Saturday, May 08, 2010

. . . and in Camden

In Camden, whereas we only had one candidate in a three-member ward, the result was:


Georgia Gould (Labour) 2382
Dave Horan (Labour) 2273
Meric Apak (Labour) 2153
Ralph Scott (LibDem) 2052
Nick Russell (LibDem) 1957
Abdiwali Mohamud (LibDem) 1755
Victoria Green (Green) 1198
John Charles Bird (Green) 939
Doreen Bartlett (Con) 812
Alaa Owaineh (Green) 690
Paul Barton (Con) 750
Darryl Davies (Con) 749
Stephen Dorman (BNP) 180
Bill Martin (Soc) 113

Turnout 64.10%

Out for the count

The result at Vauxhall wasn't declared till after 8 o'clock on Friday morning and then it was back to the Town Hall for the count for the local elections which lasted till midnight. We got 82, 48 and 45 in Ferndale and 48, 45 and 46 in Larkhall. For the full figures see here and here respectively. Since Vauxhall has 8 wards and we contested two this meant that a quarter of the electorate had a chance to Vote Socialist twice and some obviously did. We only saw a handful who had voted just for all 3 of our candidates, but most of the others were deliberately cast for us (eg one for us and 2 for Labour or 1 for us and 2 for the Greens) and the higher voted for Danny Lambert is to be explained by people knowing what we stood for.

Besides staring at ballot papers the two of us had a chance to talk to Janus Polenceus of the English Democrats. He invited us to send a speaker to a meeting of theirs to explain our attitude to their proposal for an English Parliament (not sure we can say much about that except that it's irrelevant). He also said that the English Democrats wanted a referendum to be held in the old county of Monmouthshire to decide whether the inhabitants wanted to return to England which they had been part of until the 1960s. He got 60 votes in Stockwell ward.

At the general election count two of us spent some time talking to the people from the Animal Protection Party. Apparently they are different from the Animals Count Party we met at the European elections. They see themselves as the "spikey" wing of the Animal Rights movement and are hunt saboteurs. Their candidate told us he had voted for the Greens in his constituency.

We eventually met and talked to the people from Workers Power. At the beginning of the evening they had been hostile, the editor of their paper remarking to Danny that we had decided to "sully our hands" had we? In the end, as the votes for the 5 minor parties were counted together at one table, we had to talk to each other in a more civilised manner. When I said that the last time there had been two candidates calling themselves "socialist" in Vauxhall (in 1997) the other one (Scargill's SLP) had easily got many more votes than us, their candidate said that he had once been a member of the SLP. I'd forgotten that quite a number of Trotskyist groups entered the SLP till Scargill the Stalinist kicked them out.

The local bloggers couldn't get over the fact that, despite his slick campaign of tweets and YouTube clips, Jeremy Drinkall got less votes than us. Our friend the SW8 nationalist in particular, but he'd been hostile to us from the start. Maybe it was the triumph of substance over form. Or maybe that the people on council estates he targetted don't tweet. To tell the truth, from a media point of view, his campaign was better than ours. We never got a mention in the Financial Times, or got a photo in the South London Press or used YouTube. We'll have to do better here next time.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Hang on...

Right, didn't attend the count, maybe some who were there will tell if anything fun happened, but here is the Beeb-Beeb-Ceeb's version of the count:
Kate HoeyLabour21,498 49.8%
Caroline PidgeonLiberal Democrat10,84725.1%
Glyn ChambersConservative9,30121.5%
Joseph HealyGreen7081.6%
Jose NavarroEnglish Democrats2890.7%
Lana MartinChristian Party2000.5%
Daniel LambertSocialist Party of Great Britain1430.3%
Jeremy DrinkallAnticapitalists - Workers Power1090.3%
James KapetanosAnimal Protection Party, The960.2%
That puts us down from 240 last time, and means we've been leapfrogged by the English Democrats (whop we beat last time), but at least we beat the animal rights feller.

Looking at it, if we add our vote and the Workers' Power character's vote together, we get about the vote last time, so maybe those 109 Drinkall got are left reformists who voted for us in 2005.

It will, of course, be interesting to compare with our council election votes.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I voted "Me"!

Well, me and a comrade did our last leafletting run round Kentish Town - including the street Old Charlie Marx used to live on (we were firmly convinced that he wouldn't have a 'No Junk Mail' sticker on his letterbox). His house (no demolished) was in what is now gospel Oak ward, but the principle is that he walked those streets we leafletted, probably complaining about his carbuncles.

This morning I voted Me - second time in two years I haven't had to do that through a write-in vote (which I hope all of you out there in constituencies without a Socialist party candidate are going to do today).

My prediction? A landslide for the Capitalist Party. We need to do something about that.

Last Minute Election Quiz

The media are saying that many people still haven't yet made up their minds how to vote. If you are one of these and live in Vauxhall go to this site and answer the questions to see who you agree with most. Even if you don't live in Vauxhall you can still see if you agree more with the Socialist Party candidate by typing in "SW4 7UN" when prompted for a postcode. In any event you'll be able to see the Socialist Party's position on the various questions. For the Socialist Party candidate's answers to a questionnaire on war go to here and again type in "SW4 7UN".

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Last Day

Two of us went this morning to Lambeth College on Clapham Common to the march of striking members of the University and College Union were organising from there down Clapham High Street (past our premises, with its new opened-up front) to Clapham North. Good luck to them. We talked to a few of the 30 to 40 people present and gave them a leaflet. The other politicos there were from Workers Power and the SWP. The SWP man took the megaphone on behalf of the Wandsworth Stop the War campaign saying "Jobs Not Bombs" and recalling with nostalgia the Callaghan government of the late 1970s when the top rate of income tax was 60p in the pound which, he said, if applied today would raise enough money to stop the education cuts. Speaking to him afterwards he said he was going to vote Labour tomorrow. Which about sums it (and his party) up.

Still waiting for the Town Hall to deliver tickets to attend the count tomorrow. Not certain any of us will stay to the end as the result is not expected till 5am in the morning (because they'll have to separate and verify the general and local election votes first). The votes in the local election won't be counted till 3pm on Friday.

Not the way

Three bodies have been found in a burnt out bank in Greece. Petrol bombs have been thrown at police. Rioters have been tear gassed.

Chances are the three dead in the bank are our fellow workers, whose death we will mourn, and who died simply because of where they worked.

There is no need for such protests. Nor, though, is there need for austerity: there are resources and human capacity for labour enough to provide for all. What there is is a class interest that prevents that happening. That can be done away with, peacefully, without slaughter, by democratic action.

To take that action requires, though, conscious understanding. Without the clear knowledge of the need to organise production for use - collectively and democratically - we see the futile attempts to resist that are occurring in Greece.

All of which is to simply say why it is so important that the tiny handful of people who read this blog use their voice at the ballot box to reach out and let others know where they stand. The more of us who blaze the trail for socialism, the more others will join us.

Final push

Well, I can't match Cameron's all-nighter, but I will be having a final push in Kentish Town, and will be getting shot of our last leaflets tonight. If anyone is around and wants to meet a Socialist candidate in Kentish Town I'll be at the tube station at about 6:30 tonight, waiting for comrades to come help get the message out.

Come what may, though, tomorrow sees the election of the Capitalist Party to the government of the country. We, though, wopn't give up.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cheese and chalk

Went to the May Day Rally yesterday of the Workers Power candidate at the YMCA in Stockwell Road. Apart from the candidate himself there were speakers from some protest movements, the most interesting of which was Alberto Durango, a victimised trade union activist amongst cleaners in the City of London (good luck to you, brother). Photojournalist Guy Smallman was also interesting on his experiences in Afghanistan. All the contributions from the floor were prepared speeches by Workers Power members. There were about 30 people present, overwhelmingly members of this Trotskyist group, in fact they could well have been nearly the whole British section of the League for the Fifth International.

The South London Press has written of there being a head-to-head in Vauxhall between two "leftie" candidates, but the contrast between us and them could not be greater (not that we are "lefties" of course). I remember a socialist speaker once making the point that in the end there were only two approaches towards trying to tackle social problems: those who want to redistribute money and those who want to abolish it.

Workers Power are in the first group, and how! I forked out 30p to pay for their Anticapitalist Manifesto for Vauxhall. Basically they want to tax the rich to improve the conditions of the poor. Here's a few examples:
The money and wealth stolen by the capitalists could be used to pay for hospitals, schools, colleges, nurseries and childcare. The rich would be forced to pay very high taxes to fund massive improvements in housing, education and healthcare. We could create three millions new jobs, build a million council homes and guarantee decent pensions for all in old age.
Here's some more of their promises of what they think can be done with money raised by taxing the rich:
£9 an hour minimum wage for all.
Six weeks paid holiday as a minimum for all workers.
Scrap council tax -- for a local wealth tax.
Jobs for all, funded by taxing the rich and taking over the banks
Benefits to be at level of mimimum wage.
Stop fare rises -- slash bus and tube prices -- make it free by taxing the rich.
For pensions tied to average male earnings.
Automatic and total payment [for pensioners] of all utility bills - gas, electricity, telephone and internet connection.
If they ever got to be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, he'd be sure to ask "Has all this been costed?". To which the other Jeremy will no doubt reply: "It will be paid for out of the £1 trillion the government gave to the banks which we will take back". Next question: what happens when this £1 trillion has been used up as it would be fairly quickly to pay for the measures just listed? And you can't keep taxing the rich unless you allow them to go on exploiting workers for profits to be taxed. But, surely, if most of their profits are going to be taxed away, they won't bother re-investing their capital?

