Wednesday, April 09, 2008

News from the Hust

Right, so Danny couldn't make this hustings called by the Lambeth Cyclists Group last night, so I was asked to go in his stead. The chief concerns were thus transport based.

The speakers were Shane Collins (Green) ; Shirley Horton (Conservative) ; Raoul Patel (Left list, stand in for their candidate who couldn't make it) ; Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal) ; Val Shawcross (Labour) ; Janus Polencius (English Democrat - though the chair kept caling him James, I'm sure).

It was very short notice, but I remembered this gem of an article from our centenary publication Socialism or your money back an article from 1913 called The pace that kills. I was able to use it to point out that little has changed in the meantime (up to, and including, the humbuggery regarding trams).

I observed how private property in land and the labour market have created conditions of social concentration into cities, and mass transit on a daily basis, aggrevated by the fact that we work too long and too many days anyway.

I also noted that anti-congestion measures really are just for freeing up space which will be filled immediately by economic growth (this is the reality, traffic has risen despite the congestion charge, all it has done has been to clear some room for that growth). Cycle lanes, cycling, etc. are all just ways of clearing up space on busy roads to allow businesses to operate just-in-time operations and limit their expose buy keeping inventories to a minimum (I noted it was significant that the Tory had focused on circulating the traffic above all else, they know where the heart of business lies).

I managed to get in a dig saying that nationalisation is bunkum, chiefly at the Left List speaker, who revolutionary platform included more bus conductors (oh, how the milk of trotskyism curdles).

Overall the debate was good humoured, especially when the English Democrat spoke because he'd forgotten to bring his manifesto with him, but he was certain he liked cycling (except someone had nicked his wheels).

The only flare up was right near the end when the issue of Herne Hill Junction was broached, and possible encroaching of roads onto Brockwell Park to help encourage "modal shift". One man was called a fatty, and he when to square off against his insulter. But no violence occurred, and I took the opportunity to simply say that the Socialist Party exists solely to help bring about socialism, if people want their junctions altering, they can do it themselves - hopefully in a democratic and friendly way.

There were about 58 people there all told.

Update: Here is a review from the Southwark Cyclists.


Londonsocialist said...

So the SWP's Left List wants to bring back bus conductors. So does Boris. See
If they feel that strongly about this reform maybe they'll give their 2nd preference vote to him instead of Ken.

Bill said...

Routemasters were discussed as well, the English Democrats want them back too. This was said in response to a question about disabled access to buses (apprently Boris wants a "new" routemaster with disability access as well...).

Anonymous said...

Well done on the meeting. Sounds like you made some very good points there. I only wish we could have a Socialist Party candidate where I live, to air the real issues. It always strikes me how petty the other political parties are, with their falsely-serious discussions about little issues. Capitalism is clearly a system which discourages people from running their own lives, while presenting an illusion that they can choose those who resolve social problems for them. It's kind of like babysitting, with a limited choice of who babysits.