Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The last leaflet

The last of the nearly 20,000 leaflets distributed in the constituency was put through a letter box in Woodsmansterne Road, SW16 this afternoon. This is a long road at the southernmost point of the constituency. It's actually in Streatham (part of Lambeth), but continue too far along it and you end up in Croydon, take a wrong turning and you end up in Merton (one Labour canvasser had done the opposite as we saw a Labour leaflet supporting their candidate in Merton).

This is a reminder that "Lambeth and Southwark" includes areas which are not traditionally associated with these two historic places. Another is a letter we received from a Miss Wright of Pymers Mead, West Dulwich, SE21. She wrote:

"Dear Sir/Madam,
I am returning the leaflet you put through my letterbox as I don't you putting anymore of your leaflets through my letterbox again".

We don't know if she wrote similar letters to the other parties about the leaflets they put through her letterbox, but they seem a polite lot down in Dulwich (she actually put a stamp on the letter, if she'd read the leaflet properly she could have sent it to our freepost address and saved herself 27p). Normally, people who don't like our leaflets tear them up in front of us and tell us they're voting for the BNP.

But the most common reaction we got on the doorsteps was "it doesn't make any difference anyway who gets in". Which corresponds with our analysis and shows that workers are not stupid: a lot of them do realise what's going on. Only they don't think they can do anything about it, so they just abstain and don't bother to vote at sll. It is highly likely that, tomorrow, the abstainers will be the absolute majority.

So, why if it makes no difference who gets in, were we standing? First, to use a period of heightened interest in politics to put across our case for a society of common ownership, democratic control, production for use, and distribution on the basis of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". And, second, because if workers use their votes intelligently in their own interest they could change things, they could use the vote to help get rid of the profit system and bring in socialism.

It's voting for leaders to try to run the profit system in the interests of the majority that makes no difference, not voting in itself. That's why, where there's no socialist candidate, instead of abstaining we go to the polling station and vote, even if it's only a write-in vote. A way of keeping a potential weapon sharpened for the time when a majority are ready to use it in their own interest. Where there is a socialist candidate standing, we vote for them.

And there is a socialist candidate in Lambeth and Southwark.

The last day

Yep. Today is the last day. After today, there are no more. Tomorrow is the apocalypse. Or is that election? I've tramped up so many stairs,. spiralled down so many 20-storey tower blocks, caught my fingers so many times in letter boxes, been so cold and wet that I quite forget the difference between the two. Tomorrow I may rest.

But, not until after I've been down to the polling station to cast my write-in vote for World Socialism (SPGB)! And you, faithful reader, especially if you live in Lambeth and Southwark where you can actually cast a ballot for the Socialist Party's candidate Danny Lambert.

Remember, we are the party that makes no promises - it's you that makes the promise when you cast your vote to say "I am a socialist, I will work for common and democratic ownership and control of the wealth of the world between me and my fellow workers."

Lets see, come Friday, just how many promises we can collect, eh?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Unions

Last night I gopt a leaflet through the mail from my union - Unison - urging me to vote Labour. Unison is a registered third party, and so it can spend money on election campaigns that, unless I'm mistaken, don't count towards a candidate's campaign costs.

Given they have the names and addresses of about 150,000 (they claim) electors, this is a highly effective campaigning tool for the institutionalised labour party.

They are quite right that Labour has achieved many goals, and espouses many values consonant with those of the trade union. But, then, the trade union's demands and values are about a defence of market interests for workers within capitalism - seeing, particularly, its own interest wrapt up in the old conditions of public sector bargaining from nationalised and municipalised industries.

Of course, we could batter on at the union that the real interest of their members is socialism - but until the members of the union are socialists and are able to use their weight to move the lethargic democratic machinery of the union that just won't happen.

So, that makes it all the more important that trade unionists make this clear by voting for the socialist party, either by voting for Danny Lambert if they can, or joining the write-in if they're outside Lambeth & Southwark. And more than that, we need you to join the Socialist Party and stand up in your workplaces and unions to be counted.

A little try at my branch recently failed, we sent a motion to conference affirming that Unison has no leaders, and asking the NEC to make that clear, the standing orders ruled it out of order, because they can, but I'll keep on about it, and if thousands of socialists in the union started to camnpaign for that instead of saving the pittance and stopping the thing, we'd start to see real movement, and a real movement.

Another mystery

On 13 April we reported that we had been contacted by the London Regional Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union and invited to reply to three questions, with the promise that the replies would be published on the PCS website prior to the election on 1 May so that their members could make up their minds on how to vote.

It is now 29 April but a look at the PCS site (see here) shows that our replies have not yet been posted; in fact that we are not even mentioned as standing.

We have emailed the Regional Secretary to find out what is happening and will keep you posted.

By way of contrast, our candidate's (and the others') interview with the Southwark News is published today (Danny knows how to spell "root" even if the interviewer doesn't!).

Monday, April 28, 2008

The last leg

Well, I'm off work for the week to try and put in one last push - I'm currently in Clapham, in the Party head office, after a couple of hours leafletting, including Albert Square! (well, the one in Stockwell, that is, where it turns out, according to the blue plaque, Arthur Rackham - the guy who illustrated Peter Pan- once lived). Behind this gorgeous Georgian square is a spraqling council estate - which is much more pleasant to leaflet (fewer stairs - built low letter boxes, bugger).

Over the weekend I listened to the Wstminster Hour on Radio Four - it was interesting to hear the politicos and pundits trying to assess what would be a good outcome for each party - and it struck me how tawdry the passing show of the professional political pantomime really is. It wasn't a discussion of politics, policies, benefits, or even principle, but machine politicians trying to assess the fall of votes like a farmer watching the weather.

What matters for us is not the nose count (although we're always happier with more votes) but the number of people reading, discussing and agreeing with us. We don't want passive voters, but people to join us, or at least join the debate. Politics should be a two way process, not the passive spectator sport of the professionals in the mass media.

Here's something I wrote on this topic a while ago:
It's no wonder that people feel no pragmatic connection between their voting preferences and the outcomes; and no wonder that people feel so little connection with any of the parties. All these become are technocratic career structures for advancing politicians, a platform from which to project policy ideas to be reflected off the undifferentiated mass, which has no control over what is projected, beyond passive reflection.

This process of “mass culture” has, of course, been assisted by the spread of the mass media. The social relationship is the same, a few technocratic broadcasters/media barons, projecting images and ideas to be passively reflected by a land mass of consumers. Indeed, representative politics follows the same course. Instead of abstractedly measuring response in terms of money, it reads response in terms of flat votes, formally equal but failing to register differences in value or quality.
Hence why I'm happy to sprey leaflets around the place, and on new streets, to try and see if we can reach a new person and light the spark that sets them arguing.

Roght, off to lunch.

In the urban jungle

For the record, there's been a discussion of the election in Lambeth and Southwark in the Brixton section of the Urban75 bulletin board. The address is: but I don't know if people can read it without having to sign in.

One of the issues discussed is who are the mysterious "The Socialist Party" listed as putting up a candidate. You'll see they get it right in the end, much to the annoyance of the Militant Tendency who give a hostage to fortune by suggesting that their candidate in nextdoor Greenwich and Lewisham standing as "Socialist Alternative -- Save Our Bus Stop" (actually, I exaggerate, he's standing only as "Socialist Alternative") will do well.

To tell the truth, the mystery was justified as the name on our nomination paper was "The Socialist Party (GB)". So who dropped the "GB"? The same was done in the official booklet of candidates sent to all London electors. It will be interesting to find if this has happened on the ballot paper too.

Not that we're complaining about this oversight as we are The Socialist Party or even the socialist party. After all, no other party stands for socialism, a world of common ownership, democratic control, and production solely for use not profit, and nothing but. All the others, even those who pay lipservice to the word from time to time or on special occasions, advocate only reforms to capitalism.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A party for the animals

Danny was taken ill on Friday night so I had to stand in for him at the hustings meeting organised by the Animals Count party in Kennington Park yesterday. It was held in the garden of the cafe as a vegetarian (probably vegan) picnic.

As, to be able to hire the venue from the council, they had to sign that they would be liable for anyone injured by a squirrel, the meeting commenced with the chair asking the audience to say in unison "squirrels, we mean you no harm". We thought "OMG, what have we come to", but the party which is standing a candidate in Lambeth and Southwark isn't the joke it might at first seem to be.

Animals Count is the UK equivalent of the Dutch Partij voor de Dieren ("Party for the Animals") which has 2 MPs and a Senator (see here). Its candidate here, Jasmijn De Broo, is in fact from Holland and stood for the Dutch party in the last European Parliament elections. Incidentally, this is a reminder that any EU national can stand for local elections in any other EU country. They can also vote. (UKIP must be tearing their hair out over this, but as far as we're concerned the more workers have the vote the better).

