitalism and for a world community without frontiers based on the natural and industrial resources of the Earth being the common property, under democratic control, of all Humanity. That's what we're standing for in this election.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The cheque is in the post...

Well, let's look at what we have received at the Campaign office today.

1) A cheque for £10 towards our campaign from a well known anarchist, with a note attached stating: Herewith, whatever my reservations about elections, a contribution to your campaign expenses...

2) The election communication from the English Democrats. Apparently they want A strong, democratic England, united and gverned by its own people from an English parliament within the UK. They want no voting or welfare rights for non-citizens. I know my parents used to joke about Unilateral Independence for Yorkshire, but I think these people mean UDI for England. They are the product of the sad delusion that people can shut themselves off from the rest of the world and all will be well. Without labouring the point, the fact is that England cannot be united, but is divided by class, and that the English workers have more in common with Scots, Irish, israeli, palestinian or American workers than they ever will have with an English capitalist. Sad.

3) we also have the Tory leaflet - a real ragbag of promises and pretty pictures. Apparently, they want to improve the Tube, cut down on police Political Correctness and foriegners. Our party is not only prepared to TAKE A STAND ON issues like immigration or school discipline... Secretly, I think they all want to choose to be spanked by foreigners, screaming Discipline! Discipline! A sign of their desperation is that they have to devote a paragraph to a vote for the Lib-Dems being a wasted vote. On this, we agree, but so is a vote for the Tories.

Last weekend

The life of this Blog draws to a close. I've just sent this circular round members, but you can join in as well.
Lo All,

well, it is the last week of campaigning, and it's a bank holiday
weekend, so there's every chance for members in London (and beyond) to
come down and help out in Vauxhall.

The procedure is simple, someone will be at HO all day, and you turn
up, we bung a handful of leaflets in your hand and shove you out the
door, go forthe and distribute, as God didn't say.

Next week, we aim to canvas, the more pairs of canvassers the better,
so come one come all, to the greatest show in the galaxy.

Bill M. Election Agent.


We'd also appreciate anyone who gets our election communication getting in touch with us...

Activity report

It's not that we've not done anything since last Friday, only that we locked ourselves out of our office -- twice. Some might say that this is proof that the Socialist Party couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery or, as Ernie Reynolds, independent "abolishmoneynow" candidate in Swindon North, wrote to us in a letter received on Saturday: "I don't think you are anywhere near ready to govern and do not attract the calibre of people who could well do so provided they believed in the removal of all forms of money to the extent that we do". This may well be true, but we do not want to form a government that will (as Ernie seems to mistakenly envisage) introduce socialism for people. We want people to act for themselves, using the existing political machinery, to establish the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, which would mean a society in which there would be no government as we know it today (government over people) but merely administration and participatory democracy. We want people to organise the piss-up themselves.
Anyway, back to activity.
On Monday we delivered 59,400 copies of our candidate's election communication to the Royal Mail centre at Nine Elms. These will be distributed free to each household in the Vauxhall constituency and is one of the advantages of contesting an election since £500 (the election deposit which you don't get back unless you get 5 percent of the votes cast) is cheap for distributing that many leaflets. While we were there we noticed those of the other parties, including a bundle of soaked ones from the WRP candidate in Streatham, the other Lambeth constituency, advocating "nationalise all failing businesses" --Keynesianism gone mad, just print money to keep the capitalist economy going. We've bad news for the WRP: it won't work, but would make things worse. There was also a pile from the UKIP candidate for Greenwich which screamed "STOP UNLIMITED IMMIGRATION". Apparently, under EU laws, the whole of the population of the Common Market could decide to come to settle in the UK. Maybe in theory, but then the whole of the population of the UK could -- in theory -- decide to go and settle in Spain, but neither is likely to happen because the labour market doesn't work that way. In any event, UKIP is more concerned with what Enoch Powell used to call "coloured immigration". They're a nasty little racist party on the same level as the BNP combined with the anti-working class attitide of the Freedom Association. But they could pick up a few votes from the Tories.
On Tuesday, the Socialist candidate went by public transport (he left his car at 52 Clapham High Street) to a "Sustainable Transport Election Question Time" organised by the London Cycling Campaign in a dingy room round the back of Vauxhall station. It turned out to be a complete flop. Advertised to commence at 7.30, by 8.00 there were only 4 people present and only one other candidate (the pompous ass from UKIP). After a discussion with the chairwoman, who made it clear that they were only interested in discussing cycle lanes and not socialism, our candidate returned to Clapham.
For the record, the short answer to the written questions they had previously put to us by email such as "are you in favour of a cycle helmet compulsion law", "do you support a 20 mph speed limit across London" (!) and "should the fuel tax escalator be re-introduced" is that we don't do reforms. The long answer is that a Socialist MP would take instructions from the members of the party in his/her constituency as to how to vote on specific measures proposed by others (for, against, abstain) in the light of how it was judged the action would further the cause of socialism and/or the interest of the working class.
Nothing about the election (certainly not about us) in Tuesday's South London Press while the previous Friday's only gave a list of the candidates standing in the 10 constituencies that make up the paper's market. At least readers now know that we're standing. There are also a number of other candidates claiming to be socialist (but actually advocates of state capitalism) standing in the area: the Scargill Labour Party in Dulwich & West Norwood and in Camberwell & Peckham; Militant (as the "Socialist Alternative Party", the electoral law does not allow them to usurp our name on the ballot paper as they would like to do) in Lewisham Deptford; the WRP in Streatham and in Camberwell & Peckham (voters here have 2 state-capitalist candidates to choose between). And, last and least, RESPECT is standing in Tooting but then they have had the decency not to call themselves socialist, even if this is only so as not to frighten off Muslim voters.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Husting last night

