Over to our resident psephologist
Although of course, at this stage, we are not concerned with the number of votes we get at an election but with how much and how effectively contesting allows us to get across socialist ideas, the result both in number of votes (240) and percentage (0.6) terms is the "best" (relatively speaking) we have had in London since 1970, also, coincidentally, when we contested the seat into which fell our head office at 52 Clapham High Street (then called Clapham Wandsworth). In between, in the 1974, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 1997 general elections (we didn't stand in London in 2001) our vote and percentage was only half this.
By way of comparison, the result for the other candidates calling themselves "socialist" (but actually standing for reforms and state capitalism) in the area covered by the South London Press was: Scargill Labour Party 149 (Dulwich & West Norwood) and 132 (Camberwell & Peckham); "Workers Revolutionary Party" 127 (Streatham) and 113 (Camberwell & Peckham) ; Councillor Ian Page of the "Socialist Alternative Party" 742 (Lewisham & Deptford); and Respect 700 (Tooting), no doubt mainly Muslim votes.
We make this point to show that there is nothing to be gained even in terms of votes by having an attractive programme of reforms. We contested this election (as we do all elections) on a straight socialist programme of common ownership and democratic control of the means of life, with production to satisfy people's needs not profit, and distribution "from each their ability, to each their needs", with the disappearance of the market and money. They promised higher pensions, minimum wage, etc, etc. Yet they don't do any better in terms of votes, probably because if people want reforms they're going to vote for a party that they judge has got some chance of being able to implement them.
Another example of this was in Swindon North, where there was an independent candidate, Ernie Reynolds, standing on an "abolish money now" platform (even if, confusedly, only in Britain). He got 195 votes compared to 208 for a "Socialist Unity" candidate (rump of the old "Socialist Alliance" after the SWP dumped it) offering the full range of reforms that Trotskyists always do.
So we shall continue to plug away, in between as well as during elections, at putting across the case for socialism and nothing but.
The result is in!
Lambert (Socialist): 240
Hoey (Labour) : 19,744
Anglin (Lib-Dem) : 9,767
Heckels (Con) : 5,405
Summers (Green) : 1,705
McWhirter (UKIP) : 271
Polenceus (English Dem.) : 221
Well, the count was fascinating.
The counters were energetic, efficient and effective. The hall was packed with cheerful polling agents of the other parties, and I did my best to stay clear of the UKIP Dalek, who was trying to convert the vote counters to his cause, even when all the votes were in.
As agent, I had to view the rejected ballots - a good many were simply spoilt with all candidates crossed out, or minor technicalities. I did notice a good couple of voters who put too many marks on their paper were either voting for us and the Greens or us and Labour.
One vote was someone who had written BNP
next to our candidates name, I insisted that we didn't want that vote! There were a couple more we could have blagged but my attitude was that we only wanted clear conscious votes. 240 in the end.
I managed to raise a wee laugh - one rejected ballot had Tony Blair, Iraq Liar
next to Hoey's name, and I suggested it was a clear vote for her - sadly the returning officer disagreed.
240 isn't a bad number, we didn't come last, and we came within an ace of the vile nationalists of UKIP who had so much media coverage.
Overall, it was worth doing, lets see how it all looks when the dust settles, but we can say already, people in Vauxhall had a chance to vote for a clear socialist case, and 240 took up the opportunity.
This day, in 1818, Karl Marx was born in Trier in Germany. It is also, this year, the western Christians' "Ascension Day" which, for Catholics, is a "holy day of obligation". It's also voting day, though there are no penalties either in this world or the imaginary next for not voting. Some in fact have already voted, by post, some even, Laborites in Birmingham and Tories in Bradford, seeming to have followed the good old Northern Ireland tradition of "vote early, vote often".
Election days are the occasion when the capitalist class ask the working class to endorse their control of political power which is used to maintain their dominant position in society, and in particular their ownership and control of the means of production. Canvassing returns and opinion polls suggest that, unfortunately, 98 per cent of those who vote will vote to keep capitalism going by voting for one or other of the political parties that represent capitalism in one form or another. The only counter-information we have is the result of a school election in West London where an 11-year old candidate, standing for "a moneyless world community" won.
Except in Vauxhall, those who reject capitalist rule and want to see established a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production, with production geared to meeting people's needs and not for profit, and distribution according to the principle of "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs", only have a choice of not voting or (better) going to the polling station and casting a write-in vote for socialism by writing "SOCIALISM" or "WORLD SOCIALISM" or something like that across the ballot paper. Or they can do what one Socialist Party member used to do: take the ballot paper, go into the booth, and then return to ask the polling clerk in a loud voice how to spell "Bastards".
