Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alter Egos

Yesterday at a book fair in Oxford got chatting with someone on the Communist Party of Britain/Morning Star stall who explained that the Scargill Labour Party had been prepared to join the petty nationalist No2EU list but that there was a last minute hitch. Scargill demanded that he be No 1 on the list in London. Unfortunately, this had already been reserved for his Alter Ego, Bob Crow. They offered King Arthur the No 1 place on the list in Yorkshire (where presumably he could be expected to be better known and more popular) but he refused -- perhaps he had got wind of the fact that a number of ex-miners were planning to switch to the BNP. So the deal fell through. Don't know if there's any truth in this bit of gossip but here seemed the best place to record it for posterity.

In the event Crow beat Scargill in London, but Scargill's list beat Crow's in 7 of the 9 other regions. At least they settled the argument through elections. Which wouldn't have been the case in the state-capitalist ex-USSR the both of them so admired.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's Left?

Bought a copy of Socialist Worker on Saturday as they happened to have a stall (or rather their front organisation Stop the War did) at the same Peace Fair in West London that we did. It was interesting to read the following in a piece headed "What about the radical left?":
Five years ago Respect polled 4.84 percent across London, beating the BNP. The combined left vote in London was down this year to 2.1 percent.
The No2EU (Communist Party/Militant list) got 17,758, or 1.02%. The Scargill Labour Party got 15,036, or 0.88%. That only makes 1.9%. So where does the other 0.2% come from. You've guessed. It must be our 4050, or 0.23%.

We should be flattered I suppose but because of the association of the "Left" with what went on in Russia and with Labour-style reformism we don't like to be classified as part of the Left (though we know what people mean when they do this). We certainly don't like being classified with these two lists, both led by ex-members of the Communist Party who still haven't broken with its ideology and still think the former USSR was socialist (and Militant too thought that the USSR was some sort of "Workers State"). In any event, we're no part of this State Capitalist Left.

But let's run with this for a moment. The total "radical Left" vote was 37,114. Our "contribution" was 4050, or 10.9%. So one in 10 of the "radical left" would be people prepared to vote for the SPGB, ie real socialism as opposed to the state capitalism favoured by most of the rest. Though this is probably more a reflection of their weakness rather than our strength. Still.

The same issue of Socialist Worker commits the SWP to convening a "conference of all those committed to presenting candidates representing working class interests at the next election". Be interesting to see if they send us an invitation as that's what we'll be doing. If they did, we could tell the gathering that the only way to pursue working class interests is to advocate a worldwide society of common ownership, democratic control, production solely for use not profit, and distribution on the principle "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs", and nothing but. But, being realistic, we don't think they'd accept this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More statistics

All the London boroughs have now published the results of the election in their area (to see them in full, type in the name of the borough followed by .gov.uk). These allow us to calculate the percentage of the vote obtained by the Socialist list, more significant than the actual number. Here they are, divided into above and below the overall average vote of 0.23% (4050 votes):

0.45 219 Haringey
0.43 227 Lewisham
0.32 149 Islington
0.31 164 Waltham Forest
0.30 150 Hounslow
0.30 146 Newham
0.29 135 Camden (*)
0.28 127 Tower Hamlets (*)
0.28 103 Westminster
0.28 99 Barking and Dagenham
0.27 158 Lambeth (*)
0.27 120 Hackney
0.26 138 Southwark
0.24 160 Enfield
0.24 114 Greenwich
0.23 163 Ealing (*)
0.23 93 Hammersmith and Fulham

BELOW AVERAGE
0.22 137 Harrow
0.22 137 Havering
0.20 136 Wandsworth
0.19 151 Barnet
0.19 113 Brent
0.18 111 Bexley
0.18 111 Redbridge
0.17 149 Bromley
0.16 138 Croydon
0.16 98 Hillingdon
0.15 81 Richmond
0.15 74 Merton
0.14 66 Sutton
0.14 3 City of London
0.12 52 Kingston
0.11 32 Kensington and Chelsea

(*) = borough where the post office delivered our manifesto to parts.

These confirms that, as could have been anticipated, we did better in the inner London area than in the outer suburbs to the South. For those who don't know London, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Richmond form a continuous swathe of territory that has more in common with neigbouring Kent and Surrey than with the rest of London.

