Thursday, April 30, 2009

A penny per household

It appears that the animal rights party that stood against us in Southwark & Lambeth in the Greater London Assembly elections last year won't be standing in London. In their press release saying they'll be standing in the Eastern Region instead, they say:
"As part of the EU election regulations, we will have a free mail-out of our election leaflet. We can reach one household for just over one penny; for £13 we can print an extra 1,000 leaflets. This is a one-off opportunity to reach so many people so cheaply. We're looking to raise more funds in order to print 500,000 leaflets. "
We hadn't made this calculation, but they seem to have got a better deal than us, no doubt because we are only planning to get the Post Office to distribute 240,000 leaflets : 1.3p per household and £12 to print an extra 1,000 leaflets. Maybe we should be more ambitious . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Surveying the field

Well, since our nomination papers are in, we know who we are, and from the list on Wikipedia, a fair idea of who our rivals will be. Ten lists so far.

Of which four are nationalists of some stripe (UKIP, Libertas, BNP, English Democrats). So far, only Labour and the Green Party represent anything that can be called "the left" with the nationalists, plus the Tories being mainly on the right, and Jury Team and the Lib Dems bringing up the centre.

Anyway, I'll move one in future posts to examining party's manifestos...

To begin with, Labour. Although Labour will bring out their own manifesto, as part of the Party of European Socialists [sic] (PES) they will be committed to enacting this manifesto with their Parliamentary group. It makes for some interesting reading:
almost 17 million people in Europe [are] already out of work and many more in precarious jobs who are among the first to be hit by slow growth; the ever-present risk of home repossessions; and social inequalities, with some 78 million people – many of them children – living below the poverty line or at risk of poverty.
As ever, reformists are good at diagnosing the ills, but fail with their prescription. Their proposal? Regulate the markets. That's going to work. Honest. Of course, wing nut free marketeers nowadays try and blame market regulation for the crisis. After all, the markets are already regulated, it just didn't work.

We'd argue, though, that it can't work, that any system based on the market will eventually fall over. That issue, though, is going to be at the real centre of European politics though, regulation versus deregulation, for some time to come. The stale battle between capitalist parties.

Capitalist Parties? Oh, yes, that the piece of analysis I forgot, all but one of the parties standing is a faction of the capitalist party, there are ten lists, but only two parties. Go on, make the choice between capitalism or socialism, not what flavour capitalism you get.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nomination Day

The nominations paper were handed in at 11 o'clock this morning. We were the first. They were accepted as valid. Also handed in was the £5000 deposit (which we'll get back if we get 2.5% of the votes cast).

One anomaly is that, being a list election, the full registered name of the parties contesting will appear on the ballot paper as well as any variant of their names they may have used on the nomination papers. We used, as in previous elections, "The Socialist Party (GB)", so both our full name and the variant will appear on the ballot paper. But this is how the Electoral Commission and the Returning Officers have decided to interpret the law. If we had chosen to put our full name this would have appeared twice.

Another anomaly -- in fact a stupidity -- is that the full registered name of the parties contesting will determine the order on the ballot paper in which the lists appear. But "The" is to count as the first word where this is included in the registered name, as it will be for most parties. So nearly all the lists will be under T. Another Electoral Commission and Returning Officers decision. Now if we'd called ourselves Aardwark Socialist Party then we'd be first . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Candidate admits error - shocker!

