Friday, April 28, 2006

local elections, what would be a good result?

My article on what would be a good result for the left in the local elections has now been published. The whole article is here:

But is you want to skip the argument and leap to the conclusion, this is how the article ends:

Generally, in local elections left of labour candidates except where there are special circumstances, get votes of around 2% or 4%. Anything above that is good, and suggests that the campaign has some resonance, anything below that suggests that you are doing something wrong: perhaps your leaflets shouldn’t have mentioned the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Hegelian dialectic after all.But we also have to judge what the impact of our campaigns is on developing networks of relationships with other activists in the town, the degree to which it is having an impact on the local Labour party. How many activists are involved in the campaign, etc. Crudely these factors will be reflected in the size of the vote as well.

In local elections it doesn’t matter so much that the left are standing under different banners, and we can all play to our own local strengths. I am hoping that when we look at the elections outside East London that we will see an average vote of around 4%, with some isolated results above 10%. That would be progress on the Socialist Alliance. Except in areas where there may be large Moslem populations I am not expecting Respect to do any better than the rest of the left.So what about Tower Hamlets and Newham? Galloway has set the bar high by suggesting that they will win control of a council, more likely they will end up with small but significant opposition groups on both councils. This will both be a big step forward, and also a very significant challenge. Once they have a few councillors it will no longer be enough to talk about Iraq, they will have to deal with next year’s budget, and can they hold their coalition together to lead a militant mass campaign for better funding, which may include surcharges on councillors?

It is an exciting prospect that a group of Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets could lead a fight over the issue of the Council tax, which is an issue that transcends the exceptional nature of their predominantly Moslem vote. Galloway has said it his ambition to fly the Palestinian flag over the town hall, but remember when John Lawrence was leader of St Pancras council in the 1950s he flew the red flag over the town hall – are Respect ready to take up that example?

However it pans out, if Respect win a significant group on either council this could provides the platform for the left with a practical basis for collaboration in a struggle against the council tax, and local government underfunding. It is through such practical collaboration over specific concrete projects that a new left can be built, and which could pull the Greens behind us.


Jim Jay said...

Just seen the Lib Dem election broadcast - and leaving aside the bizarre circus music triumphalism -it's clear this is becoming the green election.

I'm fascinated as to how this will play for the Greens themselves. On the one hand you could say it may undercut their vote with people telling themselves that if the main parties all take the environment seriously there is no point to voting Green.

But, and I think this is more likely, it will raise the profile of the issue and more people will vote for the 'real deal' who actually have a commitment to the environment rather than simply raising it to win votes.

This kind of propaganda legitimises the debate without necessarily convincing the electorate that those raising the issue actually care about it.

Much the same could well happen with the BNP vote with the main parties legitimising their racism (particularly since this vile scare mongering over 'foreign criminals') raising the concern among the electorate and inadvertantly inciting them to vote for the BNP.

The Greens record vote in '89 came on the back of Thatcher making a series of speeches on the environment (oh yes, the Tories have done this before) so the precedent is that the greening of the election could be very good for the Greens indeed.

Possibly prompting Hewitt to say "this has been best Labour local election result ever" as their vote goes into total meltdown.

AN said...

Yes the Charles Clarke issue started as simple vile racism, and the argument from JOhn O of NCADC is correct that foreiegn nationals who are deported after gaol are facing a double punichment.

But i think the subject has additional legs over the fact that he has sought to spin his way out of it, and that feeds into the whole New Labour sleaze story.

I feel a bit sorry for Prezza though

Jim Jay said...

Prescott? Don't know if I do or not - his private life has no bearing - Major had an affair whilst he was PM and was able to fuck up the country just as effectively as if he had stayed faithful - but isn't there some question of tax payers money going to finance his dirty weekends? That is an issue if true I'd have thought - it's not as if he can't afford a hotel bill on his wages...

But most importantly can we call a fatwah on Hewitt?

AN said...

Interestingly –In fact Council tax, and local government funding is not on Respect’s list of pledges for the East End.
Perhaps a Respect supporter would like to explain why?

Respect’s East End Charter

Tower Hamlets should be the most democratic, just, green and publicly accountable council in the country. It should put people before profit. The council should defend its residents from the power of big corporations and be a showcase for high quality houses and services.
But Tower Hamlets’ New Labour council is committed to a big business privatisation agenda. It wants to privatise council housing, drive Crossrail through the borough and sell-off council services, like the youth service, to private firms.
Most people in Tower Hamlets don’t want their borough turned into a haven for the rich, like the Isle of Dogs, with the ordinary residents treated like second class citizens.
They want properly funded, publicly accountable council services.
They don’t want their councillors to be wedded to private firms. And they don’t want the sleaze and corruption that comes when public servants start selling services to big corporations.
The Respect East End Charter is about ending corruption and restoring local democracy. These are 10 changes Respect would make immediately.
• End all council house privatisation
• Spend the £45 million the council has in reserve on housing repairs and refurbishment
• Sack all the private consultants and save the £6 million they are paid in fees
• Oppose privatised City Academy schools and campaign for more teachers in the classroom
• Reverse the council policy of privatising youth services. Open more youth centres and recruit more youth workers
• Open more pensioners clubs and improve care for vulnerable and disabled people.
• Give a fair deal to leaseholders
• Protect our green spaces from private development. We will make Tower Hamlets the most environmentally friendly borough in Britain.
• Stop Crossrail. Crossrail is to link the City to Canary Wharf. We need an integrated transport policy to meet the needs of ordinary residents.
• Stop the War. Don’t attack Iran. Make Tower Hamlets the first anti-war council in Britain