Why Haringey should be our best result is unclear though a lot of work has been put in there over the years including contesting the parliamentary seat of Hornsey on a number of occasions. With regard to Lewisham, it is tempting to speculate again that this is due to Militant, which has a couple of councillors there who say they are from the "Socialist Party" (though not on the ballot paper), being hoist by their own petard for usurping our name.

Kensington and Chelsea is where the knobs live.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Lambeth Talk

On Sunday 6 members went to the count in the Assembly Hall next to Lambeth (ex-Brixton) Town Hall, before 2 of us moved on to the count at Southwark. We were met by the Deputy Returning Officer who knows us from previous elections we've contested in the area over the years.

The election agent was allowed to see the rejected ballot papers. Most had voted for more than one candidate, though the combination was not always comprehensible like the voter who voted UKIP and Yes to Europe. A number of others voted Labour or Liberal and Yes to Europe, presumably thinking that the Yes to Europe box near the bottom of the ballot paper was some sort of referendum on the issue. Others wrote rude things or drew rude drawings on the paper. Others wrote None of the Above. Somebody cast a write-in vote for Kylie Minogue. Curiously all these went into a pile marked "Uncertain" despite the intention of all of them being quite certain.

When the two of us went on to the Southwark count we, as candidates, were greeted as honoured guests by the Returning Officer who had not expected any candidates to turn up. However, Simon soon disagraced us by touching a ballot paper, which is absolutely banned. Also present was a tall young man with a beard and a badge saying "agent". I asked him for who and he replied, apologetically as if I might hit him, "BNP". I quipped you can't be as you've got a beard. It obviously takes all sorts.

Anyway, back to Lambeth. Here's the result:

Labour 15,990
Lib Dems 11,340
Con 10,537
Green.10,394
UKIP 3,111
Christian 2,154
BNP 1,174 (2.04%)
SLP 653 (1.13%)
Eng Dem 488
No2EU 478 (0.83%)
Libertas 281
Jury Team 194 4%
Cheung (Ind) 187
Jananayagam (Ind) 176
Socialist Party 158 (0.27%)
Yes 2 Europe 155
Saad (Ind) 48
Alcanatara (Ind) 46
Rahman (Ind)36

There were 558 rejected ballot papers.

We have to confess that this was a bit of a disappointment as, in the same area last year, there'd been 917 votes cast for the Socialist candidate. So what happened to the "missing" 759 votes? The poll was lower by about a quarter this time, so that might account for 200 or so of them. And the rest? One possible explanation is that some of them were people who considered themselves socialists and who are prepared to vote for any party or candidate calling themselves "socialist" and who voted for Arthur Scargill's SLP, either because it appeared on the ballot paper before us or because they thought him or his party better than us.

Having said this, we have received a number of interesting replies to the manifesto which the post office delivered to two-fifths of the households in the borough which we'll be following up individually. Plans to contest the general election in Vauxhall, and two wards in the borough elections next May, are going ahead.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Breakdown by borough

Here it is, but the absolute figures can be misleading in that some boroughs are larger than others and there was a higher turnout in some. Not all the boroughs have yet produced full results so the percentages are only given for those who have.

Barking & Dagenham 99
Barnet 151 (0.19%)
Bexley 111
Brent 113
Bromley 149 (0.17%)
Camden 135 (0.29%)
City of London 3
Croydon 138
Ealing 163 (0.23%)
Enfield 160 (0.24%)
Greenwich 114 (0.24%)
Hackney 120 (0.27%)
Hammersmith & Fulham 93
Haringey 219 (0.45%)
Harrow 137
Havering 133
Hillingdon 98
Hounslow 150 (0.30%)
Islington 149
Kensington & Clelsea 32 (0.11%)
Kingston 52
Lambeth 158
Lewisham 227
Merton 74 (0.15%)
Newham 146 (0.30%)
Redbridge 111
Richmond 81 (0.15%)
Southwark 138 (0.26%)
Sutton 66
Tower Hamlets 127 (0.28%)
Waltham Forest 164
Wandsworth 136
Westminster 103
TOTAL 4,050 (0.23%)

This is more or less what you'd expect. We were above our average in the inner London boroughs and traditional Labour areas and below our average in the leafy suburbs.

It's a pity we've not got the full results yet for Lambeth. And it's tempting to speculate that our highest absolute number (227 in Lewisham) may have been due to some Militant supporters thinking we were them, but Lewisham is the sort of area where we'd have been expected to get a higher than average vote.

