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.