Well, we met (almost) all our opponents last night - at a hustings organised by Churches Together in Clapham, in a Methodist hall.

As we expected, the candidates from the Capitalist Party all praised Freed Trade (except the Green Candidate who banged on about fair trade - something which is impossible in Capitalism. It's not the rules of the game that are rigged, but the game itself. The name of the game is Capitalism, and wealth gravitates to the economies with lots of capital investment - money makes money.)

The Lib-Dem was slick, the Tory clear, the incumbant was cunningly at pains to remind us of incumbancy. The green candidate was a refreshing speaker, and the UKIPper sounded like a Dalek (with similar monomania - he puported to also be a candidate for the Freedom Association nasty right-wing bunch who were instrumental in defeating the Grunwick mass picket in the 1970's).

The so-called English Democrat didn't show up, so he clearly didn't want a democratic debate on his policies.

Our candidate stood up and described the aleination of capitalism, the impossiblity of freedom in a commodity society, and the need for co-operation and common ownership. He receieved the only serious heckling of the night from some Tory yob at the back who's programming couldn't handle the idea of ffreely associating producers building homes for need without needing to be bribed first.

We've been invited to another hustings on Monday: Monday 25 April from 7:30 - 9pm in the St Peter's Heritage Centre, Kennington Lane, SW8 - on sustainable transport. We plan to be there. If you missed last-night, you have another chance.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The sorcerer's apprentices

According to the papers, George Galloway was treated with the utmost disrespect -- dissed, in fact-- a couple of days ago by a gang of Islamic extremists. Apparently, they called him a "false god" (true, but a bit cruel) and drew attention to the similarity of his name to the word "gallows". But what did he expect? He, backed logistically and ideologically by the SWP, has decided to play the sectarian, Islamic card in order to try to stay in Parliament. He, together with the SWP, has mounted a campaign, backed by Muftis and other Muslin clerics, to get out the Muslim vote in much the same way as the BNP has set out to get the "poor white" vote. Both of them are encouraging sectarian tensions amongst the working class and are to be condemned on that account.
The SWP, then flying under the "Socialist Alliance" flag, stood a candidate in Vauxhall in 2001 and got 853 votes. What do they think of the SWP's turn towards religious sectarianism? Presumably, the SWP, now flying under the flag of "Respect", decided not to stand here again because they are not enough Muslim electors (but there is an Islamic Centre in Edgeley Road, round the corner from our offices at 52 Clapham High St). There is one advantage in the SWP's latest flag of convenience, though. It doesn't mention the word "socialist", so at least they're not dragging it through the mud by associating it with their latest tactic.
Socialists stand for the unity of all those forced to work for a wage or salary to live, irrespective of their nationality, language, skin colour or legal immigration status, on the basis of socialist understanding -- which involves a rejection of all religion (all gods are false gods) and its reliance on some mythical super-being to improve things. Socialists can have nothing to do with religious sectarianism or seeking support by appealing to religion. As a certain Bishop Brown put it in the 1920s: "Banish Gods from the Skies and Capitalists from the Earth".

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Now we know

OK, here are the names of the members of the various factions of the capitalist party we're opposing in Vauxhall. nominations closed today, all these peopel will be on the ballot paper.

Charle Anglin - Liberal Democrat Faction.
Edward Heckels - Tory Faction.
Kate Hoey - Labour Tendency.
Robert McWhirter - UKIP Fraction.
Janus Polenseus - English Democrats External Fraction.
Timothy Summers - Green Platform.

