Monday, December 02, 2013

New reformists on the block

A new reformist party was founded in central London on Saturday called "Left Unity". It has a branch in Lambeth, but from this on Syria, calling for "arms without conditions for the freedom fighters", i.e mainly jihadists fighting to impose sharia law, appears to be continuing the "loony leftism" associated with Lambeth in the past.

In any event, we look forward to confronting them at future elections (though we suspect we might already have done so at the 2010 General Election when they then called themselves "Workers Power").

Friday, November 29, 2013

Landslide victory for abstentionists

Here's the official result (for the 19% who bothered to vote):

Paul Gadsby Labour 1319 60%
Colette Thomas LibDem 468 21%
Kelly Ben-Maimon Con 153 7%
Rachel Laurence Green 113 5%
Elizabeth Eirwen Jones UKIP 87 4%
Steve Nally TUSC 44 2%
Daniel Lambert Soc 22 1%

There were 11618 electors, of whom 2206 voted, i.e a mere 19% or less than 1 in 5. In other words, a massive 81% abstained. This must represent a feeling (justified) that it doesn't make much difference who you vote for or which party runs the council things will be the same.

As predicted Labour won easily. Of the three council by-elections in Lambeth over the last year, this represents the best result for UKIP and the worst for TUSC. It confirms (for what it's worth, which is probably not much) that the "left of Labour" vote in Lambeth divides 2 to 1 between TUSC and us. Which puts them in the same league as us rather than as any sort of challenger to the Labour Party. The new Left Party that is to be founded tomorrow in Bloomsbury should also bear this in mind. They are unlikely to do much better if that. In any event, we'll carry on putting the straight case for socialism without making any election promises or proposals to try to reform capitalism.

Three of us went to the count (which was over by 11.30). The Tories told us that their canvassers came across 8 people who said they were going to vote for us. Most of them may well not have gone to vote in the end but at least, after reading our "Revolution the only solution" leaflet, they were prepared to tell canvassers that they wanted to get rid of the whole present system.

The next local elections will be the full borough elections on 22 May next year. We'll probably have a couple of candidates in Lambeth.

Quick result

Announced at 11.30pm:

Labour 1319
LD 468
Con 153
Green 113
Soc 22

Pathetic turnout of 19%.

More tomorrow morning

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The last leaflets

Finally managed to get yesterday evening into the flats in Cormont Road and to distribute our leaflets to the occupants, with the help of a non-member volunteer. He particularly wanted TUSC to do badly. It appears that their tactic of trying to hi-jack other struggles really puts some people off. Anyway, that's virtually the whole ward covered by 4,500 or so leaflets.

Came across some TUSC leaflets for the first time, on the ground. Also a Liberal leaflet in red and giving the impression of a being a leftwing Labour one critical of the Labour-controlled Council. As we know, the main parties play dirty in their scramble for votes.

Not seen any Green activity, but their candidate does make a valid point in her statement on the Brixtonblog about Labour's claim to have frozen Council Tax for everybody:
freezing council tax for the wealthiest while taking away council tax benefit from those who earn the least,
This is a reference to the fact that Council Tax Benefit has been reduced for those under pension age on other benefits, meaning that they have to pay some Council Tax whereas they didn't before. One of the cuts imposed on local councils by the government, imposed in turn on them by the economic crisis and the need to reduce spending and so taxes on profits.

Nothing more to do before the count tomorrow after the polls close at 10pm. Three of us will be there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Revolution the only solution

The Brixtonblog has just put up our candidate's 300-word statement. Scroll down through the reformist promises of the other candidates here.

For those who've heard it all before from the other parties, here's the socialist message from Danny Lambert:
In that interview with Paxman, Russell Brand called for a revolution against the present system of elite rule and neglect of people’s needs. I agree.

But no more than Brand’s is our idea of revolution one of riots, barricades and blood on the streets. It’s about a complete change in the basis of society. From the present minority class ownership and production for profit to common ownership, democratic control and production to meet people’s needs.

The present system can never be reformed to work in the interest of the majority. All the other candidates disagree and are promising to reform it in one way or another. But reform has been tried many times and look where we still are.

The present system can only work by putting profits before people.

That’s why, faced with an economic crisis, the government has been reducing services and cutting benefits. And why local councils have been forced to do the same. It’s to leave businesses with more profit in the hope that this will lead them to start expanding again. That’s how capitalism works and can only work.

I make no apology for raising this in a local election. It’s not what local councils, or even national governments, do that shapes how we live. It’s the economic system. And that’s what got to be changed.

Brand says we shouldn’t vote. I agree we shouldn’t vote for parties that are out to run the system. I don’t either. But we shouldn’t allow them a free run. That’s why the Socialist Party is contesting this election. To give people a chance to show they want an essentially peaceful democratic majority revolution to replace capitalism with a system in which productive resources have become the common heritage of all to be used for the benefit of all.

From our archives

Although Peckford Place not in the ward, it's only a few streets away. So here's an old leaflet from the Maoist cult that is said to be lodged there.

Needless to say (for our followers here, though not for the mainstream media), Maoism has nothing to do with either Marxism or socialism. It was the ideology of the state capitalist rulers of China. Based on leader-worship it is completely repugnant to socialists. We envisage socialism as a society of free and equal men and women based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production that can only be established by the democratic action of people who want and understand it. Only sheep need leaders.

We put our money where our mouth is. In the Lambeth Central by-election in April 1978 they were amongst our ten opponents. We got 91 votes. They (standing as the South London People's Front) got 38.

Our TUSC opponents in this by-election, on the other hand, see China as some sort of "deformed Workers' State". Deformed, yes, but apart from that it's just capitalist as everybody can see now.

In the meantime a volunteer has come forward to help us access the blocks of flats in Cormont Road, so these will be leafletted this evening. Better late than never.

Also the Brixtonblog have asked for a 300-word statement. More on this later.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yesterday in Brixton

As it was sunny we went ahead with the stall outside Brixton station yesterday. This is the place to be on a Saturday for leafletting. Amongst our rivals were Roman Catholics giving away free rosary beads, people giving out leaflets for "The End of the World Spectacular", Mr Kajali and Mr Moussa both claiming to be "from birth a gifted African spiritual healer and advisor" promising 100% guaranteed results for "problems concerning black magic, love voodoo, sexual impotency, business transactions, exams & court cases" (for a fee of course). Also competing were people paid to hand leaflets for some business, in this case a local gym but it could have been Specsavers.

Among the more rational were protestors against selling the main Lambeth College building on Brixton Hill to property speculators (one of them said he thought he had once voted for us), two young women campaigning against female genital mutilation (they said they didn't want to attack the culture of those who did this; we told them they should; they gave us a cup cake), and "Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism" who seem to be propagandists for leftwing governments in Latin America especially Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Absent were the Spanish-language pentecostals and Militant who are usually there. We imagine Militant were all out distributing their election leaflets which seem to have arrived late. We sold a couple of our pamplet on Marxian economics and gave away our leaflets for an-hour-and-a-half. Also met a comrade out shopping. It's a small world.

On the way to the CLR James meeting at the Oval cricket pavillion in the afternoon, we managed to gain access to some closed buildings by following a Labour canvasser. At first he thought we were TUSC but then realised who we were, saying "You're the people who want to get rid of money and let people take what they need". Well, yes, more or less. The Labour Party seem to be pulling out the stops. We've seen at least 5 different leaflets they've put out. One of their promises is that, if they win the next election, they'll overturn the Bedroom Tax. We'll see. As the Labour candidate said in one of his leaflets:
In past campaigns I've met people who told me that there wasn't much difference between the main parties.
So have we, and they're right.

At the CLR James meeting much of it was about English literature and what books should be studied at school and university. The organisers did not present James as a black role model but the opposite: as somebody who believed in universal values. Not black or any other identity but human identity. Some in the audience didn't approve of this approach and didn't clap all the speakers. His widow, Selma James, said he held that "Every Cook Can Govern". This comes from Lenin (though he relegated this to the distant future; in the meantime the Single Vanguard Should Govern). James, it appears, took it more literally. His widow in fact presented it in the way our candidate likes to. She said it didn't mean that "ordinary" people could govern since every individual was "extraordinary"; what he was advocating was collective action by these extraordinary individuals to change society and then run it. But she then spoilt it by saying that he was a leader. His writings on state capitalism in Russia, as well as those on cricket and his book on the slave uprising in Haiti during the French Revolution, The Black Jacobins. One of the speakers (Kenon Malik) described this as the first recorded successful slave uprising in history. I suppose it was. Must read the book. It's in our library.

The Oval is a few streets away to the north-west of the ward. Meanwhile a couple of streets to the south of the ward police were asking locals about the alleged case of slavery. They say it resulted from once commonly-held political ideas. It will be interesting to see what these were.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Higher pretensions

According to this, one of the candidates has higher ambitions: she wants, even expects, to become an MEP. Must look out, after our stall in Brixton High Road this morning from 11.30 to 1pm, for her Vassall ward election address to see if it says "Vote for Elitism". We can confirm, from her performances at the Brixton Hill and Tulse Hill by-elections, that she is being honest.

