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:

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

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 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.