They call us utopians but this is just fantasy politics. Of course they don't believe a word of it (and if they did that would only make them fools rather than knaves). It's all part of a cunning plan devised by Baldrick Trotsky to get workers to Follow the Vanguard. But workers aren't stupid. They may not be socialists, but they know what's possible under capitalism and what isn't and, if they want reforms, they're not going to follow the Vanguard but will vote instead for some reformist party that they judge will have a better chance of getting them a few crumbs (or, these days, of taking away less of the crumbs they've got).

We, on the other hand, unlike all the other parties don't think that the solution lies is trying to redistribute money amongst the population. As we say in our manifesto for the local elections:
Most politicians blame our problems on lack of money, but this is not true. Money doesn't build hospitals, schools decent housing and a healthy environment. The things that make a good community can only be created by the work of the people. We have an abundance of skills and energy. If we were free from having to work for the profits of employers we would be able to work for the needs of everyone.

The profit system is oppressive; it dominates our lives. It plagues us with bills. The rent and mortgage payments, the food bills, the rates, gas, electricity, water and telephone bills. Money is used to screw us for the profits of business. If we don't pay, we don't get the goods. Without the capitalist system, a socialist community would easily provide for all of its members..

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Daniel in the Lions' Den

Yesterday the campaign continued. The Socialist candidate, Danny Lambert, was at this event in Parliament Square and witnessed effigies of Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Griffin being hung, drawn and quartered and danced upon. He commented to a couple of others watching the spectacle that this gave the impression that these individual politicians were personally responsible for the problems capitalism causes whereas it was the system and that, if these individuals really were executed, someone else would take their place. One, a press photographer, said he had covered a number of such events and that this was the first time he'd heard something sensible said about them. After that, Danny talked to the demonstrators and handed out our election leaflets suggesting that those in Vauxhall who agreed with a classless, stateless, moneyless society of common ownership and democratic control (as some of those there would have done -- that's why he was there) to show this by casting a vote for it. He wasn't lynched by the assembled anarchists and anti-parliamentarists, but he would have been the only parliamentary candidate there.

We were also present up the other end of Whitehall at the official London Trades Council Mayday rally where we ran out of leaflets to give out.

Meanwhile, south of the river in Vauxhall, we had stalls in Clapham High Street and in Brixton. In fact, all of our leaflets for the national and local elections in Lambeth have now been distributed. All that remain are for distribution in Kentish Town ward in Camden.

A procession of Hooray Henries and Henriettas down Clapham High Street with a loud hailer and blue balloons was booed and jeered at by passers-by. And a UKIP candidate from a neighbouring constituency was seen emerging from the gay bar next to our premises, but she can't have known unless UKIP has now decided to go after the gay as well as the climate sceptic vote.

Friday's South London Press had an 8-page pull-out election guide. The trouble with this paper is that it covers 3 boroughs (Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham) and 8 parliamentary constituencies and so, as we've found out before, doesn't give detailed reports on the candidates in each. We were simply mentioned as one of the candidates standing in Vauxhall, for the "Socialist Party" (Ian Page standing in Lewisham Deptford for Militant was referred to a "Socialist Alternative", the name they're registered under with the Electoral Commission).

There was a news story on another page headed "Left-wing parties divided over unity" which commented on the fact that in Camberwell and Peckham there were three "far left candidates" (Scargill's SLP, the WRP and the Alliance for Workers Liberty) and that in Vauxhall "two left-wing candidates are also going head to head" (Workers Power and us). I suppose that's how it must appear. After quoting Jeremy Drinkall who said "it's a shame, but it's not decisive for us", the reporter went on:
Vauxhall's other leftie candidate is Daniel Lambert of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. A spokesman said the party had no hope of a seat, but was using the election to spread its message of workers control.
Actually, he said "message of common ownership and democratic control". Of course that wasn't all he said because he also said that it wasn't a problem for us since while we stood for socialism the Workers Power candidate stood for reforms of capitalism. Still, this was probably the best we were going to get. Daniel still hasn't recovered from being called a "leftie".

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Spoil sport

Couldn't klet this go by, local 'celebrity' Trotskyist Tariq Ali says he isn't going to vote in the forthcoming election:
I won’t be voting – as a protest at how things have become. I may go out and spoil my ballot paper, but I’ll see how I feel in the morning.
As a matter of fact, aside from voting for myself (for a change) in the Camden Borough election, I will be spoiling my ballot paper for the parliamentary election.

Something we advocate in any election where socialist candidates aren't standing - we don't want to vote for a Capitalist Party candidate, but we do want our voices to be heard. Like many of my comrades, I'll be writing 'World Socialism' across my ballot paper - maybe if Tariq Ali reads this blog post, he might care to be bothered to do the same.

It pays to advertise

Well, I'm having a busy weekend leafletting. Just as if proof were needed about the value of putting ourselves about - as I was going into a cafe to fuel myself up for a day of climbing stairs, a bloke came up to me and started telling me how he remembred seeing me at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park: five years ago!

Well, I used it as an excuse to give him a leaflet, and to go and get my food.

So, there you go, minor celebrity status abounds.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Capitalism and democracy

Last night, after leafletting the area behind Waterloo station, three of us went to see the new "documentary play" Counted? put on in the council chamber of the old LCC/GLC. This couldn't be missed as it's in Vauxhall but also because it is largely based on research done by Stephen Coleman, professor of political communication at Leeds university, who used to be a speaker and writer for us.

The play takes the form of an actor playing Professor Coleman interviewing various different groups of people in Yorkshire about their attitude to voting. This requires some versality on the part of the six actors who have to change not just their clothes but their also their accents and age to perform the interviewees. It's well done and well worth seeing. It's on till 22 May. Sadly, there were only 35 people in the audience, perhaps because some who might have gone were at home watching the Three Stooges debate in what passes for "politics".

The professor opens by saying that his research starts from the premiss that democracy is a good idea but does it work. It doesn't seem to, when there are turn-outs of less, sometimes much less, than 50% in local elections, which are the only elections in which people could have some influence on what is done, such as the provision of community centres, sports facilities and other amenities or the positioning of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. So, why do people vote -- and not vote?

In the first scene the professor is trying to interview young mothers at a community centre, the day after an election, about why they hadn't voted. They are not interested. It's not something they do. He does manage to extract from them that they are interested in choices (his definition of politics, as opposed to what goes on at Westminster) and that they do make them on an individual basis and also that they do vote, by mobile phone in programmes such as Big Brother and the X-Factor.

The next scene is in a golf club. Everybody interviewed votes and they think it's a good thing, even a duty. Their local concern was to prevent the opening of a Tesco superstore. And they too had voted by telephone, for Strictly rather than Big Brother.

There are interviews with an Independent councillor and an Independent candidate who are concerned about purely local issues. The councillor explains what's involved in being a councillor, dealing with individual cases and pressing for amenities in his locality. That this is what most people see as the role of those they elect is re-inforced by the one interview that doesn't take place in Yorkshire, with MPs assistants in Westminster. They explain that most of the letters MPs get from constituents are about individual cases (and that not too much importance is attached to circular letters about Saving Whales, fox-hunting and the like. So, so much for petitioning by single-issue groups).

What's the conclusion, then? It seems to be that democracy might work at local level if people were consulted more about what they wanted for their locality and could be persuaded to participate by making it easier and more interesting to vote. Maybe, but this ignores the constraints that capitalism places on what people can get even with the most democratic of institutions and practices.

You can have the most democratic structure in the world and people can vote to have decent housing or whatever, but they won't get it as the economic laws of capitalism dictate that priority must be given to making profits and accumulating capital. In short, capitalism prevents democratic decisions to improve things from being implemented. And what local councils can spend on amenities depends on what they get from central government, which is never enough. What local councils can do, even with more popular participation, is limited by what is possible under capitalism.

Capitalism also prevents democracy working properly as under it some, those with more money, are more equal than others and so, as the case of Lord Cashcroft shows (there are many others), have more say and more influence. A real, properly-functioning democracy is only possible in a classless society where the means of production are owned in common by the whole community. Then there'd be no restrictions on the amenities that could be provided at local level. If, after discussion and debate, people voted that they wanted something they could go ahead and implement it.

The audience were invited to fill in a ballot paper asking such questions as "I tend to vote as my parents do", "I regard voting as my duty", "I know the names of my local candidates". We were tempted to write "WORLD SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper but didn't. Even so, one of us inadvertently spoilt his by putting an X for no and a tick for yes. How often has he voted?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We're all in this together?