Don't understand how workers can even think of voting for UKIP, the external faction of the Tory party.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interesting factoids

From this twitter feed.

London by-elections since 2010: Holds - Lab 32, Con 26, LD 6. Causes of by-elections: death 19, resignation 49, disqualification 5.

London by-election gains since 2010: Lab 3 in Barnet, Islington, Lewisham ; Con 1 in Kingston ; LD 1 in K&C ; UKI 1 in Havering, Ind 2

Next weeks by-election in Vassall ward in LB Lambeth will be the 73rd and last since the 2010 London Borough elections. Only 8 saw gains.

Clearly people don't change their minds readilly. But when they do, they can move mountains.

A bit of local history

I don't want to turn this into a local history blog, but since nothing much else is happening at the moment. By coincidence the latest issue of the William Morris Society Newsletter just out has an article on "Susan Minet -- Saviour of Kelmscott Manor?" Apparently she made a substantial donation which prevented Kelmscott Manor having to be sold off. The name "Minet" rings a bell as there's a "Minet Library" in Knatchbull Road. It is the same family.

According to the article, the Minet family were Huguenot refugees from Catholic France who made their money by buying freehold land in Camberwell (and elsewhere) in the 18th which soared in value as London expanded. This enabled the Minet family to be philanthropists and they build a model estate in Camberwell (this part of Vassall ward has an SE5 postcode). The article quotes a report from the 1890s when they were built describing some of the buildings on this estate:
two five-storey blocks of apartmentss which have decorative steeped gables and exotic fluted chimneys. Richly clad with invy, they appear freshingly human compared with others of the period outside the Estate and are democratically given a prime location overlooking the parks.
These are the buildings on Cormont Road facing Myatt's Fields park. They were sold to Lambeth Council in 1968.

The article says of the buildings that "Morris would surely have approved!" Actually, he surely wouldn't have as they're the sort of ornate mock-Gothic buildings he used to rail against. Our objection is different: they don't have any outside letterboxes and the 230 or so residents have still not received our leaflet.

While on local history, not far away is Burton Road where John Major, the new champion of the "genteel poor" (from which he came)and scourge of the toffs who make up most of the Tory cabinet ministers, used to live. But there's no blue plaque there to mark the house.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Voting continues

The Returning Officer has just informed candidates and agents:
We sent out just over 1,000 postal votes and around 300 have been returned so far. Hopefully we'll receive at least double that number by this time next week.
Don't know if they will but, if they do, that would be a 60 percent turnout of postal voters. As the turnout of the other 9000 or so electors cannot be expected to be much more than 20 percent, this means that over 40 percent of those who vote will be postal voters. A bit worrying from one point of view because the election campaign still has a week to go.

Having distributed most of our leaflets there's not much to do, though we did see the Tory candidate canvassing in Vassall Road the other day when we managed get into one of the gated communities to distribute our leaflet.

Next activity (weather permitting and at the moment it doesn't look as if it will) will be a stall on Saturday morning in Brixton High Road as near as we can get to the exit from Brixton tube station.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Voting begins

Those that applied for postal votes for #vassall ward by-election, you should have rec'd by now, pls send back before 28th (election day)
So Says the Lambeth Democracy Team. So, if you've got your ballot paper in front of you, and you've come here to check us out after reading our leaflet: "Hello!" This is your chance to make history: you can start a revolution. No leader can do it for you. You have an awesome weapon in your hands. Just use it: refuse to give your consent to parties that will allow the status quo to continue. Vote for yourself: vote socialism. (Also, today is the deadline for applying for proxy votes, so you can ask someone else to vote for you for a change...)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just seen this tweet from the UKIP candidate: "Delightful Autumn day canvassing for Vassall by election passing Van Gogh's Lambeth home." That'll be Van Gogh, the European immigrant's home then... Fnar.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

CLR James and socialism

All the letterboxes we can get to have not been leafletted. Only gated communities have been left out. We're not too worried about the snooty ones but some are council properties. We're working on a way to access them.

No election activity on Brixton High Road yesterday. The Militant stall did not even have copies of their election leaflet. We might do a stall there ourselves next Saturday. The Vassall ward Labour Party has published the list of candidates on their site. Gratifying to see us referred to as the Socialist Party as on the front of our offices in Clapham High Street, but no doubt annoying to those who have attempted to usurp our name and claim that the "Socialist Party" supports the TUSC candidate.

According to the Brixtonblog, a meeting to launch research on the life of CLR James is to be held at the Oval cricket ground on Saturday 23 November. This is just outside the ward, but we would be going anyway as James is an interesting person. A Trotskyist in the 1930s he came round to the view in the 1940s that Russia was a form of state capitalism, i.e not socialist nor (as our TUSC opponent still maintains it was) a "Workers State". In view of the fact that he looked forward, eventually (in full communism), to a society in which money would not be necessary it was a travesty that his picture should have appeared on the now virtually-defunct and always pointless Brixton pound.

The authorities are obviously trying to promote him as a role model for black people, but this could backfire on them as his life can also be used to get a word in on socialist ideas. That's why we'll be at the meeting on 23 November.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Labour's Utopian dream

Just seen this The council of 2043 by Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council. A vision of where councils may be in 30 years time. We can see the inspiring vision of Labour:
For other councils, such as the pioneering then London borough of Lambeth (now part of the South London authority) the dire financial situation added impetus to the cooperative approach that the Council had adopted several years earlier: putting residents at the heart of decision making. It meant identifying strengths and skills in the community and building on those; it meant that decisions were made on a social as well as financial basis. In doing so, the cooperative approach generated a wealth of innovative ways and means to deliver activities – with the council providing a platform to make things happen rather than delivering itself.
Wow. I'm stirred. Lets take to the streets to demand that councils
become the connectors and enablers of local society: assessing local needs; joining up the right people and right organisations; enabling the most creative and socially productive projects; and critically, acting as the custodian of the peoples values.
Basically, what councils do now, only with a fancy Dan name. March forward under the slogan of 'Accomodating to Austerity'. I for one am enthused. So, it's clear, from their own pens: vote Labour for a redistribution of poverty!

It is entirely utopian to believe that this means anything other than living within the dictates of the interests of them as own the world, and can only be considered a pipe-dream. But what a modest pipe dream.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revolution cafe

Here's the suitably-named cafe where we were planning to meet yesterday,

Meanwhile the Brixtonblog has published the list of candidates here. Don't know if they'll be organising a hustings as for the last two Lambeth council by-elections. Most of Vassall is in Brixton but outside their area. We'll see.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nearly done

Five of us finished off covering the ward today. Some 4000 of the 5000 have now been distributed. Only 500 or so needed for what's left, so we'll have some over for handing out in the street or if we do a stall. The remaining 500 letter boxes should be covered before the deadline we set ourselves of 13 November when the ballot papers will be sent to postal voters (some 10 percent of those on the electoral roll).

We had planned to meet at lunchtime in a cafe in Mostyn Road called "Revolution" which sounded suitable and which we hoped might give us a free coffee for the free advertisement we'd been handing out for them entitled "Revolution the only solution". But it was closed.

Came across more Labour and LibDem leaflets, also one Tory one on glossy paper (in the posh part of the ward between Brixton Road and Clapham Road). It too said it was a two-horse race claiming "Only the Conservatives can beat Labour here". Very doubtful if anyone can, though the Labour candidate must think he has something to fear from the LibDems as he has started a scare campaign pledging to stop LibDem attacks on council housing. It's a dirty business, conventional politics.

No sign of UKIP, the Greens or TUSC as yet.

Friday, November 08, 2013

We spoke too soon

Out leafletting today we can across another LibDem leaflet and what did it say? "It's Labour or Lib Dems here. Tories out of the race here!". The usual it's a two-horse race stuff, in this case to try to cadge Tory votes. In other parts, it's used to get Labour voters to vote LibDem to keep the Tories out. Anything to get votes.

Other leaflets we picked up were the Autumn 2013 issue of Lambeth Labour Rose and a copy of Lambeth Housing Activists. This is sponsored by "Unite Community" which is a section of the Unite trade union for "people who aren't in regular paid work and community activists", an interesting union initiative. It has some harsh things to say about Labour-run Lambeth Council. For instance, on the council's eviction of 'shortlife' tenants:
Lambeth has proven itself to be a cynical and ruthless Authority, showing little regard or concern for some of its most vulnerable inhabitants.
Wat the ... ? So, in reponse to austerity caused by a global crash caused by rich bankers and property speculators, the council has brutalised these communities to give some lovely buildings at knock down prices to ... rich bankers and property speculators.
Strong stuff (we'll let pass the fact that the crisis was caused by the operation of capitalism not "rich bankers").