The candidate introduced the party and its policies, which are basically to defend on the political field the welfare of animals. She called for an NHS for animals "including subsidised veterinary treatment and emergency care". Other speakers seemed to be arguing for compulsory vegetarianism in "schools, hospitals, care homes, council premises, etc". At least that's how I understood the mention in the candidate's election leaflet of "banning products from intensively farmed animals" in these places, though I agree that this could be interpreted as saying that (more expensive) "organic" meat and cheese could still be served but I don't think they'd really like that either. In fact, the general impression given that this was a party for vegetarians and vegans as much as for animals.

Of the other candidates only us and the English Democrats turned up. Invited to speak, I explained that our party included vegetarians and even vegans as well as meat-eaters and that we regarded this as a private matter. We didn't want people to vote for our candidate just because he was a bit of a vegetarian. (I explained that, as another member, I was a meat-eater and enjoyed eating meat). We were standing on the single issue of socialism. I had of course to first explain what socialism was not (not ex-USSR, not China, not Cuba, not Labour Party, not nationalisation, not equal sharing, not communes) before saying what it was (a world wide society based on the resources of the Earth, natural and industrial, being the common heritage of all humanity, so there could be production to satisfy people's needs instead of as at present to try to make a profit).

On animal issues, I expressed scepticism about them being able to do much to achieve their aims within the profit system as this was a system governed by economic laws which meant that making a profit had to be given priority over any other consideration; intensive animal farming took place because it was profitable. I suggested that only socialism would provide the framework within which this could be ended and a rational food policy adopted. I added that animal welfare was not the only issue. There were also other problems like world poverty, wars and the threat of wars, bad housing and bad social conditions generally, which also needed addressing, some more urgently.

The English Democrat candidate (Janus Polenceus) spoke next. He said England should have its own parliament just like Scotland did. On animals, he made a fool of himself by saying that he loved them because he had 3 dogs, a cat, a budgie and a goldfish.

Afterwards Jasmijn explained to me that before joining the Party for the Animals she had been a supporter of the Dutch "Socialist Party". This is not the mainstream Labour or Social Democratic party there, but a reconverted one-time Maoist party (see here). She appeared to be unaware of its Maoist past, but this was an excuse for the witty comrade who was also present to say (sorry about this) that she had moved from Maoism to Meeowism.

We handed out our manifesto to the thirty of so people present (from all over the country) and partook of the vegetarian feast before setting off to distribute more election leaflets in the Simon Hughes part of Southwark.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Big Issue in Southwark

This week's Southwark News (out on Thursday) has an 8-page supplement on the mayor and assembly elections. The same set of questions was put to all the candidates. Here they are together with the replies of "Daniel Lambert - The Socialist Party".

What can you do to alleviate the rise of gun and gang crime amongst the youth in Southwark?

Condemnation of gun crime is all very well but you have to go to the root of the problem, which is that young people are alienated. To change that we need to change the nature of society we live in.

How hard will you be fighting for the Cross River Tram and what more can be done to improve connections within the borough?

We are a single issue party and try to put information out to convince people of the merits of socialism. London is a business venture, and is a centre for processing information, with this workers have to be got here there and everywhere, in and around Southwark and London.

Are you aware of any regeneration schemes in the area? How effectively will they solve the issues in that area?

No I am not. We are so busy taking care of business we just don’t take care of ourselves, get rid of the profit system and we will have more time to take care of ourselves.

What is the big Southwark issue at this time?

Capitalism, because without this we the human species have the potential at our fingertips to create a really good human life.

What one thing can you promise to bring to Southwark if you are voted in on May 1?

Well I am not going to get voted in. We want to put our proposition to have a society where there is no money or trade, and no market. The thing we have to get across is all the time that capitalism is about working people getting screwed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A local issue

At the first hustings meeting in Herne Hill when Bill stood in for Danny he must have promised a questioner from the Friends of Brockwell Park a reply from us on their objection to Lambeth Council's plan to take 1,000 sq metres of Brockwell Park for a new road. In any event we received an email reminder. Here's the Socialist candidates reply:

"Although you may have a valid case, I am standing in this election on the single issue of the profit system or socialism. I would be less than honest if I said the Socialist Party wanted you to vote for us just because we were against Lambeth Council's plan concerning Brockwell Park. The Socialist Party only wants the votes of those who agree with a fundamental change in the basis of society to one of common ownership and democratic control where things would be produced to meet people's needs rather than to make a profit as at present. In such a society human welfare would come first and there would not be commercial pressures that there are today to encroach on park lane to build a road."

Having said this, this sort of problem will also arise in a socialist society. Since apparently some people don't like us criticising the SWP, Militant and Gorgeous George too much and want us to be more positive, here's how William Morris explains in his socialist utopian novel News from Nowhere how this sort of problem might be tackled in a socialist society:

"Well," said he, "let us take one of our units of management, a commune, or a ward, or a parish (for we have all three names, indicating little real distinction between them now, though time was there was a good deal). In such a district, as you would call it, some neighbours think that something ought to be done or undone: a new town-hall built; a clearance of inconvenient houses; or say a stone bridge substituted for some ugly old iron one, - there you have undoing and doing in one. Well, at the next ordinary meeting of the neighbours, or Mote, as we call it, according to the ancient tongue of the times before bureaucracy, a neighbour proposes the change and of course, if everybody agrees, there is an end of discussion except about details. Equally, if no one backs the proposer - 'seconds him,' it used to be called - the matter drops for the time being; a thing not likely to happen amongst reasonable men however, as the propose is sure to have talked it over with others before the Mote. But supposing the affair proposed and seconded, if a few of the neighbours disagree to it, if they think that the beastly iron bridge will serve a little longer and they don't want to be bothered with building a new one just then, they don't count heads that time, but put off the formal discussion to the next Mote; and meantime arguments pro and con are flying about, and some get printed, so that everybody knows what is going on; and when the Mote comes together again there is a regular discussion and at last a vote by show of hands. If the division is a close one, the question is again put off for further discussion; if the division is a wide one, the minority are asked if they will yield to the more general opinion, which they often, nay, most commonly do. If they refuse, the question is debated a third time, when, if the minority has not perceptibly grown, they always give way; though I believe there is some half-forgotten rule by which they might still carry it on further; but I say, what always happens is that they are convinced not perhaps that their view is the wrong one, but they cannot persuade or force the community to adopt it."

"Very good," said I; "but what happens if the divisions are still narrow?"

Said he: "As a matter of principle and according to the rule of such cases, the question must then lapse, and the majority, if so narrow, has to submit to sitting down under the status quo. But I must tell you that in point of fact the minority very seldom enforces this rule, but generally yields in a friendly manner."

"But do you know," said I, "that there is something in all this very like democracy; and I thought that democracy was considered to be in a moribund condition many, many years ago."

What else do we want?

Some more from Socialism as a Practical Alternative - this time on the practical organisation of a moneyless economy, and how we see production occuring without some sort of central planning or dictatorial centre:
Socialism will remove every factor of value, cost and price involved in production and therefore there will be no use for money. As marketable commodities under capitalism, bread, shoes, housing and, indeed, labour power are in value relationships to each other which are expressed through prices. In socialism these value relationships will not exist. Capitalism is an exchange economy which begins with an exchange of workers’ labour power for wages and ends with the realisation of profit through the exchange of goods for money in the market. Socialism will relate productive activity directly to needs. Production for use will begin with co-operation between producers and end with the direct supply of goods to the members of the community for whose needs they have been produced. Only socialism can be a practical system for the production and distribution ofgoods directly for consumption.


In practical terms, needs would arise in local communities expressed as required quantities of machinery, equipment, building materials, and the whole range of foods and consumption goods. These grammes, kilos, tonnes, litres, cubic metres of required materials and goods would then be communicated throughout the distributive and productive network.

The monitoring and communications of needs, expressed as a demand on stocks or required production, would be clear and readily known. The supply of some needs would take place within the local community, as for example with food production for local consumption, local building, maintenance and the running of local services. Other needs would be communicated to regional production units, For example, local building might require glass for housing which was produced regionally. A local need for glass would then be communicated through the distributive network and would pass to the regional glassworks. In its turn, the glassworks would have its own suppliers of the materials used in glass production, so the required quantities of these would then be passed on. This would be the sequence of communications through which a local need for glass would be transmitted to every unit involved in glass production within a region. Other needs would be communicated throughout the structure of production up to a world scale. Local food production might require tractors. Regional manufacture would produce and assemble the component parts of tractors for distribution to local communities. These would be required in a definite number and therefore a definite number of required component parts would also be known. Again, the tractor-producing plant would communicate these requirements to its own suppliers. Eventually this would extend to world production units which would be mining and processing the raw materials, such as metals, required for tractor production.

This could be a self-adjusting system of production for use.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What do we want?

A common complaint is that we spend a lot of time knocking capitalism and rival candidates - all well and good, people say, capitalism is terrible, but what are you saying should be done about it?

