Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two hundred words

Here's the 200-word reply that the Brixtonblog has asked the candidates to submit in answer to the question of "what they would do specifically for Brixton Hill":

Parties promising to do things for others is not my idea of politics, so I’m not making any promises to do anything for anyone. The Socialist Party is standing to give people the chance to show they reject the capitalist system where making profits always comes first.

Capitalism is going through one of its economic crises and the only way out for it is to restore profits by cutting the living standard of working people and their dependants.

That’s why what our wages can buy has shrunk. It’s why benefits are being slashed. And it’s why Lambeth council has been cutting local services.

It’s not just Lambeth. It’s councils everywhere, whichever party is in control. Politicians, local and national, are just running the system in the only way it can be. It’s the system that’s to blame, not those elected to run it. That’s why changing the politicians in charge makes no difference.

Instead of trusting in politicians we’ve have got to change the system ourselves, to one where the places where wealth is produced are no longer run as profit-seeking businesses but owned and democratically controlled by the community and used to provide a decent life for all.

In the meantime a political newsfeed has picked up a statement on the by-election from our other blog.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The10 January hustings

The online Brixton newspaper, the Brixtonblog, has just announced the details of this hustings they are hosting:


So, it's 7pm on Thursday 10 January at the Catholic Church, 11 Trent Road, SW2 5JB.

We'll be there.

They've also asked for 150-200 word statement from candidates "on what they would do specifically for Brixton Hill". We'll have to say that it's not possible to isolate Brixton Hill from the effects of capitalism ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Votes for prisoners' (guards)

Brixton Prison is in the ward as is the accommodation of some of the warders. At the GLA elections in May one of those on the TUSC list was Joe Simpson, the Assistant General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association.

Here is his election speech and statement

He says he has joined the Socialist Party but he hasn't. He's joined the ex-Militant Tendency which has tried to usurp this name that we've been using since 1904 and which is the main political group behind TUSC. Naturally we object to this, but it could be counter-productive for them in this election since the party name next to our candidate will be "The Socialist Party (GB)". If so, serve them right.

OK, prison warders like the police are "workers in uniform". It is odd, though, that someone calling themself a socialist should take a job guarding other workers who have been imprisoned, most of them for crimes against property. But the fact that some "workers in uniform" are prepared to call themselves "socialist", together with the Mitchell affair, refute one of the arguments (put forward, amongst others, by Trotskyists) that it wouldn't be possible for a socialist-minded working class to take power peaceably via the ballot box because the ruling class would not accept this and would set the "workers in uniform" at their service against the socialist movement. These show that workers in the police force, prison service and the armed forces are still workers with minds of their own who don't always think or do what the ruling class tell them, and would be highly unlikely to do this in the event of a socialist victory at the polls.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Online publicity

We haven't contested a council by-election for a number of years. (The last was in 1996 in Clapham Town ward of Lambeth when we got 20, or 0.7%, the equivalent of 200 in a parliment election). But that was before the internet took off.

This time we've been invited to a hustings on Thursday 10 January organised by an online Brixton newspaper, the Brixton Blog. More details (time, venue) later.

Also, the Council have asked for a photo of our candidate to put on their website, as a means of publicising the election (they probably expect a low turn-out), which they will tweet to those who follow them.

Who would have thought that a local by-election would provide such opportunities to publicise socialism?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's a 7-horse race

Nominations closed today. There are seven candidates (in alphabetical order):

Briggs (Conservative)
Child (Green)
Jones (UKIP)
Lambert (Socialist)
Maffei (LibDem)
Nally (TUSC)
Tiedemann (Labour & Coop)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Why We Are Against Capitalism"

Letter published in last Friday's South London Press in reply to Trotskyist Steve McNally's in the previous week's issue :
Why we are against capitalism

Steve Nally (Letters, South London Press, December 8) is right. Local services and amenities are being cut and people shouldn't put up with this, but this is the fault of the capitalist profit system as it goes through one of its economic crises. So, it is misleading to blame those who administer this system at local level, as he does, rather than the system itself. In calling on Lambeth council to adopt an alternative budget without cuts, he is encouraging the illusion that things could be different under capitalism if only there were militant leftwingers in charge. But the only way capitalism can get out of a crisis is by cutting living standards.

This is why Socialists should be campaigning for the abolition of capitalism, not for a change in the people running it or trying to make it work in a way it just cannot. We, too, will be standing in some wards in the Lambeth council elections in 2014, just as we did in 2010.
Adam Buick The Socialist Party, Clapham High Street
They chose the title (which is not bad). The only change they made was to replace "Militant" (with a capital M) by "militant" (without one). Perhaps the capital M was too subtle -- or too unsubtle.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nomination accepted

The nomination papers were handed in this morning and accepted. So we'll be on the ballot paper, as LAMBERT Daniel Peter, THE SOCIALIST PARTY (GB)

The other news is that there will also almost certainly be a Trotskyist candidate from TUSC.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Greens fancy their chances

It looks as if the Greens consider this by-election to be (as the Liberals would say) a "two-horse race" between them and Labour:

http://lambethgreennews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/lambeth-labours-deception-in-brixton.html

They're right about the dishonest table in the Labour leaflet (which we saw too and availed ourselves of their Freepost address to point this out). The result (without postal votes) for the ward in the GLA elections in the constituency vote was:

Labour 1898
Greens 541
Tories 482
LibDems 303
Socialist 101
UKIP 72

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nomination papers

Collected the nomination papers from the Town Hall in the morning. There is no deposit to stand in local elections but the candidate needs to have a proposer, seconder and 8 assentors, all 10 on the electoral roll for the ward. Danny Lambert (our candidate)and me got the 8 assentors to the nomination in the afternoon in one street in less than two hours. We explained that we weren't asking them to support us but only to allow us to stand. Those who signed understood the difference and were prepared to let us exercise our democratic right to stand. One knew of us and had seen and liked the Marx "I told you so" poster in our Head Office window. Fixed 12.30 on Thursday as the time to formally hand them in.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Trotskyist candidate?

Friday's South London Press carries a letter from a Steve Nally signing himself "Lambeth Socialist Party". Needless to say, it's not from us but from the Trotskyist Militant Tendency. So that people can see the reformist crap they are putting out in our name (as it there wasn't a shop front in Clapham High St, in Lambeth, with a fascia saying "The Socialist Party") here's the letter in full:

Voting to keep public services

Our public services are under massive attack. This Government is savaging jobs, public services and benefits. Around Britain, four out of five councils have cut library services and nearly 200 Sure Start children's centres have closed. Since 2010, Lambeth Labour council has cut 1,000 council jobs, closed down the park ranger service and privatised council call centres and adventure playgrounds. Yet the money is there in Britain today to keep all these services going. Between 2011 and 2012, £13billion was paid out in City bonuses. Just half of this would have been enough to avoid all the council cuts made that year.

All we hear from our councillors is that they have no alternative but to pass on the cuts. But they can fight for an alternative budget that would defend jobs and services. Lambeth council could, in the first instance, use its reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing on these cuts while arguing that the best way to mobilise a mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the need of the local community and demands that the Government makes up the shortfall. As part of the battle against the cuts, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC )in Lambeth will be standing anti-cuts candidates in the 2014 elections and in any by-elections. We appeal to local trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to stand as candidates in 2014. Anyone interested in this can contact TUSC on www.tusc.org.uk or call 020 7702 8667 Steve Nally Lambeth Socialist Party.
Of course there's enough money around to avoid the cuts but to use it for this would run counter to the way capitalism works, and can only work. Capitalism runs on profits and currently it's not profitable to invest to the same extent as before (one definition of a "slump"). The only way that capitalism is going to get out of this is by cutting living standards and encouraging profits (which is why Osborne announced last week yet another cut in corporation tax, a tax on profits).

Militant probably know this but are pursuing the dishonest and condescending Trotskyist policy of trying to lead the working class down a cul de sac in the hope that when they reach the brick wall they'll turn to them for "leadership". It's the same with their advice to local councillors to fix a budget without cuts and send the bill to the government (which planet are they living on?). They know perfectly well the result. The councillors would be surchanged and banned from public office (as happened to Ted Knight and his fellow Lambeth councillors who tried this in the 1980s)and the central government would take over the running of the council and impose the cuts anyway. Which of course is what Militant wants to happen. It would be another brick wall.

The last paragraph of Nally's letter suggests that may be contesting the Brixton Hill by-election. Fair enough. We're prepared to take on all opponents of socialism

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The result last time

The result in the ward at the local elections in May 2010 can be found here.

In other words:

Labour 43%
Liberals 29%
Greens 15%
Tories 13%

Friday, December 07, 2012

Brixton Hill council by-election

Following the move up the greasy pole from Local Councillor to Member of Parliament by Steve Reed, the Leader of Lambeth Council, he has resigned as a councillor and a by-election will be held in the ward he represented. This happens to be Brixton Hill, which is within 10-15 minutes walking distance from our office at 52 Clapham High Street and also one of the wards where in the Greater London Assembly elecions in May we got 3 percent or more of the vote. It is just outside the parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall which we normally contest.

We will be contesting this by-election whih will take place on Thursday 17 January. Nomination papers have to be in by Tuesday 18 December, so next week we'll be going round collecting to 10 signatories by electors in the ward needed to stand.

As there was no chance of Steve Reed not being elected as Labour MP for North Croydon we had anticipated the by-election and have already leafletted the ward. On the basis of this we reckon that 3000 leaflets can cover this. With this relatively small number we should be able to leaflet it twice before the election.

