Sunday, April 29, 2018

With the farmers in Barnes

Two members at the stall in Barnes yesterday. We started early as the Tories and LibDem/Greens (with a joint stall) were already there when we arrived at 11.30. Finished early too, at 1pm, when the Farmers Market ended and they went.

Some passers-by told us they had already received our leaflet through their letterbox. A Tory backwoodsman told us to "go back to Russia". We suggested that they did as Russia was now capitalist even by their standards as opposed to the state capitalism it was with the USSR. Another, a rather more up-to-date, Tory remembered an active SPGB group at UCL in the 1980s. Met a couple of Labourites. They are standing here but are not running any sort of campaign and will only have put up candidates to give their supporters a chance to vote for what they want -- a quite legitimate reason, one of the reasons we are standing too. As Eugene Debs put it, it is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.

Afterwards, we distributed some of the surplus leaflets in another part of Barnes not in the ward.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

LibDem-Green Election Pact

As we suspected from the LibDems putting up only 2 candidates and the Greens only 1 for the 3 council seats in Barnes ward (four years ago they each put up 3 candidates), they have done an electoral deal. As this is sort of historic in terms of conventional politics, we record what an item in a leaflet distributed in the ward says:
Greens Back Lib Dems to WIN
The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have decided to work together to help bring an end to eight years of Conservative misrule. In twelve areas there will be three Lib Dem candidates and no green candidates. In Barnes, South Richmond and Ham, Petersham & Richmond Riverside there will be two Lib Dem candidates and one Green candidate.
Of course this is just two reformist parties getting together and won't make any difference to solving problems the excluded majority face under capitalism or to the way capitalism operates, and must operate, to put profits before people. As an outgoing LibDem councillor, Penny Frost, noted in another leaflet distributed in Ham, Petersham & Riverside ward:
Even housing associations are now more interested in speculative development than in looking after their elderly and vulnerable tenants.
What do you expect? That's the way of the capitalist world.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The case not the face

Here is the article and photo from yesterday's Southwark News mentioned in the last blog:

By contrast, today's local Richmond paper, The Richmond & Twickenham Times (which has become a real rag compared with what it used to be), has nothing whatsoever on the elections. When they mentioned them a couple of weeks ago they got their facts wrong and had to publish a correction last week (they said there were no Labour councillors in Richmond whereas there were two, defections from the LibDems to Corbyn, though it's true there won't be any after next week).

Thursday, April 26, 2018

More hustings

Southwark seems to be the place. Last Thursday our candidate, Kevin Parkin, attended a hustings organised by the Bankside Residents Forum. He reports that it was an acrimonious meeting with the Labourites and LibDems playing the blame game about housing. He was able to make the point that in a capitalist society houses are built for profit not social use, hence the problems. On Monday morning this week there was another hustings, organised by the Southwark Pensioners Action Group. Our candidates always get a good reception at such meetings; quite a few leaflets handed out.

Today's Southwark News has photos of all the candidates, including ours standing next to our logo (a compromise between competing points of view in our party between those who say we should supply a photo when asked and those who say we should only send a logo -- in Lambeth we used to provide a photo of Danny Lambert speaking off our platform with the website address showing). Also, a short statement of what we stand for: a society of common ownership, democratic control, production to satisfy people's needs not for profit, and the principle "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".

No report of hustings in Islington or Richmond. Leafletting has continued in both places. In fact whole of Barnes ward except for some mansions (and blocks of flats you can't get into) has now been leafletted. 400 of the 3000 ordered left over but branch members should be able to distribute more at the street stall in Barnes (Church Road) on Saturday from 12 noon to 2pm.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Housing Crisis Hustings

Hustings last night in Peckham, organised by the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations, with speakers from Labour, LibDems, Greens and us. The Tories were invited but apparently are boycotting all hustings. About 40 people present. The main theme was housing, a major problem in Southwark due to demand for housing near the Thames with easy and quick access to central London driving up land prices, so making it profitable even for the council to encourage up-market housing projects proposed by developers. This has given rise to criticism of "social cleansing". In fact the hustings was filmed by someone making a film on the subject.

Our candidate, Kevin Parkin, said that we had nothing against tenants association -- he himself was vice-president of his local one -- anymore than we were against trade unions; but they were only defensive organisations for workers under capitalism; the solution to problems workers faced could only be found within socialism; the housing problem, for instance, arose because under capitalism houses were built for profit.

Councillor Peter John, the Labour Leader of the Council, conceded at one point that councils could only tinker with the problem as long as they had to rely on profit-seeking businesses to build houses; to get (so-called) "affordable housing" (80 percent of the market rate, still unaffordable for most people in an area of rising land prices) they had to do deals with developers which allowed these to make a profit.

This is true. Having to provide social housing reduces their profits, so if pushed to provide too much the "developer" can simply walk away, resulting in no "affordable housing". Peter John said this could only be rectified by national legislation to allow councils to build houses themselves. This of course (though he didn't say so) would still involve paying money to capitalists as the money to finance this would have to be borrowed from the money market.

