Electoral Alliance – the Way Forward for Respect & the Greens?

As part of our where next for the movement series, here is an article from Josiah Mortimer, University of York Green Party Treasurer, activist and student journalist. You can visit Josiah’s blog, The Red Society, here, and follow him on twitter here

It’s fair to say the left in Britain is in a pretty sorry state. The sheer number of miniscule, bickering left-wing groups indicates the scale of the problem. The left’s crisis is reflected throughout Europe – France and Germany’s ‘New Anti-capitalist’ Parties have come to little, nominally social democratic governments have been ejected from office in Portugal, Spain and elsewhere, and in Britain, the Labour party – again social democratic by name – refuses to reject the cuts consensus, while Trotskyite sects argue at the side-lines.

Until Galloway’s election in Bradford, there was just one electable social/ist democratic party – the Greens. In Brighton, the Green council have rejected privatisation and spent months consulting unions and community groups on the first Green budget, which though not uncontroversial, is impressive in its participatory nature and the fact that it had strong union support against attacks from Labour and the Conservatives which saw over £3m worth more of cuts forced onto it through rejecting a council tax increase. The introduction of a Living Wage and pay ratios show what left-led local councils can do even when faced with massive central government funding cuts.

And yet in May – if Labour lose a number of seats to Respect – Brighton could be potentially joined by as a left-led council by a Labour/Respect coalition in Bradford. Unlikely, of course – yet then again so was the election of a Respect MP until just a couple of weeks ago. Even if Labour still firmly hold the council, which they no doubt will, they may well have a number of vociferous socialist councillors to contend with in the council chamber, and could be pressured to implement progressive policies – like the Living Wage, reinstating EMA on a council-wide basis (as, somewhat surprisingly, Cornwall Council appear to be doing) and building resistance to the cuts. It’s not impossible off the back of a huge electoral victory that come May, a sixth of Bradford council could be Respect seats. Sweeping gains may not be a pipe dream.

Yet there is a problem. 127 candidates are fighting for 30 seats – and among them, competing left candidates. Socialist Labour are standing against Green councillor Martin Love who leads the Green Group and has over the past few years pushed for renewable energy for new housing and won for Bradford millions of pounds in green investment. Respect are standing against Green candidates in Heaton, Manningham and elsewhere. I’m a biased observer as a Green activist – but anti-cuts activists opposing elected anti-cuts activists seems like a strange tactic and a clear example of the Pythonesque Judean People’s Front/People’s Front of Judea politics that has not helped the left one bit – except to spruce up splinter group paper columns.

To consider the solution we first have to accept a few facts. A Labour council is in general better than a Tory one. A Green council would be (and is) more progressive still – and perhaps likewise for Respect. But where left candidates stand a good chance of being elected, I think we must accept that party allegiance should be put aside.
In short, we need an electoral alliance. We cannot have absurd situations like the Socialist Party standing against John McDonnell MP back in 2001, or Socialist Labour standing against Caroline Lucas in 2010. And that’s without even mentioning the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

The prospects of a left alliance look bright post-‘Bradford Spring’. Such an alliance might consist of candidates standing aside at the next election to allow whoever out of Respect and the Green Party previously got a higher percentage of the vote to stand – and if possible, cross-party activism and public support. It might be uncomfortable, but under First Past the Post, it may be time to realise that it’s also necessary. In sum, we have to accept what Dawud Islam– the Green candidate for Bradford West and now Respect council candidate – has said: ‘Caroline Lucas MP and George Galloway MP [should] agree some sort of electoral pact between the parties in the future, as I certainly view the Green Party as a progressive party of the left.’ Though in Parliamentary terms the parties are now equal, it must be remembered that before Galloway’s election Respect had less than 700 members nationally.

There is clearly a high degree of overlap with both parties – both promote ‘investment not cuts’, nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from Afghanistan and NATO, strong public services, rail renationalisation and an end to anti-union laws. The difficulty, though not a significant one, is environmental policy – but it’s hard to see Respect rejecting environmentalist concerns.

After the May elections, Respect and the Greens – and TUSC, for that matter – should seriously consider an electoral alliance of some kind. It has been done with success before, though not apparently in England. In France, the Left Front are making huge headway in the polls, and present a situation that should be aspired to here, where they are forcing Hollande’s moderate Socialists to support measures like a 75% top tax rate. More relevantly, Germany’s Social Democrats have offered a number of seats where they will not stand against the Greens, in return for broad cross-Parliamentary support.

Predictions, as Bradford showed us, generally fail. So I only make the suggestion – to pragmatically accept party overlap, and support electoral alliance as the best chance for overall success. Because truly, none but the most dogmatic can deny they were cheered by Respect’s success in Bradford as setting an alternative to the austerity agenda. So it’s time to adopt that painful but often successful tactic which has for too many decades been ignored – alliance.

456 comments on “Electoral Alliance – the Way Forward for Respect & the Greens?

  1. Thanks for this article, Josiah. I’d really like to encourage positive debate on this article. Too often when publishing articles by political opponents, people can only focus on disagreements. But what I really think is valuable is if people can accept that we’re all in the same universe, all trying to achieve something for the progressive movement – even if we sharply disagree with the actions, policies or statements of people in different parties, I hope we can try to find the common ground and work out from there.

  2. james? on said:

    a good article. electoral politics is not the easiest area to work together as sometimes there can be important reasons why parties stand against each other. the important thing is not to condemn one another and to concentrate attacks on the three main parties when this happens. i expect there will be responses saying neither greens or respect are left wing parties and i think that is a problem why people cant work together the one of definition.

  3. James

    A serious question. Do you really think the three main parties are the same, and you seem to be arguing that minor parties are inherently more virtuous?

  4. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    “Germany’s ‘New Anti-capitalist’ Parties”

    Does he mean die Linke? I don’t know if that is really a “new anti-capitalist” party; rather a clearly social democratic one (and not all that new insofar as the PDS had been around since the early 1990s). Also, the “come to nothing” of die Linke is something the British left, I am sure, should be envious of. Likewise the supposed failures of France.

  5. The three main parties are not the same. One simple example from our campaigning to save the public library service. Popular pressure led the then Culture Minister Andy Burnham to call an inquiry over the closure of eleven Wirral libraries. Does the current Culture Minister show a similar responsiveness? Absolutely not. So no, they are not the same. Their social base is different. Their history is different. That is a long way from the end of this argument however.
    Again, from my experience campaigning over libraries, look at the situation here in Liverpool. The ruling Labour group is implementing Tory cuts with barely a murmur. Three libraries have closed. Opening hours are being slashed. Mobile services are being hacked. Over seventy full time equivalent jobs are threatened. Does that make me want to vote Labour in the Mayoral elections? No, it does not. I will vote for a socialist candidate to oppose the neo liberal, pro cuts agenda, in this case Tony Mulhearn. The Left has to get its act together and form some kind of electoral alliance, at least a non aggression pact. The stakes are too high to vacate the ground, leaving the three major parties arguing over very fine differences.

  6. christian h. on said:

    To be fair tony when the original post rejects the assumption that we are “all in the same universe” and treats others on the left with derision it can be a bit difficult to argue under that assumption.

    More relevantly, Germany’s Social Democrats have offered a number of seats where they will not stand against the Greens, in return for broad cross-Parliamentary support.

    Huh? First I hear of this. Where? Given the proportional representation system this seems a quite pointless gesture to me, and given my experience as a long-time SPD member before leaving some years ago it also seems highly unlikely. It might also be mentioned that the German Green Party makes the Blairite SPD look left wing; Green-Conservative (CDU) coalitions are common on the local level and have strong support in the Green leadership on the state and national levels. Not to mention the firm support of Green parliamentarians for imperialist wars (along side all parties but the LINKE). Under no possible definition of “left” or “progressive” are the German Greens in the same universe as, for example (I hope), the UK Greens.

  7. Karl Stewart on said:

    Some interesting arguments Josiah – thanks for the piece.

    My view is that the whole “environmental agenda” is not intrinsically left-wing in itself – there are examples of Green Parties in other countries taking up relatively right-wing positions, although I think it’s fair to characterise the UK party as left of centre.

    Certainly, Caroline Lucas always argues from a progressive, left-of-centre viewpoint.