You'll be able to follow our campaign on this blog.

Monday, June 04, 2012

More statistics

Someone on this forum has devised a formula for taking into account postal votes which gives the following results for the 10 parliament constituencies:

Vauxhall 681 (2.3%)
Streatham 586 (2.0%)
Camberwell & Peckham 604 (1.8%)
Dulwich & W, Norwood 592 (1.8%)
Bermondsey & Old Southwark 475 (1.5%)
Mitcham & Morden 331 (1.2%)
Battersea 293 (0.9%)
Tooting 288 (0.8%)
Wimbledon 247 (0.8%)
Putney 184 (0.7%)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

From the Vaults

I've popped to the party offices in Clapham, and run across our archivist here. So, I put him to work, and here are our votes from the 1973 GLC election:

Islington NorthBuick284
Hackney North & Stoke NewingtonCarter250
HampsteadCox191
HornseyPorter144
StreathamSimpkins120
VauxhallSansum121
Lambeth CentralBaldwin115
TottenhamA. Young109
Holborn & St. PancrasDavies99
NorwoodH. Young95
St. MaryleboneWeidberg84


If we take those seats in our 2012 area, Norwood, Streatham, Lambeth Central and Vauxhall, we have 451. The Old GLC constituencies were much smaller and more numerous, but judging by their names they seem to have corresponded with the rough size of a Parliamentary constituency, and seem to have had electoral lists totalling about 45,000 voters. So that was 451 out of about 185,000 potential voters.

As the wikipedia article, linked to above, states, 1973 was a changed electoral system. Here are our totals for 1970

CamdenCox391
CamdenDavies323
CamdenGrant299
EalingGeorge735
EalingBuchanan695
EalingRose392
EalingSawyer293
HaringeyCarter443
HaringeyBuick374
HaringeyWaite212
LambethGarnham620
LambethPhillips536
LambethSimkins295


As can be seen, these were multi-member constituencies, so we could be picking up stray votes from other parties. We can take our "real" vote as being our top vote in each, which to summarise were:

CamdenCox391
EalingGeorge735
HaringeyCarter443
LambethGarnham620


We're mostly conerned with Lambeth. Now, note, this is across the whole borough (hence the much higher votes than 1973). Lambeth is, obviously, what is now our main stomping ground of Lambeth and Southwark. 620 votes in 1970 can be roughly coubled (assuming an equivilent vote available in Southwark) to give us 1,200 - about our result in 2008, but about half of our vote this time. The above results were about 0.6% of the vote. But, let's look at 1967.

CamdenBuchanan907
CamdenGrant419
CamdenGiles411
EalingCox1250
EalingGeorge1107
EalingRose611
EalingWait441
HaringeyBuick1277
HaringeyCarter1191
HaringeyDavies1067
LambethGarnham1362
LambethBaldwin970
LambethPhillips806


And those headlines again:

LambethGarnham1362
HaringeyBuick1277
EalingCox1250
CamdenBuchanan907


Now, intriguingly, we were up against Communist Party opposition that year, and by and large they ouit polled us. Except in Lambeth, where Garnham came above one of the communist candidates. 1967 was not a year of crisis (in fact, it was the year before the crisis, while the going was still relatively good). It was a year of voting against the incumbant Labour government (so the Tories got in) and that may explain our quite high vote in Haringey (1.8%), and our then record in Lambeth (1.3%). To continue my unscientific procedure, if we double the Lambeth vote, we get 2724, just behind our score this time. Last time led to Tory government and to a surge back to Labour, this time we achieved our vote during a surge to Labour, which suggests there may be space for more growth. but in any case, it looks like 2012 is definitively our best election result ever. The trick now will be to build on that vote.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

By parliamentary constituency

The two GLA constituencies we contested covered 10 parliamentary constituencies (which would have cost us £5000 in deposits to contest as opposed to the £2000 we paid). Here are the number of votes our candidate obtained in these, excluding postal votes. As we got 220 postal votes in Lambeth (to be divided between 2 1/2 constituencies), 196 in Southwark (ditto), 159 in Wandsworth (3 constituencies) and 66 in Merton (2 constituencies), 641 in all, the full figures will be higher.

Anyway, here are the postal-voteless figures:

Vauxhall (Lab held) 593 (2.5%)
Streatham (Lab) 510 (2.1%)
Dulwich & West Norwood (Lab) 511 (2.0%)
Camberwell $ Peckham (Lab) 508 (1.9%)
Bermondsey & Old Southwark (LD) 400 (1.7%)
Mitcham & Morden (Lab) 293 (1.3%)
Battersea (Con) 232 (1.0%)
Tooting 228 (Lab) (0.9%)
Wimbledon (Con) 219 (0.9%)
Putney (Con) 146 (0.8%)

What these figures show is that we do better in Labour-held constituencies and in fact the better the safer the Labour seat is. When you think of it, this it what is to be expected in view both of the nature of our case and of the language in which we express it. More people in these places will have some degree of class consciousness.

Here is how all the parties did in Vauxhall:

Labour 12878 (53.7%)
Conservative 4763 (19.9%)
Green 2704 (11.3%)
Liberal Democrat 2515 (10.4%)
Socialist 593 (2.5%)
UKIP 538 (2.2%).

This is how they did in the 8 wards that would make up the proposed new constituency of Brixton:

Labour 15398 (58.5%)
Conservative 3894 (14.8%)
Green 3720 (14.1%)
Liberal Democrat 2117 (8.0%)
Socialist 719 (2.7%)
UKIP 486 (1.9%)

As to the 8 wards in the proposed new Battersea & Vauxhall constituency which we have been considering contesting instead of Vauxhall if it disappears, 4 of the wards are in Wandsworth and 4 in Lanbeth making comparisons difficult as there were 7 candidates in the first 4 and only 6 in the second. The Socialist candidates between them polled (not including postal votes) 428 votes (1.7%).

A word of caution: people tend to vote differently in elections which they consider don't matter (and which in fact don't matter) such as those for the GLA and the European Parliament than they do in parliamentary elections. It would be nice if these results could be reproduced in a parliamentary election but it won't necessarily be the case.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More analysis

This time Lambeth and Southwark.

In Lambeth we got 1700 (2.1%) and in Southwark 1238 (1.6%).

In three wards in Lambeth (Coldharbour, Larkhall and Brixton Hill) we got over a hundred votes, respectively 111, 102 and 101, or 3.4%, 3.3% and 3.0%. What this means in practical terms (assuming only about a third of electors voted) is that if you are walking town the street in these areas 1 out of every 100 people you pass are likely to have voted Socialist. I think that means that we should have a regular literature stall in Brixton High Road (which these three wards plus Ferndale where we got 2.9% surround). It also suggests that we should consider contesting the proposed new Brixton constituency (which will include all these wards) rather than the proposed Battersea & Vauxhall constituency -- if these and the other proposed boundary changes ever come in and are not dropped in exchange for not reforming the House of Lords.

In 9 of the 21 of the wards our candidate got more votes than the UKIP, or rather "The Fresh Choice for London", candidate. Not really surprising, as their main campaign slogan was "Save the City" and who wants to do that except the likes of the City bankers and lawyers who figured on their list?

In the 8 wards making up the parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall, the vote (not including postal votes) was 593 (or 2.5%). This contrasts with the 143 (or 0,3%) we got there in the 2010 General Election and the 240 (0.6%) in the 2005 General Election. In the 2008 GLA elections the figure was 351 (or 1.6%). An analysis of how we did in all the 10 parliamentary constituencies the GLA constituency covers follows separately.

In Southwark the best ward was Nunhead (which we did happen to leaflet) with 76 (or 2.7%) and we beat UKIP in 2 wards.

The higher vote in Lambeth than Southwark is no doubt to be explained by the fact that we have put a lot of work into Vauxhall, having contested 3 General Elections and 3 Council elections there as well as the last GLA elections and the European Parliament. We have also been leafletting regularly Larkhall and Ferndale wards (chosen because that's where we did best last time). This doesn't explain why we did better in Streatham (the other Lambeth parliamentary constituency) than in any part of Southwark.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Analysis -- Merton & Wandsworth

A little examination of the breakdown by ward (available here). Some breakdowns are very interesting. We got 578 votes in Merton, as opposed to 765 in Wandsworth (averages of 28 and 36, respectively). Postal votes complicate the picture a little, as they aren't grouped by ward, and we got 66 in Merton and 159 in Wandsworth. Our highest vote in Merton was 38 in Merton Park and St. Helier wards. In Wandsworth it was 54 in Latchmere (1.8% of votes cast) -- this appears to be one of the few Labour wards in Wandsworth. Of the Merton wards, St. Helier is Labour, while Merton Park is Independent. Both are down in Morden, so we have votes at the end of the Northern Line.

In some ways these figures confound my expectations, I thought we'd do better in Labour held Merton (which also returns Labour MP's), as compared to squarely Tory Wandsworth. Then again, Battersea Parliamentary constituency used to be Labour, and that's the area we leafletted. Further, Latchmere appears to have been squarely in the area we leafletted, so maybe that sort of thing pays off (it might also account for the higher postal vote).

The main thing it emphasises, that although in aggregate it sounds an impressive number, by ward it is our usual fare at council elections. The trick will be to tap into this latent vote and turn it into something bigger.

