Before you all jump off a bridge…

…I can reveal that it’s not as bad as it seems.  Yes, although the BNP gained two seats last night and the left in Britain were nowhere I believe there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.  Not just because the left scored some excellent victories across Europe, most notably the Socialist Party in Ireland, the Left Front in France  Die Linke in Germany and the Left Bloc in Portugal.  But because, quietly, the far-left (the Socialist Labour Party and No2EU) increased dramatically in Britain, up around 75,000 from 2004.  This was despite an obvious bias in media coverage towards the establishment parties, and the fringe parties of the right.  This was exemplified by the non-stop publicity given to the BNP, but also to the likes of Libertas.  I was gobsmacked when they went over to Ireland only to interview the right-wing loser Declan Ganley, while not even mentioning the SPI’s triumph.

But you can understand the capitalist/State media taking this line.  What is remarkable is the response of some of the so-called left to the results, particularly the BNP success.  The absurd Andy Newman at Socialist Unity, and the soggy Respect ‘leader’ Salma Yaqoob, have condemned No2EU and the SLP, blaming them for the BNP victory.  Aside from the strange idea that all the left should do is cheerlead for establishment parties like New Labour and the Greens in order to temporarily stall the BNP at the gates, it is a disgraceful attack which is focussed on those who are seeking to rebuild the left, after the NewLab destruction of the Labour Party.

Simply, the fault for the rise and electoral success of the BNP lies in the hands of one party, and one party only.  Labour.  Newman operates on the crude assumption that those who voted No2EU would have voted Labour or Green if No2EU wasn’t on the ballot.  Well, personally speaking, I would have voted SLP if No2EU hadn’t stood, and if Arthur’s gang hadn’t thrown their hat in I would have spoiled my ballot, as I did in the council elections.  I don’t think I would have been alone in that.  In the North West, the ‘vote establishment, blame the far left’ camp claimed that the Greens had the best chance of beating the BNP.

Making claims like that with an unpredicatable voting system like D’Hondt is dodgy enough, and so it proved.  The best party to have voted for if your horizons don’t extend beyond stopping the BNP in the immediate election would have been UKIP, who only needed a few hundred more votes to snatch the last seat away from Griffin.  Given that knowledge, would Newman and co have been endorsing a UKIP vote?  You can only wonder, but the political degeneration of that faction of Respect is not complete yet by any means.

But it was Labour who lost 240,000 votes in the North West and 200,000 in Yorkshire & the Humber. This let in the BNP, despite their vote being down in these regions compared to 2004.  Not Bob Crow or Arthur Scargill.  Labour who have abandoned any pretence at represent the millions of workers in insecure or low paid jobs, or out of work altogether.  Who have pandered to reactionary attitudes in their pronouncements and election materials.  Who have failed to provide adequate housing, restore union rights to help workers fight together rather than blame each other, to fund expansion of public services in areas of high immigration.  It is their fault.  They are hurtling towards oblivion, and the vacuum is there.

Bob Crow has signalled his intention to talk to all interested parties, including the CWU, about a political and industrial way forward.  I say let’s join him, swallow our pride about who we work with, and concern ourselves a little less with doctrinal purity or sectarian advantage.  The stakes have just got considerably higher.

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3 Responses to Before you all jump off a bridge…

  1. Good analysis – I completely agree with you

  2. Duncan says:

    The dishonesty of the people who are arguing that NO2EU is somehow to blame for letting the BNP into the European Parliament is absolutely breathtaking, see Socialist Unity today for the worst example so far from Andy Newman.

  3. Bob says:

    A good post. However, and maybe I am too jaded, it seems to me that we need to make a calculation in every place based on some sense of the likelihood of how people will vote (despite the ridiculously erratic nature of D’Hondt in this case) and how bad the different options are, given almost no electoral options are actually good.

    So, for example, for me in London, the party I am closest to in the election was the SPGB, but the chances of them getting anywhere near the threshold required to get a seat makes them a wasted vote if who gets in is part of the equation. Normally in my ward and constituency Labour just gets in, so I can vote for whoever I like to register that there are socialists in the electorate. But I think that the Tories are significantly less bad than the BNP, the Greens are significantly less bad than UKIP and the dangers of the BNP, Tories and UKIP all increasing their representation in the elections led me to vote Green.

    Another example, If I had been in Yorkshire & Humber, I would have voted Labour, because there the danger of a BNP candidate getting in was strong and a bigger Labour vote would have been the only way to stop it. (Unfortunately, it turned out I was right about that.)

    I also think that the No2Eu experiment was deeply flawed on many levels, if not the ones that Newman/Yacoob identify. I think that playing to the UKIP right with the name was wrong, and I think the timing was so f*cked up that they couldn’t possibly make much of a dent. I think that Bob Crow will be a key played, however, in any possible new alignment that emerges.

    My problem with the SLP is Scargill’s ego. It is a major issue with so many of the left “unity” experiments of recent years that they have been organised around the personalities of megalomaniac semi-celebrities – Sheridan, Galloway, Scargill. These formations prove ephemeral, unable to survive when the Glorious Leader is found out or moves on. And they tend to be anti-democratic, because people like Sheridan, Galloway and Scargill cannot tolerate internal dissent.

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