    And in this context, an electoral pact/electoral co-operation between Respect and the Greens could well be beneficial to both, andf to left-wing politics in general.

    What would the party leaderships have to say about it?

  8. That!s the problem Karl.When will the idea of a party go away.Maybe when the commune gets to-gether,thought the commune idea, is alert.Is that not about this line.Daft is two front one back.

  9. Josiah Mortimer on said:

    Nice to see some healthy debate. 6. You’re right Christian, the electoral pact I was thinking of was actually France’s Socialist Party and the Greens, my mistake! Thanks

  10. Pingback: Electoral Alliance – The Way forward for Respect and the Greens? « The Red Society

  11. anonymouse on said:

    The idea that the green party are part of the left is not borne out by experience. The original green candidate in bradford west defected to …UKIP. Green coalition with the tories in leeds, and so on. There are a smattering of leftists in the green party, but plenty of very unpleasant people who hate socialists with a passion.

  12. Robbo the Cello on said:

    An electoral alliance with the Greens is most certainly not the way forward for Respect. Respect is a labour movement party formation and is oriented to the millions of workers that are part of that movement. If the Greens want to throw in with Respect fine but Respect is not about to become an irrelevant Green, Muslim or any other kind of sect. The Greens are liberals and their primary interest is power not principles like all liberals. THey will say and do whatever is necessary to get the votes and throw it all away for a coalition with the devil if it gives them power.

  13. Geoff Collier on said:

    Can I ask how people define “social democratic”? I’d suggest the classic definition is a party based on the labour movement with a formal commitment to socialism. Is that how people see Respect and the Green Party?

  14. RESPECT has a formal commitment to socialism: it’s what the S in the acronym stands for.

  15. Almost stopped reading after the tired “People’s Front of Judea” bit. Totally sick of hearing it. And I’m not even in a group.

    Nevertheless, a couple of points spring to mind re: electoral politics.

    1) You can’t have an electoral alliance with the SLP, they’ll just do what they want.
    2) Likewise the Greens usually seem to think of themselves, understandably, as more significant than the left parties and are loathe to stand aside for them, even in wards where they are just running paper candidates for the look of the thing.
    3) Beyond asserting that everyone’s a party of left, there’s not much in the article about what the political basis for electoral unity would be (a pressing question for the Greens, given the Brighton situation)

    I wouldn’t be opposed in principle to the Greens and the Left having an electoral non-aggression pact in most places – why not – but I don’t see how it could go much further than that.

  16. A few comments

    It will help groups/people working together if those who ostensibly claim to stand for ‘unity’ dropped the sectarian rhetoric as in for example
    ‘the sheer number of miniscule,bickering left wing groups’ or ‘while Trotskite sects argue on the side lines’
    Sorry but I didn’t notice much Green Party prescence on the March 26th demo nor on J30 or N30 or on many of the anti EDL protests I’ve been on ,or the lobbies of councils or the Sparks demos’ they were no where to be seen on the protests around the Arab Spring etc

    Now I’m sure there were green party members at some of these events but as an organisation not really. So to the non committed participants the Green Party would not be differentiated from the ‘sects’ the author refers to, so snide comments about other left can be thrown back at the Greens

    And when you refer Josiah to the side lines what exactly do you mean ? The ‘Trotskyite sects’ you so disparaging refer to have been through their elected members been able to build and sustain the fight in defence of public sector pensions ,what role did Green Party members in say the PCS,UNITE (health)UCU or the NUT play ? sadly very little so I’d be careful about denigrating groups which certainly are more central than the greens to matters which can hardly be called the ‘side lines’

    Now having got that off my chest !

    I agree we need to think when it comes to elections about at the least a non aggression pact ,the problem is and I’ve got to say this the record of the greens on this issue is not much better than the SLP. I remember Respect Mark 1 making numerous overtures to the Greens only to be rejected you stood as I recall against Galloway in Bethnal Green as well as against other sitting Respect Councillors such as Micheal Lavlette in Preston.
    If what you are saying now ( in the wake it has to be said of Galloways win) the Greens will agree not to stand in certain seats the great question is can you deliver that nationally ?
    What about the somewhat thorny issue of Brighton ,where ,which ever way you look at it the Green led council has carried out cuts ?
    I have no problem working with comrades from the Greens have been doing it since the early 90′s by the way and I think Carol Lucas is by parliamentary standards ( or compared to most Labour MP’s) an excellent MP.
    I agree with Alan Gibbons that it is not helpful to catergorise the 3 main partys as being all the same. There is nothing the same about say John McDonnell and a Tory, all sections of the Lib Dems and the Tories accept capitalism not one of them would describe themselves as as socialist, that is simply not true of the LP regardless of what the leadership say and do. So we also have to consider which LP candidates we could support.
    The PCS has a method which involves sending a questionaire to every candidate and in some areas organising a hustings for their members.
    In many ways the electoral field is the easiest area to establish unity its probably a little late now for the May elections ,so though I obviously have criticisms of the article I broadly welcome it as a starting point ( minus the sectarian gibes !! )to help us all maximise opposition and resistance to the attacks we all face

  17. “So it’s time to adopt that painful but often successful tactic which has for too many decades been ignored – alliance.”

    Does anyone remember the Socialist Alliance?

    Actually did better (if you at look at electoral performance across the country rather than in single seats) than any far-left vehicle since…2001 was the high tide of left-of-Labour electoral results and it’s been decreasing ever since…

    Only a clear and unambiguous electoral alliance between all left forces can reverse that trend, but I very much doubt it will happen sadly.

  18. This article is a little misleading in what says about Brighton. The branch leaderships of the council unions did support the Greens in not taking the “council tax freeze” money from the government, and they did put pressure (unsuccessfully) on the Labour Group not to vote with the Tories for a tax freeze. But the unions certainly do NOT give “strong support” to the cuts budget which the Greens ultimately voted through with the other two parties – £17m this year and the same again next.

    The Brighton Greens have had far too soft a ride from some sections of the left, when in fact their “defiance” of the government only extended to putting the council tax up 3.5% rather than freezing it. Also worth remembering that the Brighton Greens’ budget strategy has led to resignations from the GP and a huge row at their conference.

    We are now starting to see the consequences of that budget with a “restructure” of the library service involving 22 job cuts and an attack on the terms and conditions of the library staff. Unison is getting ready to ballot if the council doesn’t back off. (NB – libraries is a service the Greens promised to “protect”).

    A few other points – Respect has in the past been highly successful in elections but it has never actually got control of a council. What would be interesting (if there is to be a massive Galloway Effect in Bradford) is what sort of programme they would actually have for the harsh reality of running a local authority against the austerity measures of the ConDems.

    Respect and the Greens have had limited pacts in the past. Respect did not stand in the North West in the last Euro elections to try and get Peter Cranie in, with the quid pro quo being the Greens not standing against Salma Yacqoob in the General Election.

    Of course pacts and alliances are helpful, but the Greens don’t think they need it and Galloway seems more intent on trying to move Labour to the left. What is really needed is a broad left PARTY. An “electoral alliance” is not taken seriously by most voters.

  19. I’m on my phone so can’t link, but has anyone seen the article on Red Pepper “Why I Resigned From the Green Party” by a leading member of Green Left? In it the author claims that many members of Green Left have joined Respect or Socialist Resistance. I just wonder if that has anything to do with this article?

  20. Josiah makes some interesting points here – and his desire for an end to unnecessary competition is welcome. It should be pointed out that such an alliance has been tried and tested in the North West already. In the last set of euro-elections Respect wholeheartedly supported and actively campaigned for the North West Green party candidate, Peter Cranie. Sadly Peter lost by just 5000 votes with Nick Griffin taking the last seat. Had the whole of the left been campaigning for Peter perhaps we could have swung it and have a Green socialist as an MEP rather than a fascist.

    In Manchester in 2010, the Greens supported Respect in Manchester Blackley while Respect supported the Greens in Central. Did that increase the vote of either candidate? I’m not so sure – but it was surely better than fighting each other and allowed us to focus our resources more efficiently. However, we are still in competition in Manchester Gorton – so short of an actual alliance there will always be a case when you may put your perceived party interest ahead of any voting pact. But of course it’s always good to do this with good-natured debate rather than as sworn enemies – and continue to look for points of agreement where we can work together.