We must have distributed 1500 of the 5000 leaflets so far. More this weekend and next week.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

We're off

The 5000 election leaflets duly arrived this morning. A couple of hundred have already been distributed in the north of the ward opposite Kennington Park. We thought we'd be the first, but the Liberals had been before. Unusually their leaflet didn't claim that "it's a two-horse race", probably because no-one would believe it as it's a one-horse race which Labour can't lose.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Spoilt for choice...

Kelly Rebekah BEN-MAIMONConservative Party Candidate
Paul GADSBYThe Labour Party Candidate
Elizabeth Eirwen JONESUK Independence Party (UKIP)
Danny LAMBERTThe Socialist Party (GB)
Rachel Anna LAURENCEThe Green Party
Steven Paul NALLYTrade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
Colette THOMASLiberal Democrats
So, seven candidates: six in proposing to work within capitalism (however reluctantly) and ONE proposing standing on a platform of revolution and nothing but. No tinkering, we need to turn the world upside down. C'mon Vassall Ward, do us proud.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Speaking of things outside the ward, Vassall stops just over the road from Kennington Park, where in 1848 this mass meeting of Chartists rocked the establishment to the core. They were raising political demands that could turn the world upside down. Maybe the electors of Lambeth might like to think whether they have the same power in their hands.

Local elections for local people

Apparently the Labour candidate comes from the wrong street:
"As usual Labour have taken local people for granted and put forward an unrepresentative candidate from another part of Lambeth.
According to the Liberal Candidate.

Apparently, he lives almost 200 metres outside the ward. How despicable, how can he possibly understand the needs of Vassall Ward while living in Oval Ward?

OK, so politics is often devoid of policies these days: but this is ridiculous. Given the problems that we share worldwide, such myopia is hideous rather than merely hilarious.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Nominations close

Nominations have just closed today at 12 noon. We don't know who the others are but can guess. It's rumoured that one of them is also called Lambert. Certainly, there's a Robin Lambert who has stood for UKIP in Lambeth elections before (as well in Hendon at the last general election). We won't know till the official list is published next Tuesday (5 November).

Meanwhile we've given the "OK to print" for the 5000 election manifestos. Here's the front page:

They are due to be delivered to our office on Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our nomination accepted

The nomination papers for our candidate were handed in and accepted this morning. So far ours is the only nomination. So, if there are no others, Danny Lsmbert will be elected as the first Socialist councillor in Britain. But of course there will be more -- the usual suspects, Labour, Liberal, Tory, Greens and UKIP.

No doubt TUSC too though they won't have been planning to contest Vassall since they were courting Kingsley Abrams, the resigning councillor, who had been suspended by the Labour Group for opposing the cuts. Here's the Brixtoblog on why he resigned (to try to move further up the greasy pole by becoming an MP).

The result the last time we contested the area in which Vassall wards falls -- the Greater London Assembly elections in May 2012 -- was as follows (not including postal votes):

Labour 1683 (56.7%)
Cons 430 (14.5%)
LibDems 379 (12.8%)
Greens 336 (11.3%)
Socialist 82 (2.8%)
UKIP 52 (1,9%)

A safe Labour seat then.

Monday, October 28, 2013

We are standing

It's been decided. We will be standing a candidate in this by-election. The Socialist candidate will be Danny Lambert.

The 10 signatories to nominate were obtained this afternoon and the nomination papers will be handed in tomorrow morning.

Two of those we asked mentioned if we had anything to do with Russell Brand who in a BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman last week called for a revolution to establish an "egalitarian socialist society". We replied not exactly, but we will be contesting this time under the slogan "Revolution the only solution". One of the signatories revealed that he had voted for us in a previous election.

The manifestos are already at the printers and the 5000 will be delivered later this week or early next week. Then we start distributing them with the aim of delivering them all by 13 November when the postal ballot papers will be sent out.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Change of date

The Notice of Election has now been published and the date has been changed to Thursday 28 November, with nomination papers having to be in by noon on Friday 1 November.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Yet another local by-election in Lambeth

This time in Vassall ward, due to the resignation (to move on to higher things) of one of the Labour councillors. Election date will be Thursday 5 December. We are considering contesting, especially as Vassall ward is in the Vauxhall parliamentary constituency which we regularly contest.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The postal voters

Lambeth Council has just made available statistics which show that, although the overall turnout was only 20%, the number of postal voters who voted was much higher at 46% (there were 1023 postal voters out of a total electorate of 11,236, 484 of them voted). In one voting district the turnout was only 16%.

This must mean something, probably that it's easier to vote from home than to go to the polling station or maybe that those who go to the trouble of registering for a postal vote are more interested in voting. The Green Party agent said that they had sent their manifesto only to postal voters.

The trouble is postal voters get to cast their vote before the election campaign is over, which means they can't take into account any last-minute developments.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A bit of psephology

Here's the result with percentages:

Labour 1575 (69.3%)
Lib Dem 277 (12.2%)
Green 177 (7.8%)
TUSC 76 (3.4%)
Con 74 (3.3%)
UKIP 64 (2.8%)
Ind 20 (0.9%)
Soc 11 (0.5%)

Turnout: 20%.

Everyone knew that this was a one-horse race, but nobody predicted (see yesterday's blog) a landslide Labour victory of this proportion. It's the sort of percentage that Labour used to get in the mining valleys of South Wales when the pits were still open. It looks as if inner London is becoming a Tory no-go ahead like the Northern cities.

Although everybody was expecting Labour to win, there were other contests going on -- LibDems v Greens for second place; UKIP v the Tories, even us v TUSC) -- and it can be seen who won these. Whether we like it or not (and we don't), in the public perception where there are two candidates describing themselves as "socialist" they are seen as rivals for the votes of those who consider themselves socialist. But not just in the public perception, but also amongst those who consider themselves socialist. Although we don't attach all that importance to the number of votes we get, it is undoubtedly true that we get more when there is not another candidate calling themselves socialist. In fact the combined vote for TUSC and us is about the same here (3.9%) as it was in the Brixton Hill by-election in January (4.1%). That would seem to be the measure of the "anticapitalist" audience.

In any event, TUSC must be pleased with the result. Finishing ahead of both UKIP and the Tories, they have shown that they can consistently get about 3% in elections with their "anti-cuts" campaign. This will be a protest vote against the cuts rather than for Trotsky's transitional programme or for Militant's strategy for combatting them and, as such, will have some significance. But 3% is not enough to launch a general strike over the issue.

UKIP will also be disappointed. This time (compared with Brixton Hill) they ran a much more professional campaign (expensively produced glossy leaflets, etc) specifically aimed at winning over Labour voters. They got nowhere. It looks as if they really are just an external faction of the Tories in rural and seaside areas, especially those with a noticeable presence of migrants from East Europe. They are not going to make a breakthrough in the big cities. It is difficult to understand why they thought that their appeal to old-fashioned Britishness was going to have an impact in a ward where, in the 2011 census, only 5116 out of a population of 15,771 (a little over 32%) put themselves down as "White British" (see here). Parties such as the BNP and them are no threat in places like this despite the fuss made about them by "anti-fascists".

One of our reasons for contesting these by-elections (apart from the wards being in walking distance of our Head Office) was to get us known more locally in preparation for next year's full borough council elections in May next year (which are going to be held on the same day as the Euroelections, which should increase the turnout a bit). We will almost definitely be contesting the Larkhall and Ferndale wards as we did last time. Ferndale ward is also in Brixton (bordered by Brixton High Street and Acre Lane). In the meantime we'll be continuing leafletting them and adding the nearby parts of Brixton Hill and Tulse Hill wards.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The raw result

Lab 1575
LibDem 277
Green 177
Con 74
Ind 20
Soc 11

Turnout 2282 (20%).

Analysis follows tomorrow morning.


The count starts late this evening, but this site runs a competition for its members to predict the results of coming elections. Here's the various predictions made for this by-election:

Tulse Hill Lab 64 Green 12 LD 9 Con 6 UKIP 4 TUSC 3 Ind 1 SPGB 1(or whichever other far left group it actually is)

Tulse Hill Lab 53 Green 9 LD 20 Con 5 UKIP 5 TUSC 2 Ind 3 Socialist 3

LAMBETH - Lab 59, LD 14, Grn 10, UKIP 7, Con 5, TUSC 3, Ind 1, Soc 1

Lambeth, Tulse Hill: Lab 52, LD 17, Green 11, UKIP 7,Con 6, TUSC 3, Ind 3, Soc 1

Lambeth: Con 8, Lab 43, LD 13, UKIP 12, Green 17, TUSC 3, Soc 2, Ind 2

Lambeth LB - Tulse Hill
Lab 60.1%
LD 12.1%
Grn 10.7%
Con 7.9%
UKIP 4.8%
TUSC 2.1%
Ind 1.4%
SPGB 0.9%

LAMBETH - Tulse Hill
Amna AHMAD (Liberal Democrats) 10.4
Mary ATKINS (The Labour Party Candidate) 59.6
Bernard ATWELL (Green Party) 15.3
Timothy BRIGGS (Conservative Party Candidate) 8
Adam BUICK (The Socialist Party (GB)) 1.6
Elizabeth JONES (UK Independence Party (UKIP)) 2.5
Steve NALLY (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 1.1
Valentine WALKER (Independent) 1.5
It's interesting that the figures are given in percentages because the absolute number of votes will be influenced by the turnout which could fall below 20%, giving the new councillor the legitimacy of a Police commissioner.