The best result was in Haringey. Which was also rather untypical for the rest of London and the country. What with the Tories and UKIP in 4th and 5th place and the BNP in 7th. And us beating the Jury Team and Libertas.

Elections for the European Parliament 2009

Votes cast in Haringey were as follows:

The Labour Party 14,093
Liberal Democrats 11,550
The Green Party 8,528
Conservative Party 7,396
United Kingdom Independence Party 2,164
Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship” 1,408
British National Party 981
Socialist Labour Party (Leader Arthur Scargill) 683
No2EUYestoDemocracy 618
English Democrats Party 339
Jan Jananayagam – Independent 297
The Socialist Party of Great Britain 219
Jury Team 202
Steven Cheung – Independent 131
Yes 2 Europe 111
Pro-Democracy:Libertas.eu 96
Gene Alcantara – Independent 69
Sohale Rahman – Independent 51
Haroon Saad 23

Rejected ballot papers
Voting for more than one candidate 255
Writing or mark by which the voter could be identified 6
Being unmarked or wholly void for uncertainty 129
Total 390

Turnout: 32.35 %

The result






















PartyTotal vote % votes
Conservative 479,037 27.4
Labour 372,590 21.3
Liberal Democrats240,156 13.7
Green Party 190,589 10.9
UK Independence Party 188,440 10.8
British National Party 86,420 4.9
Christian Party-Christian Peoples Alliance 51,336 2.9
Independent - Jan Jananayagam 50,014 2.9
English Democrat 24,477 1.4
No2EU17,758 1.0
Socialist Labour Party 15,306 0.9
Libertas 8,444 0.5
Jury Team 7,284 0.4
Independent - Steven Cheung 4,918 0.3
Socialist Party of Great Britain4,050 0.2
Yes 2 Europe 3,384 0.2
Independent - Sohale Rahman 3,2480.2
Independent - Gene Alcantara 1,9720.1
Independent - Haroon Saad 1,603 0.1

From The BBC

Discussion of the counts and various ruminations to follow.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The turnout

It's 33.53%, with 1,763,025 votes out of an electorate of 5,257,624. See here. Just under 4 percentage points lower than last time (2004) but over 10 percentage points higher than in 1999.

8 of us are off to various counts this afternoon and evening (the counting is being done in each of the 32 London boroughs).

As a quick guide to our and other minority party candidates (well, more minority parties than others since, with 66.5% abstaining all parties are minority parties), and in case anyone wants to organise a sweepstake on how many votes we'll get, here's some figures:

2,5% 44,076 (to save deposit)
1% 17,630
0.9% 15,867
0.8% 14,104
0.7% 12,341
0.6% 10,578
0.5% 8,815
0.4% 7,052
0.3% 5,289
0.2% 3,526
0.1% 1,763

The only forecast I'm prepared to risk is that we'll get more than the 846 obtained by the candidate of the Weekly Worker in 1999. This time, incidentally, they are saying Vote Labour. I'm sure Labour will be grateful for any extra votes on offer.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Less low turnout?

We've received the following email from the person in charge of the count in Camden:
Following advice from the Regional Returning Officer in the light of the higher than anticipated turnout and also taking account of the ballot paper size, the Local Returning Officer has decided that the start time for the count of votes for Camden is to be put back to 4.30 pm on Sunday 7th June at the Camden Centre.
Higher than anticipated turnout? What does he know that the media speculators don't? Presumably a lot, as they started to "verify" the votes (ie check the number of ballot papers against the number issued) yesterday.

It is not clear whether this applies just to Camden or to the whole of London.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Waiting

Because the last countries to vote in this EU-wide election will not be doing so till Sunday, the votes in the UK won't be counted till then. The votes in London are being counted by London borough, so we'll get an interesting and maybe useful breakdown of our votes. We'll have representatives at the counts in Camden, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Southwark and also at City Hall where the votes from the boroughs will be collated and the complicated D’Hondt Rule applied to decide who’s elected.

As we only had a blanket distribution by the post office of all households of our election manifesto in 4 Westminster parliament seats, we will be able to see if this makes any difference to the number of those who register a vote for socialism in the boroughts concerned. These are:

Camden 75,000
Lambeth 55,000
Ealing 51,000
Tower Hamlets 56,000

Members and sympathisers delivered a further 29,000 by hand in the other boroughs but these will probably have been in such small numbers as to make little difference to the overall outcome, except perhaps in Wandsworth and Kingston where 9000 and 5000 respectively were distributed.