Thus, having spent the first few weeks of capmaigning concentrating on the failings of other parties, I'm going to spend the rest publishing excerpts from our literature on why we think socialism is the solution.

To begin with, and this is relevent to the comments on yesterday's post, an excerpt from Socialism as a Practical Alternative, on democracy.
Under capitalism, governments, through their control of the state machinery, lay down the law and impose it on the whole of society, if necessary by force.[...] With socialism this dominant feature of the structure will be immediately abolished. The power of the state, which operates from the concentration of centralized power in the hands of governments, will be replaced by a fully democratic system through which decisions will flow from the broadest possible social base to represent the views of the whole community.

A democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit of social organisation would be the local community which could elect is delegates to a local council which could be given the responsibility for local administration. If, for example, local communities in socialism began by operating from the basis of the existing structure of district councils in England, this would give 332 local communities. This would be a democratic development of the existing procedures for electing local councils which could become the basic means for dealing with day-to-day local issues. Then, regional councils could provide organisation through which decisions affecting wider populations could be made at the regional level. Similarly, global decisions could be made by delegates elected to a world council.

Husting in Southwark

Yesterday morning the Socialist candidate ventured into Southwark to speak at a hustings meeting organised by the Southwark Pensioners Action Group at their offices in Camberwell Road. On approaching the office we could see someone handing out leaflets. We were surprised to find that it was someone from the Left List since we hadn't come across them before in the constituency. We were even more surprised on entering to see that their representative was their mayoral candidate herself, Lindsey German.

Also present were the outgoing Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark (Val Shawcross), Southwark Councillor Caroline Pidgeon (the Liberal candidate), Southwark Councillor Kim Humphries (standing in for the Tory candidate) and Shane Collins for the Greens. Apologies were received from the animal rights candidate, the Eng-dems and the Respect George Galloway party.

The Socialist candidate, because he was sitting at one end, spoke first. Danny explained that the problems discussed at these and other elections were caused by the existing system of the private ownership of the means of production by rich people and their use to produce things for profit. There was no use tinkering about with this system as, despite the promises and pledges of the politicians, it could never work, or be made to work, in the interest of the vast majority of people, who depended on having to work for a wage or salary to live. The alternative was socialism, a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production where things would no longer be produced for profit but directly to satisfy people's needs and where the principle "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" would apply. Danny's 2 minutes were up while he was in the middle of explaining the waste capitalism's need for a money system involved.

Assemblywoman Shawcross spoke next. She outlined what the GLA under Ken had done. She also appeared to say that CCTV cameras on buses allowed bus drivers who behaved badly to be disciplined. Maybe this was a slip of the tongue but it's the sort of thing Labour politicians say these days.

Councillor Pidgeon said that one of the advantages of extending the tram system into Southwark and across the Thames would be that there would be public toilets at the stations.

Councillor Humphries was surprisingly honest. He was against having a quota of "affordable housing" in all new housing developments as this could sabotage such schemes. In other words, would reduce the profits of the developers who would take their money and invest it somewhere else where they could make a bigger profit.

SWP Central Committee member German was pathetic. She talked just like the other three, tacitly accepting the present system and proposing minor changes to it.

Green candidate Shane Collins introduced the big picture again saying that with global warming the site of the 2012 Olympics would be flooded (not then but a decade or so later). He was not afraid to offer unpopular reforms such as a 20 mph speed limit on side roads and the legalisation of heroin. (He is a legalise cannabis campaigner and was once caught with 19 plants in his house. It turned out that Danny and him had in fact met each other a few years back at Glastonbury.)

Question time proved interesting. We noticed that Councillor Pidgeon (Liberal) and Councillor Humphries (Tory) refrained from criticising each other and in fact put on a double act when Southwark Council was criticised. This struck us as strange but then the penny dropped. As in Bill's Camden Southwark Council is run by a Liberal-Tory coalition. The shape of things to come perhaps after the next election? Though the Liberals would also be prepared to do a deal with Labour if they get a better offer. Not that it would make a difference either way.

You wouldn't know that Lindsey German is a leading theoretician of the SWP, the author of articles and pamphlets on feminism, war, etc including one entitled Why We Need a Revolutionary Party. There was nothing revolutionary about what she said. Even on reforms she came across as less radical than the Green candidate. The one thing she got really passionate about was bendy buses. They should be taken out of service and replaced by new Routemaster buses (the ones you can fall off) with a conductor; that, she said, would stop the fare-dodging that now goes on on the overcrowded bendy buses. The Tory representative immediately jumped up to say "yes, that's what Boris wants too". That about sums it up.

Actually, the clue to her behaviour is to be found in that pamphlet of hers. It's pure Leninism. The workers are so thick that they can't understand the case for socialism if put to them directly (as we do and as Danny was doing at the meeting). They are only capable of developing a trade union consciousness:

"That is why building a principled revolutionary party is important today. It is also why the Socialist Workers Party takes so much of its theory of the party from the experience of Lenin and the Bolsheviks".
"That is why all those who want fundamental change in society have to be part of a Leninist organisation".
"Socialism in the 1990s means rebuilding the real Leninist tradition".

So it's all a front. She's only pretending that reforms of capitalism are possible, offering them as bait to get workers to follow her and the rest of the vanguard in the SWP. She doesn't really believe that bendy buses should be replaced by Routemasters. That's just a ploy to get a working class following. Or is it? We got the impression that opposition to bendy buses was really what got her going. In any event, it was the only thing she spoke about with passion at the meeting.

Sorry about this digression. Back to the surprisingly honest Tory representative. He made it clear that the problem for local councillors was money. What they were doing was allocating a finite amount of money which was never enough to allow them to do what they'd like to. Danny jumped in to explain why: under capitalism the priority is profit and any money given to local councillors to spend on the public services for which they have responsibilty (most comes from the central government which also regulates how much they can raise through the rates) has to come in the end from profits. There's no way out. That's the way the system works and must work and why the politicians can never deliver on their promises. Profits must come first and always will as long as capitalism lasts.

Danny's exposition of the case for socialism brought him two direct questions from the 20 or so assembled pensioners. "Why do you want to go back to barter?" and "What about human nature?" And the basement of the Southwark Pensioners Action Group was transformed for a few minutes into Hyde Park Speakers Corner.

In closing the meeting the chairman said that he too was a socialist but felt that something could be done now. He was probably an old CPer.

We had planned to leaflet the surrounding area in Southwark after the meeting but the place was full of high-rise flats you can't get into. So we got a 35 (non bendy) bus back to Clapham. On the way who should we pass going the other way down Brixton Road but George Galloway atop his campaign bus. It was festooned with red and green balloons -- green for Islam not the environment. We couldn't hear what he was saying through his loadspeaker but it sounded like "Vote for Me".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St. George and the Coloured Rag

Things have moved a long way since Enoch Powell's rivers of blood speech 40 years ago. Today, all the mainstream parties are against immigration, as long as it's illegal of course. A border police force has even been set up to keep them out. St. George's Day was once celebrated only by fascists. Now the red-and-white coloured rag is even flown on public buildings. The gentlemen of the League of Saint George (see must be happy.

Yes, unfortunately, St George's Day is upon us again, but what is this mythical saint supposed to have done?

We all know that, according to legend, he slew a dragon but in The History of the Seven Champions of Christendom we are told that, among his many feats of valour, he did away with two.

He was, so the story goes, born in Coventry, son of Lord Albert, High Steward of England. Having been abducted as a baby and held captive by the witch Calyb for 14 years, he tricked her into revealing her magic whereupon he split a rock and imprisoned her in it. This freed not only St George but also St Denis, patron saint of France, St James (Spain), St Patrick (Ireland) and St David (Wales), after which they went their separate ways on great adventures and acts of valour. These included sorcery, battling against incredible odds and rescuing princesses.

George, the legend continues, fought and won many battles, apparently single-handed. In the course of one he also freed St Denis who had carelessly allowed himself to be captured. And, of course, he slaved that dragon.

On his return to England he wanted to turn to a contemplative life but the king asked him to slay one more dragon which was terrorising the people of Dunsmore. This time, although he killed the beast, he also died from the poison spewed on him by it. He was, we are told, buried in the chapel at Windsor Castle and his sons - no mention of a wife - were given high office by the king.

If you believe all this you'll believe anything, including that St George's Day is anything more than an excuse for xenophobia - and for pubs to sell more beer.

We shan't be celebrating today but will continue distributing our leaflets in favour of world-wide socialism where the planet and its resources will have become the common heritage of all humans and the world won't be criss-crossed by frontiers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


So, the UK indpendence Party has gained its first MP - in honour of that occasion, let us look at their position in the London elections.

Well, last time, they got two members on the GLA - who promptly jumped ship to join Veritas [Who they? - ed.] and disappeared into oblivion under the later name of One London. (Are yous till awake at the back there?).