Only just found this blog post but it does say something that's more important to this election than whether Gordon Brown is sorry or truly sorry:
In the 25 years from 1945, the share of the nation’s output going to wages held steady at close to 60% before rising to nearly 65% in 1975. Since that high point, the wage share has been in inexorable decline. Today it stands at a mere 53%. An even steeper fall has occurred in the United States, while continental Europe has experienced a shallower fall.


...wages have been falling behind productivity growth. Over the last three decades economic potential has been growing by 1.9% per year while real wages have been rising by only 1.6% a year. Since 2000 the gap has widened with real wages rising by around half the productivity gains.
There we have the class war red in tooth and claw, and there, the simple reason why we raise the banner of socialism. In the good times we were exploited, in the bad, we're exploited more.

Star opponents

Well, one of my Kentish Town opponents gets a bit of a leg up, by being given a guest posting on Alastair Campbell's blog. Georgia Gould writes of the perfidy of the Lib-Dems in office in Camden, ever since they seized power last election in a coalition with the other Tory party. She makes a telling point: "At the moment the Liberal Democrats are providing a home for the collective frustrations of a country understandably disappointed in politics. However we can't let Nick Clegg get away with playing the role of outsider. The fact remains his party is in power across the country and time and time again his councils don't quite live up to Clegg's shiny rhetoric."

True enough. But we recall the turn around in Lambeth as well, when Labour retook the council last election. The similarities are striking, battles to save local baths, to refurbish council homes, to protect services, to freeze council tax (yes, the strategy of freezing council taxes Labour members oppose in Cmaden is proud policy in Lambeth).

The reality is that local representatives are actors playing their parts on a stage set by central government in a Capitalist Class Production. The Producers pay the piper and call the tune.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last Night in Kennington

Last night 7 of the 9 candidates in Vauxhall spoke at a hustings in St. Mark's Church, Kennington, chaired by the vicar. There were well over 150 people present.

Each candidate was given two minutes to say why people should vote for them and then another two minutes to talk about their "moral compass". Danny Lambert said he didn't want people to vote for him unless they wanted socialism. James Kapetanos, of the Animals party, said he wanted people to vote out Kate Hoey for being chair of the Countryside Alliance and supporting fox-hunting. The others blew their own trumpets. On the second question, the candidates of the 3 main parties (two of them Protestants from the north of Ireland) said their moral compass was christianity. Joseph Healey, the Green candidate, said he was not religious but still "spiritual". Danny said he preferred to have a sextant or a sat-nav than a compass. The Animals candidate said he wanted people to vote out Kate Hoey for being chair of the Countryside Alliance and supporting fox-hunting.

The candidates were then given one minute to answer questions put by members of the audience.

A crusty waving a Class War poster denouncing Blair and Bush as "war criminals" and "wankers" asked the candidates whether they thought that Blair and Jack Straw should be tried as war criminals. The Rev chair changed this to "what did the candidates think of the Iraq War?" The crusty was not pleased and had to be escorted out of the church by the sidesmen. All the candidates said they were opposed to the war, including the Tory who said it was a mistake based on wrong information (omitting to say that most Tory MPs voted for the war). Jeremy Drinkall said there should have been a General Strike to stop it.

In answer to a question on "gay rights" (now called "LGBT") two of the candidates said that they were gay -- as if anyone cared, or should care. All the candidates were against discrimination on grounds of sexuality. It might have been different if the candidate from the nasty Christian Party had been present. Also missing was the English Democrat, Jose Navarro.

The other questions were on local, very local issues. The answers of Jeremy Drinkall and Joseph Healey were so similar that, at one point, the vicar got confused and called on a "Jeremy Healey" to answer a question.

Somebody asked if the candidates thought that capitalism could be run in the interests of the majority. Another blogger has suggested this question was a plant (we can't think who by). The candidates of the three main parties all said that capitalism was the only game in town and that what we should do was try to make it fairer, either through the tax system or (Kate Hoey) through this and trade union action. The Animals party candidate forgot Kate Hoey for a moment and wondered whether we were still living in a capitalist society. The Green candidate said that his Leader, Caroline Lucas, had recently said that the Green Party was "anti-capitalist". He himself was an "eco-socialist" who thought that capitalism couldn't continue. Jeremy Drinkall said "no, capitalism can never been made to work in the interests of the working class" and then went on to advocate the nationalisation of all banks and their amalgamation into a single State Bank. Danny Lambert, too, answered no but went on to advocate socialism where there'd be no banks and no money but the application of the principle "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".

At least two others bloggers have commented on this hustings. One was OK. The other, who doesn't seem to know -- or care -- much about what happens outside London SW8, refers to us as the "Socialist Workers Party" (and even provides a link to their website instead of ours), despite having been corrected on this point (see first comment here). He also has Danny speaking of a "socialist code of the morality of the market" whereas what he said was that "capitalism's code of morality was the market". He really should leave SW8 more often, perhaps venture as far as SW4 to inform himself more about who we are and what we stand for.

After the meeting, in the Hanover Arms opposite Danny was approached by a female vicar who said that he was a great orator and that if ever he had a conversion there'd be a place for him in the church. Danny took this as a compliment. The rest of us were not so sure.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stop the War hustings: the aftermath

The Stop the War Coalition has asked candidates everywhere to answer certain questions. The answers of our candidate in Vauxhall, together with those of some of the other candidates, can be found here. Just type in SW4 7UN.

Following the hustings in Brixton on 19 April, Simon Hardy, a prominent member of the Trotskyist "Workers Power" group, sent in the following comment to another blog:
Just on the WP candidate in Vauxhall. I think it is wrong to see it simply as two socialists standing against each other - the crucial difference is between a socialist organisation, no matter your criticisms, which can connect the election to the war, the financial crisis, the bank bail outs, the problem of housing and the case for a new party, and a candidate who simply talks about socialism.
The difference was clearly shown in a Lambeth Stop the War hustings earlier this week where Jeremy Drinkall made plenty of points about the current political struggles and campaigns happening and what kind of policies a working class candidate needed to fight for. The SPGB candidate just kept saying "the problem is capitalism, we need socialism". At one point all the candidate were asked to support a solidarity campaign for a man imprisoned in Guantanemo Bay, the SPGB candidate just replied that there was no point with such campaigns as long as there is capitalism.
Say what you will but the choice is between a utopian soap box socialist who was happy to spend 3 minutes of his speaking time reading out Socialist Standard from 1914 and a candidate with policies and a campaigning profile in the constituency.
He was seconded by a one of his less polite colleagues, who didn't give his name:
I was at the Vauxhall Stop the War Hustings. To be honest Drinkall of the Anticapitalists which is Workers Power won hands down. The candidates were asked about palestine and the SPGB guy said the Palestinians should give up. What a wanchor.
To which Danny Lambert replied:
You see what you want to see and you hear what you want hear. The reason I read out The Socialist Party's 1914 EC statement on "The war to end all war", was to take the opportunity to put the Socialist case against all war, What's unreported on this blog is that at the end of the statement I said "Same reasons for carnge , different century".
As for the Guantanamo prisoner, I have every sympathy with him, it's an outrage, but while we run around like blue arsed flies campaigning for the release of this one and that one of capitalism's victims, hundreds of thousands like them are and will be imprisoned and brutalised. If you have a problem be forensic go to the root. that is if you are serious about finding a solution, it's what the SPGB has always held.
A for the question of Palestine, I don't know about you but I recoil in horror when I see children, women,men mutilated by high explosive no matter what side they are supposed to be on.
What are the Palestinians fighting for? I've heard it's for their own state, well if that's the case they have no idea what they're fighting for, someone should tell them what all states are. The state is the monopoly of violence the public power of coercion and is is only necessary in a class divided society. If they do succeed they'll have fought and died just to be exploited, coerced and oppressed by a Palestinian ruling class rather than an Israeli ruling class.
Our advice is to campaign peacefully, if they do the will have an infinitely more powerful weapon than a home made rocket or a thrown stone at their disposal, they will have the power of international public opinion with them, a power they forfeit when they turn to violence.
Meanwhile Jeremy Drinkall has put up a video clip of him defending "Iran's right to nuclear weapons", i.e. of the rulers there to waste resources on developing weapons of mass destruction, and also a call to vote for Labour candidates in all but 40 constituencies, i.e. for the two other Labour candidates standing in the Lambeth constituencies, including Tessa Jowell who notoriously voted for the war (ironically, the Labour candidate in Vauxhall, did to her credit vote against). In other words, he is openly calling for the re-election of the current, discredited and pro-war Labour government.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rear window

Well, I've not been entirely idle. Personal commitments plus a rotten chest cold have kept me off the campaign trail - I managed to go out leafletting last Wednesday, but that merely produced a relapse of lurgi.

I did, though, manage to leaflet a council block that managed to combine the extremes of ugliness with a splandid view over towards Highgate. Yes, from the window of a council house you can see two million (upwards) pound houses on a leafy hill: from an estate with dingy corridors and in which the walkways have no redeeming decoration.

I'll have to get me finger out to make up for lost time.