Our Candidate - Danny Lambert - The Socialist Party.

So, there we go, I hope we'll see them all at the hustionmgs on Thursday night.

Monday, April 18, 2005

We're official!

Right:

1) Our nomination papers are in, and have been accepted by the Returning officer - along with the description The Socialist Party - so we've got our proper name on the ballot paper.
2) Our leaflet has been approved by the Royal Mail, so we can go to print as soon as we want, really.
3) We've got our way onto our first hustings stage - a meeting at Clapham Methodist church on the high street at 8 p.m. thursday this week!

All systems are go.

From Clapham with Love

Well, I saw our rival candiates from the Lioberal and Labour parties while out on Clapham high street on Saturday.

I also had a chance to chat with a Bellorussian lady who started telling me how wonderful life was in the old Soviet Union - famillies could have a room to share, and for free! The sort of Trot groups my comrades in Brixton encountered would have been enthused by such a character. I could only think of the millions of Bellorussians slaughtered by Stalin's famines, and the 1.4 million people he had shot in the Prisons of the Soviet Great Terror of the 1930's (Not Nazi style mass sslaughter, 1.4 million people shot one at a time).

Of course, she probably never saw any of this - I suppose if you kept your nose clean and weren't a famine victim life could be alright under Soviet gangster tyranny. Which could be said of much of the world today - most people muddle through, and get by, despite the horrific numbers of victims of starvation war and pandemics spread through greed, fear, and ignorance, but who don't directly touch their lives.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Reply to a questionnaire

Our candidate's reply to the "Socialist Unity" questionnaire can be found at: http://www.socialistunitynetwork.co.uk/electiion2005/question/lambert.htm

From Clapham to Brixton

Yesterday was the first weekend of socialist election activity in the constituency since the general election was officially anounced. Some comrades stayed in Clapham High Street to distribute leaflets (in competition with the Labourites and Tories) outside Sainsbury's and to do a stall outside our offices at No 52. Others ventured to Brixton to hand out leaflets. They did so with some trepidation in view of Bill's description of what it was like a month or so ago, expecting to find the exit from Brixton tube station blocked by massed ranks of paper-sellers chanting "Defend the Russian Revolution" and "All Power to Trotsky". As it turned out, the only people there were from a group calling on people to boycott Coca-Cola for something they were doing in Colombia (from where presumably coke comes from).
It is true that on the other side of the road there was a stall run by the "Workers Revolutionary Party" to promote their candidate in the nearby Tulse Hill constituency. Being readers of the only local paper, the South London Press, which thinks that only three or at most four political parties exist, we didn't know of this. In fact, we suspect that when nominations close the journalists on the South London Press are going to be shocked by the extent of their ignorance and the extent to which they kept their readers in the dark.
The WRP programme of "policies for the General Election" was rather negative to put it mildly, "end ... defend ... no ... scrap ... stop ... restore ... repeal" being the keywords. The only things they said they were "for" were "nationalise MG Rover and all firms threatened with closure", "renationalise the railways", "nationalise the banks to provide decent pensions for all" (?), "a decent future for youth and not one of debt, hardship and war", "one socialist secular state of Palestine", and "a workers government to implement socialist policies".
We know the WRP of old. When they were called "the Socialist Labour League" they used to have their office just up the road from us, at 180 Clapham High St (now a greengrocer's, also about to close). In those days, by "workers government" they used to mean a "Labour government". They probably still do since they're not putting up enough candidates of their own to be able to win a majority in the House of Commons and form a government. If so, which planet are they living on if they expect a Labour government to implement their list of reformist and state-capitalist policies that they erroneously label "socialist"? Erroneously, because of course there's nothing socialist about a society where there'd still be "students grants", "pensions", "average wage rises" or "trade union rates of pay". And nationalisation was just state capitalism, and would be again.
As we said in the leaflet we were handing out, socialism is a society based on:
"* The common ownership of all resources by the whole community, not just a rich minority.
* Democratic control of the community by everyone, without distintion of age, race or sex, instead of rule by unelected company directors or state bureaucrats.
* Production purely to meet people's needs, not profit.
* Free and equal access to all goods and services -- and end to the market and to money."
A young French bloke told us he agreed with this (his father had been in the Communist Party), but that it was a too utopian for the people around us on the street. He suggested we should be advocating practical measures they could understand and which would improve their situation today, as put forward for instance by the people across the road (pointing to the WRP stall). We pointed out that a decent education and a decent health service for all such as he said he wanted were not possible under capitalism as inequality and austerity were built-in to the profit system. And we denied that socialism was too complicated for people to understand. Besides, we added, the WRP no more believed that a decent education or health service for all was possible under capitalism than we did; their "practical measures" (or "transitional demands" in Trotskyese) were just bait offered to attract followers with the ultimate aim of seizing power and establishing the rule of their vaguard party. Fortunately, this is never going to happen but, unfortunately, thanks to Trotkyists of all hues, this is what many people think that socialism would mean. If socialism did mean this, then we'd be against it too. But it doesn't, which is one of the things we want to get across in contesting this election.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Street politics