As a party, now, their aims are simple - they don't like furriners and don't want them - no furriners 'ere, pelase, guv'nor - oh, and lower taxes more taxis and an end to the congestion charge. Tories on crack, if you will.

Let's let them speak for themselves:

Law and Order – Punish the guilty and protect the innocent
  • Get the police back on the streets preventing and detecting crime
  • The police should only have one target – to reduce crime

    Transport – Get London moving, economically and efficiently
  • Scrap congestion and emission charges
  • Keep traffic and parking restrictions to a minimum
  • Reduce tube fares and make tickets flexible

    Reduce the tax burden – Give Londoners value for money
  • Money will only be spent on the services and projects that benefit all Londoners equally
  • Cap the cost of the Olympic Games
  • No cash for cronies and quangos

    A vote for UKIP is also a vote to say:
  • NO to mass immigration
  • NO to the Lisbon Treaty/European Constitution
  • NO to the European Union

    That from Gerard Batten's entry in the mayoral booklet.

    They've obviously been to the Iain Paisely school of NO! To be frank, with Tory Johnson doing right-wing dog whistle politic, and him pretending to be as fond of referendums as they UKIPpers are, they're likely to get squezed at this election, as only ringht wing wingnuts deserve, really.

    At present, despite being Britains fourth largest party, they are a long way from holding any substantive officem, so they can afford to make oppositional hyperbollic promises, btuas soon as responsibility comes, they'll act, look and behave exactly like any Tory group...
  • Monday, April 21, 2008

    The candidates' manifestos

    The official booklet, sent to all electors, listing all the candidates for Mayor and their programme (if they pay £10,000) has arrived. Fairly democratic actually, except of course for the £10,000 which one candidate apparently couldn't afford.

    It makes informative and amusing reading.

    We learn that, like Ken, the BNP is going for the Irish vote. A young student is featured saying "I'm voting BNP because I'm Irish and the BNP are the only party that cares about the indigenous peoples of these islands" and a builder says "We should celebrate things like St. George's Day and other Christian festivals like St. Patrick's Day instead of other festivals such as Ramadan and Eid".

    The candidate of the English Democrats disagrees. His campaign slogan is "Save London from Labour's Tartan Taxes" and he complains that "currently £100,000 is spent on a festival such as St Patrick's Day whereas St George's Day is mocked with a screening of 'The Life of Brian' in Trafalgar Square". He ends up sloganising "Vote for England. Vote for Matt . . . O'Connor".

    The Christian Party candidate isn't very charitable either. "Stop the mega-mosque at West Ham", he proclaims.

    Apart from that, the BNP and Ken agree that pensioners should have 24-hour free travel passes and the Left List (aka SWP) and the Greens agree that the London "living wage" of £7.20 an hour should be forced on employers. The Left List candidate claims in passing to be a "socialist" even though she wants to keep gap between rich and poor but to make it smaller. UKIP wants to subsidise tube fares and reduce taxes both at the same time. Ken does his best to disguise the fact that he's the Labour Party candidate.

    The candidates on the lists are also all listed as are those standing in the 14 constituencies. We are down as "The Socialist Party". This s-word only occurs in two other places. In the name of the "Communist" Party's "Unity for Peace and Socialism" list and of the Militant Tendency candidate in Greenwich and Lewisham who is standing as "Socialist Alternative" (not that he is).

    Hustings meetings

    We have been invited by Denise Nichols of the Southwark Pensioners Action Group to attend their hustings meeting at 305-307 Camberwell Rd, London SE5 0HQ on Wednesday 23 April at 10.30 am.
    Also an invite to debate from an organisation called Animals Count at Kennington Park on Saturday 26th April 3 to 3.30, the event itself is from 2 to 5pm.
    We will of course be attending both, hope to see you there.

    Yellow Tories

    aka Booting Brian

    Ah, the Liberal Democrats, the cuddly party that is the genuine alternative to the tired old two party system. Put another way, the party for people who can't be honest enough with themselves to admit they're a Tory. See, they're not really Tories, when they cut taxes they do it with Muesli, or something like that.

    Having seen what the rapacious Lib-Dems can do in office, in Lambeth and in Camden, with their Tory bed fellows - slashing funding to soft targets (community groups, meals on wheels, day care, advice services) we know whose side they feel their bread is buttered on.

    So, when Brian Paddick offers the moon on a stick - lower crime, better policing, better environment - lower taxes we know just how it will be achieved. After all, he wants to end the housing problem, but look, Yellow Tories in Camden have begun selling off council houses to the private sector to pay for rennovations to stock (in Camden, it should be explained, tennants have voted against an Arms Length Management Organisation that is the Red Tories in government's prerequisite to release rennovation funding - we can thank John Prescott for that privatisation scheme).

    But, look, they want to build trams - trams everywhere I tell you! as far as the eye can see, from Marble Arch to Stratford (£32 million) from Camden to Sarf London (£Millions and millions) - oh, and all Tram stops with have toilets and electronic information (strangely, the Lib dems in Camden only seem keen to open toilets in wards they control...hmmm), oh, and little green pixies who will grant your every wish...

    Of course, the Fib-dems know they aren't winning here, but it doesn't hurt to use the mayoral electiions as an advertising spring board for their reign of cuddles.

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    What we said

    For those curious about what we said on the inside pages of the manifesto we put out for the 1973 GLC elections when we stood in Clapham, Streatham, Norwood and the other places and which we showed here a few days ago (see here) Not much different from what we say today. That's because the issue is still the same: Capitalism or Socialism? Not the different ways of running (or, rather, trying to run) capitalism offered by the other parties.


    Don't get bowled over by the possibility of "free" transport. By the threat or promise of Labour taking over all the rented property in London. By the promise that the Ring Road will actually improve the environment. We reject this. This election, as with others in the past, is to decide which Party is going to run capitalism. Our candidates will seek your support only on the clear cut issue of Socialism.


    Labour, Tory, Liberal, Communist and the others are in favour of a system where you will remain members of the working class. They support capitalism, which basically is a system where the means of wealth production are owned and controlled by a small minority of people, the capitalist class, and where the vast majority—you, the working class— have to work for a wage or salary in order to exist. It is a pernicious system. It is based upon buying and selling, with profit as the motive for production. Where money is the determining factor and "Will it pay?" the first question. How often have you read of a "good" scheme which cannot get off the ground because of the cost? It is a system that generates waste, greed, corruption, suspicion; it throws up social problems like an erupting volcano.

    Housing, slums, transport, roads, medical centres, open spaces; these will all appear yet again in the manifestoes of the other parties as problems which must be urgently solved, and for which they all have the solution—if only you will vote for them. But all these parties have had the "solution" in the past; the only trouble is that they have never worked; capitalism has seen to that.

    The Greater London Council is part of the political machinery for running capitalism and as long as you are prepared to continue voting for the parties which support capitalism then so long will the system last and so long will you bear the brunt of social problems. If you are prepared to live with a system that deprives you of a creative and happy life, then go on voting as you've done in the past.


    But we think you have the potential, not only to envisage a different type of world, but to take the necessary political action to get it. Let there be no misunderstanding. We are not putting forward candidates who will make you any promises. We are not saying that we have better leaders than those of other parties. In fact, we have no leaders, but do have a set of ideas, which although at first glance might be new to you, we feel sure you will, on reflection, agree have something which is worthy of your consideration.

    We have already mentioned that our issue is that of Socialism, and when we use this word we mean something specific. Socialism is a world-wide community with common interests. Where the land, and all the means of production will be owned by mankind as a whole, with democratic control. Where the sole motive for production will be the satisfaction of your needs. Simply put, bread will be baked because people want to eat it—just that. Money will play no part at all in this society because there will be no need for money. Decisions by the community will be taken on their merits. The wages system will be abolished along with all the other stupid trappings of the present system. Socialism will be a system of co-operation; where each will give according to ability and take according to need. Mankind with its knowledge, harnessed to the riches of the earth, is capable of producing abundance. Why be satisfied with a world of shortages?

    Socialism cannot be introduced by waving a magic political wand. It will be the outcome of understanding and hard work; your understanding, your hard work.

    We are not asking you to vote for the Socialist candidates because you are fed up with the others or because you think we should be given a chance. We only want your vote if you agree with our case, our object and declaration of principles.

    Take a momentous step for your future by making further enquiries about THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN; by reading our literature and making up your own mind whether at last in this election you will have nothing more to do with capitalism, but will throw in your weight and resources with the Socialist movement.

    The other end of the High Street...

    This week's Private Eye (no. 1208) has an interesting peice on Ken Livingstone's associations with a different bunch of leftists - the Workers Revolutionary Party - one of the 57 flavours of Trotskyism, with a hint of added violence.