Only in 5 of the 32 borough were no leaflets distributed (Brent, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, and Kensington & Chelsea).

We'll see. The turnout should be available later today.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Just Voted

Just voted for myself for a change. You're not supposed to canvass within a certain distance of the polling station but the Lib Dums (as Danny calls them) get round this by sticking their posters in the windows of nearby houses. But the Christian Party was better served. The polling station is a Christian centre and above the polling booths is a banner proclaiming "Christ is King" which fits in nicely with their slogan on the ballot paper about "Proclaiming Christ's Lordship". It's as if the polling station was in the Miners Institute in Barnsley with a banner proclaiming "Leader Arthur Scargill" which is the SLP's ballot paper slogan. This has happened before, though this time they've at least taken down the banner proclaiming their economic policy: "Jesus Saves". Naturally, I complained again about this but the staff said they couldn't do anything about it. Maybe an official complaint from a candidate and election agent will carry more weight. Watch this space. On my way back came across a Lib Dum canvaser delivering leaflets on polling day. They must be desperate.

The day before yesterday in Parliament

Danny Lambert reports:

The Party was invited to have a candidate attend a hustings meeting organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union on Tuesday evening at the Houses of Parliament and delegated me to attend. I turned up in good time, found my way to the entrance passing half a dozen well tooled up members of London’s finest, where I was asked to stand on the foot marks, had my photo taken, given a pass with it on to hang round my neck, then through airport like security and I was in.

What struck me immediately as I entered the Great Hall, which is huge, was the amazing level of craftsmanship embodied in the walls and floor and in the oak roof. All that skill was employed solely to aggrandise rulers and to intimidate the ruled.

The meeting was held in one of the many committee rooms that line the corridors. I counted 45 in the cheap seats, the panel of candidates represented No2 EU, Libertas, the Green Party, the Jury team, the Tories and some Baroness who wasn’t a candidate but was standing in for the Lib Dum. The UKIP and the Labour candidates didn’t turn up and I assume the BNP weren’t invited.

We were all given three minuets to give an outline of what we proposed and then it was questions from the floor which could be directed at a specific candidate but we were all able to comment. Most of the assembled were members of the PCS and their questions were all about whether we supported this reform or that one? What we would do about the corruption in the EU? What was our opinion on the Lisbon Treaty? And so on.

During the meeting which was very poorly chaired, members of the audience were allowed to ramble on and repeat themselves, The NO2EU lefty and the Baroness had a long pointless argument with no intervention from the Chair. I thought I gave a decent prĂ©cis of the Party Case in my three minuets, however no one asked me to expand on or explain what I had put forward, so when it was my turn on a question I gave variations on the stock socialist position on reform and then threw in some of what they should acknowledge about capitalism and what real socialism was all about, and although the applause wasn’t as thunderous as I was anticipating, I did notice some nodding and smiling of recognition. The star of the show was the NO2EU lefty who gave them exactly what they wanted to hear.

The meeting lasted a little over two hours, and at the end I handed out leaflets and every one approached took one.

Just one regret. It's a pity other that some Party members didn't turn up and attend this meeting and put some difficult questions to the various representatives of the Capitalist Party sitting beside me.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The local press

We have to confess that coverage of our list in the local press has been disappointing. We had counted on them to help get across, in areas where the post office wasn't distributing our leaflets, the fact that we were standing and something of what we stood for.

Unfortunately, most of the local papers did not go much beyond giving a "public service" announcement of the list of all the parties and individuals standing. Some did not even do this.

Particularly disappointing were the two independent (of the big chains) papers, the Camden New Journal and Southwark News. In the first, we put in a paid ad putting our case but there was no editorial coverage. In the second (which had given us equal time in last year's GLA elections), we were only mentioned amongst the "also standing" while Labour, Tory, Liberals, Greens, UKIP and BNP got interviewed. We had understood that if we answered the same questions this would be in the following week's issue along with the replies of the other left-out parties. But nothing was published. So as not to waste the work that went into drafting the replies to their questions, here they are.

1. Should further enlargement of the EU be supported for countries such as Turkey and Croatia?

What intergovernmental arrangements those in charge of trying to manage capitalism make is irrelevant as far as the majority of us, who work for a wage or salary or exist on benefits, are concerned. What the Socialist Party advocates is a world without frontiers where the resources of the whole world will have become the common heritage of all humanity.

