The Socialist Unity Network

First response to the GLA elections

Will McMahon

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

Mayoral Vote


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.


Constituency votes


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.




June 2004

Read the run down of the London RESPECT votes here

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