First response to the GLA elections
My immediate response to the London votes is that
they are very good. Obviously, falling short of the list place by 8,000
votes is a disappointment but some real areas of strength have emerged
and comrades have a lot to be proud of in this election. Not everything
was good news, in two GLA constituencies the vote fell, but overall the
vote was a good step forward for the left. It has been noticeable that
the broadcast media immediately responded to Respect’s vote and we began
to be mentioned in news reports and, for those of you who have digital,
on the crawler at the bottom of the screen.
Points of immediate interest
In the mayoral vote we beat both the Greens and the
BNP by some distance and emerged as the left alternative to New Labour.
Just as we shocked the Greens in Hackney over the Paul Foot vote in 2002
so we did the same across London in 2004. Make no mistake, this is an
excellent performance by Lindsey German. Darren Johnson, the Green
candidate, has had widespread coverage in the media, the Greens were
promoted by the Independent (who on a point of principle refused to
mention Respect except when to attack it) and were mentioned daily on
the BBC website and in the London Evening Standard, where Darren Johnson
was given a lot of daily coverage. For out part we had to fight for
coverage by mass campaigning and through the local borough papers such
as the Hackney Gazette as the broadcast media and mainstream newspapers
did their best to imagine we were not there. The IWCA performed badly.
The only other left challenge that I know of in
London was the CPB who stood against Dean Ryan in North East London.
Dean got 11,184 (8.03%) votes almost 3,000 and 2% more than last time
The CPB received 1,378 votes – just under 1%. The Greens received 16,739
votes or about 12%, This means that the left of new Labour vote in North
East London was 21%. It is now self –evident that Respect needs to
re-engage with the Green party and the CPB this summer to make sure that
we can do our best to reach an agreement well before the General
Election. Respect received 275 votes less than UKIP who had a
substantial media bandwagon.
The List vote
In 2001 the SA got 1.55% on the list. Various other
left groupings such as the SLP at CATP combined with the SA vote came
to 3.73%. The 2004 list vote of 4.57% was very good and excruciatingly
close to getting a seat. 4.57 across the whole of London is a real
achievement. There are three steps forward to be noted in this vote.
First, Respect has no challengers from the left to speak of. Second,
there is a lot of support for Respect in the poorer inner London areas
and this is significant for the upcoming General election and perhaps
more importantly, the local elections in 2006. Third, this vote was
built on the basis of a new alliance to the left of Labour that brought
in substantial number of minority ethnic voters who were opposed to the
war. This represents a major achievement and presages even larger
electoral gains in the future if we can build on these relationships and
construct new ones.
Out of 14 GLA constituencies Respect got higher
votes in 12 and lower votes in 2 in comparison with the 2000 left
campaign. The most stunning vote was the near 20,000 by Oliur Rahman in
City and East (Tower Hamlets and Newham) who beat the Liberal Democrats.
As mentioned, Dean Ryan did very well as did Sait Akgul in Enfield and
Haringey where the 5.52% result must mean a core vote of well over 10%
in Haringey. Also worth a mention is Redbridge and Havering where
almost 4% was reached in very unpromising territory. In other outer
London areas we did better than I expected. The two areas where the
vote fell need some explanation but this must come from people involved
in the local campaign. Greenwich and Lewisham was Ian Page’s seat as an
SP members and local councillor. I don’t know but can only image that
the SP used the campaign to focus locally, as is their tactic, but a
comment from someone in the area would help. Quite what happened in
Lambeth and Southwark is not clear as of yet but we need to learn fast
what the problems were to help make sense of that result.