2. As the pound is currently weak, should the UK consider joining the Euro?
It makes no difference what the money we are paid in is called. As long as the capitalist system of production for profit exists there will always be economic crises, whether we are governed from London or from Brussels, or whether we are paid in pounds or euros. In socialism, the principle “from each their ability, to each their needs” would apply, making money redundant.

3. Is it fair that the UK pays more into Europe than it gets back, with funds being redistributed to eastern Europe countries?
It’s up to the big capitalist corporations and their political representatives to judge whether or not they get value for money out of their membership of the EU. These funds, like profits, originally come from the difference between the value of what we produce and what we are paid as wages and salaries. That’s what’s not fair.

4. What would you do for London as an MEP?
If elected I would be the mandated delegate of those in London who wanted to replace capitalism with socialism. Pending the emergence of the majority desire for socialism required to establish it democratically, I would use the European Parliament as a platform from which to broadcast the need for a society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The dying embers

Last night I went out on the leaflet run. I tried handing one to a dustman:

"Is it voting? Coz I don't vote." - he refused the leaflet.

Ringing a buzzer on a council block (see my rants about this passim) I said:
"I'm delivery European election leaflets."
"I'm not interested." *click* was the reply - one persons uninterest denying an entire block of people from receiving leaflets.

One woman refused the leaflet because she'd already voted by post. She hadn't voted for us.

People stormed out of their Islington homes to demand "what're you putting through my door", but I had already moved away, and was only just in ear shiot.

Uninterest rules the roost. So, I'll try and end with a bit more baiting of the Christian party.

Apparently, well, OK, let me let them tell their own story, from the last Welsh Assembly elections:
The [Welsh Christian Party's] leader, the Rev George Hargreaves, said, "We will not allow this evil symbol of the devil to reign over Wales for another moment.

"Wales is the only country in history to have a red dragon on its national flag.

"This is the very symbol of the devil described in The Book of Revelation 12:3.

"This is nothing less than the sign of Satan, the devil, Lucifer that ancient serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

"No other nation has had this red dragon as its ruling symbol.

"Wales has been under demonic oppression and under many curses because of this unwise choice.


This is what we're up against.

20 seconds of fame

BBC London phoned yesterday to say that extracts of the radio interview would also be broadcast on their breakfast programme this morning between 6am and 9am, but said that two minutes would be devoted to comments from 6 parties, ie 20 seconds a party. I just spent over two hours listening to two non-entities twittering about nothing (the CIA should consider forcing people to listen to this programme as a substitute for water boarding) while waiting for this. It didn't come till ten minutes from the end, at 8.50. We were included with Libertas, No2EU, the Greens, the Christians and the BNP. The subject chosen was whether the minor parties would benefit from the sleaze allegations against the parliamentary parties. They just quoted me as saying that we'd been contacted by a couple of ex-Labour voters to say they were going to vote socialist, nothing from the rest of the interview about socialism, the economic crises, etc. After the 2 minutes were up some other non-entity called Vanessa came on to talk for well over 2 minutes about how she was going to interview the Liberal Democratic leader (called Clegg, I think, or some name like that) for a whole hour. The BBC's idea of equal time for all parties, it appears.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Asked to leave

A comrade who attended this event in Haringey on Saturday was asked to leave for handing out "political" literature. Another example of anarchist intolerance and inconsistency (see the list of stallholders there, propaganda, eg, for the Chavez government in Venezuela is apparently not political). Meanwhile on Dave Osler's blog we're accused of being anarchists. We're not of course but it seems we're damned if we are and damned if we're not.

The trade union front

This evening we will be present at two hustings meetings, organised by local trade unions:

(1) Council Chamber, Stratford Town Hall, 29 The Broadway, E15 at 6.30 pm.

(2) Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Road, East Finchley, N2 at 6.30.

These are public meetings if anyone wants to come.

The first has been organised by the Public and Commercial Services union, the second by Barnet Trades Union Council.

The PCS has also organised a Make Your Vote Count campaign amongst its members. Its London region has put a series of questions to candidates. The answers have been published on their website. Ours can be found here.

One PCS member has emailed us that he will be voting Socialist. Not sure that the PCS President, Janice Godrich, will be too pleased with this as she's also speaking this evening -- at a rally in central London in support of Bob Crow's narrow nationalist, petty reformist list. In any event we're not too pleased that posters have been stuck up round Euston claiming that the "Socialist Party" is supporting this rally. So this blog can serve as an official disclaimer that we are not.