Just by way of comparison, TUSC averaged 15 votes per ward (308 in total) in Merton on the list election, and 28 (596) on the list election, which is pretty consistently behind us. The question to ask, is where a lot of our voters as confused as the BBC? If, however, you take our vote and replicate it across all 627 wards in London, it means we would achieve about 18,000 votes, which is close to the TUSC vote anyway.

Update: A more statistically minded comrade has pointed me in the direction of our average percentage. By that measure we did do better in Merton (average 1.1% of the vote) than in Wandsworth (0.9%). It's also been suggested we did well in St. Mary's Park ward (Wandsworth) thanks to the work of a mysterious comrade there. By percentage, then, our best overall result was St. Hellier (Merton), with 1.76%.

After a bit of fenangling...

The BBC did a wee write up of the election. You can find it here.
The Socialist Party

Keen to distance themselves from the Socialist Party of England and Wales, who make up one section of the Trade Union Socialist Coalition, the Socialist Party stood candidates in two Assembly consistuencies.

Both James Martin (Merton and Wandsworth) and Daniel Lambert (Lambeth and Southwark) finished last in their respective contests, gaining 4,281 votes between them.

Mr Martin said they campaigned for the "outright abolition of the wages system".
This is after we wrote to complain (twice, ocne about a small inaccuracy in our candidate's name). Initially they had us under the TUSC heading, but not "standing under their banner". Anyway, we are now immortalised, and the hundreds of readers who may find their way to that page may well get to see (albeit belatedly) that we stand for the abolition of the wages system. Who knows, maybe one or two might be tempted to look a little further.

Southwark readers learn who was standing

Last Thursday's Southwark News gave the results in the form of a pie-chart. Our share is shown in grey at the top:

It's not very clear here, but we know we 1,938 votes (just under 2 percent). This was the first time that this local paper mentioned who was standing. A bit late since the election was over.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Vote breakdown by wards awaited

The breakdown of voting by local council wards is supposed to be being published by next week. It will be interesting to see where our votes came from and whether a higher percentage corresponds to those wards in which we distributed our leaflets.

In the meantime, and for the record, here is the result of the council by-election in the Wimbledon Park ward of Merton council, one of the wards we did leaflet. Don't know if this contributed to any of the 37 rejected ballot papers.

Friday, May 04, 2012

London-wide list results in the two constituencies

These have just been announced.

Here they are for Lambeth & Southwark

Labour 78,174
Conservative 30,498
Green Party 20,151
Liberal Democrats 15,945
UKIP 4,216
Christian Peoples Alliance 2,591
BNP 2,048
Trade Union and Socialist Coalition 1,891 (1.2%)
English Democrats 1,075
The House Party 695
National Front 468
Ijaz Hayat (Independent) 335
Rathy Alagaratnam (Independent) 62

And those for Merton & Wandsworth

Conservative 61,476
Labour 53,978
Green 12,990
Liberal Democrat 9,925
UKIP 4,927
Christian Peoples Alliance 2,744
BNP 2,038
English Democrats 1,021
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 904 (0.6%)
The House Party 536
Rathy Alagaratnam 428
Ijaz Hayat 383
National Front 368

These are the results of the votes cast by the same voters in the two constituencies we contested but on a separate ballot paper.

What is intriguing is why the vote for TUSC should have been smaller than the vote for us (1047 less in Lambeth & Southwark and 439 less in Merton & Wandsworth). Since TUSC was offering a programme of attractive reforms ("jobs with a living wage for all", "no cuts", "cheap, efficient and safe public transport", "affordable homes for all", "free education") while we just advocated socialism, it might have been expected that they would have got more votes than us.

There are various possible explanations ranging from a statistical one (6 and 7 candidates in the constituencies compared with 13 lists) to the political ones that TUSC appealed mainly for the votes of trade unionists in the public sector while our appeal was directed at workers generally or even that some who voted for us deliberately didn't vote for them because they didn't believe in their reformist approach or the feasibility of their reforms within capitalism.

Lambeth & Southwark result

Just been announced by the BBC (we didn't have anybody there):

Val Shawcross (Labour) 83,239 52.8%
Michael Mitchell (Conservative) 30,537 19.4%
Rob Blackie (Liberal Democrats)18,359 11.6%
Jonathan Bartley (Green Party) 18,144 11.5%
James Fluss (UKIP/Fresh Choice for London) 4,395 2.8%
Daniel Lambert (The Socialist Party) 2,938 1.9%

Both the number of votes and the share went up from last time in 2008 (from 1588 and 1.0%).

Later, when the mayor and London-wide counts are done, there'll be a breakdown of how people in Lambeth & Southwark and in Merton & Wandsworth (and the other constituencies) voted for the the mayor and the lists. Later still, we'll get a breakdown by borough and local council wards.


Merton & Wandsworth result

Thanks, Anomymous, you beat me to it. I was there when the result was proclaimed and have just got back.
Here it is:

Richard Tracey (Conservative) 65,197 43.1%
Leonie Cooper (Labour) 55,216 36.5%
Lisa Smart (Liberal Democrat) 11,904 7.9%
Roy Vickery (Green Party) 11,307 7.5%
Mazhar Manzoor (UKIP) 3,717 2.5%
Thamilini Kulendran (IND) 2,424 1.6%
James Martin (Socialist Party) 1,343 0.9%

Total Ballot papers 153,785
Invalid or Blank 2,677
Valid 151,108
Turnout: 40.2%

For the record, when reading out the result the Returning Officer did refer to our candidate simply as "The Socialist Party".

Nothing else to report except that I did see a write-in vote in South West for the ISLP or "Independent Socialist Labour Party", a one-family breakaway from the Scargill Labour Party (I know who he must be: he stood for Kingston council last May). Also the Independent candidate told me that at the last council elections he had stood for the LibDems in Tooting.

The counts

Off to the count for Merton & Wandsworth in an hour or so at the Olympia in West London. Danny will be going to the count for Lamberth & Southwark in the Excel building in docklands.

The count is being done electronically. If you're that interested the process is explained in this short video.

You can follow the progress of the count here.

But don't expect results till about the end of the afternoon.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Voting for Socialism

Went to vote early. Cast a write-in vote for "WORLD SOCIALISM" for the Mayor and one for "SOCIALISM -- SPGB" for the constituency (no Socialist standing in mine, only the 5 usual suspects). I kept the London-wide one (it was supposed to be orange, but it's definitely pink) for our records, as it's set out much more clearly than the ballot paper for the European Parliament we contested as a list. It only contains the names and emblems of the parties contesting whereas the one for the EP had the registered name, the description, the emblem and the names of all the candidates. This is way we want go as, for us, it's "the case not the face" that counts.

The reason they have done this is that the votes will be counted electronically. This means that each ballot paper is shown on screens which can be seen by all of the few hundred people (the counting agents of the parties) who will be at the count. This includes write-in votes which will be seen by more than, as with hand counting, just the particular counter who counts them and the election agents of the candidates. That's why it's worthwhile going and casting a write-in vote (rather than just abstain). In fact, as I'll be at the count in Earls Court, where the votes of Merton & Wandsworth and other constituencies in South West and West London will be counted, I'll be able to see my vote as well as those of the dozen or so other comrades in these constituencies. But if you live in Lambeth, Merton, Southwark or Wandsworth don't forget to turn auto-pilot off so as not to cast a write-in vote. There are Socialist candidates there on the yellow ballot paper. You can vote for socialism directly by voting for them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Socialist Party election video

A couple of weeks ago, as we announced, the London on-line magazine, the Big Smoke, interviewed Danny Lambert, our candidate in Lambeth & Southwark, as part of their policy of giving less well-known parties and candidates a chance to put their views across. Technical difficulties prevented them putting it up earlier, but better late than never.

Anyway, here's the 10 minute video interview, the nearest we've got to a party political broadcast in our 108 year history.

One day to go...

By this time tomorrow I will have voted. Voted for socialism, in fact. Since where I live there is no socialist candidate standing, I shall be taking part in the Socialist Party's write in vote, and writing "World Socialism" Across my ballot paper.

Lucky souls in Mertin & Wandsworth and Lambeth & Southwark constituencies can at least for for the socialist candidates there; but, to be clear, if you do, you are the one making the promise. The promise to campaign for, to build for, to work towards attaining common and democratic ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth. If you're not capable of making that promise, we really don't want your vote.

Since we're not standing a list or a mayoral candidate, if you're in those constituencies, you'll need to carry out a write in vote on two of your three ballot papers.

Of course, there are elections and referendums going on across the UK, and we hope socialist readers will write in their vote for socialism. The more of us rejecting the choice of the factions of the capitalist party, the better.

Let's take a risk, anyone out there reading this, if you intend to vote socialist, either directly or by write in, let us know in the comments box. The more the better.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Giant of Idleness...

I read in the newspaper this morning about a new International Labour Organisation report "World of Work, 2012"[PDF]. Here are some key excerpts:
For 2012, around 202 million people are expected to be unemployed, reflecting the downward scenario indicated in the ILO (2012). The unemployment rate will further increase to 6.1 per cent of the global labour force this year and increase to 6.2 per cent in 2013. The number of jobseekers will continue to swell, and is expected to reach 210 million people by 2016, despite a gradual but limited decline in the unemployment rate.

…there is still a deficit of around 50 million jobs in comparison to the pre-crisis situation. It is unlikely that the world economy will grow at a sufficient pace over the next couple of years to both close the existing jobs deficit and provide employment for the over 80 million people expected to enter the labour market during this period.