The LibDem representative, Tim McNally, billed as "a former Councillor and Cabinet Member" was completely demagogic, promising to stand up to the developers and accusing Councillor John of being in bed with them, as if the LibDem/Tory coalition, of which he was a Cabinet Member, that had run the council from 2006 to 2010 hadn't had to behave in the same way. For instance, here is what a what a Tory former Cabinet Member of that coalition, the one in charge of Housing, Kim Humphries (now, incidentally, himself a Developer -- the revolving door operates at local council level too),said at a hustings for the 2008 Greater London Assembly election in April 2008:
Councillor Humphries was surprisingly honest. He was against having a quota of "affordable housing" in all new housing developments as this could sabotage such schemes. In other words, would reduce the profits of the developers who would take their money and invest it somewhere else where they could make a bigger profit.
The Green representative wanted people to be nice to each other.

The SWP were selling "Socialist Worker" outside the venue.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Activity yesterday

Five, including a comrade visiting from New Zealand, were out in King Street, Hammersmith (just over the bridge from Barnes ward of Richmond where we are standing) running a street stall for a couple of hours. Nearby was a rival stall from the European Movement handing out anti-Brexit leaflets calling for another referendum.

As our election leaflets won't be arriving until Monday we handed out the one "The problem is not the Tories ... it's capitalism" which also has a tear-off freepost reply coupon. Must have given out 200-300. Two responses that day to Head Office by phone and email (well above par for the course). Also sold a couple of Socialist Standards and a couple of pamphlets. We don't know how many of the passers-by were from Barnes (not that it really matters), but we met a Green Party candidate standing in Chelsea & Kensington.

Meanwhile in Peckham on the other side of London our candidate in Borough & Bankside ward of Southwark, Kevin Parkin, told a hustings on planning and regeneration there that the problem of houses left empty to speculate on rising prices existed in his area of the borough too and was a consequence of housing, like everything else under capitalism, being produced for profit not for use.

Friday, April 13, 2018

TUSC resurfaces

The Trotskyist front organisation TUSC has reappeared after giving all Labour candidates a free run at the last general election. They are standing one candidate in Southwark, Gary Kandinsky, in North Bermondsey ward, on a reformist programme of course. No doubt we will have a chance to expose his non-socialism at some of the hustings.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hustings in Southwark

We have received one invitation to a hustings in Southwark and know of two others.

The invitation is from the Southwark Pensioners Action Group from 10am to noon on Monday 23 April in the Crypt at St. Peter's Church, Liverpool Grove, Walworth, SE17 2HH.

The other two are:

Saturday 14 April 3pm to 5pm at Christ Church Peckham, 676-680 Old Kent Road, SE15 1JF on Planning & Regeneration, organised by Southwark Planning Network.

Wednesday 18 April 7pm to 9pm at Bells Gardens Community Centre, 19 Buller Close, SE15 6UJ on Housing, organised by the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations.

As a pensioner and member of a tenants organisation our candidate, Kevin Parkin, happens to be overqualified to attend the ones on 18 and 23 April but, as a football fan, may find the one this Saturday afternoon difficult to fit into his calendar but should be able to get back in time for the Big Match.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Who are opponents are

The list of candidates has now been publshed.

In Islington Junction ward there are 13 condidates for the 3 seats: 3 each from Labour, the Tories, the LibDems and the Greens, and us.

In Richmond Barnes ward there are 10: 3 each from the Tories and Labour, 2 from the LibDems, 1 Green, and us.

In Southwark Borough & Bankside ward there are 14: 3 each from Labour, the Tories, the LibDems and the Greens, and 1 each from us and the Women's Equality Party (their headquarters are in the ward).

Saturday, April 07, 2018


Visited Barnes today to find a spot to set up a literature stall (the branch is planning one there on Saturday 28 April from noon till 2pm). Found one, where the Tories had one today. Spoke to them, said we were standing and gave them a leaflet. It turned out that one of them was Paul Hodgins, who is standing in Barnes ward and is the current Leader of the Council.

Plenty of Tory placards in gardens saying "I'm voting to keep weekly rubbish collections" (talk about parish pump politics !). Only one Liberal one. According to a leaflet found in a rubbish box, the LibDems have formed a coalition here with the Greens, presenting a joint list and leaflet of 2 LibDems and 1 Green for the 3 council seats up for grabs. No doubt payback to the Greens for not standing in the December 2016 parliamentary by-election and so helping the LibDems to unseat the Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith (he got back in, just, at last year's general election).

No Tory posters in the northern part of the ward near Hammersmith Bridge, where the residents are less well off. Crossed the bridge into Hammersmith to find a spot for a stall there (planned for next Saturday 14 April at noon). Plenty of room in King Street. In fact, the main reason for contesting Barnes is its proximity to Hammersmith where the branch has to decided to concentrate its activity.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Nominations all accepted

The nomination papers for us to stand in the three wards have now all been accepted, We won't know who our opponents are till after nominations close at noon on Friday.