Election results - what should the Left do now -
locally, north west, nationally?
Do we need to build a national organisation of socialists to fight elections?
Or should we all be joining Respect?
Can we only succeed with a fairer electoral system?
Or should socialists not be involved in elections at all?
"People not Profits", a group of Greater Manchester socialist activists who
believe it is time to make a stand against privatisation, are holding a meeting
to discuss the outcome of the election - and what this means for public services
- on Tuesday May 17th at 7.30 pm at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester
(just behind the Central Library). Invited participants include Green Party,
Respect, Socialist Party, Merseyside Socialist Alliance, and the independent
candidate against PFI in Manchester Withington (where the useless labour MP lost
his seat to the Lib Dems).
Anyone on the left who is interested in putting forward an argument about what
to do next, or just contributing to the discussion, is welcome to come and
While Labour has returned to office, on policies of privatisation, EU
militarisation, increased nuclear weapons (and power), further restrictions of
civil liberties, continued occupation of Iraq, its majority has been dented and
the Labour left may feel they have strengthened their position within
Parliament. The Lib Dems seem to have benefited from opposition to the war, and
seats in Greater Manchester have been lost by Labour as a result. Respect has
succeeded dramatically in East London, and also gained good results in seats in
Birmingham, Tottenham and Leicester. In the North West, Respect in Preston
maintained the earlier success of the Socialist Alliance and saved its deposit,
and gained 2.5% in the other seat it stood in, Stretford. Socialists and
progressive independents mostly got a few hundred votes - across the spectrum of
greens, socialist organisations, Respect and so on - the Green Party did get
4.5% in both Manchester Central and Withington constituencies and the Community
Action Party saved two deposits in the Wigan and Leigh areas.
The fascists didn't break through anywhere, but saved many deposits, as did
UKIP, sometimes both fighting in the same seats to this effect. With Labour and
Tories having laid the groundwork for racism, the far right has found it easy to
capitalise on this - the danger still remains that if Labour isn't challenged
from the left, it will be the fascists who fill any vacuum arising politically.
On the other hand, the present election system does not work in our favour.
First past the post, in constituencies not representing natural communities,
with non-registration of many poorer and migrant populations, and postal vote
systems that work against face-to-face campaigning, add strength to the argument
for a fairer electoral system. But can any system, under capitalism, favour
socialists and democratic socialist organisation? Should we be campaigning,
rather than electioneering?
If you want to add to this debate, we look forward to seeing you on May 17th.