The winner of the competition will be evident by about midnight.

Vote socialist

Well, maybe you've had the leaflet, and bleary eyed you're just getting ready to go out and vote, and you've decided to quickly look online and see what we're saying. So, let's be clear: we don't want your vote. We're not in this for office, or power, we're in this to abolish a society in which people are made to work for the people who own all the property. We're in this to call you to revolt. If you want a stateless, classless, moneyless society where we co-operate to produce the things we need, then you need to revolt. You need to say that that is your priority, not where to put the bus stop or the new roundabout. You need to tell your fellow workers that you want them to revolt too.

That is what putting a cross next to The Socialist Party candidate means, it means a rejection of the whole system of government and society, with no compromise. It's a big leap, let's see you make it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Redistributing misery

Lively hustings meeting last night with all the candidates (but with the Tory arriving half way through) and much heckling. Ninety people present (which is more that you usually get at a hustings for an election to parliament). Maybe it's this part of Brixton or maybe a local election generates more interest amongst a minority. In any event, the Brixtonblog is to be congratulated for organising it.

The Labour candidate was in a hopeless position, trying to blame the ConDem government for the cuts but defending the way Labour-run Lambeth Council were implementing them. The LibDem candidate was also in a hopeless position because she was unable to criticise what the government was doing and the effect this was having locally and was reduced to extolling her own virtues. No wonder the Tory turned up late as what could he say (beyond, as he did, that they hadn't done much leafletting or canvassing as Tulse Hill was not an area where they were strong on the ground)?. The Green Party candidate didn't really follow through his strong case that "right across Lambeth Labour is pursuing a programme of evictions in order to sell housing to developers and profit from high property prices" (he didn't even switch his mobile phone off).

The UKIP candidate was more prepared than last time (she was also their candidate in the Brixton Hill local by-election in January), specifically targetting Labour rather than Tory voters, presumably in pursuit of some UKIP national strategy for inner London and Northern cities; interesting display of populism, though. The TUSC candidate put across their single-issue "No cuts" campaign and got denounced by UKIP as "Bob Crow's fan club". The Independent candidate explained his case against the Labout council's plan to move him and his fellow residents from their sheltered housing and sell off the land to developers. Our candidate said that it was capitalism, not the government or the local council (or the EU), that was responsible for the problems facing people in Tulse Hill (and elsewhere) and that the other parties' claims to be able to solve them were just empty promises worth nothing as many non-voters already understood.

What the Green Party had called "Labour's programme of evictions" turned out to be one of the main issues of the meeting. It really is the case that the Labour Council has decided that, to raise money to try to compensate for the cut in grants from central government, it will sell off part of its land and housing stock to private developers. This of course involves removals and evictions. This was not popular with the audience which gave the poor Labour candidate a hard time (she'll probably still win, though).

Local councils do have a choice, not to not make any cuts, but to decide how to apply them. It's as if the central government (which is responding to the current economic crisis by cutting its spending so as to give profits, the life-blood of the system, a chance to recover) has said to local councils: "you've got to make cuts, but you choose where to make them". Lambeth Council has decided to sell off some of its housing assets. It may well be true that this will provide them with some money to avoid cuts elsewhere but at the cost of bringing misery to those affected. They could have chosen not to do this, but they would then have had to make more cuts than otherwise and impose the misery on someone else.

That's the sort of choice of redistribution of misery you have to make if you assume responsibility for running capitalism at local level. Not even the TUSC policy of the council refusing to make any cuts and acting illegally would work. The central government would just send in a commissioner and impose the misery anyway. Quite simply, there is no way under capitalism in an economic crisis of avoiding cuts and the misery they bring; one way or another, in one form or another, they will be imposed. It is good that people don't like this but discontent and protest is not enough. The only way out is to get rid of the capitalist system and replace its minority ownership and control and its production for profit by common ownership and democratic control and production to meet people's needs. As one persistent heckler, a socialist, put it, get rid of the system.

He'll hust and He'll hust...

Well, while we wait for the various write ups of the Hustings, lets make do with the Twitter feed. Strangest one being the Green Party's "Socialist Party says system to blame for Labour Party's misdeeds. How about taking some responsibility?#tulsehillhustings" The personal responsibility when faced with a rotten system is to get rid of it, not try and run it differently (because you can't).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not all that much to report

Today we held our stall in Brixton again, the only one this time as the SWP seem to have disappeared while the Militant group had theirs in Brockwell Park at the Lambeth Country Fair. We took their usual space but this didn't seem to cause any confusion as the first person who stopped to talk started "Ah yes, you're the anti-Leninist socialists" (yes, that's right). Met the same (Roman Catholic) religious ranter as last week who claimed that the Shroud of Turin was genuine. We told him it was a medieval fake. Also an ex-SWPer who is now a David Icke follower who told us that all wars and all economic crises had been caused by the Rothschilds and who assured us that Icke wasn't anti-semitic.

At 12 noon there was a pathetic UK Uncut demonstration opposite outside the HSBC. Pathetic in terms both of turnout (perhaps a dozen) and appearance (a tatty banner proclaiming "Stuff the Banks") and purpose. Their leaflet blamed the banks and in particular HSBC for causing the crisis and claimed:
The government tell us there is no alternative, that public services and the welfare system are too expensive. This is a lie. They tell us the only way to deal with the deficit is to slash public spending. This is also a lie. Austerity isn't working and there are alternatives to the cuts. Make the banks pay, stop the tax-dodgers and hands off our public services and welfare state.
Yes, these are lies and there is an alternative, but not within the capitalist system. They didn't spell out what "the alternatives" were, but whatever they are supposed to be ("make the banks pay", "stop the tax-dodgers"?) they see them as being applicable under capitalism as, when we crossed the road to talk to them, they told us that they weren't interested in socialism but wanted to do something now.

We still don't know what and of course it's not true that the banks caused the crisis (any more than that the Rothschilds did). The whole capitalist system did. It's just what happens from time to time under capitalism as all business enterprises pursuemaximum profits and cutback on production when there are no longer so many profits to be made. The only alternative is replace the profit system with one based on common ownership and democratic control so that there can be production to satisfy people's needs instead of for profit.

We went on to Brockwell Park and the Lambeth Country Show. Thousands there enjoying the music and the food. We visited the "Trade Union Village" and looked at the books on the Labour Party stall. Noticing that they were all novels we asked if they any political ones. The man laughed and said "What, at a Labour Party stall!" We exchanged our election leaflet for one of theirs saying "You can't trust David cameron with the NHS". Failed to find the Militant stall masquerading as "Lambeth Socialist Party".

On leaving we found 4 people ftom the "South London Anti-Fascists" distributing leaflets at the gate advertising a confrontation between them and the "English Volunteer Force" (apparently a breakaway from the EDL) in Croydon next Saturday. We gave them our leaflet.

Only sign of the Rushcroft Road (ex) squatters protest we saw was a sticker saying "Lambeth Council. Eviction Council".

Actually, there was quite a bit to report.

Meanwhile the Brixtonlog has added the statements of the Labour and Green Party candidates (scroll down towards the end after reeading the first statement).

Friday, July 19, 2013

What's happening on Saturday

We underestimated the number of letter-boxes we would be able to access. It's nearer 5000 than the 3500 we estimated. So we had to print some more. Unfortunately this meant that some postal voters may have voted before they got our leaflet. Talking about leaflets, we've seen discarded Labour, LibDem, UKIP, TUSC and even our leaflets but none from the Tories or the Greens. They don't seem to have bothered. The Green candidate doesn't even have a "Vote Green" poster in his own window.

Tomorrow we'll have a stall again in Brixton (meet Windrush Square at 11am) and after that we'll go to the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park (which borders on the ward). There are political stalls there (maybe we'll meet the Green candidate) and the evicted Rushcroft Road squatters are planning something. Sounds more interesting than looking at farm animals.

Then on Tuesday it's the hustings with the other candidates. Details here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stop the Thing!

People are always asking why we don't campaign for reforms, if only to win more support for our cause.

An illustration of why we don't play that game can be found here:
After many months of campaigning to keep Clapham Fire Station open Lambeth Conservatives welcome the news that the fire station will not close.

Commenting, Lambeth Conservatives Group Leader John Whelan said: “This is fantastic news for the community and the borough as a whole.

"The Lambeth Conservatives have opposed the closure from the start and are delighted that our constructive community lead campaign has been a success.

“This is in sharp contrast to Lambeth Labour who were all talk and no action.
.So, the Tories out reformed Labour by campaigning hard (against the, er, Tory Mayor).

As with our attitude to the Whittington Hospital closure, we want to put the security and well being of working folk first and foremost, and our only concern is not that the "local" service is saved, but that the protection provision remains adequate. But campaigning for that isn't our job *as socialists* our job is to put the case for socialism. Local people are capable of campaigning for their own interests without us (or, indeed, without socialist consciousness).