    Sometimes referred to as a cult for their attempts to control members' private lives, and because of their slavish subordination to their leader Gerry Healy whom the Eye quotes Livingstone's biographer Andrew Hosken describing as: "a serial rapist and abuser of vulnerable young women, a violent drunken oaf, a celebrity-obsessed sycophant, a sectarian demagogyue, a vindictive bully, a political joke, a blatant anti-Semite...a possible accessory to torture and murder, a professional liar and a fraud as well as a stooge for sinister Middle East regimes."

    If you think this is biased slandering, the prestigious Oxford Dictionary of National Biography actually gives Healy space, and says: "As the Workers' Revolutionary Party's financial position deteriorated in the early 1980s, Healy obtained funds from Libya, Iraq, the Gulf states, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, responding with political support. Opposition developed as the defeat of the 1984–5 miners' strike demoralized his organization. On 19 October 1985 Healy was expelled from the Workers' Revolutionary Party after revelations that he had sexually abused at least twenty-six women members."

    Of course, to this day, Geoprge Galloway has demonstrated that money is still available from the Middle East, and Ken is capable of cosying up to despotic elements from that region to shore up his position today.

    Of course, Socialists aren't interested in gossip or smearing opponents with a tarry brush and guilt by association, all that this proves is that all politicians have to swim with Sharks if they want to get ahead, and Ken has schmoozed with some particularly violent and nasty species.

    Cuddly Ken is a smart player of the ruthless game of power politics, who draws support and personnel from authoritarian groups like the WRP and Socialist Action. The ultimate in entryism, and all to introduce some slightly lower bus fares. This is milk and water reformism, only without the milk.

    (A prize to anyone who can guess the link between the article and its title in the comments.)

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    The Revolutionary Programme for Surbiton

    Today's Surrey Comet has some interesting stuff on two of our opponents' parties. (Before you ask what Surrey has to do with Lambeth & Streatham don't forget which cricket club plays at the Oval.) It interviews the ten candidates standing for the Assembly in South West London constituency (comprising Kingston, Surbiton, Richmond, Twickenham, Hounslow, Brentford, Chiswick, etc).
    The English Democrats candidate's programme is described as follows:
    "The party wants to see an English Parliament with a Bill of Rights for citizens. He said: 'We are a non-racist English nationalist party. We feel Ken Livingstone represents minorities quite well. As soon as you mention white English, people immediately think you are racist".
    We wonder why.
    The SWP "Left List" candidate, Tansy Hoskins, gets this write-up:
    "Ms Hoskins wants to see one price for all train fares across London paid for by taxing the air fuel of aviation companies. She said: 'If you are living in zone 6, a travel card costs £160 a month. We are campaigning for a flat rate so people who live in the outskirts of the city aren't penalised for living there compared with those who live in the centre'."
    It seems she is trying to steal the programmne of the local lib-dems who have put out a leaflet with a picture of DI Paddick, Councillor Knight, their candidate, and the local Liberal MP, the three of them holding a placard saying "Re-Zone Surbiton to Zone 5".
    Maybe she can persuade Tom and Barbara Good to vote for her, but she'll have to be much less radical to persuade Jerry and Margot Ledbetter to.
    The SWP as a revolutionary socialist party? You must be joking.

    Cheese and chalk

    Following up on the mistake by the journalist on the Streatham Guardian saying we were not the same as the Socialist Party (whereas we are, of course) a look at the Militant Tendency's website ( -- we forgot to register that one) is revealing. Nobody is really likely to confuse them with us. They think that nationalisation is socialism and as would-be Leninist professional revolutionaries offer themselves as a vanguard to lead various trade union and reformist campaigns. They also want to put the clock back a hundred years and start up a new trade-union based Labour Party so as to have a "mass party of the working class" for them to "enter" and bore from within again as the Militant Tendency. At the moment they are clearly feeling like parasites without a host.

    On the London elections, they say that workers should vote for the SWP candidate for mayor (standing under the disguise of "Left List"), though they are not at all happy that the SWP has put up a candidate against theirs in Greenwich and Lewisham. They also say that the workers should give their second preference vote for Mayor to Livingstone while "holding their noses" (variation on "without illusions") as if Livingstone cares whether they hold their noses or not as long as they vote for him, especially as he might need all the second preference votes he can rake in.

    As far as the party list vote is concerned, they give workers a free hand to choose between the Left List, George Galloway's Respect (apparently he wants to draw a second salary as a councillor as well as his one as an MP) and the "Communist" Party (wheeled out of the museum of antiquities and disguised as "Unity for Peace & Socialism", ie for the old state-capitalist USSR). Incidentally, that's a stupid policy as, if the "left of Labour" votes are dispersed among three lists, none of them may reach the threshold to get a councillor; it would make more sense to plump for the one most likely to do best (probably Galloway's list) but then we're not Leninist tacticians and don't aspire to be.

    Outside Greenwich and Lewisham they say vote for "anti-cuts, anti-privatisation candidates", ie mainly their SWP rivals, we imagine.

    According to the Electoral Commision's site, they are registered as "Socialist Alternative", with the following variations:

    Socialist Alternative
    Socialist Alternative (Ian Page Team)
    Socialist Alternative (Nellist)
    Socialist Alternative - Defend Our Health Service
    Socialist Alternative - Save Local Health Services
    Socialist Alternative - Save Our Baby Unit
    Socialist Alternative - Save Our Health Service
    Socialist Alternative - Save Our Schools
    Socialist Alternative - Save Our Services
    Socialist Alternative - Save Our Special Schools
    Socialist Alternative Candidate [The]

    So, they've got their slogans all prepared even before the campaigns have started! That shows they're a real party of professional . . . reformists.

    Vote early

    Just on the off chance, this is our only means of chasing up, but word on the street is that folks can start casting their postal ballots soon - so if you are going to postal vote in Lambeth & Southwark and (and only if) you agree with the sorts of things set out here - then vote for Danny Lambert The Socialist Party candidate.

    And, hell, let us know you have in the comments boxes below, you know you can do so anonymously - or email and let us know - your early support can carry our campaign forward.

    And if you don't live in Lambeth & Southwark, and you're going to cast a postal write-in vote, let us know as well.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Ken commands the Irish

    If you're Irish, chances are, according to the Irish Post, you've already voted - see, they think that: Irish back Ken to stay Mayor - not some Irish, mark you, but all of them, it seems. How they can know this before the Irish cast their ballots is anyone's guess.

    They claim
    THE IRISH community across London is coming together to back Ken Livingstone’s campaign to be re-elected as Mayor of London.
    - that might come as a surprise to my comrade who posts here as Londonsocialist. A campaigner is quoted as saying:
    “We think it is of utmost importance that the Irish voters and those of Irish descent come out and vote for Ken who has done so much as Mayor to ensure that our community has been recognised for its contribution to the city."

    Well, that's me as well, then, I'm one of those of "Irish descendents" (via Yorkshire, figure that out). Maybe I secretly back Ken without knowing it?

    In reality this is a stitch up between the "community leaders" who control the Irish post and Ken's team. It's what advertising folk call "segmenting", and Ken is very good at it. break the audience down into target identities, then give them a message that your brand is not just suited to them, but confirms their identity as a member of that group. Hence lines like:
    The Irish vote was crucial in ensuring Ken Livingstone was returned as Mayor in his first campaign.
    See, Irish, Ken owes you, he's yours. Of course, this is just primitive coalition building, snake oil salesmanship to try and schmooze to power. Ken is resting on divisions between workers, rather than trying to overcome them through the practical measures of building socialism. That way he can make himself the guarantor of social peace between the various communities.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    We've done this before you know...

    We've stood in this area before, back in the days of the GLC:

    Streatham in 1973 the result was:

    Geddes (Con) 10492
    Walker (Lab) 9426
    Mitchell (Lib) 2114
    Simpkins (Soc) 120
    Boaks (Ind) 57

    So we beat Commander Boaks.

    In 1970 in Lambeth (3 members) we beat the Union Movement candidate

    In 1967 in Lambeth one of our candidates beat one of the CP's, securing the highest number of votes ever won by a Socialist candidate in Britain: 1362. Nice if we could make 4 figures this time.

    So, people in Streatham over 50 have had a chance to vote socialist before.

    On the leaf

    A touch overdue, I've been busy doing trade union work where I'm employed the last day or so.

    On Saturday, however, it was political work, as me and Danny set out leafletting Ferndale Ward. I have fond memories of leafletting in a warm sun, with a slight breeze to keep me cool. Sadly, Saturday was freezing and wet, the reality those fond memories continually disguise.

    It was nice to see, coming the otherway down the same street, Val Shawcross and her Labour Party team - nice in that it shows the other sides are putting in an effort, and that maybe, awareness of the election is raised enough so that people might read our very well laid out leaflet (congrats to the layout team, btw). That said, I only saw one poster in a window on the whole round.