    Compared to the Green Party, Respect are still the new kids on the block so we can not assume any ‘right’ towards cooperation. In 2004 most of us in Respect genuinely believed that a new organisation formed from the left of the anti-war movement, the greens, CPB. SWP, etc. could have made a significant and immediate impact on electoral politics in Britain. That opportunity was missed but there’s no point in having recriminations about why it didn’t happen or who was ‘to blame’. We can however, continue to explore our points of agreement and where possible work to our mutual benefit.

    On the point about environmental policy I suspect that there are very few differences between Respect and the Greens outside of a few nuanced points of detail. Perhaps I’m wrong but no one in the Greens has ever explained to me what they might be.

  21. Andy BH: Respect and the Greens have had limited pacts in the past. Respect did not stand in the North West in the last Euro elections to try and get Peter Cranie in, with the quid pro quo being the Greens not standing against Salma Yacqoob in the General Election.

    This is not strictly true Andy. Respect took the decision to back Peter because it was the right thing to do. There was no reciprocal agreement asked for. We did obviously discuss our support with them as the leaflets we produced, and paid for, backing Peter would be counted as part of Peter’s election expenses. I’m not sure on what basis the Greens in Birmingham made the decision to back Salma but it was certainly the right thing to do.

  22. Thanks @ChJh, thats the one I meant!

    I think Clive Searle makes an interesting and important point: what would Respect do given control of a council? Would they go the way of the Greens in Brighton and take up the cuts agenda or try to protect jobs and services?

    Regarding cooperation with Greens, I’d have to say that I’ve not known Green members to be in favour of local electoral collaboration (I speak as a TUSC candidate in Sheffield). While obviously some greens would favour an alliance between left of labour groups, others haven’t shown that. I’m all in favour of unity but not at the expense of collaborating with forces that propose cuts in jobs and services.

    Quick question: in Yorkshire Respect and TUSC are not standing against each other in the May local elections. Is this the same elsewhere? I’m not sure I’m ready to jump into a formal coalition with Galloway but TUSC has written to Respect to propose a basic non aggression pact, which is sensible at this stage.

  23. daggi on said:

    More relevantly, Germany’s Social Democrats have offered a number of seats where they will not stand against the Greens, in return for broad cross-Parliamentary support.

    That’s just an entire untruth (I won’t write “lie”, as I assume the writer thinks this is fact, but is very badly misinformed).

    I would be very, very interested to know where this piece of nonsense originated.

    There is no evidence whatsover that such a pact was ever considered by either the Greens nor the SPD – for the reason that in a PR electoral system there is no need for electoral pacts (pre-election at least).

    The Greens have only ever one one direct constituency, in Berlin, and the SPD fought very hard to win it back from them at the last election. Next time they will do the same.

  24. I think that the Green Party made a good job of handling the political challenges around the budget.

    Where blame lies is with Brighton Labour Party, who could and should have joined a coalition with Greens, and for backing the Tory budget amendment. As I understand it against the advice of the unions.

    Whatever short term damage the Greens may have suffered, I think Labour has come off worse.

  25. daggi,

    Josiah Mortimer: Nice to see some healthy debate. 6. You’re right Christian, the electoral pact I was thinking of was actually France’s Socialist Party and the Greens, my mistake! Thanks

  26. The point the Brighton Green councillors make is a good one. The spending cuts were not theirs but forced upon them by the Tory led govt cutting their income.

    They did consult including with the unions and they didn’t have a credible option of defying the govt

  27. #20 Clive, simple really Salma Yaqoob wrote to the regional GP and Birmingham Green Party with her suggestion and after discussion and two papers produced for and against – with Caroline Lucas supporting amongst other people supporting the For position. The Green Party members in the Hall Green constituency voted by a massive 84% majority to withdraw our candidate. A good day for the left and shows that ordinary GP members are on the left!
    I notice also the Green Party are not standing against Dave Nellist in Coventry another good position to take
    Now if only some in TUSC could stop the name calling about the Greens we might be getting somewhere.

  28. Incidentally. Worth putting on.the record that I said at the time when I was in Respect and still think now that Respect should have backed Labour in the NW euro constituency. But as a democratic party Respect took a different decision and backed the greens.

    Sadly despite this the Greens just missed out and BNP won

  29. andy newman: I think that the Green Party made a good job of handling the political challenges around the budget.Where blame lies is with Brighton Labour Party, who could and should have joined a coalition with Greens, and for backing the Tory budget amendment. As I understand it against the advice of the unions. Whatever short term damage the Greens may have suffered, I think Labour has come off worse.

    That’s quite an extraordinary thing for a LP member( and I understand a candidate )to say . It is true as you say that the local LP have hardly played a blinder but isn’t the problem really one which relates to the ( much reduced ) role local government has in terms of their control or otherwise of budgets.
    It is true as well if we simply see things in terms of working within the perameters of the powers of Local Councils that it would appear that as you claim
    ‘they didn’t have a credible option of defying the govt’ which of course is so often the refrain of Labour Councils my own included.
    Now Jimmy Haddow would no doubt tell us that Liverpool City Council did try to defy the Tories ,which to a point, they did. So indeed did a whole raft of Labour Councils in the 80′s Sheffield ( I can remember the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire led at the time by Blunkett of all people with their incredibly cheap bus fares) Lambeth, Islington, Brent etc etc )
    Further back of course we had Clay Cross and Poplar.

    The point is surely not just who do we vote for or what ‘alliance’ or pact can we come up with but how best do we resist the cuts.
    Last year my Council avoided any compulsory redundancies but not this year so whereas last year we had councillors speaking at the union rally prior to the budget this year the unions said they were not wecome ( on the platform) sadly this has not as yet translated itself into action
    What I am getting at is ,from the point of view of an ‘ordinary’ worker or service user what counts is the services being provided and the jobs ,wages and conditions that go with them.
    Talk therefore of ‘no credible option of defying the govt’ has to be seen in terms of how that plays out with those who vote ,use and provide the services.
    In my view it inevitably becomes a means of excusing the cuts as in the Tories would be worse, well maybe they would but if it is your local library or housing office that is being shut that’s not going to cut much ice.
    Therefore the issue of resistance is key.
    What would be so bad about a Council saying look we stood on a platform of no cuts and we will not carry them out, as has been pointed out the worst that could happen is the Tories have to effectively take over the Council and take full responsibility for the cuts ,which as Andy rightly points out are their cuts anyway.
    At that stage all the groups that we have been talking about the Greens,TUSC,Respect the Labour Left could then come together and start to agitate in the community ,the workplace and the unions for mass resistance.
    Now this might not win ,but at least it puts us ,the left, on the side of those on the receiving end and shows we mean what we say.
    How better that then telling people vote for us we are aginst the cuts ,then carrying them out and earning the distrust of the people we want to win to our ideas ?

  30. christian h. on said:

    Am I misunderstanding the UK local government system again? It seems to me that had the Brighton Greens refused to vote a cuts budget, the most likely consequence would not have been receivership but simply them losing control (ie, Tories and Labour forming a majority to vote through their own budget – like on the council tax). so the argument put forward by the Green councilors and Andy seems to be that they have no control over the budget and therefore have to vote for it… to keep control. Bit fishy.

    Now to be clear I don’t think this is a betrayal anywhere close to what happened with the Green Party of Ireland or many continental Green parties.

    What is does show is how problematic it is for a radical left formation to aspire to gain local government under a system where this means doing the Tories bidding.

  31. “but isn’t the problem really one which relates to the ( much reduced ) role local government has in terms of their control or otherwise of budgets.”

    Yes that is the problem. The powers of local authorities have been incrementaly reduced throughout the 20th century and the process did not stop in 2000. Also most local authority money comes in the form of a block grant from central Government the money raised locally by the Council is a much smaller proportion.

    So picking the local authority as the place to fight the battle against the cuts has little to reccommend it. That’s not to say a mass revolt of local authorities would not have an impact because it clearly would – but that’s not where we are at.

