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.