A vote for us is an act of rebellion, saying that politics as normal can't go on.

Four candidates speak

The local online paper the Brixtonblog has started publishing the statements of the 8 candidates. The first 4, including us, are here.

Here's what we said:

Things are not produced today to meet people’s needs. They are produced to make a profit. And that’s the cause of the problems people in Tulse Hill face.

Under the profit system profits always come first. Before providing basic services like health care and transport, before improving conditions at work, and before providing decent housing.

It’s profits first, people second.

Under the profit system production is in the hands of profit-seeking business enterprises, all competing to maximise the rate of return on the money invested in them.

Decisions as to what to produce and how much, and how and where to produce it, are not made in response to people’s needs but in response to market forces.

As a result, the health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. The profit system can’t help doing this. It’s the only way it can work. Which is why it must go.

I know this is only a local by-election but make no apology for raising this issue. The reduced incomes and cuts to services that people in Tulse Hill are having to put up with are a direct result of the profit system being in an economic crisis.

When this happens governments, whatever their political colour, have to cut their spending so as to give profits a chance to recover. As local councils are largely financed by central government this trickles down to the local level too.

So, what’s the alternative?

One thing is certain. The Tories, LibDems and Labour — and now UKIP — have nothing to offer. They all support the profit system and are only squabbling over which of them should have a go at running it.

If we are going to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves, without professional politicians or leaders of any kind.

We are going to have to organise ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared to serving human needs not profits.

Production to satisfy people’s needs. That’s the alternative. But this can only be done if we control production and the only basis for this is common ownership and democratic control.

I have been put forward by the Socialist Party as a name on the ballot paper you can put an X against to register your rejection of the profit system and your agreement with the alternative.

The others are from the Independent (a victim of the cuts to sheltered housing not prepared to take this lying down), TUSC and UKIP.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yet another day in the life of capitalism

And what the Independent candidate is protesting about.

This is the sort of thing that is happening all over the country as local councils, under pressure from the central government itself under pressure from market conditions, try to balance their books both by cutting spending and increasing their income through selling off assets. It's behind the Rushcroft Road evictions too. Profits before people again, but that's how capitalism works.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A day in the life of capitalism


Voting begins

I see from twitter that some people have already begun voting by post. We have to remember that the voting excitement isn't confined to the election day anymore. So, anyone out there sitting at home with a ballot paper in one hand and a stack of election literature in the other (doubtless you've just come to our blog from the listing on our leaflet) should think whether you want to use your vote to continue poverty and exploitation, or end it outright. If you want people to be poor, vote for our capitalist party opponents; but if you do want a society of common ownership and democratic control, let your fellow workers know by voting socialist.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Half-way there

Five of us were out on Saturday, doing a stall outside Brixton tube station and leafletting the ward. More than half has now been covered and the rest will be this week.

We came across an arty event in Josephine Avenue and took a break in a cafe in Upper Tulse Hill. The owner told us it was frequented by the Labour candidate, so we left some leaflets for her (and anyone else).

Some householders will have found our leaflet and the TUSC one together on their doormat. This might cause some confusion as the TUSC candidate is taking a risk, for a vote-catching party, by declaring "I am a member of the Socialist Party". He isn't. He's a member of the Judean Peoples Front. His claim is risky as our candidate will be described on the ballot paper as "The Socialist Party (GB)" and there's a shop front in Clapham High Street saying "The Socialist Party". This could lead to some people who meant to vote for him voting for us, not that we want reformist votes.

Lambeth Council has published on its website more details of the 8 candidates from which it emerges that the mysterious Independent candidate is standing to protest against the closure and demolition of a sheltered housing unit in Streatham.

Brixtonblog are organising a hustings on Tuesday 23 July. Details here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What is Socialism?

A comment in another place reminds me that as well as talking about the process of the election and the details of the ward, we need to occasionally come back to the basic Q&A about socialism. To be lazy, and because it doesn't need to be said in a new way each time, here is our definition of Socialism:
Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.

But does it really make sense for everybody to own everything in common? Of course, some goods tend to be for personal consumption, rather than to share—clothes, for example. People 'owning' certain personal possessions does not contradict the principle of a society based upon common ownership.

In practice, common ownership will mean everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions.

Democratic control is therefore also essential to the meaning of socialism. Socialism will be a society in which everybody will have the right to participate in the social decisions that affect them. These decisions could be on a wide range of issues—one of the most important kinds of decision, for example, would be how to organise the production of goods and services.

Production under socialism would be directly and solely for use. With the natural and technical resources of the world held in common and controlled democratically, the sole object of production would be to meet human needs. This would entail an end to buying, selling and money. Instead, we would take freely what we had communally produced. The old slogan of "from each according to ability, to each according to needs" would apply.

So how would we decide what human needs are? This question takes us back to the concept of democracy, for the choices of society will reflect their needs. These needs will, of course, vary among different cultures and with individual preferences—but the democratic system could easily be designed to provide for this variety.

We cannot, of course, predict the exact form that would be taken by this future global democracy. The democratic system will itself be the outcome of future democratic decisions. We can however say that it is likely that decisions will need to be taken at a number of different levels—from local to global. This would help to streamline the democratic participation of every individual towards the issues that concern them.

In socialism, everybody would have free access to the goods and services designed to directly meet their needs and there need be no system of payment for the work that each individual contributes to producing them. All work would be on a voluntary basis. Producing for needs means that people would engage in work that has a direct usefulness. The satisfaction that this would provide, along with the increased opportunity to shape working patterns and conditions, would bring about new attitudes to work.
OK, a bit longer than I'd normally put in a post, but sometimes things need to be said in depth.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Down on the farm

Of course, in Tulse Hill we also have the agricultural vote to think of. As can be seen at the Tulse Hill Polytunnel. This is a good example of the local growing out of the global: the polythene for the tunnel has to be refined from hydrocarbons using vast industrial processes, but it does allow residents of Tulse Hill to grow food efficiently and locally. There's no reason why thousands of like projects couldn't happen with all the energy and enthusiasm of this one (especially if instead of having to try and be a commercial 'Social Enterprise' the volunteers could just provide food to other volunteers in restaurants or in their homes). The point is the technology is there not just to feed every human on the planet, but to make effective use of even the most unlikely scraps of land. The labour is there, else people wouldn't be volunteering.

Think locally, act globally

Although we make no apology for raising the issue of world socialism in a local election (as it's the workings of world capitalism that are ultimately responsible for the cuts to local services) we don't neglect local issues. Here is an extract from the leaflet on this that we are distributing in Tulse Hill (and before in other parts of Lambeth) mentioned in yesterday's blog:

Feeding the Five Thousand
Capitalism is in crisis and they are making us pay for it. 'Austerity' means increased hardship, attacks on the living conditions and wages of the working class, and 'reforms' to Social Security. Here in Lambeth job losses, cuts in housing benefit, and low pay are forcing families to seek free, charity handouts of food from the Food Bank at St Paul's Church in Ferndale Road. The Church has said that it is feeding 5,000 people.
David Cameron likes Food Banks. His Cabinet Minister for Food Caroline Spelman thinks they are an example of good citizenship in Cameron's 'Big Society'. In reality it is a case of the capitalist state saving money by ridding itself of its role of providing basic support for destitute working class families – of, basically, feeding its hungry citizens – and forcing them to rely instead on religious charities.
Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat politicians all accept capitalism and apply its economic law of profit before people. If Labour was in government they would be following the same economic course. In fact Labour is in power in Lambeth and is imposing cuts to benefits and services.
'I was hungry and you fed me,' says the Food Bank’s mission statement, 'thirsty and you gave me a drink.' Socialism, as a society of common ownership and democratic control, will provide food and drink, and much more, to everyone as of right in accordance with the principle 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'. Nobody should have to rely on charity and nobody would.

Bedroom Tax
As part of making the working class pay for the capitalist crisis, the Coalition government are changing the rules on Housing Benefit from April. The capitalist state will charge you for the bedrooms you have in your council or housing association house. It will be a 'bedroom tax'. The government says it will affect over half a million households.
The capitalist state will be taxing your living space if your children have flown the nest for college or somewhere else to live. If you have one spare room you will face a 14 percent cut in housing benefit, two or more spare rooms and the capitalist state will cut your housing benefit by a quarter ! The capitalist state is making rules on how many bedrooms you can have and who sleeps where. Your kids will have to share a bedroom if they are under 16 and the same gender, and if they are under 10 they have to share whatever gender.
Under capitalism people only get the housing they can afford. The lower your income, the worse your housing. In a socialist  society of common ownership, housing will be about what people need to live and not how much rent they have to pay.

Safety Second
Tory Mayor Boris Johnson wants to save £45 million from the Fire Brigade budget. So he plans to close 12 Fire Stations in London. This will affect people in Lambeth as among those he wants to close are the one at the Clapham Old Town and the one in the next-door borough on Southwark Bridge Road. These closures will put in danger the safety of millions of Londoners because people will have to wait longer for a fire engine. Economic considerations not people's safety are the priority in capitalism.