...In addition, for a growing proportion of workers who do have a job, employment has become more unstable or precarious. In advanced economies, involuntary part-time employment and temporary employment have increased in two-thirds and more than half of these economies, respectively. The share of informal employment remains high, standing at more than 40 per cent in two-thirds of emerging and developing countries.
It is difficult to comprehend the amount of wealth being lost to un-and-under-employment. When we look around the world, and think what can be achieved with 202 million people's labour, and realise that it is just being lost. We need to be crystal clear, on May the first, workers day, capitalism depends on unemployment. It is a key and essential feature of the wages system. Those 202 million are unemployed so that a handful of billionaires can have their profits. We are being robbed not only of our own labour, but of the benefits of the labour of our fellows. That is the case for socialism in a nutshell.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The man in the blue turban

Yesterday was the last Saturday before the election. Unfortunately it rained all day so we didn't do our stall in Clapham High Street and our election meeting there had below average attendance (though there was still an interesting discussion). Some leaflets were distributed in nearby Larkhill ward (the ward we did best in last time).

We had received an invitation to a hustings at exactly the same time organised by the "British Organisation of People of Indian Sub-continental Origin" (BOPIO) in Tooting. Unfortunately Bill, our candidate for the area (Tooting is in Wandsworth) couldn't attend as he was out of London, but the organisers allowed us to be represented by his election agent. So I went. On my way I saw an SWP poster saying "Boot Out Tory Boris" and "Vote Ken Livingston for Mayor. Vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) Against Cuts for the Assembly." I took a photo of it for the record as another example of the SWP's policy of campaigning to vote Labour.

The meeting was introduced by BOPIO President, Sinna Mani. He told me before the meeting that he thought at first we were Militant but then realised who we were. He said he knew somebody whose father had been in the party. It turned out to be Baroness Joan Lestor. I told him that she'd been in the party too before defecting to Labour.

All the parties who sent speakers (Labour, Tory, Liberal, Green) sent someone "of Indian sub-continental origin" (however remote), the Tory (somebody from their list) wearing a magnificant blue turban but he sounded like any Young Tory. Also present was Siobhan Benita, the Independent candidate for Mayor and darling of the chattering classes. She revealed that her mother had also come from the Indian subcontinent. She came out with nonsense about things being better if they were run by an "independent" rather than representatives of a political party, as if that would make any difference to the way capitalism works.

Also present was a one-person list for the GLA, Rathy Alagaratnam, who also came out with the "independents" would be better nonsense. Surprisingly, the independent candidate for Merton & Wandsworth, Thamilini Kulendran, did not turn up.

Afterwards we were all photographed for the BOPIO website. The organiser said she would circulate their members with the views of the parties and candidates who had turned up. So our views should reach a wider audience than the 25 or so who were present.

Friday, April 27, 2012

An opinion poll

Someone's done an opinion poll on how people will/might vote in the GLA constituencies. Here's the results for the 2 we're contesting (for what they're worth). Apparently, what they did was present those they poll with a facsimile of the ballot paper and ask them to vote. The figures represent numbers answering not percentages.

Lambeth & Southwark

Labour 67
Tory 16
LD 11
Green 9
UKIP 9
Ind/Other 0
TOTAL QUESTIONED 112

Merton & Wandsworth

Tory 34
Labour 32
UKIP 12
Ind/Other 8
LD 7
Green 7
TOTAL QUESTIONED 100

We're included in Independent/Other. It would be nice to think that 8 out of the 100 questioned in Merton & Wandsworth said they'd vote for us but most if not all of these will be for the Independent Tamil candidate. And of course we won't get nul points in Lambeth & Southwark.

A curse?

Last week we reported that our Green Party opponent in Vauxhall in the general election last year had resigned from the Green Party. Now we learn that the Trotskyist group, Workers Power, which also stood against us has split. (Hadn't realised they regarded North Korea as a "workers state". How nutty can you get?)

Was it something we did or said?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

5.8 million know we're standing

At least if they read the booklet sent out earlier this week by the Greater London Returning Officer to all 5.8 million electors in London.

We feature on page 25 of the booklet which those outside London can download from here.

A rainy night in Norwood

Two of us went last night in the rain to a hustings in a cavernous church in Norwood (at the southern end of Lambeth on the borders with Southwark and Croydon and where Ken Livingstone comes from). A bit of a repeat of the one up the road in Herne Hill last week with the same candidates making the same speeches. As the audience was much older there weren't so many questions on cycle lanes (though this did come up), more about the South Circular Road which passes through Norwood (not surprising, since we were caught in a traffic jam getting there).

Danny did get a chance to talk about wider issues as there were questions on unemployment (you can't have capitalism without a reserve army of unemployed which expands and contracts with the business cycle and is currently expanding) and why people aren't interested in politics (because they are alienated from the system as they perceive it to be subject to impersonal economic forces they know they can't control). He also spoke about socialism and afterwards was approached by one person who said that it wouldn't work because of "human nature" and another who said it wouldn't work because people were greedy and selfish. Where have we heard that before?

This was the fourth hustings we've been to. They were all attended overwhelmingly by what sociologists would call "white middle class" people concerned about local amenities. So a difficult audience to put our case to. Still, they provide an opportunity to put our views across and to raise our political profile with our opponents.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A tale of two meetings

Well, last night we had a bit of fun, lefletting Wimbledon. Always nice to meet a new set of letter boxes.

We then went on to leaflet a hustings in Wimbledon. We hadn't been invited onto the platform. A nice posh lady explained they wanted to talk about "substantive issues" and there would have been too many on the platform if they'd invited everyone. Considering I've been to hustings with 11 candidates on the platform that covered substantive issues quite well, I don't think that's a partcularly good reason to restrict the range of debate. Of course, they are entitled to do this (so long as the cost of the meeting is shared between the candidates so promoted) but our old friend the difference between what one can/may do and what one should do raises its head. Anyway, we were cordially recieved, except by one Tory who came back out to return our leaflet, scrumpled up into a ball. That was us told, I'm sure. Pillock.

Our next meetings was in Colliers Wood, where we caught the end of a TUSC meetings. About 20 people present, almost all committed members of one sect or other. They have tried to form the loosest allianc possible, but still cannot agree even within that. I'm always amazed by this, I know we get called dreadful sectarians, but really what we are trying to do is organise around a bare minimum: 1) political action 2) a campaign directly for common ownership. TUSC cannot even unite around that much, the SWP spakers calling for an endless round of struggles to stop the thing and save the pittance. Their refrain was trade union bureaucrat treahcery; but my experince in my union is that there simply isn't a stomach for a fight among the rank and file, mass unemployment has got us in a death grip. That's why political actionis so important. As we always say, if we can't expect people to vote for socialism we can't expect them to strike for it; and even the unemplyed can vote.

Kudos is due, though, for organising th meeting, in what has been a dismal election campaign largely devoid of debate. Thanks to the comrades who came out last night.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Make Wandsworth be Bradford?

Here's the details of the hustings on Saturday 28 April from 4pm to 7pm in Tooting:

NAPS Samaj Hall, 26B Tooting High Street, London SW17 0RG (next to NatWest Bank)

The meeting has been organised by the British Organisation of People of Indian Sub-continental Origin (BOPIO) and is aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at people with connections with this part of the world.

Unfortunately our candidate for Merton & Wandsworth is not available and it also coincides with our own election meeting at 52 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UN at exactly the same time. The organisers have, however, agreed to accept him to be represented by someone else. So we will be there. Unfortunately too, the only Indian language that we have leaflets in is Bengali (Bangla) while most of those present are likely to come from South India and Northern Sri Lanka. But we'll take some along anyway in case there's anyone from Bangladesh or West Bengal there.

They have also invited the candidates for Mayor but it's doubtful that Ken or Boris will turn up, but who knows?

At the hustings last week in Putney we met the Independent candidate for Merton & Wandsworth, Thamilini Kulendran and he gave us a copy of his election address. His slogan is "MAKE MERTON AND WANDSWORTH BE ANOTHER BRADFORD !" Turning Merton and Wandsworth into a decaying ex-industrial mill town doesn't seem a vote-winner on the face of it, but he wants to emulate George Galloway, emphasing that he too is against the War in Afghanistan. His address says:
"Electing Kulendran wasn't about choosing the next government, but sending a powerful message to the government and main opposition parties. They have to stop supporting illegal, bloody, costly foreign wars and leaving the vulnerable British citizens who served for this country to starve. The public don't believe that they have atoned for their role in the invasion and illegal occupation of other people's countries. Downing Street should not drown of those countries in blood!
Please consider this and act to save this country!
Will you be able to give a green signal to Kulendran?
Thamilini Kulendran hails from Sri Lanka and a Tamil. He is totally against the war in other countries. If you feel you are also against the war, please support him."
As we are more interested in debating this sort of issue than cycle lanes and lollipop ladies we invited him to debate the way to get rid of war at our election meeting. But he's more likely to be at the Tooting meeting. Which will give us a chance to discuss the matter there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What will happen in Wimbledon tomorrow?

The organisers of the "hustings" tomorrow night in Wimbledon have refused to invite us and two other candidates in Merton & Wandsworth to speak from the platform.