More news soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Activity report

Yesterday we were campaigning in the south of the constituency.

Our candidate, Danny Lambert, went to an event in Windrush Square, Brixton, organised by Power2010 where he met the WRP candidate for Streatham who called him a "bourgeois democrat" saying that the way forward was a general strike (so why, you ask, was he standing for parliament) and the UKIP candidate for somewhere who called him a "Stalinist". On the whole not very fruitful, though we did give away some leaflets and maybe something will appear on the Power2010 site.

As last Saturday, there was a stall outside our premises in Clapham High Street. We saw, and heard, a car with a loudspeaker proclaiming "Vote Anti-Capitalist. For the millions, not the millionaires" driving past. We imagine that when they reached the top of the street and entered the Streatham constituency they changed their tune to "Vote Labour, one of the parties representing the millionaires". Quite a few passers-by told us they'd already had our leaflet, which would have been true and not just a polite way of saying "no" since the post office had been delivering them in the last few days (so some people do look at the election leaflets that drop through their letter-box). A passing cyclist from a local internet radio station stopped off to deliver an invitation for Danny to be interviewed (more details later).

Outside Stockwell tube station, we had rivals from the Testimonial Ministries Worldwide handing out leaflets warning of the "ravages of sin". We noticed an individual on a mobile phone with a "Vote Labour" sticker on it. Naturally we offered him a leaflet. He turned out to be Pete Robbins, one of the outgoing Labour councillors for Larkhall ward. He was friendly enough, thanking us for not contesting Clapham Town ward in the local elections (as we did last time) because it was going to be a close fight between them and the Tories there. We explained that this was not a consideration in our decision to contest Larkhall and Ferndale this time instead. Someone else told us they had once been a candidate for the "Socialist Alliance" in the area (it's true, this party did contest the local elections in Lambeth in 2002 local elections, their candidate in Larkhall getting 127 votes). We also met three canvassers for the candidate of the League for a Fifth International. They seemed lost but eventually headed for the nearby Stockwell Gardens Estate. Hope they have better luck than us in getting access to some of the blocks.

Next Saturday we'll hit the north of the constituency which includes the Oval cricket ground, St Thomas's Hospital, the Southbank Centre, Waterloo Station and Lambeth Palace. Some of us will be coming from the North after covering the trade union Mayday rally in Trafalgar Square (next Saturday is 1 May). Proceeding in a southerly direction from there down Whitehall we'll cross Westminister Bridge and enter the constituency that way. You can actually see the Houses of Parliament from Vauxhall constituency. Hadn't realised we were that near to "the seat of power". Or is that the observation of a "bourgeois democrat"?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Activity tomorrow Saturday

Our official "election communication" was delivered to the post office on Tuesday and has already been distributed by them in some areas. The trouble is that they only needed 56,000 while the printers had done 58,000 (with no extra charge for us). So we've an extra 2000 to distribute ourselves. The plan is to do this at stalls on Saturdays and at tube stations (Clapham North, Clapham Common, Stockwell, Brixton, Oval, Vauxhall and Kennington) during the rush hour in the evening and even the morning.

Distribution starts tomorrow. Meet at Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, SW4 from 11am to run a stall there and another somewhere else in the constituency (probably outside Stockwell tube station).

The Socialist candidate has also received an invitation to various events in the constituency on Saturday, two in Brixton and one in Stockwell. Details when you get to Head Office.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's a nine-horse race

There have been some surprise last-minute nominations and there will now be 9 not the expected 6 candidates in Vauxhall. Here's the line-up (in the order they'll appear on the ballot paper):

Glyn Chambers (Con)
Jeremy Drinkall (Workers Power)
Joseph Healey (Green)
Catherine Hoey (Labour)
James Kapetanos (Animal Protection Party)
Daniel Lambert (Socialist)
Larna Martin (Christian Party)
Jose Navarro (English Democrats)
Caroline Pidgeon (LibDem)

In fact more or less the same as in the Lambeth & Southwark constituency for the Greater London Assembly in May 2008.

A local blogger describes the candidates' form here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An appreciation from Germany

We have received an election statement from the Wine and Cheese Appreciation Society of Greater London. Yes, but read on. This is the name of the London section of a German political group and their statement can be found here on the site of this group (it's the article beginning with quote from Douglas Adams).

It is a bit of an essay on political philosophy but it makes some good points about the role of state, government and elections under capitalism. For instance, on the populist demands to "Make the Rich Pay" put forward by left-of-Labour groups and others, they make the point that this assumes the continuation of the rich, who are to be allowed to continue exploiting us but whose profits will then be taxed to pay for social reforms:
Even fringe left-wing parties like Respect bow to the dictates of 'realism' and respect private property through their demands of "taxation on the big corporations and the wealthy to fund public services" – a demand which requires big corporations to make the kind of profits which can then be taxed.
They have singled out Respect but it applies equally to the Trotskyists of TUSC in this election and, of course, to our own independent Trotskyist opponent here in Vauxhall who says:
The Government gave £1 trillion to the banks. We want it back! Anticapitalists say take over the banks, who are making giant profits again, and raise taxes on the rich. Spend the money on a massive programme of public works -- creating three million jobs, a million new affordable homes and a national repair and improve programme for council flats and houses.
We think the Wine and Cheese society might be over-estimating the extent to which these leftist groups (or anyone else, for that matter) really believe this to be possible. It's probably more of a cynical ploy to try to win a following. Still, there's a need to analyse what they say as if they really meant it. In this vein the Appreciation Society go on:
Left-wing parties for instance claim that mass poverty was unnecessary and within capitalism the problem could be solved quickly once they were in power and could tax the rich appropriately. Thus poverty was not a necessity of the mode of production which the state fosters for its own sake. Instead poverty was an unnecessary result of the wrong people in management.
Good point. Hence their general conclusion about all political parties that "the common feature of all these political parties is their affirmation of the basic principles of the capitalist economy". However, in a footnote, we are exempted from this:
The Socialist Party of Great Britian is a notable exception to this rule. The SPGB "claims that there can be no state in a socialist society" and "that socialism will, and must, be a wageless, moneyless, worldwide society of common (not state) ownership". The SPGB "seeks election to facilitate the elimination of capitalism by the vast majority of socialists, not to govern capitalism." ( Leaving aside for the moment of whether this is a good strategy or not, it is clear from their party programme that the SPGB does not affirm the basic principles of the capitalist economy.
It's nice to be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ayatollahs' bomb

Yesterday was a busy day.

First, at 11.00 hrs we handed in the nomination papers (and the £500 deposit, in cash) at the Town Hall. Everything was in order.

Then, at 14.30 our candidate spoke at a hustings in the same Town Hall organised by the Lambeth Pensioners Action Group. After speeches by three men in suits but with different coloured ties representing the "main parties" and a contribution full of technical detail by the Green candidate, Danny's, in which he said that the professional politicians on the panel were either fools or knaves for promising to run capitalism in the interests of the working class, was the only one to get a round of applause. The Liberal (Chris Nicholson standing in Streatham) smiled at being called a fool or a knave. The Tory (Rahoul Bhansani also in Streatham) took umbrage. The audience of about 40 or so gave the Labour candidate for Streatham (Chukka Umunna) a hard time, ending up with him heckling them. The pensioners of Lambeth seem a clued-up and bolshie lot.

At 19.30, the Stop the War hustings, in the Brix, St. Matthews Church, opposite the Town Hall started, with Joe Healey (Greens), Chris Nicholson (Liberal, still wearing his suit and tie), Jeremy Drinkall (Workers Power/League for a Fifth International) and Danny Lambert. There were 50 or so in the audience. The Green and Liberal candidates, believing that "politics is the art of the possible", outlined various practical steps that in their view could be taken to lessen tensions by pursuing an ethical foreign policy. Drinkall, supported by a claque of student supporters, played the demagogue calling for the "immediate" this and the "immediate that" (including the immediate dissolution of the state of Israel). But the highlight of his contribution was his defence of the right of the Iranian regime to develop its own nuclear weapons.

Danny read from our 1914 anti-war manifesto and commented "same carnage, different century", pointing out that all the attempts since then to stop wars had failed because they'd left the root cause unchanged. Wars, he said, were caused by conflicts between capitalist interests over markets, sources of raw materials, trade routes, investment outlets and strategic points to protect or acquire these, so the only way to end wars and preparations for war was to get rid of capitalism. This only provoked Drinkall, in a bid to differentiate himself from us, into launching an attack on "the Socialist Party" for not supporting reforms. Danny had to explain that what we were opposed to was not reforms as such, but to the policy of reformism, of pursuing reforms, like he was doing.

After the meeting those leaving were handed a 6-page leaflet by two members of "the International Bolshevik Tendency" denouncing Workers Power as "fake Trotskyists" and reformists for departing from Trotsky's "transitional programme" and for supporting the re-election of the Labour government. Which all goes to show that there are nuttier Trotskyists than those who want to set up a Fifth International. Their paper called -- wait for it -- 1917 proclaimed "Spoil Your Ballot!"