No more adventures
In August last year Lambeth Labour Council 'temporarily' closed four Children's Adventure Playgrounds in Lambeth.
The adventure playgrounds at Bolton Crescent in Camberwell, Lollard Street in Kennington, Loughborough Park on Moorland Road just off Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, and Wilmington Road, off Landor Road near Clapham North Tube Station all remain closed.
These Adventure Playgrounds were free to access for children ages 5 to 16 but are easy targets for the 'economic austerity cuts' required by capitalism and imposed by the Coalition government and Lambeth Labour Council. Former Lambeth Labour leader Steve Reed promised at a Council meeting in April 2011 that no adventure playgrounds would close. He has now moved up the greasy pole into the House of Commons where he can better serve capitalism when it’s Labour’s turn again to run capitalism, in the only way to can be - as a profit-making system against the interests of the majority class of wage and salary workers.
In a socialist society children's lives would be one great adventure playground, education a creative journey, and the free development of each child the condition for the free development of all children.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More anti-EU than thou

According to this, TUSC are to target UKIP in this election by exposing its leader Farage as a tax-evader. This will be because when it comes to next year's European Parliament elections they will be vying with UKIP for the anti-EU vote. For these elections TUSC transforms itself in NO2EU. They won't stand much chance of making headway against UKIP, but they will contribute to the nasty xenophobic atmosphere from which UKIP benefits. We'll probably be contesting these elections somewhere but on the basis of YES2WORLDSOCIALISM.

Meanwhile we have almost completed the distribution of our newsletter giving the socialist perspective on local issues (food banks, bedroom tax, closing playgrounds, Brixton windmill) and will now be concentrating on getting our election manifesto to people (streets stalls, letter boxes).

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Stat attack!

The people of Tulse Hill should be rich. Some 5,000 or so of you work between 31 and 48 hours per week. That is, Tulse Hill Ward alone is producing a minimum of 155,000 hours of work a week. There’s a further thousand working more than 49 hours. This is a highly educated workforce: over 800 work in education, 700 in Information and communication and nearly a thousand in professional and scientific activities. So, this is an area that would be called by some “middle class”, with professional office based work predominating.

Yet, in such an area, only 600 households own their home outright, and thirteen hundred homes are owner occupied with mortgages. Over two thousand households are in social accommodation, and fifteen hundred rent privately. 2,400 households have one dimension of deprivation (unemployment, overcrowding, lack of education or disability), twelve hundred have two and 490 have three of those four states.

The picture is, that the majority of people in Tulse Hill have to work in order to keep their home, or to keep deprivation away. They may work with their minds or skills, but they are working class non-the-less, selling their ability to work in order to access the means of living. So, they don’t get to use those 155,000 hours of weekly work to make their area better, to look after those unable to work, or anything of the sort. Those 155,000 hours are fed into a system that generates profits for the tiny minority who own the means of living and who demand our labour to get to it.

All statistics from here

Sunday, July 07, 2013

UKIP misses the point

More of our newsletters were distributed in the ward yesterday. More evidence this time of political activity. In fact some streets would have received our leaflet and UKIP's at the same time. A LibDem leaflet carried the same "It's a two-horse race" bar chart that they all do, even though the figures they gave showed that it's really only a one-horse race (as everyone knows)since even if all the Tory voters switched to the LibDems that would only be get them to 35% compared to Labour's 51%. The Labour leaflet was a tribute to their councillor whose untimely death provoked the by-election.

UKIP is an opportunist, populist party but don't seem to have yet learnt (as all vote-catching parties must if they are going to get anywhere) how to adapt what they say to those whose votes they are chasing. Asking people to help them "End mass immigration" wouldn't seem to find much of an echo in this part of the world. They need to take some advice from the LibDems on how to be all things to all people (bringing back smoking in pubs and abolishing parking meters might not be enough). UKIP suffered a blow this week when their flagship policy of withdawing from the EU but still having access to the Single European Market as a non-member like Norway was rejected by the employers organisation, the CBI. They want Britain to stay in, so UKIP are on the own on this one as far as the major British capitalist corporations are concerned.

In any event, whether Britain is in or out of the EU makes no fundamental difference to the majority class of wage and salary workers and their dependents. It's not the EU that is the cause of our problems, but capitalism. So the way out is not to withdraw from the EU (the problems would still continue) but to establish socialism based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that production can be geared to satisfying people's needs instead of to making a profit. If there's ever a referendum on the EU (what a waste of time) we'll be writing "WORLD SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Leafletting the Tulse Hill Estate

Two of us leafletted the Tulse Hill Estate this morning. On our way there we passed Strathleven Rooad (off Acre Lane) and saw it was closed with police everywhere. Apparently, two people had been shot while trying to evict a tenant, an example of the violence generated by capitalist society.

On the Tulse Hill Estate itself we saw Irby House where Ken Livingston was brought up but we couldn't find any blue plaque marking this. We also found a TUSC leaflet which made the dubious claim that:
If even a handful of councils defied the Con-Dems and refused to implement the cuts the government could be made to back down and fund social services properly.
Could they really? Could the government be made to "fund social services properly"? It's not as if the government is imposing cuts because they're bastards (even if some of them could well be) who want to deprive pensioners of their outings or kids of their playgrounds or drive people out of their homes because they've got a spare bedroom. It's because they are in government when capitalism is in one of its slump periods and in slumps government spending has to be cut to help restore profits.

Profits nefore people that's how capitalism works and can only work. There is no alternative within capitalism and it's misleading and even dishonest to suggest that there could be. The only way out is socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, with production directly for use not profit and the application of the principle "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

And the candidates are...

And here are the opposition:
Amna AhmedLiberal Democrat
Mary AtkinsLabour
Bernard AtwellGreen
Timothy Briggs Conservative
Adam BuickSocialist Party
Elizabeth JonesUKIP
Steve NallyTUSC
Valentine WalkerIndependent
Eight candidates for a by-election, political life in the Capital is interesting to say the least. Pleasing (though not unexpected) to not see the fash standing. It'll be interesting in the current terms of debate to see if the UKIP advance continues. Also, have to ask, are parties deliberately choosing people with names high up the Alphabet (including us)? 5 before we get past B. Who knows if that will have an effect for us.

The Tulse Hill parliamentary road...

'As far as I can glean from Comrade Waller,' said Psmith, 'about twenty years ago, when he and Comrade Bickersdyke worked hand-in-hand as fellow clerks at the New Asiatic, they were both members of the Tulse Hill Parliament, that powerful institution. At that time Comrade Bickersdyke was as fruity a Socialist as Comrade Waller is now. Only, apparently, as he began to get on a bit in the world, he altered his views to some extent as regards the iniquity of freezing on to a decent share of the doubloons. And that, you see, is where the dim and rusty past begins to get mixed up with the live, vivid present. If any tactless person were to publish those very able speeches made by Comrade Bickersdyke when a bulwark of the Tulse Hill Parliament, our revered chief would be more or less caught bending, if I may employ the expression, as regards his chances of getting in as Unionist candidate at Kenningford. You follow me, Watson? I rather fancy the light-hearted electors of Kenningford, from what I have seen of their rather acute sense of humour, would be, as it were, all over it. It would be very, very trying for Comrade Bickersdyke if these speeches of his were to get about.'


For just one moment Mr Bickersdyke's memory poised motionless, like a hawk about to swoop. Then it darted at the mark. Everything came to him in a flash. The hands of the clock whizzed back. He was no longer Mr John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, lying on a sofa in the Cumberland Street Turkish Baths. He was Jack Bickersdyke, clerk in the employ of Messrs Norton and Biggleswade, standing on a chair and shouting 'Order! order!' in the Masonic Room of the 'Red Lion' at Tulse Hill, while the members of the Tulse Hill Parliament, divided into two camps, yelled at one another, and young Tom Barlow, in his official capacity as Mister Speaker, waved his arms dumbly, and banged the table with his mallet in his efforts to restore calm.

He remembered the whole affair as if it had happened yesterday. It had been a speech of his own which had called forth the above expression of opinion from Strowther. He remembered Strowther now, a pale, spectacled clerk in Baxter and Abrahams, an inveterate upholder of the throne, the House of Lords and all constituted authority. Strowther had objected to the socialistic sentiments of his speech in connection with the Budget, and there had been a disturbance unparalleled even in the Tulse Hill Parliament, where disturbances were frequent and loud….
P.G. Wodehouse Psmith in the city.