Here is the email we sent them:
I see from the announcement below that you are organising a hustings this coming Tuesday. We are also contesting the Merton & Wandsworth GLA constituency and, as it is a principle of democracy that all candidates standing in an election should have an equal chance to put their views to electors, we are assuming that you have no objection to our candidate also being on the platform at the hustings. Looking forward to your confirmation.
And here is the reply we got:
We have only invited candidates from the four largest parties (Conservative, Labour LibDem and Green) to speak at this event.
The organisers thought long and hard about who to invite, and felt in the end that it would be impractical to invite all the constituency candidates, let alone candidates from all the parties standing for the Assembly. We are keen to have some real discussion of the issues that the London Assembly, and decided that it would be impractical to invite more than 4 candidates. As a result, of course, the parties attending will have to count a share of the cost of the hustings towards their election expenses.
So I'm afraid that James Martin is not invited to speak from the platform on this occasion. Of course he will be welcome to attend the hustings and to bring literature. There will also be opportunities for informal discussion before and after the formal proceedings, from 7.30 on.
Yours sincerely,
Linda Murgatroyd
for Transition Towns Wimbledon and Tooting, Wimbledon Civic Forum and St Mark's Church, Wimbledon,
This is not going to stop us going to the meeting and insisting on being allowed to speak from the platform as hustings are supposed to be occasions when all the nominated candidates have a chance to present their views to the electorate.

Full report on Wednesday morning on what we did and what happened.

Another reply

Both our candidates have received emails from electors asking them to "to promise to do all they can to ensure London is a welcoming place for refugees and asylum seekers by supporting proposals that allow those who have fled persecution to play a full part in London life."

We have sent them the following reply:
Thank you for your email on this.

As a world socialist who stands for a world without borders in which the Earth's resources will have become the common heritage of all, naturally I am in favour of welcoming treatment of fellow workers fleeing oppression. After all, Karl Marx was in this position himself.

I enclose a copy of our election address.

Yours for world socialism
Meanwhile, we have received a reply from the organisers of the Wimbledon hustings tomorrow saying that we and 2 other candidates were deliberately not invited. Watch this space for developments.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More campaigning

Yesterday, Saturday, we had stalls in both Lambert & Southwark (Clapham High St) and Merton & Wandsworth (Tooting Broadway). In Tooting we met a member of the British Organisation of People of Indian Sub-Continental Origin who told us of a hustings in Tooting next Saturday at 4pm. This co-incides with our own election meeting at the same time on the same day but this shouldn't present a problem. We're not that thin on the ground.

Meanwhile we are trying to get an official invitation to a hustings in Wimbledon on Tuesday to which we our candidate has not been invited. It's at St Marks Church, St Marks Place, SW19 7ND starting at 7,30m, organised by the Wimbledon Civic Forum and Transition Town Wimbledon (and Tooting) Even if we don't get an invitation we will still be there to demand to be heard. We're not going to let them (or anyone else) get away with just inviting the candidates from "the main parties".

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Putney Debate

Last night, our Wandsworth & Merton hustings in St. Mary's church Putney, scene of the historic Putney debates during the English revolution.

It was a fairly standard affair, the candidates were nice and chatty to each other before hand, and the chairing was a bit disorganised (people these days are generally out of the practise). A bit too much time/deference was given to the incubent Tory and his Labour challenger, perhaps partly explained by the fact that, as usual, most of the audience were partisans who lobbed brickbats at each of those sides.

We'd been informed that the debate was being filmed by documentary makers doing a series on the history of England. We decided I should cunningly use the quote from Colonel Rich previously mentioned here, to perhaps maximise our chances of getting onto the screen later (plus it is such a good line).

Of course, l'espirit d'escalier dominated the evening, I should have kicked comments about people keeping warm by wearing jumpers rather than turning the heating into touch. The risk for the elderly of getting respiratory illness remains if the air is cold. Every year tens of thousands of excess winter deaths can be accounted to the cold.

Elsewhere, it was hard to crow bar our case in to some of the debates. On cycling I noted that if we could feed clothe and house every man woman and child on Earth for two days work a week each (which we can) then our roads could be much less busy, and we could spread out a bit and make our communities the focus of our lives rather than living for business. Bit of a stretch, but at least I got to make the point. I also noted that our roads are socialist, we own them in common and have free access.

On the other candidates, Thamilini Kulendran turned up: his case seemed to be that he is independent (and he's a bit anti-war). I suspect, looking at his leaflet, his main purpose is to promote the Tamil case. Either that, or he had a thousand pounds going spare he fancied wasting. The UKIP candidate was hopeless, and he stuck to his talking point that UKIP are third in the polls. "Vote for me, I'm third". The Green was a real puritan (he was the one who brought up wearing jumpers instead of heating, with which the Tory agreed).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hustings (plural)

Last night three of us went to Herne Hill to the hustings there organised by the local forum. We were surprised to find the church hall full with about 70-80 people. The main questions were about transport (logically since that's about all the Mayor and Assembly control). Here the main concern seemed to be cyclists with the candidates (except of course Danny and the UKIP man who wasn't there) lining up to promise to make cycling safer and bash motorists. Addressing an audience of motorists they would of course (except the Greens) probably take a different approach (Mayor Boris calls 4x4s "large family cars" and reduced the congestion charge on them besides freeing Kensington and Chelsea, where these "Chelsea tractors", proliferate, from the congestion zone altogether). Given the many problems facing people in London you'd have thought that there were more urgent concerns (unemployment, housing, benefit cuts), but apparently not, at least not in Herne Hill which has Tory councillors including the Tory GLA candidate.

The riots did come up, with all the candidates, including the Tory, criticising the police for stopping-and-searching black youth too much -- a different approach, we seem to remember, from what was said at the time. Danny was able to point out that the riots were obviously related to poverty and only took place in poverty-stricken parts of London. This was parish pump stuff and Danny did his best to introduce a broader perspective: capitalism and its profit priority, particularly acute in a crisis as at present, which prevents basic amenities being adequate and in fact means they're being cut back. Maybe the candidates and audience subconsciously recognised this (the LibDEm candidate did admit that money doesn't grow on trees) and that was why they only wanted to discuss cycle lanes and lollipop ladies.

There is another hustings this evening, in St Mary's Church in Putney, the church where the Putney Debates of 1647 took place between Cromwell and the Levellers. In fact the BBC are making a history film about them and will be there to ask the candidates what they think of the relevance of these debates to today. This should allow our candidate -- this time Bill, in Merton & Wandsworth -- to talk about something other than cycle lanes.

Last night we discovered (the Tory candidate told us) that there's an Election Question Time at 2pm in Brixton organised by the Lambeth Forum for Older People in association with Lambeth Pensioners Action Group to which only 4 of the 6 candidates have been invited. Danny can't make it but if he could he would gatecrash it. Pity really because we got a good reception from the LPAG at the general election in 2010 and the question of cycle lanes won't come up (more likely to be questions about cyclists cycling on the pavement and knocking pensioners down as they sail through red lights ...) This question of only inviting some of the candidates to hustings needs to be addressed. A case could be made for saying that the expenses of organising such hustings should be included in the election expenses of the candidates invited. Maybe we should make a test case of one. Anyway, we are going to leaflet it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unequal time

Just looking at the BBC's online election coverage is instructive. Here is the umbrella webpage and this is the candidates page. Would it have hurt the BBC to have at least hyperlinked party names? Or to give some sort of link through to a contact page of candidates (all that would be required would be one staffer to write/email asking for details and then updating the links). Looking at the hours of local radio output available on BBC London is noticeable that politics or current affairs are not listed as genres (they are, after all, not the same as news). Would it be impossible for BBC local radio to put out a couple of hours of broadcast dedicated to the election, which will take in over 7 million voters? If democracy is marginalised in the public space, then its not surprising that people feel uninvolved. It's bad enough that the mayoral race dominates, with its personality driven agenda, but that it's hogging the tiny slice of time given to coverage of elections means electors are denied a real chance to find out what range of options there are out there for them. In an election where there is no free mail out, which costs a thousand pounds just to contest, where each constituency is half a million strong, it would not be unreasonable to expect a public broadcaster to give more attention and effort. After all, our total airtime during the Euro elections was about 20 seconds of a quote taken out of context.


Democracy, if it is at all meaningful, is the right of minorities to have the opportunity to become majorities. The democratic structures in this country privilege established majorities and support an entrenched oligarchy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hustings

Here's a list of the hustings where our candidate will be speaking:

Wednesday 18 April 6.45 for 7pm
Herne Hill Baptist Church
Half Moon Lane
SE24 9HU
Organised by Herne Hill Forum.
Details.

Thursday 19 April at 7.30pm
The Brewer Building,
St Mary's Church,
Putney Bridge, Putney High St,
SW15 1SN.
Organised by Putney Society.
Details.

Tuesday 24 April 7.15 for 7.30pm
Waterloo Action Centre
14 Baylis Rd
SE1 7AA
Organised by Lambeth Cyclists.
Details.

Wednesday 25 April 7pm
Parish of All Souls West Dulwich
Lovelace Rd
SE21 8JY
Organised by Norwood Forum
Details (not yet up).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Up the Junction

So, today I have been with a few comrades up in Clapham Junction leafletting. Me and on other set up a stall on the high street to leaflet passers by: we were lucky to make eye contact with most passers by, never mind give them a leaflet. There was little competition: a sandwich store, an Ahmadi muslim group and a nice lady from the Seventh Day Adventists. As is traditional, I proposed a leaflet swap.

Other comrades went and leafletted nearby streets, and the wonderfully name Winstanley estate; though apparently, contrary to its name, our comrades couldn't access it due to all the gates and locked doors. Apparently hard working members have been putting me to shame, and have already leafletted large chunks of Battersea: we're down to a few hundred leaflets.