The Green candidate was interviewed about the meeting by a local blogger who more than once refers to us as the "SWP". The blogger is a localist who thinks that national and world issues should not be discussed at a local election. Healey put him right on this, well explaining the impact world events had on the amount of money local councils were given to spend (and that as a result of the present capitalist crisis things were only going to get worse). In fact what we have always said too and why we make no apology for raising the issue of world capitalism or world socialism in the local elections.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Big Issue

Bought a copy of The Big Issue outside Sainsbury's in Clapham High Street and found that it contained an article by David Harvey (in fact an extract from his new book The Enigma of Capital) which says some things we have long said:
Can capitalism survive the present trauma? Yes, of course. But at what cost? This question masks another. Can the capitalist class reproduce its power in the face of the raft of economic, social, political and geopolitical and environmental difficulties? Again, the answer is a resounding 'Yes it can'.
This will, however, require the mass of the people to give generously of the fruits of their labour to those in power, to surrender many of their rights and their hard-won asset values (in everything from housing to pension rights) and to suffer environmental degradations galore, to say nothing of serial reductions in their living standards which will mean starvation for many of those already struggling to survive at rock bottom.
Capitalism will never fall on its own. It will have to be pushed. The accumulation of capital will never cease. It will have to be stopped. The capitalist class will never willingly surrender its power. It will have to be dispossessed.
That's why we're contesting this election -- to urge people to organise politically to dispossess the capitalist class and establish a world society of common ownership, democratic control and production solely not profit.

It's not too late to buy this week's Big Issue. But, remember, the real big issue is whether capitalism should be allowed to continue or whether it should be replaced by socialism (not which political non-entity would make the best managing director of UKCapitalism plc).

Down Memory Lane: Clapham Manor Baths

On our way to the Manor Arms pub after distributing leaflets three of us noticed that Clapham Baths in Clapham Manor Street had been demolished and was now a mound of rubble. The place has a history. During the General Election in February 1950 it was the venue of a debate between the Socialist Party, represented by Harry Young, and a Mrs Curtis, who was the Liberal candidate for Clapham. Here's a part of the Socialist speaker's opening speech:
The chief characteristic of Capitalism is private ownership of the means of wealth production: Socialism implies common ownership. Therefore there can no penalisation of or discrimination against any person or groups of persons under Socialism. Today we have a class society—a community divided into groups, economically speaking. This division has nothing to do with biological characteristics. It is largely an accident of birth that makes one a capitalist. What determines his place in society is his economic position; and everything follows from that. Our habits, manners, speech, customs, ethics, all follow from this is division. According to a recent statement by Mr. Hall, the Secretary of the Treasury, "of the 550,000 people who die each year only 10% own more than £2,000, but these 10% between them own 90% of the total property."

It means that 10% of the people own 90% of the wealth, of this 10% many own vastly more than £2,000, some own £2 million. Therefore Class society means grinding inescapable poverty for the working class. People can be in a state of poverty without going short a meal or clothes. Therefore my second point is that we live in a class society and cannot escape from poverty.

The worker has only his ability to work to sell — the power of his muscle, sinews and brain. He therefore goes to work for wages, and receives only enough reproduce his labour power. The amount the worker receives is determined by what is required to reproduce his labour power, the surplus beyond which goes to the owner. It follows from this that the political interest of the working class is to overthrow the system which robs them. Everything else is idle nonsense, making no ultimate difference to their class position in society. This, therefore, is the reason we oppose all other political parties. They all stand for the same viewpoint—the Conservatives, Liberals, Labour Party and Communists—for a series of measures which they claim will eass the collar of poverty where it rubs too hard.

This system of society which we propose is entirely different from what we know today. After taking over the means of production the characteristics of Capitalism will disappear. Exchange will cease, for Socialism will replace sale by free distribution. Socialism will put into practice "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Labour Exchanges, Stock Exchanges, Banks, Insurance offices will all disappear. Force will cease. There will be no question of what to do with the man who won't work; most people want to work; most would be only too glad to do a sensible job of work. Socialism will succeed by the enthusiasm and determination of the socialists who have brought it into being to make it successful.

We stand for a system which will be world-wide, democratic, and based on a community of interest of the individual and society.
Neither capitalism nor the case for socialism have changed since then (except that the price level has risen and we wouldn't now refer to the worker as "he" and "his"). Even what the socialist speaker said in his concluding remarks also has a modern ring:
It is our contention that there is no great difference between the other parties. I quote from a news report the statement of Lord Samuel at the Liberal pre-election Conference that, if they polled sufficient votes "they might be called upon to undertake Ministerial responsibility." "We must accept this challenge" he said. When occasion demands the minor sham differences are sunk and they unite as supporters of the capitalist system.
For those interested in such things, the result of the election was: Gibson (Labour) 23,300; Lowndes (Tory) 22,094; Curtis (Liberal) 3,071(6.26%); Draper (Communist Party) 619 (1.26%). The turnout was 80.64%. Those were the days.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Saturday : our election meeting


Election Forum:

Frank Simpkins covers the inability of politicians to solve any of the serious issues we face due to the constraints of capitalism. Are politicians able to change the economy, or does the economy change politicians?

Vincent Otter talks about the profit system's inevitable cycle of boom and bust and the 'credit crunch's' most recent demonstration of the crisis of capital. How does this affect politician's attempts to save our environment?

Glenn Morris considers the causes and consequences of global warming. Are politicians powerless in the face on impending catastrophe?

Danny Lambert describes the monstrous inefficiency of capitalism and investigates how we are conditioned to accept a false identity that makes us willing wage slaves who think we deserve no better.

Saturday 17 April, 6.00pm

The Socialist Party
52 Clapham High Street

All Welcome. Free entry. Discussion. Refreshments.

PS. Don't forget to watch the Three Stooges perform on TV this evening, otherwise you'll have nothing to talk about at work or in the pub tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh dear

Somebody has seen our leaflet and by the look of it got it through their letter box. Of course we know it's Larkhall but, agreed, it does look bad that we missed that typo. But we do mention local matters. As you can see even from the crumpled version, we say:
What happens in any local council depends mainly on what happens in the country and even the world.
Our point is that most of the money local authorities have to spent comes from the central government (and has to be spent on what they say). But the amount the central government has to allocate depends on the state of the capitalist economy and that they can't overtax profits. So councils end up as little more than local offices of government ministries, implementing unpopular and anti-social measures. And of course it's going to get worse with all three main parties promising cuts worse than under Thatcher. Which is why it is quite in order to raise the issue of world socialism at a local election.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


We have been invited to attend a hustings meeting on the 19th April , 7:30 at The Brix, St Mathew's Church organised by Lambeth Stop the War Coalition.
Confirmed speakers for the event are:

Rahoul Bansali - Conservative candidate Streatham
Jeremy Drinkall- Anti Capitalist (Workers Power) candidate Vauxhall
Joseph Healy- Green candidate Vauxhall
Chris Nicholson- Liberal Democrate candidate Streatham
Dan Lambert (yours truly) The Socialist Party Vauxhall

The Labour candiates: Kate Hoey, Chuka Umunna, Tessa Jowell have said they are unable to attend.

We have been asked to keep to the theme of British defence policy. That'll do because British defence policy is dedicated to maintaining and developing British capitalism, in a word profit, profit for a tiny parasitic minority.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Runners and riders

Camden have finally published the list of accepted nominations for the borough, including Kentish Town - you'll see I'm there now alongside thirteen other candidates - including one from the BNP.

So, I'll just take this opportunity to rehearse our argument against teh BNP.

I'm glad their standing, because it'll be an opportunity for them to expose their idiocy, and for them to be outvoted. As far as we're concerned, however, they are simply another capitalist party - albeit one that elevates stupidity to a point of principle.

The idea that there is some authentic "British" group that have an ancient right to a patch of land (one which only really had its borders settled in 1921, and then they're disputed a touch) is bogus. Our nature as human beings cries out more to us that any tie of nation - or do the BNP really stop and think about a person's nationality before going to help them if they see them collapse in the street?

The BNP are wire happy - they see the bars on the cage that stop us from going where we like with who we like and want to make them into the prettiest bars imaginable. They want BRITISH capitalism, which really isn't so different from any other variety.

Yes, their leaders inspire and prey upon inter-communal violence and persecution, seeing that as a quick way to win followers and gain political power, but they have been pressured by the logic of democracy to mute that game and play by the rules of the ballot box, and if they grew that pressure would grow to simply make them into the stupid wing of the conservative party writ large.

The best way to oppose them is to be for something, we're for socialism, and as the movement for socialism grows so their ideas will be marginalised further.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Activity report

Yesterday we had our first stall of the campaign outside our premises in Clapham High Street. There'll be one there every Saturday between now and the election and maybe in other places too (Stockwell, Brixton, the Southbank).