I was wrong, I misremembered the address on the posters, it was actually I saw on the poster, and that is an EU advert for the EU's elections - essentially a political campaign to get people to support the election by voting. Here are some gems from their top ten list of reasons to vote:

It’s a small effort for a big outcome
Come on! It’s just a few minutes, maybe you can combine it with a walk in the park or a drink in a cafĂ©. Not much effort to tell Europe what you want. After that it’s easy to follow what your elected members are doing for you - just visit!
It’s for people and prosperity!
Young or old, student or retired, man or woman, employed or independent, mainstream or alternative, town or countrydweller, Europe concerns all of us, often without us realising! Thanks to Europe, we can easily travel, study and work abroad. The EP works tirelessly for a cleaner environment, safer chemicals, better services and jobs. It is an ardent defender of consumer rights, equal opportunities and human rights both in the EU and abroad.
In the pipeline, even weightier MEPs
With the new Lisbon Treaty, once it can be implemented, MEPs’ decision-making powers over EU affairs will once more increase. It will place the Parliament on an equal footing as lawmaker with Member States’ ministers in virtually all areas of EU policy. The Parliament will also elect the President of the European Commission, strengthening its control over the EU executive. Furthermore, you as an EU citizen will have a right to initiate European laws.
Really, a very weak list of reasons to vote, pathetic even. We suggest a better reason to vote: to pursue your class interest by letting your fellow workers know you are opposed to capitalism, and getting ever more of us to bring our weight round to that end. Not consumer rights, nor extra competences for parliamentarians (who will become, gasp, the equals of Ministers and Eurocrats). The best reason to vote is revolt.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Putting the case

I went along, last night, to see Richard Headicar of the Socialist Party debating with John Meadowcroft an academic supporter of capitalism. Due to regent's Park football kick-about commitments, I missed the start.

What I was very interested to hear was the end. In his summation Meadowcroft basically abandoned defending capitalism, and resorted to the tried and tested "it's the least worst system we've got." A great rallying cry of conservatives throughout the ages.

Even more significantly, he ditched egalitarianism. It's often overlooked, that Adam Smith's strongest argument for the market was an egalitarian one. He argued that wages were equal (although they might command different money prices, the irksomeness or ease of the job would balance out over the cost, he claimed). More prosaically, his invisible hand was meant to indicate that pursuit of private trade could assist the general good (a useful selection of Smith quotes can be found here).

How could you look someone in the eye and ask them to be the poor part of society?

If that's the best that an ardent supporter of capitalism can muster now, they're in trouble. Let's hope for more opportunities to expose this weakness soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


You may have seen posters around London, urging you to consider the issues covered by the European Parliamentary elections: work life balance, the environment, etc. Now, at first I thought this was the European commission engaged in a voter drive, a political act which the UK government is guilty of often.

In the UK, the electoral commission spend thousands on adverts promoting voting. Choosing not to vote is a political choice - after all, if you think voting is pointless; that the parties on offer won't represent you; if you simply think the body being elected is illegitimiate; or think the elections are fixed or otheriwse unfair; then it is perfectly reasonable to refuse to vote.

As it turned out, however, the website given on the posters is actually something run by a group called CARE - a Christian activist coalition, or third party (as they're known in electoral law), trying to inform (i.e. influence) the vote.

This is a doozey:
In order to remind ourselves why withdrawing from the ballot box is a problem for the Christian, we must reflect on the implications of the Bible's endorsement of government and some of the problems associated with justifications for not voting. Christianity is 'for government'. There is no theological justification for anarchism. First, the Bible makes it plain that government is a good idea, instituted by God to create a legal framework that encourages right and restrains wrong (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, 13-17, 1 Tim 2, 1-4). It also makes it clear that government doesn't always get it right (Isaiah 10. 1) and that the whole world, and thus including government, needs the projection of Christian salt and light (Matt 5. 13-20, Luke 8. 16).
And some wonder why we in the socialist party are hostile to religion. The above shows the whole problem. Firstly, that religions, in order to survive in the political world have accomodated themselves to the powerful, and thus become adroit at justifying the status quo. Further, their very existence is bound up with an appeal to authority - they say vote according to God's wishes (if you can guess what they are). A game of political "Simon Says". No wonder they find life without government hard to fathom.

We argue that indeed there isn't a need for the government of people, and that it can be replaced by co-operation and the administration of things. We don't need appeals to authority, but apeals to reason. We don't ask for votes based on appeals to loyalty or emotion - if you think common ownership is the solution to the worlds ills, indicate it by voting for us.