Next week: Tooting, and doubtless another obvious post title. In the meanwhile, our invites to hustings are finally coming in, and I've been asked to one in Putney. Very exciting.

Friday, April 13, 2012

SLP letter

No, not Socialist Labour Party (neither Scargillite nor Deleonist) but the South London Press. Here 's what they published in today's edition under (their) title of "Capitalism is not the only way":
Simon Hughes uses his column as a local MP to publicise his party's candidates for Mayor and London Assembly ("Good cop for the top job", South London Press, April 6). Fair enough, but they are not the only candidates. The Socialist party is contesting both Lambeth & Southwark and Merton & Wandsworth. Mr. Hughes makes the usual empty promises (particularly empty is the one about bringing rents down) but we say no politician can make capitalism work in the interest of all.
Adam Buick, Election agent, The Socialist Party, Clapham High Street.
So, people in South London at least now know we are standing, even if not -- yet -- too much of what we are standing for. That will come in an edition nearer the election day of 3 May, i.e. on either 20 or 27 April.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Green sees the light

Long-term followers of this blog will recall that our Green Party opponent in Vauxhall in the 2010 general election was Joseph Healy.

The latest news is that he has just resigned from the Green Party, on precisely the issue that we raised on this blog at the time -- that any party that takes on responsibility for running the political side of capitalism will sooner or later have to act against the interests of the class of wage and salary workers and their dependents, as the Green Party had done in Ireland (see what we said here). And, as now the Green Party has apparently done in Brighton and which proved to be the last straw for him.

Hopefully, more and more Greens will realise that the Green Party is on the wrong track and that the only framework inside of which ecological and other problems can be solved is one where the Earth's resources have become the common heritage of all so that there can be production directly to satisfy people's needs instead of for profit.

Unequal time

Caught the end last night of a report on BBC London of a hustings meeting for the mayoral election organised by the London Evening Standard. As we've already stated, we are not interested in this election (we don't agree with the office of City Boss and there's no socialist standing anyway) but only 4 of the 7 candidates were on the platform.

One of the principles of democracy is that all candidates should have equal time to put over their point of view, but this is not happening in this particular election. Three candidates (UKIP, BNP and an Independent) were being excluded, and will be excluded from another planned hustings organised by a commercial TV station, despite the fact that they have overcome the considerable obstacles in the way of standing (raising a deposit of £10,000 and get 30 signatories in each borough or 330 in all).

No doubt they are being excluded because having 7 candidates would not have the same entertainment value, but elections are not supposed to be entertainment. Clearly, this election is not being run on fully democratic lines. They do things differently in France. There are 10 candidates standing in the first round of the presidential election on 22 April. Each of them are getting TV and radio broadcasts of exactly the same length.

Meanwhile back in Lambeth & Southwark we've received an invitation to a third hustings -- from Lambeth Cyclists on Tuesday 24 April. Not sure what we can say to them though, but it shows that, at constituency level, this election is being conducted more democratically.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Update

The Socialist Party held its Conference over Easter. After the session ended on the Saturday some of the delegates retired to the Bread and Roses pub (owned by the Workers Beer Company) in Clapham Manor Street. They found that TUSC and the Labour Party had been there before and left election material (including a promise by Livingstone that if he hadn't cut fares by 7 October he'd resign). With the agreement of the manager, socialist election material was immediately added.

This Thursday our candidate for Lambeth and Southwark will be interviewed by the on-line London magazine, the Big Smoke. He has also received invitations to speak at hustings in Herne Hill (Wednesday 18 April) and Norwood (Wednesday 25 April).

Our candidate in Merton and Wandsworth has not yet received any such invitations, but we have learned a bit more about the mysterious Independent candidate there from her desperate appeals on the internet to translate her message into other languages. We might contact her to invite her to explain at our election meeting on Saturday 28 April.

We said in a previous posting that we probably wouldn't be doing much leafletting in the borough of Southwark. This has proved to be wrong as last week we did leaflet parts of Peckham. The number of "Vote Livingstone" posters we saw confirms that this is solid Labour territory.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

We don't do pledges

One of the things that happens when you contest an election is that campaigning groups ask their members to email candidates about the particular issue that concerns them. Our candidate in Lambeth and Southwark has received a number of emails from people concerned about the spread of HIV. They are being sent the following reply:
"Thank you for your email asking if I will pledge to make HIV a priority if elected.

As you can see from our election address (attached), we are contesting this election on the single issue of capitalism (class ownership and production for profit) or socialism (common ownership, democratic control, and production to directly meet people's needs).

Socialism is our priority and the only basis on which we want people to vote for us."
In other words, we don't make promises to support particular measures within capitalism however desirable as we don't want people to vote for us on that basis -- even if, should we be elected (unlikely at the moment), we might well vote for certain measures judged to further the cause of socialism or the interest of wage and salary workers and their dependants.

Having said this, there is one pledge that, according to our Rulebook, our candidates have to make:
"Candidates elected to a Political office shall be pledged to act on the instructions of their Branches locally, and by the Executive Committee nationally."
This, to ensure that any Socialist councillors or MPs remain mandated delegates, not leaders.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Shameless self promotion...

...well, I am a candidate. Anyway, The audio file of a debate I took part in last year is online, so you can go and listen to the socialist case on the question:

Should trade unionists support the Labour Party?

(There are many other audio files from across the years on our website, and well worth a listen if you want to hear the kinds of things we say).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Our opponents

The full confirmed lists are out: Lambeth and Southwark

  • BARTLEY Jonathan Charles - Green Party
  • BLACKIE Rob - London Liberal Democrats
  • FLUSS James Gordon - Fresh Choice for London
  • LAMBERT Daniel Peter - The Socialist Party (GB)
  • MITCHELL Michael - The Conservative Party Candidate
  • SHAWCROSS Val - Labour Party Candidate

    Merton and Wandsworth

  • COOPER Leonie - Labour Party Candidate
  • KULENDRAN Thamilini - Independent
  • MANZOOR Mazhar - Fresh Choice for London
  • MARTIN James William - The Socialist Party (GB)
  • SMART Lisa - London Liberal Democrats
  • TRACEY Richard Patrick - The Conservative Party Candidate
  • VICKERY Roy - Green Party

    Apparently "Fresh Choice for London" is the UKIP tag line, though, given there is a UKIP list, I wonder if they are trying to maximise their chances by standing as two "parties" (i.e. if they win any constituency seats as Fresh Choice it won't count against the total for UKIP on the list). Either that, or they are just trying to tart up their image.
  • Southfields by-election result

    The result of yesterday's by-election in this ward of Wandsworth Council was announced last night and can be found here.

    On a much reduced poll the LibDem share was reduced from 18% to 6% and the Greens' from 8% to 3% with Labour's increasing from 23% to 40% compared to the 2010 borough elections. Don't know if this will be repeated in the London elections. Not that voters switching between reformist parties makes all that difference.

    There's a council by-election in Merton on 3 May. By coincidence it's in a ward (Wimbledon Park) bordering on Southfields. We will be distributing the same "Vote for them? You must be joking!" leaflet as we did in Southfields.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Candidates for Mayor (Correction)

    I made a mistake (or, rather, CapitalFM did). According to this official announcement , there will be only 7 candidates (all but one of the 6 Independents have not been accepted, presumably because they didn't raise the money or the 330 signatories required weren't all in order). The list is now:
    BENITA Siobhan - Independant
    CORTIGLIA Carlos - British National Party
    JOHNSON Boris - The Conservative Party Candidate
    JONES Jenny - Green Party
    LIVINGSTONE Ken - The Labour Party Candidate
    PADDICK Brian - London Liberal Democrats
    WEBB Lawrence James - Fresh Choice for London
    Webb is the UKIP candidate. It's not clear why they've chosen to contest under another name. Surely, that's a mistake as they're well known as UKIP but who are we do advise a capitalist party how to run an election campaign?

    Drafting press releases is tough

    We're sending out the below press release. I compiled a wee list of contact details (some news outlets make it quite hard to find contact details, tha knowest). I concentrated so hard on getting the content right, of course, a few typos slipped through: which is why I'm glad I sent it for checking before release.
    Press release: for immediate use.

    The Socialist Party today announced that it is contesting two seats at the Greater London Assembly elections, 3rd May this year.

    Daniel Lambert will again be contesting the Lambeth and Southwark constituency.

    Bill Martin will be contesting the the Merton and Wandsworth constituency.

    Daniel Lambert says that they are standing to raise awareness of the possibility of democratically establishing common ownership of the means of living. He notes "Enough resources, know-how and skills exist already to provide comfortably for everyone. It’s the profit system that prevents this. We need to do away with it and instead produce and access goods for needs."

    Bill Martin says "At a time when all other political parties are saying they have to make us all worse off in order to protect the wealth of the 1%, it's important that we each stand up to fight against this unnecessary impoverishment."

    Adam Buick, their agent, says "Merton and Wandsworth constituency alone has more voters than Malta and Luxemburg, so this is an immense opportunity for us to get our message out to the wider public."

    They are campaigning on a slogan of "It's up to you."

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Who's standing for mayor

    Here's the official list announced today:

    Boris Johnson: Conservative
    Ken Livingstone: Labour
    Brian Paddick: Liberal Democrats
    Jenny Jones: Green
    Lawrence Webb: UK Independence Party
    Carlos Cortiglia: British National Party
    Siobhan Benita: Independent
    Abdulla Jan Dharamsey: Independent
    Zack Gilpin: Independent
    Peter Lee: Independent
    Wolfgang Moneypenny: Independent
    Femi Solola: Independent

    Interesting to see how many people have at least £10,000 (the deposit they are going to lose) to self-publicise themselves.