    We blitzed the street - we had a mild disagreement over whether to give leaflets to those houses that say "No Junk Mail". Now, I agree, election literature isn't junk mail, but I take the view that we're not there to make that argument, and the people with that sort of sticker aren't going to examine the lit closely enough to notice any difference. That means, though, that some houses get left out. I just argue that it means where the limited leaflets we have do get put somewhere where there is more of a chance of them being read (albeit, lets be honest, slight).

    One nice feature of the route we took was the old LCC School of Building building (now luxury flats) where Jack Fitzgerald (a founder member of our party) used to work. I wonder what he would make of the change of use - glad that workers have such a fine building to live in? Perhaps annoyed that we have to cram into every last nook and cranny rather than building enough good homes for all.

    Other comrades went to diverse other wards, and we aim to at least try and get our messages out across the vast constituency as best we can throughout the campaign - keep an eye out for us...

    More of the field

    Page Six of this week's Streatham Guardian (10 April) has an article with photos on 5 of the 10 candidates standing in Lambeth and Southwark, among them "Danny Lambert Socialist Party of Great Britain". His photo shows him speaking in Hyde Park. Fortunately, we always say that it's the case not the face that counts.

    Journalist Carla Lee writes of us:

    Mr Lambert was a candidate for the party representing the Vauxhall constituency at the last General Election. He believes in socialism -- a system based on common ownership and democratic control, where goods and services are produced to meet people's needs instead of for profit, and one that can only come about democratically when a majority want it. The party is different to the Socialist Party and is based in Clapham.

    Accurate enough except from the last sentence. Could she be implementing Lord Beaverbrook's old instruction to Daily Express journalists to always refer to the Labour Party as the "Socialist Party"? Not very likely since nobody any more thinks the Labour Party is socialist. More likely she is referring to the Militant Tendency which has attempted to steal this name from us. Without success since we'll be on the ballot paper as "The Socialist Party (GB)" while when they stand they have to call themselves "Socialist Alternative". Our anonymous friend in Lewisham can perhaps confirm that that's the label they're standing under there.

    The next candidate featured is Jasmijn De Boo, of "Animals Count". Apparently she's the leader of this party which stands for an NHS system for animals and is reported to be backed by "Supermodel Twiggy and rock star Brian May".

    Then follow the candidates of three nasty parties. The Reverend Geoffrey Macharia of the "Christian People's Alliance and Christian Party" (which wants to impose Christian values on the rest of us, including on ex and non Christians), Jens Winton of the UK Independence Party (who "wants a firmer line on immigration and for Britain to withdraw from the EU") and Janus Polenceus of the English Democrats (who wants a firmer line on immigration and for England to withdraw from the UK).

    [To be read very rapidly and in small print:] Also standing are : Conservative, Green, Labour, Left List, Liberal.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Good luck, mate

    Our candidate, Danny Lambert, has received the following email from the London Regional Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union. Our replies to the questions are in bold.

    Dear Danny,

    Your views on public services

    The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is asking candidates standing in the London Assembly elections about their views on public services. PCS is the union for more than 55000 London-based civil servants and those working in non departmental public bodies,related areas and the private sector. Responses will then be distributed locally to members and posted on the PCS prior to the election on 1 May to help them make up their minds when they cast their votes.

    This is a unique opportunity for you to comment on the current state of civil and public services and will give you an opportunity to get your message across to all our members in the run up to the election.

    We would be delighted if you could respond on behalf of your party to the following three questions:

    1. PCS is campaigning for fair pay for its members, meaning that their pay should increase in line with inflation and be negotiated nationally instead of 200 separate sets of negotiations. Do you support PCS’s campaign for fair pay for public servants?

    The Socialist Party is all in favour of wage and salary workers organising to fight employers to defend and try to improve their pay and conditions. So, good luck to you. This is necessary under capitalism but it's like running up a downward moving escalator. It's never-ending. We would urge your members to look beyond this, and consider the case for a genuinely socialist society (which has never yet been tried) based on the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources, where there'd be no employers and no working for wages but the application of the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". As Karl Marx urged trade unionists years ago: "Instead of the conservative motto: 'A fair day's pay for a fair day's work' they ought to inscribe on their banners the revolutionary watchwords: 'Abolition of the wages system'".

    2. The government has proposed to cut over 100,000 civil and public service jobs disproportionately affecting London & the South East due to the Lyons review . They claim these cuts will not impact service delivery to the public, however every day our members are seeing how less staff means a poorer service to the public. Where do you stand on cutting civil and public service jobs?

    The government is doing this to save money and reduce the tax burden on businesses so these can be competitive on world markets. That's the name of the game under global capitalism and all governments are forced to play it. Obviously less staff means more work for those left and, as you put it , "poorer services to the public". But capitalism is not about providing services for people. It's about making profits. These have to come first. Any government, and not just this Labour one, has to do this. This is why we would advise you to be wary of rival politicians who promise they won't. If elected, they will. This is a trade union issue and all we can do is, once again, wish your members luck in protecting their working conditions.

    3. PCS is concerned that privatisation of the civil service has continued since 1997. We believe this is costly and unnecessary and jeopardises services being delivered to the public, often the most vulnerable in society. Where do you stand on privatising public services?

    It was natural that a Tory government should privatise some government departments as they've always been the party of business, and privatisation opens up another area where their business friends can make a profit. Some might be surprised that this policy should be continued by a Labour government but privatisation is another aspect of cost-cutting to save taxes on profits, the idea being, as of course you know, to do this by undermining previously-established working conditions. (And of course Labour now has its own business friends who profit from privatisation and donate money to them.) Once again, don't expect help from any politician on this. That's why our members in your union don't pay the political levy and think the PCS should not be affiliated to the Labour Party. Only sound trade union action has any chance of maintaining previous conditions whether the employer is the government or a private firm.

    We request that you keep your answer to each question to less than 150 words and send us your responses by 4th April. Please send them to me at send to the above address. If you have any queries regarding this request please call me on 020 7801 2764.

    Government job cuts are ripping the heart out of our public services we all rely on.

    PCS members are campaigning for:No compulsory redundancies
    An end to privatisation without agreement
    An end to unfair pay
    Adequate resources and decent working conditions
    No cuts to the civil service compensation scheme

    I look forward to receiving your response.

    Dean Rogers
    Regional Secretary
    PCS London & South East

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Who needs a Mayor anyway?

    On the same day as the elections for the Greater London Assembly, there'll be one for the Mayor of London too. But what is the Mayor but an elected Leader? And who needs a Leader? Only sheep do. Here is what we said in a leaflet we gave out during the referendum in May 1998 on whether or not London should have a directly elected Mayor. We wouldn't change a word of it today.

    It is interesting to note what has happened to the professional politicians touted at the time, and mentioned in the leaflet, as possible candidates for the post. Labour leftwinger Tony Banks died a member of the House of Lords. Chris Patten is also now a noble Lord. But poor David Mellor is still a plain Mister and a DJ on Classic FM.

    Who Needs a City Boss?

    This referendum is a farce.

    Full details of what is involved were only made public in March, so there has not been enough time for a proper debate.

    There is no provision for equal time to be given to both the "yes" and the "no" sides. So the media will be free to give an unfair advantage to the government case for voting "yes", as they shamelessly did during the referendums in Scotland and Wales.

    The question is rigged. If you want an elected assembly for London (as most people do since this is an elementary democratic measure) you can't vote for this without at the same time voting for an elected mayor who will have more power than the assembly. So you don't have the choice of saying "yes" to an elected assembly but "no" to an elected mayor.

    This neo-Tory Labour government talks a lot about democracy and democratic reform but in practice resorts to the same underhand tactics to get its way as do governments everywhere. It has linked the two questions so as to be sure to get its dubious proposal for a London City Boss through on the back of popular support for the restoration of an elected London council. In any event, its various proposals for "constitutional reform" are a smokescreen to disguise the fact that it cannot deliver, and no longer wants to deliver, on social reforms aimed at shifting wealth and power from the privileged few to working people.

    We in the Socialist Party are well aware that in the end whatever arrangements are adopted for local government in London won't make much difference. This is because such arrangements are to be implemented within the context of the profit system, whose economic mechanisms require all levels of government, however structured, to trim their spending so as not to endanger profit levels whatever people may want - or vote for.

    Even so, an elected mayor is not a good idea. As the title of the government's Green Paper - New Leadership for London - proclaims, this is a proposal to elect a Leader for London. This Leader will not just have more power than the elected assembly but will be paid a fat cat salary (so as to remove, it is said, the temptation to be corrupt) and have the remit of managing London as if it were a capitalist enterprise. The whole proposal is a travesty of democracy.

    Democracy means participating in the running of affairs, not following leaders.

    The proposal for an elected mayor is a proposal to endorse what passes for democracy under capitalism: a choice not of alternative social systems or even policies but of rival leaders who are all packaging and no substance. Tony Banks, David Mellor, Chris Patten, who has the best smile? Who cares? But worse, it encourages people to think that some Leader can solve society's problems for them, whereas these problems can only be solved by people refusing to follow leaders and acting for themselves. The only kind of politics that is going to work is a do-it-yourself politics aimed at abolishing the profit-system.