  32. Cliff Moore on said:

    Yes I remember the Socialist Alliance very well. It was starting to have some respectable election results when it all suddenly got abandoned almost overnight by some comrades who rushed off into Respect. This despite one of the two founders (George Monbiot) withdrawing within weeks of its formation. His reason was that the Green Party was not able to support it and on “principle” deserted it. George Galloway was NOT a founder whatever the media say – but he was an early – and very welcome – incoming member. So this article about the Greens wanting an electorial agreement is of course welcome – but -let us remember – they did actually stand a candidate themselves in the Bradford by-election against our candidate!

    I say welcome to the Greens – as also to all groups that want to join us in Respect – (and that includes the Labour Party) – but keep some consistency about your position please. In addition – with the “redefining” of clause 4 to exclude the socialist compromise that it contained – it is the only current political party with a Socialist commitment that has a standing M.P.!

    One more thing about the original article – it seems as if the author has forgotten that Respect – in the guise of George Galloway – had won a seat. and that time in a GENERAL ELECTION. Not bad eh?

    Lawrence Shaw,

  33. I hate to break the news but there is more to the Left in France than the NPA.

    The Front du Gauche which brings together the Left split off from the Socialist Party, the Parti du Gauche, the still large French Communist Party, a number of split offs from the NPA, such as the Gauche Unitaire- with radical greens is on 15% for the Presidentials. The FdG pre-dates the NPA, and has a been growng ever since No vote in the referendum, more groups such as FASE, a split off from the PCF around the Politis call for a Left re-groupment, Les Alts and other radical ecologists and autogestionists have also thrown their hats in with the FdG. At times it is an uneasy alliance but on the whole it is proof that a number of different curents can work together if they put their own egos on hold and work together.

    The Greens, EELV, have done a deal with the PS and have 60 seats ‘reserved’ for them, where the PS will not stand a candidate. EELV’s Presidential campaign is in pieces, with leading Greens attacking their own candidate, and many within the PS are openly talking about dumping the agreement.

  34. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Pete Shield: I hate to break the news but there is more to the Left in France than the NPA.

    Indeed, the PCF has electoral successes that the left in Britain and the Greens here could only dream of.

  35. Left Burglar on said:

    #34 Galloway has been in RESPECT, and a significant asset for it, since the first day. Just saying like…

  36. Geoff Collier on said:

    I could be provocative and point out that there was an S in NSDAP too. However, I won’t but I will say that you’d be be hard pressed to know what the acronym represents if you looked at their website, their election literature or the various facebook groups dedicated to Bradford Respect.

    ted:
    RESPECT has a formal commitment to socialism: it’s what the S in the acronym stands for.

  37. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Left Burglar:
    #40 Is that an accurate representation of your party’s attitude these days?

    A search for “socialism” on the RESPECT website gave me a single result: a video about Palestine. I think its fair to say that any “formal commitment” to socialism is not advertised very prominently there.

  38. AI

    Certainly the problem is the reduced power of local govt compared with national govt. But the question is, what do you for about it?

    My experience of door knocking is not that people are looking for the local council to lead people out onto the barricades. Most voters are looking for councillors to do the best they can with the powers they have.

    The problem is that we haven’t – at a national level – won the argument that we need investment and growth not cuts.

    Now obviously the main problem here has been he failure of the Labour party to make that case. But let us not fool.ourselves that the public agree with the no cuts argument

  39. Josiah Mortimer on said:

    Cliff Moore,

    Completely agree with many of your points. I’m not blaming Respect or the Greens for the lack of an alliance so far – I am instead suggesting it as a way of moving forward. Whichever way you look at it, left-wing candidates currently stand against each other on very similar platforms.

    I disagree with your last point however – I wrote this article because of Bradford West, not despite it. It shows that Respect are a credible party capable of winning seats, and therefore it would be beneficial for the left as a whole if in future there were agreements made beforehand about where each party would stand, on the basis of previous support.

  40. I see Roy makes a big thing about not standing against Dave Nellist in Coventry and to be fair this is welcome. However what he fails to mention is that the Green Party in Coventry are standing against an anti-cuts campaigner in Foleshill ward! The Socialist Party have stood in all 18 seats in Coventry for the last couple of years but this year stood aside in Foleshill to support a candidate who is leading a campaign to save the local swimming baths. Disgracefully the Green Party are standing against him. Sadly this isn’t a one-off in Birmingham there are two ‘Communities against the cuts’ candidates who the Green Party are standing against. Both candidates had discussions with the Green Party locally and at one point considered standing as Green Party candidates, in the end they decided to go with the anti-cuts ticket. What a disgrace that the Greens once again decided to oppose them!

    The Greens are not an anti-cuts party and only want unity where it suits them, they are a pro-capitalsit, anti-working class party, they are not a party of the left.

  41. Geoff Collier on said:

    I don’t claim to be representive of anything or anybody. I share the general pleasure in George Galloway’s victory but you don’t have to believe that Respect is a social democratic body for that. And that’s the question I asked (about the Green Party too). If anybody wants to justify the description, I’d welcome it.

    Left Burglar:
    #40 Is that an accurate representation of your party’s attitude these days?

  42. Geoff Collier on said:

    All I said was that having the word socialist in a name doesn’t automatically make that organisation socialist. What I was asking for was a better case that Respect was social democratic, which you are clearly avoiding doing.

    I’m not in the SWP by the way. If anyone wants to know why not, ask Chris Bambery

    andy newman:
    Is anyone from SWP going to comment on gratuitous comparison between Respect and the Nazis from long term swappie geoff colliier ?

  43. christian h. on said:

    Andy – starting a will-you-condemn-a-thon – in the middle of the night too. In my position as a not SWP member who nonetheless doesn’t share Andy’s ludicrous hang-up about said party I’ll unreservedly tell off geoff whoever he is for his rather lame and pathetic “I’m not going to do what I’m doing ain’t I clever” comment. I’ll also ask Andy to please condemn every Labour party member that has ever said something nasty about anyone else, since according to his own rules he is clearly personally responsible for their behaviour.

  44. Geoff Collier on said:

    I’ll withdraw my alleged comparison. Perhaps I can say that a party’s name doesn’t necessarily prove anything about its nature. There’s plenty of other paries who could show this. Is the Chinese Communist Party in any way communist?

    I repeat if anyone wants to show that Respect and/or the Green Party are social democratic formations please do so.

    christian h.:
    Andy – starting a will-you-condemn-a-thon – in the middle of the night too. In my position as a not SWP member who nonetheless doesn’t share Andy’s ludicrous hang-up about said party I’ll unreservedly tell off geoff whoever he is for his rather lame and pathetic “I’m not going to do what I’m doing ain’t I clever” comment. I’ll also ask Andy to please condemn every Labour party member that has ever said something nasty about anyone else, since according to his own rules he is clearly personally responsible for their behaviour.

  45. Jellytot on said:

    @40I could be provocative and point out that there was an S in NSDAP too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    @55Perhaps I can say that a party’s name doesn’t necessarily prove anything about its nature.

    You may be onto something there as there’s always been a lack of WC people in the SWP.

  46. christian h. on said:

    Too late Geoff you didn’t take into account that leaving a blog comment makes every member of every organization you’ve ever been a part of, and everyone you’ve ever spoken to responsible for condemning you. As you are clearly the only person to have ever posted a comment on a blog that maybe wasn’t thought through or as clever as the poster thought it might be that’s a heavy burden to bear for your friends and comrades (current and former).

    So I hope you learned your lesson and will in the future only post incredibly lame and old jokes in the spirit of JT.

  47. The Coventry Greens haven’t run in St Michael’s ward since they restarted as a branch in 2004 (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and now 2012 locals). We also didn’t stand against Dave Nellist in the 2010 general election in Coventry NE. As far as I’m aware, there was no approach to us by the anti-cuts independent candidate in Foleshill ward this year, but if there is evidence to the contrary? In return, there is unending local rhetoric year after year about the Leeds Greens, Hamburg Greens, Brighton Greens, Irish Greens … about everyone except the local branch who isn’t running in one of the only wards in the country that is a Labour/SP marginal. For our part, we were 199 votes off being 3rd in the city-wide popular vote in the 2011 locals. Put a different way, take away our strongest ward, and the Coventry Greens had 3750 votes across 16 wards. Take away St Michael’s, and the Socialists had 1820 votes across 17 wards.