    We are not really interested in this election, partly because we think the principle of an elected executive mayor in undemocratic but also because there is no socialist candidate standing. What our members will be doing (if they bother to vote at all) is to cast a write-in vote for socialism by writing "WORLD SOCIALISM" on the ballot paper.

    The nominations for the lists and for the constituencies have also closed but not seen any details yet.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Shock ! Horror ! We talk to "fascists"

    Yesterday two of us finished leafletting Shaftesbury ward (one of the 4 wards in Wandsworth that will be part of the proposed new parliamentary constituency of Battersea & Vauxhall). Afterwards we stopped for a drink. When we said we'd been out leafletting, the landlady told us that this was a "National Front pub" and said she had voted for them last time (don't know whether that meant she had voted for them in the 1970s or was confusing them with the BNP).

    If we'd have been SWPers no doubt we'd have been on our mobiles to mobilise "anti-fascists" to come for a fight (though the outcome of a bar room brawl between building workers and students wouldn't have been in any doubt). Anyway, not being SWPers, we stayed and talked. It turned out that the landlady was originally from Ireland and used to vote Labour and that members of her family were currently victims of the government's campaign to drive people off incapacity benefit and on to (lower) jobseekers allowance hassling them to "seek" non-existent jobs. Someone else told us that his dad had been a shop steward at a local factory (since closed) and that during the Miners Strike they had put up striking miners picketing sites in London. He asked for some copies of our manifesto to show to his family. They're in the post.

    It's ridiculous to call NF or BNP voters fascists. They are just workers who have misidentified the cause of the problems all workers face. We were told that in April a scene from the Royle Family with Ricky Tomlinson was going to be filmed in the pub. Very apt, as Ricky Tomlimson, who now supports Scargill's SLP, was once a member of the NF. Which goes to show that people who support or vote for parties like the NF can change, but you need to talk to them rather than fight with them.

    Earlier we had met our Tory opponent in Lambeth and Southwark, Michael Mitchell, who had a stall outside Sainsbury's in Clapham High Street. He was just packing up with two policeman standing by. We jumped to the wrong conclusion that the police had told him to move on. He said he was just finishing and anyway had got permission from the council to have a stall there. We said you don't need to have council permission to hold a stall anywhere as long as you weren't selling anything and weren't causing an obstruction. We never ask. He's a councillor himself (in Southwark). Maybe this has gone to his head.

    Three other members attended and leafletted a day school at a venue round the back of Clapham Common tube station organised by the London Mining Network to which we'd been invited by a former member now involved in this single-issue group. It's a group campaigning against the ravages of opencast mining by capitalist corporations, which also goes on in Britain. A worthy cause no doubt, amongst thousands of others. What's needed to achieve what each of them wants is a succesful single issue campaign for socialism as a world in which the planet's resources, natural and industrial, have become the common heritage of all so they can be use to provide for people's needs not for profit.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Other Nomination in too

    While the Chancellor, as a good custodian of the interests of UK capitalism PLC, was announcing yesterday a further reduction in corporation tax and still more cuts in services and benefits as far ahead as 2017, the nomination papers for the Socialist candidate in Lambeth & Southwark (Danny Lambert) were being handed in and were accepted. So we're off.

    It seems that the candidates here will be the usual suspects, including us as we're one here too as we've contested every election in Lambeth (parliamentary, local borough, GLA, European parliament) since 2005. That would be 6 candidates (last time, in 2008, there were 10). But we won't know for certain till nominations close next Wednesday.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Nomination papers handed in

    The nominations papers and deposit for our candidate for Merton & Wandsworth (James Martin) were handed in and accepted today at 4 o'clock. I wasn't mugged as I walked from Wandsworth Town station to Wandsworth Town Hall with £1000 in £20 notes in my pocket. It appears that apart from the usual suspects (Tory, Labour, Liberal, Green, UKIP) there'll be an Independent as well as us, making 7 in all.

    Tomorrow we go to Lambeth Town Hall to hand in the papers for our candidate there (Daniel Lambert). I won't reveal in advance the time or the route I'll be taking from my car to the Town Hall.

    Wee update

    OK, so, sorry I've not been posting. Work intervened.

    So, latest news is that nominations are open. Here's the list so far of candidates across London.

    So, this weekend, I popped down to head office to organise a mail-out to my Branch (North London), to encourage members to get involved. We'll be doing to "group" leaflettings:
    Saturday 14 April, 12 noon.

    Leaflet distribution: Clapham Junction. (Outside station)



    Saturday 21 April, 12 noon.

    Leaflet distribution: Tooting broadway (meet at tube station)
    We'll see how many members make it.

    I also got to see out leaflet, which had just turned up from the printers, and, as we've now come to expect, it's very neat, clear, and to the point. I look forward to giving them out and shoving them through letter boxes (they're slim card, so no pesky folding and flopping about).

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Two birds with one stone

    Went to a meeting at “Come to the Revolution” cafĂ© in New Cross yesterday. This is not actually in the area we are contesting, but is only a mile or so away from the boundary with Southwark. So this was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Go to the meeting organised by “People before Profit” and distribute some leaflets in Southwark.

    I thought the meeting was going to be on the group’s political programme but it was a planning meeting to discuss the details of the campaign of their candidate for the Greenwich and Lewisham GLA constituency. It was still interesting to see how another small group deals with the questions that arise: raising the deposit, agreeing on leaflets and posters, how many to order and where and how to distribute them.

    Of course, as a local group campaigning on local issues, mainly in Lewisham, they have a different aim and approach to us. We are contesting to spread the idea of socialism and make contacts and are not particularly concerned with the number of votes we get. They want to get as many votes as they can (they expect to save their deposit by getting at least 5%). They did have some ideas we could use, such as giving out leaflets at railway stations rather than through letter-boxes (in our area it would mainly be tube stations since all these south of the Thames are in the area we’re contesting). They also plan to leaflet schools (presumably primary schools when parents come to pick up their kids) and churches (not for us).

    The area of Southwark leafletted was a part of Peckham. I hadn’t realised it was so near to Millwall football ground until I saw a platoon of mounted police trotting by. Unfortunately, in view of our lack of resources, these could be the only leaflets distributed in Southwark where we’ll have to rely on the local newspaper (the Southwark News, which is not bad) and any hustings, unless, that is, we leaflet Kennington (probably), Borough and Elephant & Castle tube stations (not priorities).

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Back to Battersea

    The election manifestos arrived yesterday, earlier than expected. Already 1,000 have been distributed in Battersea (that leaves 19,000). The area leafletted included the John Burns Primary School, named of course after John Burns, the Man with the Red Flag in the London Dock Strike of 1889 when he was a member of the Social Democratic Federation. Later he was elected MP for Battersea and became a Cabinet Minister in the 1905 Liberal Government. He was in fact the first "working man" to be a member of the Cabinet, not that that made any difference.

    The Battersea branch of the SDF was very active and a substantial proportion of them joined the SPGB when it was founded in 1904. In fact the meeting in May that year at which it was decided to form in the near future a new party on sound, anti-reformist and democratic lines was held in Battersea. So this is a bit of a return to our roots.

    The last time we contested elections in this area were those for Battersea Borough Council in November 1906 when we put up 9 candidates in three wards. The following extract from the manifesto for those elections still applies:
    The candidates of the S.P.G.B. therefore, whilst quite prepared to use the local powers for such small temporary benefits as may be forced from the capitalists' hands for the workers in those districts, nevertheless do not seek suffrages for this, which can only be a secondary business of the political party of the workers. The fact, pointed out above, must be strongly reiterated, that the powers of the local bodies are strictly limited and are controlled by the Government.

    The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters into municipal contests as a step in the work of capturing the whole political machinery. Fully realising, and pointing out to the workers, the strict limitations of the power of local bodies, making no promises that are beyond our power to fulfil, we ask the members of our class, when (but not before) they have studied these facts and realised their correctness, to cast their votes for the candidates of the S.P.G.B. who alone stand on the above basis.
    Like them our candidates today are standing on a straight programme of socialism and nothing else and have "no programme of ear-tickling, side-tracking, vote-catching 'palliatives'" and have "not climbed into prominence on the backs of the working class, by posing as 'leaders' of unemployed deputations, 'right to live' councils, and similar confusionist conglomerations." We leave that to others.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Progress report

    The nomination papers for Lambeth & Southwark have all been signed. Those for Merton and Wandsworth will be signed tomorrow. The intention is to hand them in to the Returning Officers as soon as possible after the date for this opens on Tuesday 20 March.

    The election manifestos are at the printers and will be delivered to us (20,000 of them) on Friday or Monday. Meanwhile we are distributing other leaflets, mainly in outlying parts of the constituencies which we are not planning to cover with the main leaflet. Today was Raynes Park, which is part of Merton.

    Leafletted the Raynes Park Conservative Club and found a LibDem leaflet which revealed the name of our LibDem opponent -- Lisa Smart. A householder handed one of our leaflets back saying he didn't want "junk mail". I said it wasn't junk mail but an election leaflet but he insisted.

    The ironic thing is that if you go to stopjunkmail.org.uk, which some householders give on their letter boxes and which campaigns to limit and ideally ban junk mail such as pizza menus, you find a petition to sign. It calls for a change in the Data Protection Act. This of course is a political demand which could only be achieved by political action and so by candidates standing for election and distributing their programme including door-to-door. So you'd think that people who want to ban junk mail wouldn't mind political leaflets.