    Real Democracy
    Real democracy is not possible under capitalism where a minority own and control the means of production and are therefore more equal than the rest of us and where the mechanisms of the profit system work to frustrate what people vote for from being carried out. The only way everybody can participate and have a genuinely equal say in how things are run is in a classless society based on common ownership.

    Real Socialism
    Such a socialist society will mean the end of production for profit and the coming of production geared directly to meeting people's needs. There will be no longer any barrier to ending problems like transport chaos, pollution and crumbling social services, which are unsolvable today because they arise out of the profit system. People will cooperate to carry out the necessary work of society and be able to take freely from the common store of wealth according to their needs. "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" will be the guiding principle.

    That's what socialism is. Common ownership, democratic control, production for use and free access according to need.

    Nothing to do with the failed state-capitalist dictatorships that collapsed some years ago now in Russia and Eastern Europe (nor with the Trotskyist Militant Tendency which has dishonestly and illegitimately been using our name of "Socialist Party").

    Vote "No" if you want to, but we shall be showing our contempt for the false choice being offered by writing "SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    World City

    I am an economic migrant. There, I said it. I feel better now. I suppose its wise to confess before you discuss such matters.

    In the place where I was born, jobs were scarce, life was violent and crime ridden, and the police haunted by persistent accusations of corruption. OK, life wasn't all bad in North Yorkshire, but the lights of the big city attracted me, so down I came and found a job.

    Like millions around the world (billions even, really, considering that the majority of the worlds population now lives in cities) I followed the dictates of the labour market, and moved down to London.

    That all the mainstream mayoral candidates want an amnesty for illegal immigrants shows that they understand the motor forces in this neck of the woods (especially as for Tory boy, this means running against the instincts of the Shire backbone of the party, but then, their leader says: "Boris is his own man. He is standing on his own platform and he dictates his own policies." So much for being a united political party, your mayoral candidate gets to choose his own policies).

    Socialists are clear that we hold no brief for national boundaries, and see no difference in principle between people like myself, or migrants from France or Nigeria. We are all workers. We look forward to the day when there are no boundaries, no illegal immigrants to give amnesties to (apparently about 380,000 in London at the minute), and we travel the world because its ours and we want to share in it, not because of the dictates of an inhuman labour market.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Write-in voting

    Just to further answer some of our enquirers below. When we call for a write-in vote for socialism (what could be called a spoilt ballot paper) we are not doing so because "electing Johnson will hasten [capitalism's] demise?" That would be a perverse and monstrous policy.

    We want a write in vote, or a vote for a socialist candidate precisely because that is the speediest and most direct way of abolishing capitalism. We understand that, however misguided or foolish politicians are, there are limits to what they can do - mostly they can only alter the mood music of what the market demands. Voting for Ken, Boris or Brian won't get you them as mayor, only King Capital with a different sock puppet for a mouthpeice.

    In the past, radical movements, such as in Argentina, have managed to use a spoilt ballot - effectively a political strike - to overthrow entrenched corruption and political malaise. We do not consider it to be a passive or ineffectual option (as Londonsocialist has just written, write-in votes will appear on a big screen, and be viewed by candidates and agents, imagine them wading through a million spoilt votes...)

    I'm not lucky enough to live in Lambeth & Southwark any more, so I won't be able to cast my vote for a socialist candidate, but I most certainly will go to the polling station and cast my vote for world socialism, and nought but.

    The mechanics (and electronics) of voting

    There was a meeting of election agents last night at Lambeth (formerly Brixton) Town Hall to learn about the mechanics of the election. Each voter will get 3 ballot papers: a yellow one for the mayor, a peach one for the party lists, and a pink one for the constituency vote. So we'll be on the pink 'un. The organisers are anxious to avoid the fiasco of the last Scottish Parliament elections where voters were also faced with three ballot papers and when there were tens of thousands of rejected votes (and there are more electors in London than in Scotland). Whether they will succeed remains to be seen, especially as for the mayor you can vote 1, 2 whereas for the other two you just put one X.
    Party tellers at polling stations are now entitled to harrass you for your electoral number before you go in to vote (rather than only after you come out, as up to now). They are being asked to be polite but there's nothing in the rules banning voters from being rude to them.
    The count (for Lambeth and Southwark and 5 other constituencies) will take place in Olympia in West London on Friday 2 May. It is going to be done electronically (which means that, if it breaks down, the count could last as long as it has in Zimbabwe). The ballot papers will go into a scanner and then be shown on a screen. Spoiled and unclear votes will show up and be set aside for adjudication, as now, by the Returning Officer after discussion amongst the candidates' election agents.
    If we come within 500 votes of 5 percent of the votes cast we will be entitled to demand a recount to try to get our £1000 deposit back. Which would delay the result by another 8 hours.

    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.

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Don't vote for what you don't want

    Two people commented on our election manifesto we posted yesterday, asking in effect what do we think they should do where there is no socialist candidate standing, as in Lewisham (sorry, Anomymous, we're not standing there or anywhere else in London, we just don't have the resources) and in the mayoral election. Basically, we never tell people how to vote but let them decide for themselves. We just say what we'll be doing: either abstaining or (better) writing "WORLD SOCIALISM" across our ballot paper.

    The logic of this position is explained in the editorial in this month's Socialist Standard (see ):

    Don't vote for what you don't want

    We don't have to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy that "capitalism is the only game in town".

    Imagine that all the people in the world made a set of informed, collective and democratic decisions about what kind of system would best meet their needs and solve global problems. Would they choose a money and property system that forced nearly half their total number to try to survive on a dollar a day? Or would they prefer to organise production and distribution of goods and services on the basis of what they need, without the profit system?

    Would they, if and when given the chance to vote, do so overwhelmingly for candidates who -- whatever labels they attached to themselves or their parties -- stood for the continuation of some form of capitalism? Or would they elect delegates, from among their own number, to initiate the process of setting up and running a fundamentally new form of world society, a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution?

    Would they embrace nationalism, involving armed forces paid to kill and injure other groups ("the enemy") with whom they have no quarrel? Or would they regard themselves and behave as citizens of the world, regardless of any geographical, cultural or philosophical attachments they may feel?

    Would they divide themselves into classes, rich and poor, leaders and led, privileged and unprivileged, dominant and submissive, superordinate and subordinate, master and servant, powerful and powerless? Or would they, despite individual differences in abilities, personalities, interests, tastes, likes and dislikes, think and behave as members of the one human race, not perfect, sometimes fallible or irrational, but never deliberately cruel or anti-social?

    Whatever words they use to explain or sloganise their ideologies, all parties except the Socialist Party stand for the continuation of some form of capitalism. From their point of view, a vote for their own candidate is best; a vote for one of their competitors is second best. Not voting could be a worrying sign of alienation from the system. Worst of all, a vote for the Socialist Party candidate -- or, where none stands, writing "Socialism" across the ballot paper -- would indicate the beginning of a resolution to replace capitalism with socialism.

    Don't forget:

    Before the first Labour government came into power, and when some members and supporters used to profess socialism as their eventual goal, there was some justification for the argument that: "The Labour hell is one degree cooler than the Tory hell." So "Choose the lesser of two evils."

    Today, after successive administrations of the same system, the difference in temperature is too small to get excited about. The same applies to others lining up to be our government -- the Lib Dems, etc. We don't want them and we don't need them.

    Support for socialism isn't a matter of campaigning to make the poor rich in today's terms of material consumption. That wouldn't be environmentally sustainable. The socialist aim isn’t even equality in the sense of sameness, like amounts of work contributed or goods and services consumed. Socialism is essentially about social equality, encouraging and enabling every human being to realise their full potential as giver and taker, not buyer and seller, in the context of society itself moving towards reaching its full potential.

    The colour of money...

    This piece could have been called "Booting Sian".

    Anyway, I got a Green Party election address through the post last night. The usual fayre, but I read them anyway. I looked at this one. Blinked. Rubbed my eyes. Rubbed the page. Held it to the light,and in other ways checked it was real.

    It was.

    there on their election material was an advert.

    It turned out, not one advert, but many adverts.


    See, election law means you have to declare donatons, and spending limits (such as exist) mean that donations are controlled. But a payment at a commercial rate for an advert in a magazine that will reach millions of Londoners will not qualify as a donation.

    Effectively, through advertising, the Greens have subsidised their election literature, whilst circumventing donation rules (though not spending limits). Quite how Green Party activists feel about being used in this commercial adventure is anyone's guess.

    What's interesting, though, is how this emeshes the Green Party with the "green pound" industry and turns it into the political wing representing those economic interests. Especially as they promise to promote "small business" against the "multinationals" - I wonder which small businesses?

