Saturday, 22 May 2010

Inaugral meeting of Progressive and Socialist Parties

My good friend Pete McLaren and I have taken the initiative and decided to call a meeting of local community, progressive and socialist parties. The gathering will be seeking to explore the possibility of establishing a national network representative body. More importantly the meeting will seek to share knowledge, information and experience. The meeting is an invitational meeting. To date more than 6 local and regional parties have indicated they are interested in attending. The meeting will be held on 24th July in Rugby. The Tory / Lib-Dem government should have announced its clear target of slashes in public expenditure, throwing many thousands of working people onto the dole. Many local parties will be joining and supporting local campaigns to defend services and jobs and hopefully will be able share their experience.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Where next for the left

Hard to spot the difference ?
Lets be honest, whichever complexion of government had got in they would of carried out a series of savage cuts in public expenditure. The prospects for the left in the coming years could bring real benefits, but the outcome of the General Election for the left in terms of votes was poor. It would have been better for our class and our long term project of building a new party of the left if Labour had won -partly because illusions in Labour would have been stretched to the limit and some may have peeled away more easily to a new left formation. In the pending election for a new leader in the Labour Party, when I get my ballot paper from my union Unite, I will again be voting for the most right wing candidate on the ballot paper in the hope of one of the Milliband brothers continuing the rightward march of Labour Party & continuing a decline in support of working people for Labour. Only 29% of voters, voted Labour, which continues the downward trend of working people supporting Labour. However all of the organisations of the far left got very poor votes, less than 1% of votes on average and we have to question if a party with an out socialist programme is the way forward. Far better to form an anti capitalist broad left progressive party with key socialist demands but seek to appeal to a wide progressive left. What is wrong with the left coming together as the "Left Party" Interestingly our local party in Lewisham, 'People Before Profit' was picking up votes across the broad political spectrum, including Tory voters splitting their ticket!

Lewisham People Before Profit met this week to review our election work and the tasks that lie ahead -both locally and nationally. I circulated a discussion paper and floated some ideas of what strategy and tactics we should consider. It is clear that the Tory/Lib-Dem government is going to mount a massive programme of £6b in savage cuts to public expenditure, leading to thousands of job losses. The ques outside the polling stations on the 6th May are going to be matched by the ques of people outside job centres! Ian Page and Chris Flood, former SP Cllrs. were both present at the meeting and indicated they would be continuing their local campaigning. So many of Labour's paper candidates were elected, it is likely we are going to see a rash of by-elections in the future. PB4P will be seeking to support and help found local campaigning groups that are likely to rise up in the face of closing of services.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Well done to all our candidates in the local elections in Lewisham. We gained more than 13,000 votes for our 21 council candidates, John Hamilton for Mayor and George Hallam for Lewisham East. As party agent for our ward candidates, I attended the final count for Grove Park ward at lunchtime today. The ward has been a Tory strong hold for some time and they held on to x2 seats, but lost one to Labour. The Tories came close to losing another by 3 votes!. Harold Shalet our candidate gained 171 votes, so may have had a decisive effect on the result!
We gained some impressive votes in New Cross, our target ward. Susanna obtained over 600 votes. We also gained good votes in Brockley, Lewisham Central and Ladywell, where we were able to put out a leaflet. John Hamilton improved by 1000 his vote, despite the tide of votes in favour of Labour.
As I thought, our socialist comrades in Telegraph Hill did not survive. Ian Page and Chris Flood, despite getting their highest ever vote did not make it against the Labour tide. Working people were desperate to try and stop a Tory government at all costs and voted Labour down the line. I have never seen people queuing to vote in a British election -in New Cross, people were jumping off the bus, with poll cards in their hands, frantic to make it to the polling station before it closed at 10pm. At All Staints Church Hall polling station we even had a 'lock in' after 10pm, allowing people to vote who had been waiting for over an hour.
The Greens in Lewisham were also hit hard with -but they only have themselves to blame! We repeatedly offered to enter into an arrangement with them regarding candidates in Ladywell and Brockley but they refused and were determined to put at risk the socialists in Telegraph Hill by standing a full slate and running an active campaign -gaining more than 1000 votes for their leading candidate. It is important that we come to some 'pact' or arrangement at the next election where perhaps we only stand one candidate where the other party is strong. With some work our votes in a number of wards suggest we will get a much higher vote than the Greens -Bellingham, Catford South, Sydenham for example.
Importantly however, gaining votes was not our real aim in standing in the election. What we were seeking to do was establish our party and organisation, gain members and supporters. We can build our borough party in the struggles against the cuts that we are going to face in the coming years.