The 25-minute walk from our office at 52 Clapham High Street via Ferndale Road (John Mayor's old hunting ground) to Brixton Town Hall (as it is still known) to deliver the nomination papers to the acting deputy returning officer (it's the mayor who's the actual returning officer and gets to read out the result before the cameras) provided a chance to guage political activity in the area from the stickers.
One from Greenpeace denouncing ESSO as a "CO2 Criminal", one calling for an anti-war march on 19 March, another for a commuters protest march on 9 April, and one proclaiming "NO MUGGERS BURGLARS! THIS IS A WORKING CLASS AREA. DON'T RIP OFF YOUR OWN", a good idea but not likely to be any more effective that the appeals to love thy neighbour proclaimed from noticeboards of the churches on the way. Or from a "Mr Amine, Astrologer, Medium, Clairvoyant" whose sticker promised "Protection against all Dangers, Making your business more successful, Luck, Money, Love and Sexual Power. I will protect you from all Jealous Enemies and make your Business more Successful. I will read you Past, Present and Foresee what the Future holds for you. 100% Guaranteed". If you believe that, you'll believe all the promises in the manifestos of the Labour, Tory and Liberal parties (splashed all over two pages of today's South London Press, which still hasn't mentioned we're standing) -- or vice versa. If you want to give it a try, phone 020 8769 5123. Or vote Labour, Tory, Liberal, Green, Respect or one of the other promise-mongering parties.
On arrival at the town hall at 10 am, the acting deputy returning officer already had an appointment with another candidate, who turned out to be the outgoing MP, Kate Hoey, who said "good morning". The acting deputy returning officer said that the nominations were in order, that he would check that we were a registered political party, but that he could not accept the papers without the deposit of £500 (which hadn't arrived in the post). So, Danny Lambert, the Socialist candidate, will have to go back on Monday with the dosh.

Nomination's what you need...

Right, after banging on doors for an hour, we've got ten signatories for our nomination papers. Someone is going to go over to the electoral services dept at Lambeth town hall and check if they'll accept the signatures and our description as 'The Socialist Party' (the rules on Party Names on ballot papers are strictly controlled by law).

We can't register yet - the deadline is the 19th April - because our bankers' draft for £500.00 hasn't shown up at the foffice to pay our deposit - fingers crossed it shows up soon....

We gave some free magazines away, and generally outlined the case for common ownership, before being called to the bar...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Stickered

Someone stuck two stickers on the front window of our office at 52 Clapham High Street last night. The first had a picture of a gallows with the words "May 5, Tyburn Blair". If it hadn't been for the other sticker we might have assumed that this was put there by some Tory or other Daily Wail reader. But the second sticker had a drawing of a hairless individual and the text: "BALD EX TOP MET COP SIR JOHN STEVENS: 'Terrorist Threat Makes My Hair Stand on End' (March 20, 2005)" and the comment "More police bullshit". Which doesn't suggest a Tory or a Wail-reader, rather, perhaps, someone from the criminal fraternity. But we suppose it came from some anarchist or semi-anarchist. If so, they are foolishly living up to their caricature of a person in a floppy hat with a bomb under his cloak. And thanks for putting us to the trouble of scraping our window clean. And to think we bricked up most of the front to stop the National Front putting bricks through our window in the mistaken belief that we had something to do with the SWP.

Taxing issues

Always a difficult one - tax is extracted through so many variable methods and rates that its easy for politicians to lie about it. They are, again, trying to make it a central issue of the election campaign.

We don't care, though.

See, some people on benefits are given a Council tax benefit to help them pay it. Now, while they hand the money over, actually pay it to the local authority, really, that is one arm of the state giving money to another - central to local. That is, the burden of council tax is not falling on the person who pays it.

Likewise with the rest of us. We sell our skills and abilities to get money to live on, and achieve a market living wage. If our living standards fall, we either strike to push them back up, look for new work, or stop working as hard as we once did - that is, we try and restore the market price of our labour power. Thus, when taxes go up - as they did for me with national insurance last year - we push our wages up so that our take home pay compensates - which is, again, what happened to me.