    Just another capitalist party...greens mean business.

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Danny's election address

    Well, our election leaflets are on their way from the printer, if you live in Lambeth & Suothwark you might well see them in the flesh (they look good) - and of course, if you want to distribute any, just drop in and we'll be glad to give you a bundle.

    Anyway, without further ado - here it is...

    What’s the alternative to the profit system?

    That's the issue in this election, says THE SOCIALIST PARTY candidate in Lambeth and Southwark Danny Lambert

    On 1 May, you will have your occasional ration of democracy with the opportunity to vote for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly.

    It's all very well having a vote but are you normally given any real choice? Let's face it, if it wasn't mentioned on the front of the election leaflet, could you tell which party was which?

    It's tempting – in the absence of any real alternative – to get drawn into the phoney war that is political debate today. Whether Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Greens or the others, they all spout empty promises. And it all amounts to the same thing – vote, vote for us and we’ll do this, this or this for you. As if they could.

    None of them offer any alternative to the present way of running society. That’s why they always fail to deliver. The profit system requires them to put profits before people, to put saving money above meeting people’s needs.

    Do you really think who wins an election makes any difference to how you live?

    And do politicians actually have much real power anyway? Can they control world market and financial forces or do they have to adjust and trim their policies to fit in with these?

    Reality Check

    Do any of the political parties address any of the real issues:

     Why can money always been found to fight a war while hospitals, schools and local services are always strapped for cash?
     Why do some people get stressed working long hours while others get stressed from the boredom of unemployment?
     Why are there homeless people in the streets and empty houses with "for sale" signs?
     Why is there still child poverty even in Britain?
     Why is there no world agreement to limit carbon emissions when scientists say this must be done to avert the threat of global warming?
     Why is there world hunger in a world that can grow enough for all?

    So what's the alternative?

    This time, in this constituency, you have a real choice. We in THE SOCIALIST PARTY are standing to put forward an alternative to capitalism and the madness of the market – a society of common ownership and democratic control. We call it socialism.

    But real socialism. Not the elite-run dictatorships that collapsed some years ago in Russia and East Europe. And not the various schemes for state control put forward by the old Labour Party. For us socialism means something better than that. We're talking about:

     A world community without any frontiers where the Earth’s resources would be the common heritage of all.
     Wealth being produced to meet people's needs and not for sale on a market or for profit
     Everyone having access to what they require to satisfy their needs, without the rationing system that is money.
     A society where people freely contribute their skills and experience to produce what is needed, without the compulsion of a wage or salary.

    If you agree

    If you don't like present-day society ... if you are fed up with the way you are forced to live ... if you think the root cause of most social problems is the profit system, then your ideas echo closely with ours.

    We are not promising to deliver socialism to you. We are not putting ourselves forward as leaders. This new society can only be achieved if you join together to strive for it. If you want it, then it is something you have to bring about yourselves. Nobody can do it for you.If you agree with what we say, you can show this by voting for THE SOCIALIST PARTY candidate, DANNY LAMBERT.

    And if you want to know more about us, call in at our election office at 52 Clapham High Street, SW4 or return the reply coupon on the last page (no stamp required). You can or email us or visit our website at

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    Booting Ken

    The big problem with Ken is, he has no excuse. He can rattle off the ills of capitalism till the cows come home; but all he has to offer is realpolitik of today.

    Look at it this way, on housing, he says 50,000 affordable new homes over the next three years. Boris says 50,000 affordable new homes by 2011. the only difference is where they want to put them, with Ken's 50% quota imposing new build on Tory suburbs. Obviously, things like that do matter; but questions like, "Is that all?" and "What do you mean by 'affordable' anyway? Affordable to whom? How?" do spring to mind.

    For instance, he cites the figure that there are 60,000 households with over 90,000 children in them, in temporary accomodation. This is an appalling scandal, and just the tip of the iceburg. 2.7 %, he says, of the housing stock is empty, because private owners are keeping them so.

    On this he says
    Policy has to be sensible and related to the real world. Boris Johnson’s 1 per cent target for empty homes is completely unachievable in practice: it couldn’t be achieved without stopping the private sale market from functioning.
    Vile Trot that Ken is, he's protecting the housing market.

    Indeed, his accomodation with the market is his hallmark. I've heard him discussing that jobs in industry just aren't coming back, and so we have to live with a nservice economy based London.

    The bottom line is, his strategy is fatally flawed, he admits time and again that the power doesn't lie with him, and that he is doing little things here and there (some of which I'll discuss in coming posts) here and now.

    We think that isn't enough, and the urgency of the situation is such that we need to mobilise to fundamentally change the system of society, and remove the burden of responsibility from people like Ken to ourselves.

    Finally, Ken's constant reference to "Ordinary Londoners" would make Danny, our candidate, spit. Doubtless he'll tell you all about that himself soon.

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Booting Boris

    An anonymous commentator says of the last post:
    Sorry I must disagree. You're clearly well out of your depth.

    Boris has come up with a range of policy proposals - I advise you to look at his policies on

    Manifesto's galore (just a small one for you, Ken's Housing Manifesto was 11 pages long, Paddick's 1 page long...Boris' 38 pages). He's the only candidate with new ideas and the only one capable of leading this city at a time where corruption in City Hall is rife.
    Now, I did actually check out Boris' policy pages before posting (the clue to that, anonymous, was that I linked to his webpage), and all I saw on housing was a vague commitment to work in partnership with councils to raise more affordable homes (note his objection to a quota, what that means is Tory suburban strongholds not wanting to develop affordable housing on their patch, which is what the current situation does). Likewise his promise to protect "historic views".

    I've now looked in vain for his epic housing manifesto online at his site, and can't find it, after a good deal of searching. Now, maybe I'm a eejit, or maybe he's just not being very forthright about putting his policies forward.

    But, lets look at what specifics I could find:

  • Release GLA-owned land and £130 million from the Regional Housing Pot to launch a new 'FirstSteps Housing Scheme', which will be open to first-time buyers frozen out of Government schemes

  • Work with the boroughs to build 50,000 more affordable homes by 2011

  • Invest £60 million from the Regional Housing Pot to start renovating the capital's 84,205 empty properties to help low-income Londoners off waiting

  • Incentivise the boroughs to release dormant housing to those stuck in bed and breakfast accommodation, by returning the Mayor's precept to them

    These are all driven by free market privatising dogma - as if lowering the precept (tax cuts! tax cuts! screameth the Dalek) is not itself going to be used by boroughs (esp. Liberal and Tory boroughs) to cut their own taxes (tax cuts! tax cuts! screameth the Dalek), even if strings are attached, money is fungible, and the boroughs would just reallocate the budgets elsewhere. Likewise, "releasing GLA land" is just more state shrinking.

    As for the pittances outlined above, that renovation scheme amounts to about £700 per property, might do for a lick of paint, I suppose.

    Like I said, Johnson is going to actively and as a matter of principle do nothing but channel the interests of the wealthy. The rest is bluster, blather and distraction from the reality of an exploited working class whose needs and interests always come in second place to the interests of profit and capital. A beautiful home is worthless if you can't afford to buy it.

  • Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    The whited sepulchre

    By special request, it's time to put the boot into Boris Johnson.

    Essentially, I agree with Dave Osler, the chief characteristic of this campaign is the absence of policy, apart from a few populist gripes Johnson doesn't really say anything.

    Of course, over the years he has said plenty, and is well known to be a hard Thatcherite and opponent of so-called "political correctness." And that is just it, it's known for those who care that he will veer to the wild right, and act in a manner to please the saloon bar bores of which he is one in extremis.

    That's why he is policy light, because he is not a typical managerial machine politician, but a walking cipher for a certain Tory gut reflex - hence the "seat of your pants" approach he is trying to downplay.

    The fact is, that his bluster plus his Chatshow Boris plus a few populist measures (lets plant some trees, do away with Bendy buses, etc.) might just sneak him in. Maybe the plan is to give him a competent team to delegate to like he did while he edited the Spectator; but, just as likely, he will blunder and bluster around like a loose cannon.

    The real secret will be that he doesn't believe in doing anything, he will be sabbotaging the local administration so that his Tory mates, the city capitalists and the saloon bar bores can carry on without someone even having the temerity to try an alleviate the ills of capitalism.

    Now, socialists are clear that the attempt to run capitalism against capitalist interests is doomed to failure; but Boris, behind the buffoonish facade represents capitalism's uncaring heart of darkness. It's easy to laugh at Boris the joke, but what he stands for, capitalism and elitism without even the pretence of caring, is no joke.

    Whilst the wild ideologues have dreamed of such unrestraint, in practice, in power, they're usually kept in check by reality. Anarcho-capitalist wingnuts usually do not get within sniffing distance of power. Even Thatcher barely managed to reduce the size of the state, as she found after years of fruitless turmoil. Sadly, Boris' reality check would be unpleasant for us all.