  48. christian h. on said:

    Ok so now I feel slightly bad for contributing to lowering the tone in this thread, so let me say something hopefully constructive: whatever one may think about RESPECT not standing in the Northwest for the Euro elections, this unilateral act shows that a lot can be achieved without formal alliances, pacts or whatever – simply by each group doing what is best. If you think that not standing against the candidate of party A in ward X would be a good idea as part of a formal pact, it’s still a good idea without it – even if party A is mean and stands against your favourite candidate in ward Y. Nothing’s won by engaging in any kind of tit-for-tat (understandable as that might be).

  49. Well yes you do have a point. But I was genuinely shocked to read an apparent comparison between Respect and the Nazis.

    Yes I would condemn Labour Party members who said that, and have been having a row on twitter over the last 24 hours with other LP members, where I have been defending Respect and Galloway.

    Sorry if I offended Geoff, and hope your exit from SWP was not too traumatic.

  50. 59 Scott – if as Roy has claimed you (the Greens) are an anti-cuts party you wouldn’t need approaching not to stand against the anti-cuts candidate in Foleshill, you would have been involved from the start. There was a lobby of the council which the campaign to save Foleshill Baths attended with banners etc, pictures appeared in the media and on the web of the protest.

    Once nominations closed you then had a week to withdraw your candidate but you didn’t and of course none of this explains the decision in Birmingham to stand against ‘Communities against the cuts’ candidates.

    I’m glad the Greens don’t stand against Dave Nellist in St Michaels but then nor do the BNP, don’t think that makes them an anti-cuts or left party does it?!!

  51. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Clive: ’m glad the Greens don’t stand against Dave Nellist in St Michaels but then nor do the BNP, don’t think that makes them an anti-cuts or left party does it?!!

    Are you suggesting that the BNP do not stand against Nellist because they approve of him in some way? If so, that seems a new low for this thread.

  52. 64 – No, obviously I don’t know the reason but I suspect they don’t bother standing as they would get such a low vote as Dave Nellist and the Socialist Party cuts across all the crap the BNP usually put out. When there is a viable left alternative people vote for it!

  53. Geoff Collier on said:

    Can I reiterate that I didn’t compare anyone or anything to the nazis. That kerfuffle only served to evade any serious answer to the question about a definition of social democracy and its possible application to the Green Party and Respect. It looks like the question doesn’t concern anyone though.

    Andy Newman:
    Well yes you do have a point. But I was genuinely shocked to read an apparent comparison between Respect and the Nazis.

  54. Vanya on said:

    #65 Clive would the SP stand down automatically if someone calling themselves an anti-cuts candidate stood somewhere you were planning to stand?

    In fairness to the Greens they generally stand everywhere, putting up paper candidates in many places where they know they’ll get a derisory vote.

    So I suspect their decision not to stand in that particular ward in Coventry is based on the politics of one of the candidates.

    That may not suit your narrow sectarian position on the Green Party but there you go.

    After all, I’m sure the SP didn’t stand against John McDonnell because they wanted to help stop a socialist pro-militant trade unionism, anti-war MP from being re-elected.

    #66 Well it looked like it to me. You tried to be clever, ended up being stupid and offensive. It happens to the best of us, now why not apologise, get over yourself and move on?

  55. “After all, I’m sure the SP didn’t stand against John McDonnell because they wanted to help stop a socialist pro-militant trade unionism, anti-war MP from being re-elected.”

    Yes that would be unthinkable.

    So, Clive why did the Millies think it was a good idea?

  56. Jellytot: @40I could be provocative and point out that there was an S in NSDAP too.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law@55Perhaps I can say that a party’s name doesn’t necessarily prove anything about its nature. You may be onto something there as there’s always been a lack of WC people in the SWP.

    You been on the Lattes again JT ? As usual a complete an utter waste of a post oh so predictable one day you may post something other than a sorry reflection of your own bitterness

    andy newman: AICertainly the problem is the reduced power of local govt compared with national govt. But the question is, what do you for about it? My experience of door knocking is not that people are looking for the local council to lead people out onto the barricades. Most voters are looking for councillors to do the best they can with the powers they have.The problem is that we haven’t – at a national level – won the argument that we need investment and growth not cuts.Now obviously the main problem here has been he failure of the Labour party to make that case. But let us not fool.ourselves that the public agree with the no cuts argument

    I agree Andy that not every working class person is opposed to all cuts only a fool would say that.
    Its hardly surprising though is it when the need for ‘cuts’ is hammered down our throats day after day and sadly not just of course by the Tories but also it has got to be said by your party too.
    Ok they say they wouldn’t cut as deep or as fast but the basic message is the same ,we need to cut the defecit etc
    It was of course precisely that approach which allowed GG to triumph in Bradford ( amongst others of course)
    In other words surely the lesson Andy of Bradford is that it is possible to win a majority even in electoral terms on the basis of challenging the prevailing consensus ,that cuts are inevitable.
    Isn’t that what the sets us apart as socialists that we believe that we can have a better more equal type of society . If all we can offer is a watered down version of what we have already is it any wonder so many people think the three main parties are indistinguishable ( even if I don’t but thats for wholly different reasons)
    We have seen in France what an electrifying impact a candidate who is prepared to break with the consensus can have.
    All I’m saying is that as well as striving for some kind of electoral unity shouldn’t we also be addressing how we can move from anti cuts rhetoric to a viable and winnable strategy to actually resist the cuts ?

    BTW Geoff I’m sure now your nemesis has departed for the comfort of the ‘precariat’( the idea of someone with his total lack of social skills telling anyone they put people off is hilarious ) its time to come home !

  57. 67. “Clive would the SP stand down automatically if someone calling themselves an anti-cuts candidate stood somewhere you were planning to stand?”

    YES! That was my point and its exactly what happened in Foleshill, the socialist Party were planning to stand there this year, as they usually do, but stood aside so a campaigner to save the local swimming baths could stand.

    “This may not suit your narrow sectarian position on the Green Party”

    The Green Party, certainly in Coventry & Warwickshire, claim to want the maximum unity between anti-cuts candidates – if that’s the case why are they standing against anti-cuts candidates in Coventry and Birmingham? To question that is not sectarian, its merely pointing out an inconsistency.

  58. There’s an important community march tomorrow (Saturday, April 14th) organised by the campaign trying to save Livingstone Baths in Foleshill (Coventry).

    Please forward this/let people know about this march.

    If you were able to join us at Edgwick Park at 11am, I’m sure the local campaigners would much appreciate it.

  59. Robert P. Williams on said:

    In order for any groups or parties to be standing together in a coalition, they must first have some sort a a basis in terms of a political program.
    There must be a basic set of policies that they are committed to bring about, and also some things that they definately won’t do. Things they are for and against: ‘Red lines’ so to say.

    Just saying ‘we are ‘left’ and they are ‘left’ so we can support each other’ is not good enough. ‘Left’ is a relative term and basicly doesn’t mean much.

    There needs to be agreement on some basic matters of program and the democratic arrangements of any coalition.

    Nobody wants to be in a coalition if it simply leads to the perspective of their group being silenced.

    I think TUSC or a ‘TUSC like model’ provides a valuable contribution to the debate of how to bring about a meaningful unity.

    This is the basic set of things that TUSC stands for:
    http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy.php

  60. #69 But if your analysis of the Green Party is correct it’s not an inconsistency is it?

    Again, the fact that they don’t stand in St Michaels surely tells you something doesn’t it?

    And are you seriously saying that you would autmatically stand down for an anti-cuts candidate in all cases? What about a Labour candidate who said they were against cuts?

    The point I am making is that it may or may not be divisive, sectarian etc etc to stand against someone who’s position you generally support, but it isn’t necessarally possible to read anything else into it.

    Again, I refer you to the case of John McDonnell.

  61. Geoff Collier:
    Can I reiterate that I didn’t compare anyone or anything to the nazis. That kerfuffle only served to evade any serious answer to the question about a definition of social democracy and its possible application to the Green Party and Respect. It looks like the question doesn’t concern anyone though.

    That’s OK. Now it’s apparent you’re not in the SWP any longer the outrage has remarkably subsided and SWP members are no longer required to denounce you.

  62. AI

    Yes agreed Labour should be arguing fir investment and growth not this silly “too deep, too fast” nonsense.