That is, like the central government, our employers are giving us money to pay taxes. We pay them , legally and physically, but the real burden falls on our employers. Which is why they like taxc least of all.

So far as socialists are concerned - when we have common ownership, a sociuety administered for need that doesn't require money, there will be no taxes at all, and we can end the sham and simply have the conscious debate over allocation of the common resources - wouldn't that be much more sensible?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blog update

I've added a link to another video by party members available over t'interweb.

http://www.socialist-tv.com/

BBC Poll Page

The BBC website has this constituency page to track the election - I note that the English Democrats have joined the race - a nasty nationalist bunch, but anotehr faction of the capitalist party. We can expect UKIP to join in, so we're looking at at least seven candidates, possibly as many as ten...

Campaigning onwards

Right, so on the Tories have unveiled their manifesto, and today it's Lavbour's turn to set out their pie in the sky promises - but what have we been up to.

Apart, that is, from more leafletting.

Well, I submitted our leaflet to the Royal Mail for vetting - to ensure it qualifiies as a genuine canndidates mailout for free delivery. Details of the process can be found here.

I also mailed out to our comrades taking part in Operation Vauxhall - so the good burghers of North Lambeth can soon be expecting personalised letters to wend their way through the door.

Tomorrow, the quest for signatories continues...we will be nominated!

What the paper said

Here's what the South London Press said in last Friday's (8 April) edition. Note the absence of any mention of any Socialist candidate.

VAUXHALL
Candidates: Labour, Kate Hoey. Conservative, Edward Heckels. Liberal Democrat, Charles Anglin. Green, Tim Summers.
Labour's Kate Hoey held this seat in 2001 with a 13,000 vote majority. The outspoken pro-hunting politician was first elected to this inner-city seat in 1989. Public affairs consultant and councillor Charles Anglin challenges for the Liberal Democrats this time around.
The Tories have fielded Edward Heckels, chairman of Vauxhall Conservative Association. The Liberal Democrats and Tories could both gain some ground here but it would take a landslide to topple Hoey.
Prediction: Labour hold.
2001 result: Labour, Kate Hoey - 19,738 Liberal Democrat, Anthony Bottrall - 6,720 Conservative, Gareth Compton - 4,489 Green, Shane Collins - 1,485 Socialist Alliance, Theresa Bennett - 853 Independent, Martin Boyd - 107 Turnout 44.8 per cent

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

General Leaflet

Below is the text of our general leaflet we will be handing out on the street:
Vote for yourself - for achange!

Most people think that whichever government is elected it will make no real difference to their lives.
Most people are right.

Most people think that political leaders are dishonest timewasters.
Most people are right about that.

Most people think that the world is in a mess: jobs losses, pressure at work, unaffordable housing, transport chaos, kids on the streets, a collapsing health service, wars, ecological destruction, countless millions starving while farmers are paid to let food rot.
Yes, society is in a hell of a mess.

Most people think that little can be done to change it.
They’re wrong.

Society does not have to be like this.

We live under a system where:

Production is for profit, not primarily for need.

The richest 10 per cent own well over half of all personal marketable wealth.

The richest one per cent own nearly four times as much as the poorest 50 per cent added together.

The economy is run to make the rich stay rich at the expense of the rest of us.

The market can never be run in the interest of the majority of us who produce the wealth but do not possess the major resources. No tinkering with the profit system by any government can ever make it comfortable, secure and happy for the majority of us.

All of the politicians in this election are asking you to vote for them so that they can run capitalism – continue the mess – piling on the misery.

What we need is a new way of running society based on:

+ The common ownership of all resources by the whole community, not just a rich minority.

+ Democratic control of the community by everyone, without distinction of age, race or sex, instead of rule by unelected company directors or state bureaucrats.

+ Production purely to meet people‘s needs, not profit.

+ Free and equal access to all goods and services – an end to the market and to money.

Only the Socialist Paryy stands for that alternative: genuine socialism.

A vote for the Socialist candidate means that:

+ You reject the policies of the profit system.

+ You understand and want the real socialist alternative.

+ You do not need leaders to do your thinking and run society for you.

+ You are going to vote for yourself – for a change.

THE SOCIALIST PARTY CANDIDATE IN VAUXHALL IS DANNY LAMBERT

Update

Right, so, yeah.

1) We held our first election meeting of the campaign, and we've agreed generally it's free-fire saturdays till the election, people will be at our campaign office - 52 Clapham High Street - every saturday to organise leafletting and campaigning - pop along if you want to meet and greet us.

