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.