    There is an urgent need for a challenge to that mantra from the mainstream Labour centre left

  63. On the substantive question of what is social democracy, in the British context this is largely overlapping with labourism.

    Ie politics delimited to left and right by the envelope of trade unionism

  64. George Hallam on said:

    Geoff Collier: Can I ask how people define “social democratic”? I’d suggest the classic definition is a party based on the labour movement with a formal commitment to socialism.

    @13

    You may not like the answer.

    “social democratic” is a moving target. In 1848 it was a label used by radical elements of the petit bourgeois.

    From the 1880’s social democratic parties were socially proletarian: politically they tended to be revolutionary. The term was almost synonymous with ‘communist’ or ‘Marxist’. The largest Social democratic party, the German SPD, was officially committed to Marxism though a large section sort to play down any association with communism.

    After 1914 (the 4th August to be precise) the social democratic movement split. The revolutionary wing discarded the label. Consequently, “social democratic” meant ‘moderate Marxist’.

    Gradually, this social democratic rump lost its enthusiasm for Marxism. By the end of the Second World War social democracy was firmly identified with the belief that the only route to a socialist economy was through gradual democratic reforms to capitalist economies. The achievement of socialism through revolutionary means was totally rejected.

    Later, the idea of a socialist economy was also abandoned and replaced the objective of a ‘mixed’ or ‘social-market’ economy.

    The German SPD completed this process in 1959 when it adopted the Godesberg Program.

    Since then ‘social democratic’ has meant a rejection of, revolutionary means of achieving socialism but also of the goal of socialism as well. What the new goal is it is hard to say. Twenty years ago it might have been some sort of ‘welfare state’. These days it seems to be some sort of social provision that is compatible with neoliberalism.

  65. redcogs on said:

    Al:
    Its hardly surprising though is it when the need for ‘cuts’ is hammered down our throats day after day and sadly not just of course by the Tories but also it has got to be said by your party too.

    If all we can offer is a watered down version of what we have already is it any wonder so many people think the three main parties are indistinguishable ( even if I don’t but thats for wholly different reasons)

    The widespread view (within the working class) that “all three parties are indistinguishable” from one another originates from the working class experience of the political and economic behaviour of “all three main parties” A1.

    Why would you, or indeed any Left political party want to discourage such an understanding? After all this is a progressive and long term anti capitalist trend that has emerged isn’t it?

    All three main parties accept and embrace free markets and capitalism. They each operate and/or encourage aspects of the free market precisely to oppress working people at many levels, and talk of the main parties having different ‘histories and social bases’ etc is hardly the point. Workers rightly distrust and desert Labour regardless of this intellectual insight.

    In separating yourself (and that of your Party) from the working class on this vital matter, a significant and contradictory element of the Leninist model of socialist politics is revealed isn’t it?

    i reckon that the Left needs to urgently re-assess its attitudes on this, and begin a process of becoming really independent by properly separating itself from the seemingly endless pirouetting and kowtowing to capitalist Labour.

    Part of the Galloway appeal related to the ‘three cheeks of the same backside’ slogan that he succesfully articulated. i believe the reason he won so spectacularly was because he was speaking simultaneously with and for the working class.

    An honest and open socialist/green working class mass Party must be the route to challenging freemarket hegemony. Not the relentless sowing of illusions in Labour.

  66. Clive – As an ex member of the Greens in Birmingham I think you are doing them a diservice. Do you honestly think that the Greens should go through to see who is standing for election and stand down when ever there is candidate to the left of Labour? I hope communities against the cuts do well but lets be honest that they are going to get a terrible result ( as most of the Green candidates are in Birmingham). I think the Birmingham Green Party has always been consistent, if there is a strong left candidate who has a good chance of winning and where potential Green Party voters could swing it – ie potential party/candidate has worked for years and years on the ground and does not get an electoral campaign going just a few months before an election ( note I said electoral campaign and not a wider campaign) – then the they are open to being approached to discuss what could happen, as was the case in Hall Green back in 2010.

    Oh and I am afraid “The Greens …… only want unity where it suits them” is certainly not true in Birmingham’s case. Hall Green is traditionally where they get the strongest ( if still weak) vote and had the highest concentration of members.

    However I do wish you well in the work you do.

  67. Yes, Ben, it is one thing to ask the Green Party to stand down for Salma in Hall Green, where she had a genuine chance, and where both parties recognised the common ground between them.

    It is another thing entirely for Clive to demand that the Greens automatically stand down for ‘Communities against Cuts’ – an electoral front that nobody has ever heard of – on the basis that the Greens are a ‘pro-capitalsit, anti-working class party’. That is just infantile posturing.

  68. redcogs: The widespread view (within the working class) that “all three parties are indistinguishable” from one another originates from the working class experience of the political and economic behaviour of “all three main parties” A1.Why would you, or indeed any Left political party want to discourage such an understanding? After all this is a progressive and long term anti capitalist trend that has emerged isn’t it? All three main parties accept and embrace free markets and capitalism. They each operate and/or encourage aspects of the free market precisely to oppress working people at many levels, and talk of the main parties having different ‘histories and social bases’ etc is hardly the point. Workers rightly distrust and desert Labour regardless of this intellectual insight.In separating yourself (and that of your Party) from the working class on this vital matter, a significant and contradictory element of the Leninist model of socialist politics is revealed isn’t it?i reckon that the Left needs to urgently re-assess its attitudes on this, and begin a process of becoming really independent by properly separating itself from the seemingly endless pirouetting and kowtowing to capitalist Labour. Part of the Galloway appeal related to the ‘three cheeks of the same backside’ slogan that he succesfully articulated. i believe the reason he won so spectacularly was because he was speaking simultaneously with and for the working class.An honest and open socialist/green working class mass Party must be the route to challenging freemarket hegemony. Not the relentless sowing of illusions in Labour.

    Not sure where to start in response to that Redcogs

    Without wishing to be too harsh I have to say you cannot have been paying too close attention to what Galloway was and has been saying on the issue of the Labour Party.
    His appeal in Bradford was partly on the basis that the LP today has lost the soul of what he and many others believe,( but not me or my organisation )is what the LP is about.
    If anyone is sowing ‘illusions’ in labourism its GG

    Your claim which I find difficult to understand of ‘in seperating yourself ( and your party) from the working class on this vital matter,a signficant and contradictory element of the Leninist model of socialist politics is revealed isn’t it ?

    Quite what you are trying to say there is baffling Redcogs ,maybe its me but are you saying that in seeking to build a political alternative to Labourism ,rejecting the parliamentary road to socialism,but recognising that at the moment the majority of workers still retain illusions in the LP ,and thus revolutionaries have to work with those to our right ,we are somehow sowing illusions in Labourism ?
    Further do you really believe that the working class ( presumably all of them as you refer to the class as a whole) has broken from labourism ? and that this break is evidenced by the vote for George Galloway a man who repeatedly stated he stands in the real tradition of the LP and would rejoin it tomorrow if they would let him ?
    I take it you will be against a vote for Ken Livingstone then and what about John McDonnell ?
    Have you joined the SP ?
    According to you ‘the widespread view ( within the working class ) that’all three parties are indistinguishable’ from one another originates from the working class experience of the political and economic behaviour of ‘all three parties’
    If that was the case can you explain why millions continue to vote for the three main parties’ ?
    Why now ,why not 30 years ago or 50 years ago ?
    You expect no doubt then that at the May elections the vote for all three parties will collapse to nothing and those candidates from other parties will sweep the board

    I’m sorry but that which you put forward is not a serious analysis because if it were and the ‘working class’ has broken decisively from all illusions in Labourism we would be on the verge of revolution.
    At various times you have put forward the view that the existing groups dissolve themselves in order to be lead by some lash up of trade union leaders .leftish figures etc ( all of whom it has to be said are reformist and thus stand in the tradition of labourism’)
    Again without meaning to be cruel I cannot see anyone any time soon going along with your miasma of confusion
    Or have I got you wrong !!!!