Lambeth Stop the War group had a stall further up the road, outside Sainsburys. We visited them to make sure we get an invitation to the hustings meeting they are organising a week on Monday in Brixton:
Lambeth Stop the War Election Hustings
A chance for you to ask candidates questions about Afghanistan, Civil Liberties, Palestine and the War on Terror generally
Monday 19th April
7:30pm - 9pm
The Brix, St Matthews Church, Brixton Hill, SW2 1JF
Meanwhile other comrades covered the trade union demonstration about defending the welfare state that was going on in Traflgar Square at the same time.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The party of the Rich

On our way to leaflet the Springfield estate (where one of us got bitten by a dog) we noticed that the Tories had been leafletting Clapham Town ward. Their leaflet contained a photo of one of their candidates squatting and pointing to a pothole which somebody should sent to glum councillors. Also amusing to see that it contained a version of the Liberals' it's-a-two-horse-race bar chart but with the Liberals trailing in third place.

We also found evidence that the Tories had been leafletting Clapham North tube station on behalf of their parliamentary candidate in Vauxhall, a young whizz-kid. He doesn't stand a chance but it's obligatory for would-be professional politicians to first contest a no-hope seat on behalf of their party in the hope of being given a better chance next time. According to his leaflet:
A Conservative Government will build economic recovery on investment and exports, not consumer borrowing and government debt.
As if governments can control the way capitalism works rather than having to react to what capitalism throws at them. Another empty promise not worth the paper it was printed on that deserved to end up where we found it: in the gutter.

Meanwhile the Tories' shadow chancellor Boy George has been sending personal letters to individuals in marginal constituencies in which he promises to "protect those on modest incomes", including by re-linking the state pension to inceases in average earnings (rather than consumer prices as now which has been rising more slowly). We'll see. Breaking this link was one of the cuts made by Thatcher in 1980 . . . and all three main parties are promising that the cuts they will introduce if elected will be worse than under Thatcher. Or maybe they are anticipating that prices will start rising more than earnings.

The Tories are only professing concern for those on modest incomes because they can't win unless they can gain votes outside their natural constituency of the rich. And they are, and always have been, the party of the rich. As comes through from time to time, as when Cameron calls on BA workers to cross picket lines and with employers currently lining up to support his (and their) party's promise to reduce a modest Labour tax that will hit their profits.

Not only are they the party of the rich. They are rich themselves. As Cameron re-assured a "gathering of top financiers" last December:
"My father was a stockbroker, my grandfather was a stockbroker, my great-grandfather was a stockbroker".
And he's married to an aristocrat. And of course he, like many in his shadow cabinet, is an Old Etonian. What the "new", "modern" Tory Party stands for is not simply government by politicians for the rich but government for the rich by the rich.

Any person on a "modest income", i.e most people, who even thinks of voting Tory is a mug.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What about a society with neither rich nor poor?

On Sunday we received an email from the Fairer Tax Campaign which said:
The Fairer Tax Campaign is a not-for-profit and non-partisan project that is in favour of national income tax reform.
We believe that Britain needs to become collectively fairer. The gap between the rich and the poor has continued to grow for decades, which has only served to create a divided society. This is unacceptable for a developed country with one of the largest economies in the world. More needs to be done to tackle the aforementioned disparity. Fairer income tax is part of the solution.
We propose that that the tax free personal allowance threshold be raised to £10,000 for anyone earning less than £18,000 a year. This will be subsidised by reducing the threshold for the 50% tax rate from £150,000 to £100,000. It will ensure that the rich pay more and the poor pay less.
Question 1: Do you agree in principle with the aforementioned policy?
Question 2: In a generic sense, do you believe that the rich should pay more tax and the poor should pay less tax?
Question 3: If you are elected as an MP, do you pledge to campaign for income tax reform at the next parliament?
We look forward to receiving your response.
We replied:
The Socialist Party is standing on a platform of socialism (common ownership, democratic control, production for use not profit, and distribution according to need not money) and nothing but. We are not advocating reform of capitalism. Your reform (trying to permanently redistribute income from the rich to the poor) has been tried many times and has always failed because it is undermined by the way the capitalist system works and has to work, as is explained in this article. It would be more effective to work for a society in which there will be neither rich nor poor.
As our reply was not published along with others on their website we asked why and received the following reply:
We can confirm that we did receive your email. However, as you can tell by our blog, we only upload answers of those politicians who broadly agree in principle, part or whole with the Fairer Tax Campaign (or progressive tax reform in general). So far, politicians from 11 different party affiliations have done so. It was clear from your response that you neither agreed with FTC in principle, part or whole. If we are mistaken, by all means send us a response to our questions that matches the criteria above and we will upload your answer. We can understand if you are unable to do so for ideological reasons. We hope that has been clarified and wish you all the best.
In the end our reply was published as a comment. By the look of those who have signed up this reformist bankwagon is not going anywhere anyway.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Kentish Town update

Sorry I've been quiet, I've been up in Kentish Town gathering signatures to contest the election there. I had to do this in between attending the Party's conference.

After knocking on about 300 doors (most of which were simply not answered) often in driving freezing winds, I got the ten signatures required. Most people I talked to simply weren't interested in politics - a good few said "No, sorry, I'm voting Labour" (the ward is a lib-dem/labour marginal in a tight council contest). One feller did start to discuss with me why it would be impossible to organise a complex economy without the market system, but I was so cold I didn't hang around long - I knew I could keep the counter argument going for about half an hour, and didn't reckon that would be fair on either of us.

At least, though, he instantly compared us to the diggers, which made me relatively happy.

I gave away a few copies 0f our Pamphlet 'Socialism as a practical alternative' to those who seemed interested in what we about.

I got my nomination papers in yesterday, and the returning officer asked for an additional coverign letter from our nomionating officer so I could use the party name - this despite the fact that I'd lugged the relevent form all the way down to Clapham to get it signed. Apparently, the form isn't enough, no, but an email that could be from anybody, really, is sufficient. Bureacracy, I tell's ya.

So, now for about 15 hours of leafletting, alongside any helping out I give in Lambeth, and joining in other campaigning events. Fun, fun fun.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Day the Election was Called

This seemed a good day to start distributing the local election manifestos, so went to the westernmost part of Larkhall ward (and of Vauxhall and the borough of Lambeth) on the other side of Wandsworth Road. Went the extra 300 yards up the Wandsworth Road to drop one in at the John Buckle Bookshop at No 170, the headquarters of the "Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)", a Maoist outfit (can't remember whether they supported Albania or Mao's widow -- anyway they stand for state-capitalism not socialism). It wasn't open. It never seems to be. So couldn't find out what their line on the general election is. I think they may be calling for a vote for Kim Il Sung II of North Korea.

Picked up a copy of a paper for Portuguese-speakers in Britain, ie workers from Portugal, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. When a story concerns one of these countries it is signaled by the country's flag. Noticed that the Angolan flag features the hammer-and-sicke. That should please the RCPB(ML). Or maybe not.

Just heard on the news that the actor Corin Redgrave died today. He stood against us for the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1978 Lambeth Central by-election. He got 271 votes. We got 91. He didn't like us. The feeling was mutual but we mustn't speak ill of the dead, at least not on the day they died.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The future capitalism offers you

Apparently "Gordon" was in Larkhall on Tuesday, but they never told us he was coming. We were there too but at the other end of the ward.

His job is to preside over the running of capitalism in Britain for the benefit of British capitalists. But they have turned out to be an ungrateful lot, lining up behind the Tories to avoid a minor tax on their profits.

They say the government's proposed increase in National Insurance contributions from next year will be a "tax on jobs". But they are not concerned about jobs. And what hypocrites to pretend they are. They are in business not to provide jobs but to make profits, and if the two clash then jobs will be sacrificed to protect profits, as they've been doing since the autumn of 2008 with more to come. The proposed increase in NI contributions will increase their labour costs and so cut into profits. That's why they are squealing, allowing the Tories to present themselves as a better party of the rich than Labour. And Labour had been trying so hard.

But what about the rest of us, the non-rich? In the boring TV debate last Monday between the main parties' economics spokesmen
all three agreed the future cuts would be worse than those under Margaret Thatcher. (see here, for instance)
Sorry. but we have to ask this: Are you going to be one of the mugs that's going to vote for them?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Local manifesto arrives

12,000 copies of our manifesto for the London borough elections on 6 May arrived yesterday. Distribution will begin this Sunday -- by delegates down for our Annual Conference this Friday and Saturday at 52 Clapham High Street (all welcome -- there are no secret sessions). Here's what the leaflet says:

Socialists are working for a different and better world

This is a message to those who are fed up –

• Fed up with the failures of this dreary system
• Fed up with leaders and the false promises of career politicians
• Fed up with poor hospitals, poor schools, poor housing and an unhealthy environment
• Fed up with having to live on a wage that struggles to pay the endless bills
• Fed up with serving the profit system and seeing poverty amidst luxury

What happens in any local council depends mainly on what happens in the country and even in the world. That is why socialists are working for a different world. But it can't happen unless you join us. The job of making a better world must be the work of all of us.

The world we want is a one where we all work together. We can all do this. Co-operation is in our own interests and this is how a socialist community would be organised – through democracy and through working with each other.