2) We've been out collecting signatures for our nomination papers - they have to be in by the 19th April - so plenty of time.

3) Operation Vauxhall - we have the list of electors now,a nd this week I'll be sending out addresses for our members to write to so they can get involved - thanks to SAwansea branch for so many members volunteering to help.

4) Party Name - it looks like we may have to put Socialist Party of Great Britain on the ballot paper, but there's still scope for argument on that score. We want The Socialist Party because the of Great Britain is just our international name, really.

5) We had a nice phone conversation with South London Press, a feller called Greg Truscott, who is running the election coverage. We've been promised to finally get our fair crack of the whip. They had a preliminary listing of candidates, see, and we weren't included, despite having contacted various people at their office to try and tell them about our campaign. Anyway, we have a hotline now.

More soon, getting very busy.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Random Notes

Friday's South London Press -- which has a monopoly of local news in the area -- published an alleged list of candidates in the constituencies in the area it covers. Apparently, they are only 4 candidates (Labour, Tory, Liberal, Green) standing in Vauxhall. In fact, if you believed the South London Press you would think that there were only 4 parties and only 4 candidates in each of the constituencies mentioned. The printed media were only excluded from the "public service" obligation imposed on radio and TV of mentioning all the candidates in an election because they said they would do this on a voluntary basis. Well, the South London Press has not done this but has instead provided an untruthful and deliberately misleading information on the candidates standing in Vauxhall (and probably elsewhere too), deliberately because they have been informed at least three times that we were standing too.
A blue leaflet came through the letter box of our office at 52 Clapham High Street on Saturday (the "main parties" had suspended canvassing for the funeral of the Supreme Witch Doctor of Rome but not, it seems, for the re-marriage of Mr Charles Windsor) headed "Introducing Your Next MP". This is to be a certain Edward Heckels, described as the local Tory candidate. If he believes that he really is going to be the next MP for Vauxhall then he's either a fantasist or a liar. Boasting of being a governor of Clapham Manor Primary School, "Edward" (as we are invited to call him) is photograph shaking hands with "Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin" whose views on schools in Lambeth are well-known. As he said during the Tory Party Conference in 2003 about his kids' education: "In Lambeth where I live, I would give my right arm to send them to a fee-paying school. If necessary I would go out on the streets and beg rather than send them to a school next to where I live". "Edward", incidentally, has had to face Socialist opposition at the polls before since he was one of those standing against us in Clapham Town ward in the council elections a couple of years ago.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Responsibility

If it’s possible to lead the workers to socialism, it’s possible to lead us away from it.
One of the most pernicious aspects of capitalist society is its patriarchal nature, that is, we are conditioned to view certain ‘special’ people, usually but not exclusively men as not only cleverer but more mature and so therefore more able to shoulder the responsibility necessary for the running of society. Whereas we workers, the class that in effect does all the work needed to maintain and develop the society we inhabit are considered immature and so unable to shoulder the responsibility for our own lives.
Now all this contradicts the iron law of responsibility, which states ‘The only way to deal with responsibility responsibly is to share it’. If you claim that you can exercise social responsibility for others, or if you allow someone else to exercise responsibility for you, that’s irresponsible!
So what we have with politicians making all kinds of impossible promises in competing for our votes, is the blindfolded leading the blinkered, the berserk leading the bewildered.
History can be seen in many ways and so here’s a couple, first, as an ascent, a journey out of ignorance, the more we know the more we can do, the better we know the better we can do. Second, as a rite of passage, in discovering our identity we come of age, and so are ready to take the responsibility for securing the future by sharing it.
Socialism will be a society that has come of age created by a majority of humans who have come of age. The information is out there.

Notice of Poll

People walking down Clapham High Street will now see a notice on the board outside our office at No 52 there saying:

THE GENERAL ELECTION

The Socialist Party is standing a candidate in this constituency (Vauxhall).

Our aim is to put across the need for a society of common ownership, democratic control and production solely for use as the alternative to the existing profit system, a society where we collectively make the decisions that affect us without needing to worry about how to pay for what we want, since meeting our needs will be the one and only priority.

The Socialist Party cannot bring this about for you, and we're not promising to. If you want to get rid of capitalism this is something you will have to do yourselves, without leaders. We make no promises, offer no pat solutions, only to be the means by which you can remake society for the common good.

Our candidate is Danny Lambert.

If you want more information on this campaign, or want to help, this is our campaign office. Ring the bell or phone 0207 622 3811 or email spgb@worldsocialism.org. Our website is: www.worldsocialism.org/spgb.