  69. SA: Thanks for that Lawrence. McDonnell as New Labour? Not in this lifetime.

    At the risk of igniting a war of words ( but what the hell !) isn’t that the Wally Kennedy who I seem to recall seeing on TV many moons ago saying he would ‘name names’ after the Poll Tax Demo was attacked by the police ?
    And isn’t that the John McDonnell MP who was virtually the only MP to oppose the disgusting UNISON witchunt and who organised a meeting in Parliament against the UNISON witchunt of SWP and SP members ?
    Just asking like

  70. Jellytot on said:

    @69You been on the Lattes again JT ? As usual a complete an utter waste of a post oh so predictable one day you may post something other than a sorry reflection of your own bitterness

    I’m drinking one now “Al/Aaron/Undertaker” as it happens.

    If there’s one thing that is guaranteed to get a reaction from a Party Hack it’s alluding to the lack of WC people in the Vanguard Party.

  71. At the risk of igniting a war of words

    Don’t, Al. You’ve made lots of good points. Keep it political and don’t drag up the damned poll tax stuff every time the SP and SWP post in the same thread.

    Actually, I’ve just decided that the subject of “naming names” after the poll tax demo is closed. Yeah, you heard me. I’ve got that much power. Every organisation has points in its history where it has done disgusting things, the SWP included – yes, just as bad as what you’ve mentioned above, and no, that’s the end of the subject.

    Shit happens. Deal with the politics behind the shit. Maybe it should all be laid to rest with one big thread which is invisible to the rest of the world but which old-timers on the left can spend months slinging accusations at each other.

    Until then, let’s wind our way back to 2012, or at least some interesting political analysis of what past events tell us about the future.

  72. redcogs on said:

    Al: Not sure where to start in response to that Redcogs

    Without wishing to be too harsh I have to say you cannot have been paying too close attention to what Galloway was and has been saying on the issue of the Labour Party.
    His appeal in Bradford was partly on the basis that the LP today has lost the soul of what heand many others believe,( but not me or my organisation )is what the LP is about.
    If anyone is sowing ‘illusions’ in labourism its GG

    Your claim which I find difficult to understand of ‘in seperating yourself ( and your party) from the working class on this vital matter,a signficant and contradictory element of the Leninist model of socialist politics is revealed isn’t it ?

    Quite what you are trying to say there is baffling Redcogs ,maybe its me but are you saying that in seeking to build a political alternative to Labourism ,rejecting the parliamentary road to socialism,but still recognising that at the moment the majority of workers still retain illusions in the LP ,and thus revolutionaries have to work with those to our right we are somehow sowing illusions in Labourism ?
    Further do you really believe that the working class ( presumably all of them as you refer to the class as a whole) has broken from labourism ? and that this break is evidenced by the vote for George Galloway a man who repeatedly stated he stands in the real tradition of the LP and would rejoin it tomorrow if they would let him ?
    I take it you will be against a vote for Ken Livingstone then and what about John McDonnell ?
    Have you joined the SP ?
    According to you ‘the widespread view ( within the working class ) that’all three parties are indistinguishable’ from one another originates from the working classexperience of the political and economic behaviour of ‘all three parties’
    If that was the case can you explain why millions continue to vote the three main parties’ ?
    Why now ,why not 30 years ago or 50 years ago ?
    You expect no doubt then that at the May elections the vote for all three parties will collapse

    I’m sorry but that which you put forward is not a serious analysis because if it were and the ‘working class’ has broken decisively from all illusions in Labourism we would be on the verge of revolution.
    At various times you have put forward the view that the existing groups dissolve themselves in order to be lead by some lash up of trade union leaders .leftish figures etc ( all of whom it has to be said are reformist and thus stand in the tradition of labourism’
    Again without meaning to be cruel I cannot see anyone any time soon going along with your miasma of confusion
    Or have I got you wrong !!!!

    Your convoluted response cannot alter the facts A1.

    Doesn’t this discussion concern the left and how it operates tactically and strategically within an electoral arena dominated by capitalist Labour?

    If elections and the potential development of a left of Labour organisation that could take us all significantly forward are important, then how socialists relate to Labour is pretty crucial i would have thought.

    It doesn’t seem to me to be a tenable position for any left organisation to argue on the one hand that Labour are so inextricably wedded to capitalism (as you often do, convincingly) and then, on the other hand to urge working people to support Labour at elections.

    Socialist Party’s have no business encouraging the working class to support Labour electorally IMO. Far better for all to combine and offer a proudly socialist organisation that has a clear and convincing anti capitalist stance that can be a pole of attraction at elections. The old slogans from the past of ‘vote Labour or Socialist’ were unconvincing (at the same time as divisive) weren’t they?

    One mass Socialist Green Respect Party (with no entyists or dual memberships) may be a way out of the confusion.

    By the way – As a working class voter, who should i vote for in the coming local elections A1? capitalist imperialist Labour, capitalist imperialist Conservative, or capitalist (not at the moment imperialist) Scottish Nationalists?
    capitalist imperialist Liberals?

    As far as i know those are the
    available options.

  73. 82 & 83 – I don’t expect the Greens to stand aside for each and every anti-cuts candidate however in Birmingham these anti-cuts candidates had discussions with the Greens about standing as GP candidates, in the end they decided not to. Therefore the GP knew exactly what was going on but decided to oppose the ‘Communities against the cuts ‘ candidates anyway.

  74. christian h. on said:

    Redcogs (88.): But all you aim to do is to replace one reformist party (Labour) by another (The Red Cogs Party). This only makes sense if you believe that Labour used to be a party of the working class but at some point in the past (more or less suddenly) became a “capitalist” party. How and when exactly did this happen?

    I mean you could cogently argue that a socialist should not vote at all in a capitalist democracy. I’d disagree with you, but that is at least a coherent position. But you don’t. I really don’t get the point here.

  75. A great deal of the current sloganising on the left around needing a “new workers party” is based on three incorrect assumptions:

    1. Labour was once an openly socialist party only relatively recently hijacked by bosses with Clause 4 identified as the defining moment it turned.
    2. The majority of UK trade unionists are paying into the Labour Party and are dissatisfied.
    3. There is a real and growing hunger for a “Labour Mark 2″ left alternative.

    The reality is that

    1. Labour has never been openly socialist, with or without clause 4.
    2. Only 15 unions of 58 in the TUC, representing less than half of the UK’s total number of trade unionists, pay a political levy that goes in some way towards Labour and most unions are cutting or already restricting funding to candidates that sign up to certain union policies.
    3. All the statistics show the left-of-Labour vote dropping, year on year, since the relative high tide in 2001.

  76. tony collins: At the risk of igniting a war of wordsDon’t, Al. You’ve made lots of good points. Keep it political and don’t drag up the damned poll tax stuff every time the SP and SWP post in the same thread.Actually, I’ve just decided that the subject of “naming names” after the poll tax demo is closed. Yeah, you heard me. I’ve got that much power. Every organisation has points in its history where it has done disgusting things, the SWP included – yes, just as bad as what you’ve mentioned above, and no, that’s the end of the subject.Shit happens. Deal with the politics behind the shit. Maybe it should all be laid to rest with one big thread which is invisible to the rest of the world but which old-timers on the left can spend months slinging accusations at each other.Until then, let’s wind our way back to 2012, or at least some interesting political analysis of what past events tell us about the future.

    Point taken Tony my apologises it won’t happen again,though in order to progress the debate in the way you suggest you give similar advice to Jellytot who is in danger of becoming little more than Jelltroll

    redcogs: Your convoluted response cannot alter the facts A1.Doesn’t this discussion concern the left and how it operates tactically and strategically within an electoral arena dominated by capitalist Labour?If elections and the potential development of a left of Labour organisation that could take us all significantly forward are important, then how socialists relate to Labour is pretty crucial i would have thought.It doesn’t seem to me to be a tenable position for any left organisation to argue on the one hand that Labour are so inextricably wedded to capitalism (as you often do, convincingly) and then, on the other hand to urge working people to support Labour at elections.Socialist Party’s have no business encouraging the working class to support Labour electorally IMO. Far better for all to combine and offer a proudly socialist organisation that has a clear and convincing anti capitalist stance that can be a pole of attraction at elections. The old slogans from the past of ‘vote Labour or Socialist’ were unconvincing (at the same time as divisive) weren’t they?One mass Socialist Green Respect Party (with no entyists or dual memberships) may be a way out of the confusion.By the way – As a working class voter, who should i vote for in the coming local elections A1? capitalist imperialist Labour, capitalist imperialist Conservative, or capitalist (not at the moment imperialist) Scottish Nationalists?capitalist imperialist Liberals?As far as i know those are theavailable options.

