…for the June 4th bloodbath. The only stories in the local elections are the high number of BNP candidates, and the widespread use of non-local paper candidates by all main parties, the Greens and Labour in particular. Both these stories are linked though, in the sense that most of the BNP candidates are mere paper candidates, many of whom don’t actually live in the ward they are standing in.
I’m not sure why this is allowed, presumably to allow mainstream parties to stand candidates in areas with few or no members, using members from areas where they have a ‘surplus’. Much of the debate over the local and European elections seems to centred on whipping up hysteria about the BNP threat, with dire predictions of huge votes and several seats.
Much of this talk is predicated on certain assumptions, and has led to some politically clueless conclusions (the one cautioning against criticising MPs expenses, lest it generate a mood of ‘anti-politics’ and therefore benefit the BNP is a classic of the genre, and ignores the role the thieving parasites have played in stoking up ‘anti-politics’ and BNP support), most notably by Andy Newman and some of his friends over at the Socialist Unity blog.
The Newmanite tendency, closely linked to UAF strategy, is to focus on one election at a time, and not really develop any long-term strategy to fight the BNP, which would necessitate the formation of a new workers’ party. The problem of focusing on one election at a time is that tactics are developed that, in backing the corrupt mainstream parties, are not only harmful to the long-term prospects of fighting the BNP, but utterly ineffective even on its own terms of defeating the BNP in a particular election.
The majority of those who vote BNP do so not because they are fascists or racists (though they may harbour some racist or xenophobic views), but because they feel abandoned, betrayed and ignored by the main parties, Labour in particular. This anger manifests itself in voting for the only party which says they stand up for working class people and advocate faux-social democratic policies on housing and the railways. The idea that you can defeat the BNP by calling for a vote for establishment parties is clearly irrational, and designed to secure broad (read respectable) support for anti-fascism.
The idea, advanced by Newman amongst others, that calling for a vote for the Greens will stop the BNP is utterly ludicrous. It may be that in this election all that is needed to stop the BNP in a particular region is for the Green vote to be higher to hoover up the last seat, but it is fallacious to suggest that workers will vote en masse for the Greens.
The Greens, notwithstanding a small leftist minority, are predominatly an urban middle class liberal party, anti-working class, with no interest in issues outside of the environment and woolly noises about fair trade. Bear in mind the wonderful progressive Green MEPs we already have voted for the pro-privatisation Postal Services Directive, and board the EU gravy train like the rest of them (UKIP included).
Only the presence of an avowedly pro-worker party can prise away votes from the BNP. The only two that are standing nationally are the Socialist Labour Party and No2EU-Yes To Democracy. There is much wrong with both of these initiatives, but at least they provide a left wing choice in a field otherwise dominated by neo liberals, and other right wing detritus.
The Socialist Labour Party does seem to be hamstrung by the fact it has a burning desire to prove everyone who thinks it is simply an Arthur Scargill personality cult entirely correct. Their official designation on the ballot papers is to be ‘Socialist Labour Party (LEADER ARTHUR SCARGILL)’, and that is their capitalisation, not me. The respect I have for Arthur Scargill as a working class leader, makes his descent into the petty dictator of a tiny Stalinist sect rather sad and tragic. This is a ghost of an organisation, and their decision to stand seems odd.
Which just leaves No2EU-Yes to Democracy. The organisation, which has militant RMT Gen Sec Bob Crow as its figurehead, has the support (financial as well as political so far as I can tell) of the RMT, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Socialist Party (SP).
There do seem to be some impressive figures standing, most notably the sacked Linamar convenor Rob Williams in Wales, John Foster and Tommy Sheridan in Scotland, former Militant Labour MP Dave Nellist in the West Midlands and several prominent figures in the Visteon occupations in London and the South East.
The programme of the party, and the literature on the website, does seem to veer into left nationalism, though there have been some sound noises about internationalism and workers unity, and the Lindsey Dispute is highlighted, correctly in my view, as a good example of British and foreign workers making links to defeat the employers and rail against the pro-capitalist legislation of the European Union.
The whole thing does seem to have been a last-minute lash up, and they don’t seem to have managed to get anything in the mainstream media, but imperfections aside, it does look like a promising initiative, and on the whole the programme is decent enough, and the list of candidates and supporters very impressive.
I would hope that this isn’t the end of it, that a similar initiative be prepared well in advance of the next general election. But for this election at least, No2EU gets my vote, and if anything’s going to stop the BNP, its would-be BNP voters switching to the pro-worker No2EU bloc.