NEITHER LEADERS NOR FOLLOWERS. NEITHER THE MARKET NOR THE STATE.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Oil and Water

Some people tell us that mixing religion and politics is like mixing oil and water. Particularly, as for a long time we have been taking a very firm stance in promoting a scientific materialistic world view as opposed to a relgisious or spiritual one. For instance, this was a pamphlet written by our comrades back in 1911 on Socialism and Relgion.

It's not our fault, though, because clearly the religious are trying to muscle in on politics all the time. In Iraq, for instance, Grand Ayatolah Al-Sistani is trying to set himself up as an ideological power behind the throne - no formal political role but the weight of his fatwahs (religious edicts) can't be ignored.
Shortly after the American occupation began, Sistani issued fatwas calling on Shia clergy not to get involved in politics. However, as the summer of 2003 approached, Sistani became more involved, though always through representatives, never directly. He began to call for the formation of a constitutional convention, and later demanded a direct vote for the purpose of forming a transitional government, seeing this as a sure path to Shiite dominance over Iraq's government, since most observers say that Shiites make up about 60% of Iraq's population. Subsequently, Sistani has criticized American plans for an Iraqi government as not being democratic enough.
Quote from Wikpedia.

But it's not just overseas that religious leaders are trying to intervene. Over here, religion has been wheeled out. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has called for a clean election fight, and it has been reported dilligently, as if his views mattered. Prior to that, he joined the Catholic Primate in England in calling for abortion to be an election issue. Both are playing the same game as al-Sistani.

Further, Labour has flirted with trying to attract the religious vote with it's proposterous 'religious discrimination laws' which - mercifully - will fail to make it onto the statute books. And Tony Blair cretinously tries to wheedle out of his pronounced religious convictions, which he has claimed inform his politics, by saying that religion should be brought into politics.

Socialists are quite clear - religion was a valuable branch of science once, it's insights informed humans of the world around them and of how their own society worked. That science, though, has been superceded, and to live freely in this world, we need to unfetter ourselves from the mind-forged manacles of religious thought.

We don't advocate repressing or supressing relgion. Nor do we fail to recognise that it is hugely important to many people. But what we will do, is argue with the confusionists and dissemblers spreading relgious ideas that serve only to blunt the very intellectual instruments which we must use to liberate ourselves. Socialism is for all human beings, not just for the chosen followers of the right God.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And they're off...

Well, following a day's delay for the dead Pope, it seems the Election will be formally announced today. Hopefully that means that the local press will begin to actually take notice of our candidacy.

Tony Blair will comply with the feudal relics of our constitution and ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament, that's expected for Monday next. Then we will be formally into election time.

Notices of election will be published, and we will go round knocking on doors asking people to sign our election nomination - we need ten nominees - in order to be able to submit it. We'll also need to fork out £500 deposit.

By the way - if any readers are electors in Vauxhall and want to get in touch to be a signatory, do contact us - either in our comments box or at spgb@worldsocialism.org - or pop into 52 Clapham High Street - that'd be very kind.

After that, we'll get our election leaflet approved, printed and distributed. We'll go knocking on doors, posting leafltes and yelling on street corners, and we'll go hassling the press to let us in.

Being workers, though, we're going to have to use up some of our hollidays for this venture, which means we probably won't be hitting the streets in force until about the 18th (that's when I'm booked from).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

How to vote anti-war?

Some people favour voting for something you don't want in the coming election on the grounds that you can't vote for what you do want (or that this has no chance). One such group is Strageic Voter which aims to "hold New Labour to account for the illegal invasion of Iraq" by unseating MPs who voted for it. On their website (www.strategicvoter.org.uk) they make recommendations constituency by constituency "to steer towards a balanced (or 'hung') Parliament. We want to punish the government, but not finish up with a Tory majority either".
On Vauxhall, they say:
"A special situation makes this seat hard to categorise.
The following discussion relates specifically to this constituency
We apologise to our visitors and the Labour candidate for having given poor advice in this seat but trust that it is sorted out now (March 15th). Thanks to those who pointed out the problems.
Here we have a candidate from a pro-war party who deserves immense credit for resisting the party line and voting against the illegal invasion of Iraq. However they are being opposed by someone from an antiwar party who may have been active in the antiwar movement and may well also have voted against the war. You may want to take their respective position on other issues into account. StrategicVoter does not have strong views, just so long as a pro-war candidate isn't returned."
This is all rather cryptic. Who is this mysterious candidate who may oerhaps have done various things if they had had have been an MP? And which party are they standing for? Our interpretation (and we may be wrong, not having any qualifications in interpreting oracles) is that they are trying to say that if you are anti-war (or rather against "the illegal invasion of Iraq") you've got a free hand in Vauxhall.
For the record, we in the Socialist Party only want the votes of those who want socialism (a worldwide society of common ownership and democratic control where things are produced to meet people's needs not to try to make a profit). If you are just against "illegal" wars and would be in favour of a "legal" one; if you are against war but not against capitalism (i.e., are against the symptom but not against the cause); or if you want a hung parliament and a resulting coalition government for British capitalism, please feel free to vote for one of the other candidates. But, be warned, in voting for them you'll be voting for capitalism and capitalism is the root cause of wars, preparations for war and threats of war because built-in to it are conflicts between rival groups of capitalists backed by their governments over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets. Normally, this competition is commercial and diplomatic but, when push comes to shove, the conflicts are settled by forces of arms. This is why Britain and America (or, rather, America and Britain) invaded Iraq where the former regime represented a threat to their supply of oil, a key raw material. Capitalism means war, so the only consistent anti-war stance is to work to get rid of capitalism.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The case against the profit system