To co-operate we need democratic control not only in our own area but by people everywhere. This means that all places of industry and manufacture, all the land, transport, the shops and means of distribution, should be owned in common by the whole community. With common ownership we would not produce goods for profit. The profit system exploits us. Without it we could easily produce enough quality things for everyone. We could all enjoy free access to what we need without the barriers of buying and selling.

Most politicians blame our problems on lack of money, but this is not true. Money doesn't build hospitals, schools decent housing and a healthy environment. The things that make a good community can only be created by the work of the people. We have an abundance of skills and energy. If we were free from having to work for the profits of employers we would be able to work for the needs of everyone.

The profit system is oppressive; it dominates our lives. It plagues us with bills. The rent and mortgage payments, the food bills, the rates, gas, electricity, water and telephone bills. Money is used to screw us for the profits of business. If we don't pay, we don't get the goods. Without the capitalist system, a socialist community would easily provide for all of its members..

The challenge now is to build a world-wide movement whose job will be to break with the failures of the past. It won't be for power or money or careers. It will work for the things that matter to people everywhere – peace, material security and the enjoyment of life through cooperation.

This is the challenge that could link all people in a common cause without distinction of nationality, race or culture.

We in the Socialist Party reject the view that things will always stay the same. We can change the world. Nothing could stop a majority of socialists building a new society run for the benefit of everyone. We all have the ability to work together in each other's interests. All it takes is the right ideas and a willingness to make it happen.

If you agree with this you can show it by voting for our candidates in this ward.

The socialist candidates are:
Ferndale ward (Lambeth): Daniel Lambert, John Lee, Jacqueline Shodeke
Larkhill ward (Lambeth): Oliver Bond, Adam Buick, Stanley Parker
Kentish Town ward (Camden): William Martin

GENERAL ELECTION: The Socialist Party is also contesting the Vauxhall constituency (Lambeth) in this election. The candidate is: Daniel Lambert.

Follow our election campaign at:

More information and offers of help: contact our offices at 52 Clapham High St, SW4 7UN or by email to or by phone to 0207 622 3811. Website:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Local election nomination papers handed in

This morning handed in the nomination papers for our 6 candidates in the local elections in Lambeth. They've been accepted. So our candidates (Bond, Buick and Parker for Larkhall and Lambert, Lee and Shodeke for Ferndale) are now officially candidates and are no longer allowed to buy drinks for electors. Apparently the Greens are expected to stand a full list so there could be at least 15 candidates for the 3 seats in both wards.

On the way back from Brixton Town Hall noticed the offices of the local government workers' union UNISON so dropped a leaflet through their letter box and looked at their noticeboard. There were three notices.

One was a call for volunteers to go canvassing for the Labour Party in Barking to stop the BNP. Apparently there's a chance they might win control of the council there. As if it wasn't the inevitable failure of the mainstream reformist parties to make capitalism work for the workers that hadn't created conditions for the rise of the BNP.

The other was from the Union's LGBT section (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender, for the uninitiated). Not quite sure what that's got to do with trade unionism which is about what unites workers not what divides them but maybe it's just concerned with combatting prejudices.

The third was from Youth Fight for Jobs, which is a front for Militant. The leaders of UNISON don't like Militant and have recently taken over a branch in Greenwich which Militant had captured. Don't know what this was all about but in general it's a bad thing for union branches to be hi-jacked by vanguardist parties (which specialise in this) or any political party for that matter. They ought to be controlled democratically by their members irrespective of their political views.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BNP bullshit

Last Monday Nick Griffin of the far-right BNP debated the "Reverend" George Hargreaves of the far-right Christian Party on a Christian TV station. According to a report in Surrey Comet this is what he argued:
"We believe that nations are ordained by God and that they will be there at the end of times, so logically from that all nations have the right to ensure they survive and are not simply swamped by an endless flood from elsewhere."
If this is the sort of nonsense he is spouting just put him on TV every night and he'll soon be a laughing stock.

When, at what point in history, for instance, did God ordain the "nations" of the world and which was to live where? The so-called "British nation" of which Griffin seeks to be the champion is a product of history, not the creation of some god. If you go back only 2000 or so years most of the inhabitants of this island off the north-west coast of Europe were Celts, speaking a language akin to modern Welsh. They were eventually conquered by the Romans who came from Italy (but whose troops and settlers came from all round the Mediterranean and beyond). When the Romans left there was a "endless flood" of Angles and other Germanic-speakers into "Britain" (a word of Celtic origin) who eventually drove the Celtic-speakers to the Celtic fringe of Cornwall, Wales and Cumberland. Then came the Danes from Norway and Denmark. Then England (or Angle-land, as it was now called) was conquered by the French-speaking Normans. And the English-language evolved, a basically Germanic language with a large French vocabulary. It didn't stop there, with later migrations of Flemings and Hugenots.

Daniel Defoe wrote a poem about this which is still a good reply to nationalist myth-makers like Griffin.

As we have always said, the best way to deal with Griffin and his followers is not to ban them or kick their heads in but to put them on a platform and expose the nonsense they spout for what it is. Easy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A bit of gossip

The Workers' Power group supports TUSC and is running a candidate in Vauxhall. Jeremy Drinkall, the candidate, told me that he has asked for TUSC support, and been told officially that TUSC will not support him because the Labour MP he is challenging, Kate Hoey, is in the RMT parliamentary group. (This although RMT is not in TUSC).
Martin Thomas on the site of another Trotskyist group who are also standing alone, without TUSC endorsement, in Camberwell & Peckham, and also saying Vote Labour elsewhere.

Taxi Rank

OK, things are ticking over - I've been to Camden council and I've got hold of the nomination papers for standing in Kentish Town: I'll pick up the electoral roll on the 29th and so will be hitting the streets looking for nominations pretty much straight away.

Until then - the thing overlooked by the media. Polly Toynbee comes close regarding the Byers/Despatches affair:
If a fish rots from the head, Labour's contamination with money was smelled from those earliest days of being "intensely relaxed about the filthy rich". But Tony Blair's behaviour since 2007 defies the ravings of his worst enemies. No conspiracy theorist guessed he would take money for Iraqi oil from a South Korean company – to add to £1m from the Kuwaiti royal family, an estimated £20m from anyone anywhere, £4m for his book, plus properties fit for a Brunei prince. That all this mammon is collected in the name of God is worthy of the faith-based business school of L Ron Hubbard: God can make you very rich indeed. Did Blair go to war in Iraq to get rich quick? Almost certainly not, but the cashflow from American adulation ever since will leave the slur on his tombstone.
This is nearly there, the point is that the desperate, petty, piddling corruption of the type Byers has been engaged in isn't the end of it. There are lucrative and legal and "honourable" ways to get rich post politics. Those in the loop know that there is always the way out into business. The capitalists aren't offering bribes, directly, but capitalism and the prospect of riches does offer an incentive to tow the capital line.

The point the media have missed is this: you cannot have democracy in an unequal society. End of. The lure of riches and reward will always draw power and decision making towards the owners of the world. You can regulate, adjudicate and officiate to buggery and back, and you still won't stop the allure of lucre. Beat that home: in a world where money talks louder than votes, you cannot have democracy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What "mass immigration"?

Came across a UKIP hoarding poster which read "5000 people settle here every week. Stop mass immigration -- vote UKIP".

Of course what UKIP is doing is playing on some people's dislike of already settled immigrants. But most immigrants are just workers who've moved here in search of work and finding it. In fact many of what the BNP, UKIP's cruder rival for the anti-immigrant vote, call the "indigenous" population will be the descendants of one-time immigrants. Everybody with an Irish name for instance, and that's a lot.

The Socialist attitude is that all workers, irrespective of their first language or where they were born, share a common interest in uniting, as long as capitalism lasts, to get the best terms they can for the sale of their working skills and, more importantly, in getting rid of capitalism and replacing it with a world community without frontiers based on the common ownership and democratic control of the Earth's resources so that these can be usd for the benefit of the whole world population.