In Vauxhall, those who want socialism don't have to go to this extreme but can show this by putting an X against the name of Danny Lambert, the Socialist Party candidate.
Rain stops play
Well, we've had rotten weather this election - I much prefer leafletting in the brilliant sunshine.
Anyway, this morning, I hiked round the constituency. Last minute requests for info-packs as a result of our election mailout. Well, since the mail wouldn't get to them till tomorrow, I thought it best to drop the packs off by hand.
I got lost a couple of times, found myself in a couple of pubs - to use the lavatory, but I bought a courtesy half while there, your honour - and eventually found my last point of call to be some sort of gated old folks community, so I asked an old woman to pass the packet on, because I couldn't get to the door.
I'm now knackered, so that and the weather puts me off that little bit of canvassing we were going to do this afternoon. but, seeing as how that was largely just a token effort it doesn't matter much.
More important is that Danny is on the Interweb radio again tonight, via http://www.raidersbroadcast.com.
Me? I'm gonna go home and sleep, things to do tomorrow, not least of which is stay up until an unbobly hour watching the votes get counted.
Labour posters say If you value it, vote for it
Tony Blair is irrelevant
Yesterday we received the following email:
"Subject: Appeal to vote the Labour Party minus Tonny Blair
Date: Mon, 2 May 2005 20:55:52 +0100 (BST)
Please cast your Valuable vote in favour of the Labour Party for protecting the interests of the Workers, Women and Children. But defeat Mr. Tony Blair in his constituency, because he with his God Father Bush has killed hundreds of children in Iraq war, which was initiated by him and Bush by giving false information to world. If you support this idea of ours, please forward this e-mail to at least 10 friends of yours through e-mail within 4th May, 2005.
In solidarity with,
For and on behalf of the World Socialist Forum"
Judging it to be genuine (a not a clever attempt by the Labour Party to get doubters to vote Labour, in the full knowledge that Blair will be re-elected in his own constituency) we sent the reply below. We should add that the "World Socialist Forum" is not to be confused with the forum of the same name, sponsored by the World Socialist Movement of which the Socialist Party here in Britain is a part, and which can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/
Thank you for this email, but we cannot agree with what you say. The decision to go to war in Iraq was not just that of Blair but of the whole Labour Cabinet and was endorsed by a majority of Labour MPs. In other words, the Labour Party as a party supported the war. This was normal in view of the fact that governments under capitalism have to run the capitalist system in the only way it can be: as a profit-making system in the interests of the tiny minority of profit-takers in the country concerned.
The Labour government, supported by a majority of its MPs, judged that the Saddam regime was such a threat to the security of oil supplies from the region for western capitalism that participation in the US attack on Iraq was justified. In similar circumstances, they would do it again as they have in the past (for example, the colonial war in Malaya in the 1940s, the Korean War).
In any event, changing leaders changes nothing. In fact, changing governments changes nothing. In the unlikely event of Blair losing in his own constituency, another Labour Leader would emerge who would do the behave in the same way, because obliged to by the nature of being a government within capitalism. It's not bad leaders that are the problem, but a "bad" social and economic system. Wars are built-in to capitalism because capitalism involves competition and conflicts of interest between rival groups of capitalists, backed by governments, over sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and innvestment outlets and strategic points and areas to protect these. Normally, these are settled by diplomatic methods (in which armed might, ie the threat of force, is a factor, which explains why the waste of resources on weapons of destruction and preparations for war is also built-into capitalism), but, when a particular State feels that the "vital interest" of its capitalists are at stake (as the Bush administration judged in Iraq) it goes to war. This means that, as long as capitalism lasts, there will be the continual threat of a war breaking out somewhere and a continuous waste of resources on arms.
World socialism, where all the resources of the Earth, natural and industrial, would have become the common heritage of all Humanity, is, quite literally, the only way to have a world without wars, the threat of war, and preparations for war. In such a world the resources now wasted in this way could be used to contribute to the satisfaction of people's needs, so that no man, woman or child in any part of the world goes without proper food, clothing, shelter, education or health care.
Yesterday was May Day
We only went to the starting point of the WRP's march in Kennington Park because it was something happening in the Vauxhall constituency. Frankly, it turned out to be a pathetic affair. Not more than 30 people. We did give out some leaflets and talk to a few people, including Sanjay Kulkarni, the WRP candidate in Camberwell & Peckham. Their other candidate (in Streatham), John Colvill, wearing a big red rosette (how these Trotskyist groups which accuse us of "parliamentary fetishism" really play the vote-catching politicians when they contest elections), made it clear that he resented our presence, possibly because on Saturday in Brixton our candidate had denounced him to his face as a Vanguardist who wanted to come to power on the backs of the working class. But he ought to have welcomed us since our presence swelled the numbers by over 13 percent. We were never going to go on their march of course, so we left, leaving the 30 of them to march to Brixton with a police escort of one copper for every two marchers.