Very few people would deny that the present state of the world leaves a lot to be desired. Humanity staggers from one crisis to the next -- from war to famine to slumps to repression . . .
Capitalism has developed a huge productive capability but its social organisation and relationships cause extremely serious problems and render it incapable of meeting the basic needs of its people.
A vast amount of the world's resources is expended in the production of weapons of war, from bullets and bayonets to nuclear and chemical weapons. Alongside these weapons are the armed forces which every state organises, clothes, feeds, trains and deploys. This is a massive waste of human effort; it is all intended to be destructive and none of it to create anything useful to human beings.
In a world which could produce more than enough to feed and care for its population millions are homeless and tens of millions die each year because they don't have enough to eat or for lack of proper medical treatment. None of this is necessary. It happens while farmers in Europe and North America are being paid to take land out of cultivation; from time to time even food that has been produced is destroyed or allowed to rot. This makes sense to the profit motive; in terms of human interests it is wildly insane.
The environment is increasingly under threat from pollution and from the destruction of some of its natural, ecologically vital features. We hear well-informed warnings of an ultimate impending disaster unless we act to eradicate the problem but these warnings are always met with the objection that to save the environment can be a costly, profit-damaging business. Yet it is not necessary for industry and agriculture to pour out noxious effluents into the air, the earth, the rivers and the seas. They do this today because pollution is seen as being cheaper, which means more profit-friendly and to a society where profit is the dominant motive for production that is justification enough to override human welfare.
These are a few examples of how capitalism works against the interests of the world's people. In contrast, socialism -- real socialism, that is, not the obscene caracicatures we've seen in Russia and elsewhere -- will have fundamentally different social relationships, motives for production and concepts about the interests and security of human beings.
All the programmes now being daily advanced by the professional politicians for dealing with the problems of capitalism through reforms must fail because of their essentially piecemeal approach. They attempt to treat symptoms instead of going for the basic cause. That is why, after a century or more of reformism the problems the politicianss claim to deal with are still here. A far more radical, fundamental change is needed to create the framework within which they can be solved: the common ownership and democratic control of the means of producing wealth so that production can be geared to meeting people's needs, not making profits for a wealthy elite.

School dinners

Warming to an old theme.

Of course, kids shouldn't eat junk, should have to, especially.
Of course, diet affects behaviour - it's been well documented that changes in prison diets change the incidence of behaviour among inmates.

No-one in their right mind could object to ensuring that, since kids have to go to school, they should be well fed there, and school dinners could and should be able to overcome dietry deficiencies from the home.

So, of course, that's what the Capitalist Party and it's faction in power are now offering. Except, it's been offered before, we used to have quality school dinners regulated by law - and free, even (for some kids). But in the 1980's, the Tories scrapped that law. As would any Government grubbing for savings in future, Labour or Tory. Reforms and benefits given with one hand can as easilly be snatched away by t'other.

And, of course, even if regulations aren't removed, they have to be enforced. That costs money, on top of the meals. Otherwise, contract caterers will try to cut corners, or well meaning school governers and head teachers desperately trying to stretch a budget.

And ultimately, this is not a free gift, not a gain for the workers. It is the people who own our world trying to allocate the money they pay in wages which is meant for raising a new generation of workers more efficiently. It'd be sntached back in taxes on lower pay rises over time.

The alternative is to ensure that everyone, children included, have free access to the food they need, at all times, not just in school. To ensure that we have sufficient time for ourselves to make cooking worthwhile. To base this on common ownership which cannot be revoked by the stroke of an accountants pen.

We've been here before, lets not go through it all again.