It's not clear whether UKIP will be standing in Vauxhall -- the poster was in neighbouring Battersea. Just checked who it is and it says:
From a military family, Christopher was brought up in this country and the middle east.
Hold on a minute. Middle East? So it's alright from his family to have settled there in connection with their work but not for families from other parts of the world to settle here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The baby and the bathwater

We have received by email a leaflet about the election from Past Tense Publications who have published some interesting short pamphlets about labour and popular history in South London. Headed "ALL ELECTIONS ARE A JOKE. LET'S TREAT THEM WITH THE CONTEMPT THEY DESERVE" it argues that "all elections are a waste of time". It starts off well enough:
Politicians of all parties fill their pockets, you couldn’t tell their policies apart without a microscope, the power of the rich, the global corporations and financiers continues merrily whoever is elected; well-meaning do-gooders get elected, then become sucked in or ground down by he weight of the system. While the meaningless circus at Westminster rattles on, our lives are at the mercy of their economic upturns and downturns, grinding away at work just to survive. While the rich and their parliamentary puppets wine and dine, whoever gets in next time will slash the NHS and other services many of us need to get by, to balance the national debt – at our expense, again.
They recall what they see as a historical precedent:
"How things don’t change…
In the 18th century, the vast majority of the population were excluded from power by a corrupt political elite, who had the parliamentary processes all sown up in the interests of the rich, ie themselves and their mates (sound familiar?). The poor could see the electoral circus meant nothing to them.
In response some set out to take the piss out of the whole charade. In the South London village of Garratt (in modern Wandsworth), from the 1740s to the 1790s, mock elections were held for the fictional office of “Mayor of Garratt”. Huge crowds flocked to a rowdy and fantastic parade and drinking spree, centred on a fake contest, featuring ridiculous candidates making grandiose speeches, promising the mpossible if elected, and swearing oaths filled with sexual innuendo…"
And conclude with practical proposals to "Turn the joke back on them":
It may not change the world: but why don’t we revive the Garratt tradition, with a vengeance this time, everywhere? We could hold mock elections, in the streets, parks, or even inside the polling stations on election day (till they chuck us out!), at work, school or on the bus, we could stir up a huge non-stop mickey-take of the meaningless parliamentary smokescreen, disrupting, engaging with others, having a laugh, but showing we aren’t taken in? Why not elect your ranty mates, or whoever; maybe they could all turn up at the House of Commons on opening day and claim to be an Honourable Member too? Would your pet gerbil make a good MP?
We could also revive other fun practices from our history: like the Suffragettes’ were fond of following candidates they opposed around and disrupting all their elections speeches; which would be a laugh too, especially with megaphones or sound systems.
These are just two ideas – there’s a million more ways to trash the dash for cash. Let’s use our imaginations, go for it, and not get nicked!
Having fun together is more real than parliamentary puppet shows… The more chaos and disorder, the more disruption, the more open rejection of the empty lie of democracy, the more fun we’ll have the more potential for real change.
Clearly anarchist influence is strong amongst some of those associated with Past Tense publications. The full text can in fact already be found on anarchist websites, for instance, here.

Mildly amusing perhaps (though, to tell the truth, the members at our offices who read it thought it pathetic) but theoretically and practically wrong. Mocking politicians is alright to a certain extent (we do it ourselves) but it can give rise to the mistaken idea that is because of corrupt and self-seeking politicians that we suffer from the social problems we do. It's not. It's the fault of capitalism. Even if all politicians were saints they still couldn't make capitalism work in our interest.

Nor is it true that "All elections are a joke". While what the professional politics who currently dominate politics get up to at Westminister and the antics they engage in to get votes do deserve to be mocked, especially as the media give them so much publicity, there is a serious side to elections.

Elections are ultimately about who controls the government and who gets to make the laws. Ever since most electors have been wage and salary workers the capitalist class has needed to persuade workers into voting for politicians who will support their system. This is what elections are about: tricking workers into voting for pro-capitalist politicians. Past Tense are right to expose this, but wrong to conclude that this means we should never have anything to do with elections. The response should be, as Marx once put it, to transform universal suffrage "from the instrument of fraud that it has been up till now into an instrument of emancipation". Which is one of the points we are trying to make in contesting this and other elections.

Universal suffrage came into being partly as a result of pressure from below. Past Tense recognise this when they note that "from the 1760s the [Garratt] elections were associated with radical politics: demands for reform of the political system band protests against the economic hardships and lack of liberty for the labouring classes began to appear in the speeches". But what was "reform of the political system" if not the extension of the suffrage and its use to gain access to political power to try to improve the situation of "the labouring classes", such as the Chartists later campaigned for? And what did the Suffragettes want if not to extend the suffrage? Was this wrong? We say No, the extension of the vote to workers is a gain and is a crucial difference between today and the situation in 1700s. Certainly, at present the vote is not used wisely -- in fact it is used very unwisely -- but that doesn't mean that it can't be used when once workers have woken up to the fact that capitalism can never be made to work in their interests. To try to speed up this awareness is another reason why we contest elections.

The suggestion to take over "polling stations on election day", i.e. to try to disrupt the elections, is completely irresponsible but is probably just anarchist bombast. Our advice to them (since the Past Tense people seem a decent lot) is: don't be stupid, don't do it. If they really tried it, they'd be in dead trouble and would get nicked, ending up in prison to reflect on the refrain from the Crickets 1959 song "I fought the Law" ... "And the Law Won".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Vauxhall election blog

So that electors can be fully informed of the choice before them (and so they can see the difference between a real socialist and a Trotskyist reform-monger and would-be leader) here's the site of the candidate of the League for the Fifth International.

We were also out leafleting, for the local elections, yesterday but in the Stockwell Park area so didn't come across them (Oval is not one of the two wards we are contesting). Incindentally, if you take the wrong turning when you exit from the Oval tube station you end up in the nextdoor constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark.

Hope none of them did this and handed out their leaflets there as they are supposed to be telling people that side of Kennington Park Road to Vote Labour. In other words, their message to those living near the Oval tube would have been: if you live on one side of road Vote Labour, if you live on the other Don't Vote Labour. We'll try and get hold of one of their leaflets to see if this clears up the confusion.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nul point

Our candidate for Vauxhall has been solicited for his views by yet another organisation. This time, not a single issue group but group which has 21 issues.

"Election candidates challenge!" read the email we got, "Endorse our pledges and we'll vote for you":
"The Instute of Ideas has published a list of '21 Pledges for Progress' ahead of the general election, and is challenging candidates of all parties to endorse them. The Institute of Ideas suggests voting for any candidate willing to back at least 15 of the pledges, whichever party they represent".
The 21 pledges can be found here. As can be seen, they are reform measures to be achieved within capitalism. Despite the fact that we could sympathise with some of the measures such as those concerning freedom of speech and association and the call for a more rational approach to nuclear power and GM crops (though we wouldn't trust them to be implemented properly under capitalism), and although feudal relics like the monarchy and the house of lords will diappear in socialism, we had to reply saying we couldn't endorse any of the "pledges" to gain votes.

This is because we are standing on a straight programme of socialism (the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, with production solely for use, not sale and profit and distribution on the principle of "from each their ability to each their needs") as the only framework within which existing social problems can be lastingly tackled and only want the votes of those who want socialism rather than just particular reforms of capitalism.

So, we had to report that our score was 0 out of 21.

We know the Institute of Ideas of old. This has been formed by ex-leading "cadres" of the now defunct Leninist organisation, the "Revolutionary Communist Party". In fact, in the 1989 by-election in Vauxhall (which we gave a miss) they put up a candidate who got 177 votes. That candidate, Don Milligan, who has now abandoned Leninism, has written a recent piece about what life was like for the members of the RCP and the illusions they held. It can be found here. We imagine that this is still what life is still like inside the extant Leninist/Trotskyist organisation, the League for the Fifth International, which is planning to stand here. Which confirms why we ourselves have always opposed Leninism and said that those who want socialism should organise as an open, democratic party without leaders or leadership pretensions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The world we live in. The Tories attack Unite for seeking solidarity from the American Teamsters Union (according to the BBC). Now, the international solidarity of the workers is a principle of trade unionism, so it is in fact a good thing that workers are seeking one anothers' support. Just look, though, at the vitriol being poured on the BA workers for daring to stand up for themselves. Compare with the flood of stories about government cuts being needed to restore 'confidence' in the economy (e.g. here). What they mean by confidence is giving in to the overall policy demands of financiers, who will withhold their economic resources until their demands are met.

We are in the grip of a sustained capital strike, and yet the press turn vicious on any attempt by workers to mount a strike to defend their own interests.

As a note, the Tories are attacking the link between Labour and Unite, because Unite as the biggest union in the country is basically shouldering the cost of the Labour Party now. Labour loyalist Luke Akehurst rebuts the allegations.

The point, though, is that the link is hurting both parties, the interests of political parties and trade unions are not the same. Further, by linking themselves to a party that will form government under capitalism, the unions are signing a paycheque to those who will have to implement capitalism's attacks against the workers.

We support, fully and utterly, the BA workers and Unite and the Teamsters in their efforts to stand up to their employer, a struggle we all share an interest in. We share, though, an even greater interest in getting rid of the wages system all together, and Unite the Union would do better to try and raise their aims to Unite the Workers, for socialism. Unite members in Lambeth and Camden can do this by voting for our candidates.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Green austerity

In his blog on Saturday the Green Party candidate for Vauxhall, Joseph Healey, inadvertently reminded people that in Ireland the Green Party is part of the coalition government and so is responible for imposing the increased austerity on the workers there demanded by the current world economic crisis. Green parties have assumed responsibility for governing capitalism not just in Ireland but also, though not at the moment, in Germany, France, Belgium and Italy.

As we have always said, the Green Party is just as much a party of capitalism as Labour, the Tories and the Liberals. They only want to try to give it a green tinge. Not that this can work except on a miniscule scale since capitalism's priority of priorities always must be allowing profits to be made.

This means that any party which takes on responsibility for running capitalism must sooner or later end up acting against the interests of the majority wage and salary working class, as Healey's counterparts in Ireland have found out (and accepted).