If you live, though, in a region where we haven't put up candidates, fine, don't vote for the parties that represent the continuation of capitalism. Or, as I've done in every election I've voted in for the past twelve years, postively abstain by spoiling your ballot paper (I write "World Socialism" across mine).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Presenting our candidates

Our executive committee approved a list of candidates and, in keeping with party tradition of "it's the case, not the face", decided that the order on the ballot paper would be decided randomly.

The criterion for being a Socialist Party candidate is demonstrably understanding the party's case. The EC had to choose from a list of people who have managed to prove that they can do that. All our candidates are equals within the party, and the listing reflects no more than the order their names came out of the hat.

They are:

Dannny Lambert
Tristan Miller
Janet Carter
Bill Martin
Adam Buick
Simon Wigley
Frederick Allen
Patricia Deutz

You can come hear that case at the following meetings:

Sunday 17 May, 6pm
Speakers: Danny Lambert, Tristan Miller
Socialist Party Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 (nearest tube: Clapham North).


Every Sunday between now and election time Hyde Park Speakers' Corner, Danny Lambert, Bill Martin & Adam Buick will be speaking from around 10 in the morning till mid afternoon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good News

We may get a free run of the use of the word "socialist" on the ballot paper in these elections. It seems that a number of those who falsely claim to be socialists will be backing the No2eu party led by Bob Crow, the General Secretary of the RMT union. This includes Militant who have attempted to hi-jack our name, but also the so-called Communist Party of Britain (who bring out the Mourning Star) which has a particularly despicable role in dragging the name of socialism through the mud by associating it with the state-capitalist dictatorship that used to exist in Russia under Stalin and his successors. It has been reported that the Respect George Galloway Party is considering joining this "narrow nationalist", anti-EU list. The SWP doesn't seem to be interested either in this list or in the elections.

On the other hand, it seems that the Scargill Labour Party might be standing a one-man list.

Good, if all the pseudo-socialist reformists get together that will make the issue in this election -- capitalism or socialism -- even clearer.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It’s election time again

Well, we're back again, the go ahead has been given, we're standing a list of candidates in the European Election in June. We'll announce the list shortly, but first, our election address is below:

It’s election time again
Every few years groups of professional politicians compete for your vote to win themselves a comfortable position, this time in the European Parliament. All of the other parties and candidates offer only minor changes to the present system. That is why whichever candidate or party wins there is no significant change to the way things are. Promises are made and broken, targets are set and not reached, statistics are selected and spun.

All politicians assume that capitalism is the only game in town, although they may criticise features of its unacceptable face, such as greedy bankers, or the worst of its excesses, such as unwinnable wars. They defend a society in which we, the majority of the population, must sell our capacity to work to the tiny handful who own most of the wealth. They defend a society in which jobs are offered only if there is a profit to be made.

Real socialism
The Socialist Party urges a truly democratic society in which people take all the decisions that affect them. This means a society without rich and poor, without owners and workers, without governments and governed, a society without leaders and led.

In such a society people would cooperate to use all the world’s natural and industrial resources in their own interests. They would free production from the artificial restraint of profit and establish a system of society in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation. Socialist society would consequently mean the end of buying, selling and exchange, an end to borders and frontiers, an end to organised violence and coercion, waste, want and war.

What you can do
You can vote for candidates who will work within the capitalist system and help keep it going. Or you can use your vote to show you want to overturn it and end the problems it causes once and for all.

When enough of us join together, determined to end inequality and deprivation, we can transform elections into a means of doing away with a society of minority rule in favour of a society of real democracy and social equality.

If you agree with the idea of a society of common and democratic ownership where no one is left behind and things are produced because they are needed, and not to make a profit for some capitalist corporation, and are prepared to join with us to achieve this then vote for the SOCIALIST PARTY list.

The establishment of a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.