Obviously, our socialist candidate will not recant his socialistic sentiments, but hopefully we can bring some frequent and loud disturbances to the by-election debate.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The other candidates

According to twitter and facebook, it looks as if the line-up is going to be the same as in Brixton Hill in January, i.e. us v Labour, Tory, LibDem, Green, UKIP and TUSC. In fact, it looks as if some of these parties will be putting up the same candidates as then. We'll know officially at noon on Tuesday when the list of nominated candidates will be announced.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another local by-election in Lambeth

Due to the sudden death of a Labour councillor, a sudden by-election has been called for 25 July in the Tulse Hill ward of Lambeth council. As this is next door to Brixton Hill ward where we contested a by-election in January, we will be putting up a candidate in this by-election too. Our candidate will be Adam Buick. The nomination papers have already been handed in and accepted. Nominations close tomorrow at noon and it will be interesting to see what the line up will be.

Tulse Hill ward is a safe Labour seat and is part of the parliamentary constituency of Streatham. This is the second by-election in this ward since the last full council elections in May 2010. The result of the last by-election, in July 2010, was:

Labour 1235 (52%)
LibDems 745 (31%)
Green 256 (11%)
Tory 94 (4%)
UKIP 36 (2%)

The turn-out was 21% (which is pronably about what it will be this time too).

The breakdown for the ward (not counting postal votes) in the Greater London Assembly elections in 2012 when we had a candidate in thee Lambeth & Southwark constituency was:

Labour 2233 (64%)
Green 518 (14.8%)
Tory 345 (9.9%)
LibDems 242 (6.9%
Socialist 95 (2.7%)
UKIP 59 (1.7%)

So 95 people in the ward have already recently cast a vote for socialism when given a chance to vote for one or other of the pro-capitalist parties. One of our aims in contesting will be to make contact with them. Leafletting has already started.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The turnout

Official result here, showing that the turnout was 24.2%.

Socialist election activity in Islington

We have stood in Islington before, but mainly in the south, in the Islington South & Finsbury constituency, three times in general elections (1979, 1983 and 1987) and in 1981 in the GLC election. Despite having a super-active branch we never did well in terms of votes or percentages (around 0.2%). This was attributed to the constituency being a marginal Labour/SDP (remember them?) one. But then we contest elections, at the moment, to publicise the case for socialism.

We did contest Islington North (into which Junction ward falls), forty years ago, in the 1973 GLC elections and got one of our best results ever in London:

Labour 7463, Con 2798, Socialist 284 (2.7%)

But no doubt this was in part due to us being the only opposition to the two main parties, but there was an unpopular Tory government in power centrally under Ted Heath.

Our percentage of 0.8% in Junction ward is in fact higher than the 0.3% we got in Vauxhall in the 2010 General Election. If we'd have got that percentage there, we'd have had 300 votes.

We'll probably be back again in the London borough elections in May next year.

Just a bit of fun...

Just a bit more analysis, based on the vote movement:


#Lab 1343 (62% +23%), #Green 381 (18% +6%), #LibDem 276 (13% -27%), #Con 120 (6% -4%) #BNP 31 (1%) #SPGB 18 (1%) #Lab GAIN

Also last night, this ward took a vote too:

St Georges:

#Lab 1,698 (71% +37%), #LibDem 371 (16% -27%), #Green 206 (9% -5%), #Con 87 (4% -6%) #BNP 20 (1%) #Lab HOLD

Noticeably, Labour have gained, hugely. I recall noting when going through our historic London votes how our vote rose during an unpopular Labour regime, and then fell under the Tories, as people veered back to Labour. I would have expected a higher vote for us if we'd stood three years ago, say, in the same ward. Those numbers look horrific for the Lib-Dems (and the Greens in Junction may be soaking up some of their votes and the general protest vote).

Out for the count

If it'd had been an episode of some soap or other, the audience would have tutted at the lazy clich├ęs: the tousle haired besuited Tory; the shabby bejumpered Greens; the studenty Labourites; the naked goat sacrificing Lib Dems (OK, small lie, earnest and bebeiged Lib-Dems); and the BNPers keeping themselves to their own, which in this case meant two lads in bomber jackets and DMs, and an agent-cum-ring master in a smart suite and dodgey glasses.

There were more polling agents than counters, and for some reason they spent the night trying to guess the result, rather than just watching the process for fairness. Why on Earth they were trying to count the votes for their party during the ballot verification count I'll never know. As you'll have seen from the size of the turnout, the whole process didn't take long, about an hour and a half, beginning to end.

I did at least come close to taking Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn's seat from him, when I realised he was sitting on my jacket, but he stood up anyway before I could make that joke. Bum. When the results we announced he cried "Shame!" when the BNP vote was announced. For a while I thought we were in with a chance of beating them (I was disturbed to hear their Glorious leader say they'd only distributed a couple of hundred leaflets on their easier to post-through streets). I spotted him looking twice at a Labourites lap-top why was emblazened with "This machine kills fascists" on it's top, he didn't seem fazed by it.

Thanks and praise are due to the election count staff who did their job efficiently and accurately (and with good humour). Also they gave out a little sheet explaining the process of the night, which I told them other councils haven't done, it was good to have some grasp of the order of events.

The people have spoken...

Labour 1343 (61.9%)
Green 381 (17.6%)
Lib Dem 276 (12.7%)
Con 120 (05.6%)
BNP 31 (01.4%)
Socialist 18 (00.8%)

Turnout:2,181 (24.2%)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vote early, vote once...

Well, that's what I did today. I made my way round the warren of a School to find the ballot box (I kind of went through the wrong door, but was pleased to see, unlike my old school, this primary school has a school council made up of infants, so at least in Islington they are being taught about democracy from a young age).

There was a Labour polling agent, who informed me that they were only checking my number so they didn't come round later knocking me up: I'd be impressed if they were actually organising a get out the vote campaign. More likely, they just want the data for future canvassing purposes.

So, for the third time in my life, I vote me! (No ego kick there, then). I always enjoy voting, it's strange how a quiet prosaic act, so insignificant in itself, can wield such power and, I'll say it, majesty. I look forward to the time when we have enough of a base to put out polling agents and a get out the vote campaign, that's the other lesson of contesting election, you see how it's done and organised, something stay away rrrrrevolutionary groups won't see.

Better late than never

The Islington Gazette's website has this morning published the names of all the candidates. This, apart from the official council communications, is the first time that any of the local media have published the names of all the candidates together. So, in most cases those going to vote will only discover who they can vote for when they get their ballot paper. It is unclear what a team of foreign election observors might make of this. A low turn-out seems inevitable.

No doubt, our candidate, who lives in the ward, will be reporting later today that he voted for himself for a change.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beware of fakes

The ex-Militant Tendency organised a meeting earlier this evening in Archway using our name. Their leaflet for the meeting, about the Whittington hospital, could have caused confusion but, while we can stop them using "Socialist Party" on the ballot paper when they contest elections, unfortunately we can't stop them using this on leaflets. For the election tomorrow we're on the ballot paper as "The Socialist Party (GB)".

We made sure that all 8 people who turned up received a copy of our election address.

Last pushes

Well, I've not done my Robo-leafletter routine this time out, for many and several decidedly pedestrian reasons. I finally got out last night, and, is it me, or are the stairs getting steeper? I only did one street and council estate. I decided to disregard my usual compliance with 'No Junk Mail' stickers, since I was giving out so few. I know our counter argument is that an election address isn't junk mail, but that won't make people actually read it or look to twice to see it isn't a pizza flyer.

I was looking forward to leafletting Aveling House (a reminder of Islington Loony Left days, no doubt), however, I found that having got myself buzzed past the external intercom, that each landing had a locked door/intercom system. Obviously, people on an estate are entitled to feel secure, but there is a democratic question of how we can get to deliver leaflets to them. I know I've ranted about this before.

On my way home, I discovered quite a crowd of Labour activists actually canvassing my street, which is quite intensive to any local election. They didn't call on me, someone must have had the sense to take my name off the list.

Maybe Labour are learning the lesson of Eastleigh, national level elections are won one ward at a time. Certainly, we've now leafletted the entire ward, so thanks and congratulations to hard working comrades for managing that at short notice. I overheard one woman point blank telling the Labour canvassers that she simply wasn't going to vote, I hope there's not too many of them, and of those who do vote, they at least consider the message we have distributed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Turn up again, Dick Whittington

As I write, otherwise placid people are outside, demonstrating. In modern political parlnce, demonstration simply means the right to petition. More pertinently, it means demonstrating how strong you are; how many you are; and just who you are. Clearly, the civil society of Islington, Camden and other nearby boroughs have turned out, and a good couple of thousand are marching in the cold and rain; supported extempore banners from nearby residential windows and the beeped horns of cars. I wonder if politicians take their holidays in summer, because that is the time we'd have bigger and better demos -- best for them to make the unpopular decisions at cold times of the year.

A small group of us turned up at Holloway tube, and handed out our leaflet (based on my blog post, below, about the Whittington sell off). The march passed us by in fifteen minutes, and we got shot of a few hundred leaflets. We'd turned up a bit too early, because I'd suggested meeting at the same time as the march's muster, even though that meant it wouldn't be passing that station for another 45 minutes. My appologies to those who waited in the cold and rain. Our leaflets were taken pleasantly,by the contingents in the march. As predicted, Jeremy Corbin, the Islington North MP, and the leader of Islington Council were at the forefront of the march (actually, behind the jazz band in the bus, only in Islington). The Green Party, Labour Party and even the Liberal Democrats had contingents. There were leafleteers from the SWP, Militant andeven the fabled Socialist Equality Party.