    South London branch will be handing out the manifestos and running a literature stall outside 52 Clapham High Street on Saturdays 14, 21 and 28 of April from about 11 am.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2012

    Vote for them? You must be joking!

    There's to be a council by-election in the Southfields ward of Wandsworth on 29 March. There's 6 candidates -- the usual suspects (Tory,Labour, Liberal, Green, UKIP) plus an independent. The Socialist Party isn't putting up a candidate, but we will be handing out this leaflet:
    Vote for them? You must be joking!

    What’s the point in complaining about the system and then voting for it to carry on? You’ve heard the Occupy people – you are the 99%, but the system is run by the 1%. The rich don’t create jobs and wealth, they create poverty. For the rich to be rich, millions of people have to be poor.

    To get rich, they cut corners, rip off the world, fiddle, connive, cheat, lie and bribe. That’s the money system for you. That’s capitalism. There’s no such thing as an honest millionaire. There’s no such thing as honest business, or ‘fair trade’, or an ‘equitable share’. They win because you lose.

    We have the technology and the know-how to run the world collectively, so that everybody can eat, have a place to live, and get access to a decent standard of living, but it is the money system that is making this impossible. If money makes you free, how come you’re tied down with debts, rents, mortgages, loans and bills, and doing some job you probably hate just to make ends meet? What kind of freedom is that? Is that a freedom you’d want to vote for?

    The planet is being turned into a toxic waste dump, with poisoned air, warring factions and vanishing species, just so manufacturers can sell you more glossy trash that will break tomorrow, stuff you think you want because you can’t have the freedom you really want. Humanity is staring into the abyss, and our do-nothing politicians still cry ‘forward in the name of growth!’ Is that progress? Is that worth voting for?

    The Socialist Party is not contesting this council by-election but we will be standing a candidate in the Merton and Wandsworth constituency in the elections to the Greater London Assembly on 3 May.

    Monday, March 05, 2012

    More voters than in Luxemburg and Malta

    Just got back from a meeting of election agents at Wandsworth Town Hall. The only others present were the Green Party candidate Roy Vicary and a Labour Party agent. Apart from administrative details, we were informed that the electorate of the Merton & Wandsworth GLA constituency is 376,653, which is bigger than the electorate in the EU States Luxemburg and Malta. Unfortunately we won't be able to leaflet all these but our name will be on the ballot paper for those who go to vote.

    On my way to the meeting I saw my first election poster. A joint one for Ken Livingstone for Mayor and Leonie Cooper for Merton & Wandsworth. I made sure that the occupants of the house know we're standing too. So now we know the name of our Labour opponent. Just checked. She's a Labour councillor who stood at the last GLA elections four years ago.

    Friday, March 02, 2012

    Will the Christian Right be standing?

    At the last GLA elections the Christian People's Alliance put up a candidate in Merton & Wandsworth and got 4,053 votes or 2.4% of the vote, which is a bit disturbing as, like the Christian Right in the US, they want to impose their values on the rest of us. Don't know if they'll be standing this time.

    They employ different tactics to other parties, as this item from today's Surrey Comet reports about an anti-cuts demonstration outside Kingston Guildhall:
    The Christian People's Alliance also held a prayer vigil, urging people to show solidarity with borough residents affected by cuts and local councillors, who would have to make tough decisions.
    It didn't make any difference. The councillors took the tough decisions and the cuts went through. It seems that their god is not on their side.

    Thursday, March 01, 2012

    Cuts and anti-cuts

    A local member leafletted this demonstration yesterday evening outside Brixton Town Hall (or Lambeth Town Hall as it's now called). So, the local public sector trade unionists and SWP paper sellers who were there are aware that we are standing.

    This is a not an easy thing to explain to protestors but the fact is that under capitalism there is nothing that can be done to stop the cuts. All that can be achieved is a few concessions here and there and robbing one service to finance another. Of course people should protest at things getting worse but they shouldn't have any illusion that they can stop this. At most they can only slow it down a bit.

    Cuts are what the economic laws of capitalism require at the present time and no government can defy this. In fact they have to enforce it, as they did in 1984 when Ted Knight and Lambeth Council did what some of the protestors last night were demanding: refuse to make the cuts. Knight and the others were surcharged and bankrupted and banned for being councillors. The cuts went through.

    These sort of protests have been going on since the end of the 1970s, as the reforms brought in in the 50s and 60s have been gradually whittled away (here's what the Socialist Standard said about this in 1993). Which is why most demonstrations these days are not to demand improvements but merely to stop things getting worse.

    What this shows is that capitalism is a system that is not geared to meeting people's needs and ought to be replaced by one that is, one based the common ownership and democratic control. We are standing candidates with a view to raising awareness of this.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    All aboard for Ken?

    The "Communist" Party of Britain (the successor party to the late, unlamented "Communist" Party) has come out in favour not just of voting for Ken Livingstone for Mayor but of voting Labour everywhere. They say:
    "The Communist Party urges the left to unite in support of Ken Livingstone for Mayor of London at the Greater London Authority elections on May 3 2012 (...)
    "The Communist Party considers the political priority in the May elections to be the defeat of the Right. This must be achieved through:
    The election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London.
    The election of a Labour majority in the Greater London Assembly."
    This puts them at odds with Bob Crow, leader of the RMT (and one of their former members), and the Trotskyists of Militant and the SWP, who have come together to put up a London-wide list composed of leftwing trade unionists -- TUSC (Trade Unionist and "Socialist" Coalition) -- to oppose the Labour Party list. However, this doesn't mean that they won't be voting for Livingstone for Mayor or for Labour candidates in the constituencies. They're not saying anything on this, but this is probably what they will be doing. There's an intriguing paragraph in the report in Socialist Worker on a TUSC conference held earlier this month:
    "The meeting discussed the fact that TUSC had decided not to put up a candidate for mayor against Ken Livingstone, after some parts of the coalition including the FBU felt it would not be the best strategy".
    They reckon they have a good chance of getting somebody elected and have calculated they will need to get 150,000 votes to do this. If past experience of militant trade unionists standing for political office is anything to go by, they won't get even half that number.

    Anyway, here's their reformist programme:
    So, capitalism is still going to exist, except that instead of profits coming before people, people's needs are somehow going to be made to come before profits: the banks and big business are going to continue to exist and to make profits but these are going to be taxed to pay for public services, cheap transport and affordable homes. This is classic, failed and impossible reformism.

    Meanwhile our candidates will be pointing out that capitalism can never be reformed so as to work in the interests of those who depend on having to work for a wage or a salary to live. We will advocating socialism as a society where there will be no banks and big business, and no profits, but where all productive resources will be commonly owned and democratically controlled by the whole community in the interests of all.This is the only basis on which to provide decent public services, transport, housing and education as it means there can be production geared to satisfying people's needs instead of for profit. People Not Profits, that's the real socialist slogan.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Freedom for Tooting!

    Sorry, couldn't resist. It is, though, the logical extension of SNP style nationalism (see our editorial here on the subject). Obviously, Ken Livingstone has taken up the batton:KEN Livingstone has vowed to let the south of the borough of Croydon break free from London and join Surrey...Before the then Tory government made these changes, Croydon really stopped at New Addington. If people really hate that and they wanted to go back to Surrey I don't think I would send in troops to shoot them. I'm sure the burghers of Croydon will be glad not to be shot. I can remember in the 90's when Yarm wanted to secede from Cleveland and join North Yorkshire because of the difference in council tax rates.

    This just shows how contingent communities are, and the arrangements are often made to best suite the people in charge. Boundaries shuffle back and forth, without ever changing the real problems that underlie them. Devolution in London was supposed to make great changes, and yet someone living here wouldn't really notice the difference. What we notice is the unemployment, the market failure in housing, the poverty. The conditions we experience as are workers, irrespective of the label on the town council notice board.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    "No politician can help you"

    As it was sunny again today I decided to drive 5 miles to the border between Kingston and Merton to deliver a few leaflets. As I discovered from a poster in a window saying "Keep West Barnes Library Open", that's what the area was called.

    This time I did come across some political material -- a leaflet issued by the Liberals for their candidate for Mayor, "former top-cop Brian Paddick" as they described him (he was a police commander in Brixton who was hounded out for, amongst other things, his liberal approach to cannabis and stood for Mayor in 2008 as well).

    The Liberals are in a difficult position. They can criticise Boris Johnson for making cuts but not the cuts made by the government in which they are partners. But since local councils, including the Greater London Assembly, get most of their income from the central government, local councils (whether Tory, Liberal or Labour) are just passing on cuts decided by central government, itself acting as a transmission belt for the economic laws of capitalism.

    If the opinion polls are anything to go by, people are seeing through this Liberal hypocrisy. Paddick is credited with only 6% of the vote. If he falls below 5% he'll suffer the indignity of losing his £10,000 deposit.

    Capitalism being what it is, the government is trying to find ways to save money that they can then use to reduce taxes on profits and so help restore the profitability needed before any recovery can have a chance of beginning. Any government, whether Tory, Labour, Liberal or any combination of the three, that takes on the job of running the general affairs of capitalism has to act this way in the circumstances. They have to accept, and do accept, that that's the way the capitalist system works and put profits before people.

    As we say in our election manifesto:
    "No politician can help you. They all say they are going to have to make you worse off because of the crisis."
    So why vote for them (unless you're a mug)?