After calling in at 52 Clapham High Street to pick up a paste table, we headed for Trafalgar Square where the official TUC rally was taking place. The first thing that struck us was the absence of the usual paper-sellers from the SWP and Militant. Presumably, they were all out trying to win support for the candidates of, respectively, RESPECT and the "Socialist Alternative Party". Anyway, this cleared the ground for people with other ideas such as "action not ballots" (anarchosynicalists), "withhold your vote" (some sort of Maoists), and of course us with "cast a write-in vote for socialism (except in Vauxhall)".
The theme of the rally was "unite against racism" and the official stewards were handing out a leaflet saying "use your vote against the BNP". The basic idea seemed to be to get a high turnout by voting for "any of the democratic parties" so that the percentage (if not the actual)vote for the BNP would be reduced. A high turnout is generally thought to favour the Labour Party, so this advice might not have been so innocently naive as it seemed. In any event, the organisers clearly saw the rally as a pro-Labour (though not a pro-Blair) exercise since speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn MP and Tony Benn were unlikely to urge people to vote for any other party (and didn't). But, to give them their due, they didn't go as far as one of the other speakers who declared that a vote for any small leftwing party would be a vote for the Tories. This was greeted by a chorus of boos, some no doubt from people who thought that a vote for Labour was the same as a vote for the Tories.
Although our main aim was to hand out free leaflets and Socialist Standards, we did sell a number of pamphlets, the best-seller being "How The Gods Were Made" by Keracher. We don't know why. Perhaps it had something to do with a neighbouring stand, from some Leninist group from Iran, playing Lennon's "Imagine there's no heaven . . ." Not something RESPECT is likely to encourage. We must confess to changing the words and singing "Imagine there's no leaders", but are not sure if our Leninist neighbours got the point.
The afternoon ended in the nearby "Sherlock Holmes" put where we went through the leaflets we'd been given and discussed with a former SWPer how the SWP worked internally as a top-down organisation. And we understood why there were hardly any people there trying to sell "Socialist Worker" (now headed "Vote Respect"). They had been ordered to be elsewhere, preparing to return George Galloway to Westminster.
Somewhat disappointedly our ex-SWP drinking companion, a GMB shop steward, said he was considering voting for the Lib-Dems. To tell the truth he hasn't been the only person who has told us this. It seems that ex-street fighting man Tariq Ali's call to "vote Lib Dem without illusions" is finding some echo, but of course a Lib-Dem government would be no more able to make capitalism work in the interest of the majority class of wage and salary workers than have Labour and Tories ones and would end up, like them, managing capitalism in the only way it can be: as a profit system in the interests of the profit-takers (for the record, the last Liberal government, before the first World War, was the last government to shoot down striking workers. See "Remember Tonypandy" http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/centenary/tonypandy(1910).pdf
A vote for the Lib-Dems is just as much a vote to hand over political power to the capitalist class and keep capitalism (and its problems) going, and so should be out of the question for anyone who wants to see established a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production so that things can be turned out and services run just to satisfy people's needs and not for profit. OK, there's only one candidate in the general election standing for this. But, as our leaflet said, if you don't live in Vauxhall you can show you want socialism by writing the word "SOCIALISM" across your ballot paper. That's a far better gesture than voting Lib-Dem in a bid to give Tony Blair a bloody nose.
Supoer saturday went well, fifteen comrades turned up and helped out, helping us reach out across teh constituency.
Today me and Danny went down to Brixton - the very bottom of the constituency and one of its most lively social centres - to do a bit of manic street preeching, and for photo opportunities for the party archive - got what I hope will be some nice ones of Danny in front of Lambeth Town Hall.
Sadly, people were too busy getting from A to B to stop and listen, but at least we tried.
Otehr comrades have gone to see a Workers Revolutionary Party
march, and then off to the official TUC
march at Trafalgar square.
Just remember, 364 days of the year are the capitalist's days, tyoday is our day.
Speaking of days, Danny made an appearance on Raiders Broadcast
internet radio last weeek, and is due on again on wednesday coming...
This week, we go into wind down, it is almost all over, just a couple of days canvassing, and then a possible bunfight on Thursday before the count, to say thankyou to everyone...