The campaign has already had some success, the hospital had an advert in the Gazette for a series of public meetings, so that's going to be the second chance top make the point clear, whether or not the cuts are stopped or changed, a clear point has been made by the local community.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What they printed

Here's what they printed:

In contrast, Bill Martin, the Socialist party candidate in Junction, highlighted their lack of focus on his election. “My colleagues out and about have run into someone from the Labour party, but it has been a very low key,” he said.

“I haven’t had any leaflets through my door, put it that way. I haven’t seen anything that looks overtly Liberal or Labour in the area, which you do get in other campaigns. I think it’s treading water. I’ve only seen one or two election posters in windows; one was Green and was I think the other was maybe Labour, but that could have been from five years ago.”

The grammar is all wrong as Bill was talking about the Labour campaign not ours. At least people will know we're standing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Talking to the press

I have a horrible habit of just chatting to journalists, forgetting that their lizard brain is constantly on the search for a story angle. I dislike treating them the way that professional politicians do: ignore what they ask, give them your prepared statement, and duck and weave around inconvenient questions. Of course, these formats are a game, and both sides know they're playing.

Anyway, I got a call from someone at a local news outlet call Islington Now. His line he was trying to establish was that the Liberal Democrats and Labour aren't really campaigning in Junction Ward, because it is expected to be a Labour victory, and there is a tighter contest in St. George's. I said that local elections don't normally see much action, and by-elections often less, since, given the participants usually have to actually have to work, the lack of a decent lead in to take holidays and plan (and the like) means activity will be limited.

I did point out that the Whittington Campaign is predominating in the area, and that, unlike other campaigns I've seen around London, no party was trying to get their name on the campaign (I was thinking of a campaign to stop a Police station closure in Willesden Green a couple of years ago I'd seen where the Lib-Dems put they're name over lots of posters).

I told him we expected to come last: best be honest with journalists, eh? But that it was quality not quantity that counted. We don't want people to vote for us, unless they mean it and understand what socialism is. I also said our platform was to promise nothing: if they vote for us, they're making the promise. Promising to campaign and fight for socialism, and letting their fellow workers know this.

We'll have to see what comes of the chat.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A day's leafletting

Most of the ward was leafletted yesterday by 5 of us. Only about 400 or 500 of the 3000 leaflets remain and a few streets near suicide bridge to cover. We met a Green canvasser and a Labour one and saw some LibDem leaflets but no sign of the Tories or the BNP. The Green leaflet called for a 20mph speed limit on Holloway Road, but as Holloway Road is the A1, the main road out of London to the North and three lanes both ways in some parts, this seems a bit nimbyish. The Labour man said that he had explained to his fellow Labourites that we were not trotskyists. We thanked him. After the leafletting we went to a local pub for a drink just in time to see the start of the Ireland-France rugby match. It turned out to be an Irish pub and when the Irish national anthem (the Soldiers' Song) was played a couple of the customers stood up to attention, the ejeets. A reminder that this used to be an Irish area with an Irish MP.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The cuts and what to do about them

Although this is not an issue in this election as there is no candidate standing on anti-cuts programme promising to oppose all cuts, this passage from an introduction to a reprint a couple of years ago to a pamphlet Unwaged Fightback: A History of the Islington Action Group of the Unwaged, 1980-1986 makes the same point as us against this strategy:

In Islington itself, Labour councillors implement savage cuts to services one day and lead the 'anti-cuts' marches the next. During the 1980s rate-capping struggles many people invested much support and hope in their elected representatives; disillusion was probably bound to follow, partly because brave lefty leaders get cold feet, or end up sacking workers and making cuts in the end ('with a heavy heart'), usually on the grounds that it's better for them to be in charge than someone worse, they have no choice. In reality they do have little choice, because their real room to manoeuvre IS limited, by central government funding, legal obligations, and so on, even more now than in the '80s.
What to do, then? Harry Lynch, the author of the 2011 introduction, says:

It would be great to have an independent workers movement, that answered both austerity and attempts to co-opt rebellion by Labour councillors, union full-timers, and professional lefties with the proper politeness: occupy the lot, strike, not for a day but for good, and lets run the world ourselves. Time will tell as to if that develops, and how.

Yes, of course. If such a movement existed, then socialism would be just round the corner, not that staging a syndicalist General Strike to try to overthrow capitalism would be the most intelligent way of proceeding.

Still, it is true that, given capitalism in an economic crisis, there is not much that workers can do other than protest in the hope of getting a few exemptions or slowing the cuts down.

The real lesson is that, since all that capitalism has to offer is austerity and cuts, we should concentrate on organising to bring it to an end by political action aimed at ushering in a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that there can be produce for directly for use and not for profit, and distribution on the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". Socialism.

Ah, go on then...

Some rotten buggers seem to have found footage of a previous time I stood as a candidate, when I attended the GLA Hustings at the famous location of the Putney debates...

Obviously (very obviously) it's the case not the face that counts, and the clip does give (very briefly) the case.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Our election address

Here's our leaflet (click to enlarge). The first 400 were distributed today. As the last post said, the big issue seems to be Whittington Hospital as there are a number of "Save Whittington Hospital" posters from the Labour Party in people's windows. This is Labour territory, where Old Labourite Jeremy Corbyn is the MP.

A BNP sympathiser claimed that there was a website He's right. There is, but it's So what? They are just propertyless workers moving from one part of the world to another in search of an income on which to live. As it's a local election, as EU citizens, they can also vote. Perhaps we should do a leaflet in Polish. In the meantime there's the articles on the World Socialist Movement website.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Save the Whittington

The big issue in the Junction ward by-election is the campaign to save the Whittington Hospital, and their plans for a major sell off of land and reduction in beds, see here.
On Wednesday 23 January 2013, the Whittington Health Trust Board agreed an estates strategy that will see more services provided in health centres across Haringey and Islington. The strategy responds to the health trends of our local population. More people are receiving healthcare in their homes, health centres and GP surgeries. Technology will increasingly support more care, especially for people with long term conditions. The frail elderly are often best cared for in community settings. Over time, the dependency on hospital wards will decrease, which will see some staff relocate to health centres.
You could expect, if clinical need was the driver of the change, that they would roll out the community service, and then reduce beds and staff accomodation based on proven reduced need. This press release from a local MP suggests this is at least nominally the case:
Following a meeting with Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill, the Whittington Hospital has offered assurances that no services will be lost during their reorganization until equal or better replacement services are in place.
It is more likely, that the below quote from another of their leaflets is the real driver(PDF):
All hospitals are obliged to become Foundation Trusts or risk acquisition by other Foundation Trusts – our investment plans are a major part of our effort to become a Foundation Trust.
This is the reality, and why the hospital is threatened (again), and will be (again) even if the campaign succeeds. Hospitals forced to behave like businesses rather than providing a needs based service must start looking at the value of their estate as a priority. The position of the Socialist Party is clear: we will not campaign for election based on supporting any given set of reforms: but we do support the struggle of workers to defend their living standards and services (indeed, Unite The Union is at the forefront of the Whittington Campaign). We will not seek to take over the campaign like so many other organisations do. It's too easy for a Councillor or an MP to campaign to Save our Hospital/School/Police Station, because they can't lose. If the campaign succeeds it was because of them, if it fails it was despite their valliant efforts. If elected to council, our delegate will vote, as instructed, in the interests of the workers, but we won't kid on that we will be the saviors of them. Our election promise is to fight for the common ownership of the wealth of the world so that our health needs can be met directly without commercial consideration. That is the real issue behind the repeated campaigns to "Save the Whittington", as government funds are squeezed by falling commercial profits (and thus reduced tax take) they seek to cut or commercialise the costs of health care.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

A press cutting

This week's Islington Gazette mentions that we are standing. Their main article on the by-elections (there are two on the same day, but we are only contesting one) will obviously be appearing next week or the week after. What it says can be found on page 6 here:

New Hopeful
A new leftwing candidate has entered the fray in the forthcoming Junction ward by-election. Bill Martin, 36, a university librarian, who lives in Hargrave Road, Archway, will stand for the Socialist Party of Great Britain on March 21.

In the meantime the 3000 election leaflets arrived in Clapham. Distribution starts next week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BNP also standing

The official list of candidates was published at noon today.

As can be seen the BNP is standing. They seem to prefer North London. The last time we clashed directly with them, in the Kentish Town ward in Camden in 2010, they got 180 votes; we got 113.

The Islington Gazette phoned for details this afternoon. We sent them the manifesto, some details of the candidate (but no photo) and this soundbite:

Democracy won't mean much until we can actually run our own community,and that won't be possible until we collectively own and control the wealth of the world. That's why the Socialist Party is putting me up as a candidate in this by-election.

Let's see what appears on Friday.