    Redcogs GG was in the ‘capitalist Labour’ party and I can guarantee to would rejoin tomorrow if they would let him ,which would require a massive climb down by the leadership of course. But GG is and always has been a ‘labour’ man anyone who knows him knows that and to repeat much of what he said in Bradford was along the lines that is the present leadership who are betraying the labour tradition as he sees it. He is Old Labour and proud of it yet you seem to be under the delusion that he represents something totally new.

    You say the ‘old slogans from the past of ‘Vote Labour or Socialist’ were unconvincing( at the same time as divisive) weren’t they ?
    Eh ? For the record my organisation has never said simply ‘Vote labour’ but are you saying we shouldn’t vote for Ken against Boris ?
    And how on earth is calling for a vote for Labour ( let alone Socialist) become divisive ? Divisive in what sense ?
    Who would we be dividing ?
    I take it had you been in Georges old Glasgow constituency when he was a Labour MP ( with the same politics) you would have regarded a vote for him as ‘divisive’ but had you been in Bradford you would have voted for him
    So in France I take it you would be against a position of voting for say Front du Gauche ? and if the choice was Sarkozy or Hollande a call for a vote for the Socialist candidate would be ‘unconvincing and divisive’
    You now appear to be bordering on anarchism !
    But maybe not because your solution to this dilemma is to call for ‘one mass Socialist Green Respect party( with no entryists or duel membership)
    Forgive me if I find what you propose ludicrous.
    By no entrysist I take it you mean the many members of ‘leninist’ groups will be expected to simply abndon their beliefs and accept yours, will memebrs of Respect or the Greens be classed as entryists ?
    Will no duel membership apply to Respect or Green Party members ?
    Well clearly not because only some groups are expected to dissolve themselves .
    Redcogs if I wanted to join the Greens or Respect I would and could but I don’t.
    Also many Greens don’t class themselves as Socialists will they be allowed to join or will the Green Party in you panacea be expected to dissolve itself ( with no duel membership)
    What you want is not unity but liquidation so I’m now feeling you are veering towards Stalinism !
    Incidently why not have a SWP.SP,TUSC ,Respect, Green Party.?
    However as a consistent democrat if a unity conference of the left ever gets off the ground I hope you can present your proposal.

    On the matter of who you vote for as a ‘working class voter’ well if you are unaware any other left candidiate in the ward or constituency you are in why not stand yourself say as the candidate Socialist Respect Green Party ? Failing that join the SWP !!!!

  77. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Lawrence Shaw,

    The demand for a new workers party is based on the need for a political party that can stand up for workers, and act in the interest of trade unionists. It must be able to act as well as talk about standing up for working people.

    The Labour Party’s degeneration occured over time, it is possible to pick on some number of key moments, but it is really about a combination of factors eg. the destruction of the democratic structures that allowed the party to be moved ‘from below’.

    We need to build a party that more trade unionists CAN feel comfortable supporting as well as the mass of ordinary people who are really quite fed up of the ‘three cheeks’.

    I think as the cuts and the deepening economic crisis bites deeper, there will be more and more dissatisfaction with the main parties. We could see moves to the far right, especially without a genuine alternative to the austerity path thet the ‘three cheeks’ are intent on taking us.

    The labour party wasn’t just founded as a workers party and then suddenly changed overnight. Although the era after the collapse of the soviet union saw a more rapid degeneration. For many years the Labour Party was far from ideal, but offered a route for the party to be moved from below so that meaningful changes for the benefit of working class people could be won.

    Give the working class the means to stand up for themselves and they will. At the moment the Labour Party is showing itself not fit for purpose… unless that purpose starts and ends with nothing more than getting middle class -stand for nothing- candidates elected.

    I think a vote for Labour is a wasted vote… what’s the point if you end up with more of the same?

  78. Lawrence Shaw:

    1. Labour has never been openly socialist, with or without clause 4.

    Agree 100% with this – I think any new left formation has to be really wary of comparing itself with “Old Labour.” What are we asking people to do, repeat the last 100 years of failure? No thanks.

  79. Jellytot on said:

    @95What are we asking people to do, repeat the last 100 years of failure? No thanks.

    “Failure” that brought us the welfare state – something that has bettered the lives of generations of WC people.

    If that’s failure then show me success.

  80. cliff foot on said:

    #96 – But Comrade Tot, as a learned scholar like yourself will know, many people, then and now, argued that failure to deliver on things like a welfare state, might have resulted in “social revolution”, as one Lord Hailsham said.

    Labour, post 1945, also used troops on strikers, so there is another side as usual, to this.

  81. Jim mclean on said:

    Always look at the Welfare State along the Prussian style as a product of the capitalists need for fit cannon and factory fodder. Now they have access to a cheap third world labour force these benefits can be removed.

  82. Jellytot on said:

    @97 Lord Hailsham’s quote has been endlessly regurgitated by some on the Ultra-Left ignoring that fact that it was (and is) utter bollocks.

    There was no chance of a revolution in the immediate post-war period in Britain and the Welfare State wasn’t founded to head one off.

  83. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I have decided not to become involved in this fabian style discussion, albeit with a couple of socialists advocating the socialist transformation of society. I will not even respond to the damned out-right lie on the question of ‘naming names’. And I am not sneering, just stating a fact.

  84. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot:
    @97 Lord Hailsham’s quote has been endlessly regurgitated by some on the Ultra-Left ignoring that fact that it was (and is) utter bollocks.
    There was no chance of a revolution in the immediate post-war period in Britain and the Welfare State wasn’t founded to head one off.

    The only reason why social revolution was not on the agenda after WWII was because the ruling class of the time did not dare provoke one.

    From what I’ve read about that period, the political environment of the time was such that if the post-WWII Government had, for amoment, considered a repeat of the post-WWI then they would have been swept aside.

    Millions of servicemen and servicewomen returning from the war would simply not have tolerated failure to deiver on Beveridge.

    Of course the welfare state, NHS and all had still had to be forced through by the Atlee government in the face of hostility from the Tories and the wealthy. But the political environment was such that it pushed Labour into carrying this out comprehensively.

  85. Some of the comments here strike me as self indulgent and frankly irresponsible. Is it too much to hope that, in order to break the neo-liberal, pro-cuts consensus, the left could somehow agree that we need as many candidates as possible putting that argument? Does it not then follow that, the left being tiny and fractured it should look more at what unites it than what separates it? Should it not then be noted that the Bradford West vote indicates a potential audience of some size? Might it not then be consistent to agree 1) no more than one anti cuts, anti neo-liberal candidate standing for any seat 2) when there is a socialist Labour MP like O’Donnell or Corbyn the left doesn’t stand against them 3) where a left candidate in a tightly contested seat might let in the Tory that candidate does not stand? Just asking.

  86. That SP article on the London mayor election is extraordinary.

    Given the number of experienced militants in the SP it is surprising they seem to be wobbling off towards full scale Spart ward.

  87. Alan Gibbons

    Do.you not see the possibility that bradford west could also help the left within the LP make the same argument against cuts?

  88. Cliff foot

    You could of course argue that the Attlee govt did achieve a social revolution.

    There was a nice quote from Hugh Dalton where he said before the war the left had warned th nationalisation of the Bank of England needed a revolution. Dalton observed he actually achieved it over a nice cup of tea with the Governor.

  89. Karl Stewart: Of course the welfare state, NHS and all had still had to be forced through by the Atlee government in the face of hostility from the Tories and the wealthy. But the political environment was such that it pushed Labour into carrying this out comprehensively.

    The spectre of the Soviet Union was also a key factor. The outstanding bravery and success of the Red Army in defeating the Nazis had endeared the Soviets to millions of people throughout western Europe. The postwar period was a high water mark in the popularity of communism. The leverage this gave to the reforming Labour govt was key.

  90. Robert P. Williams on said:

    andy newman,

    It must sicken any genuine lefts remaining in the Labour Party that they have had to, and continue to take an active part in the destruction of that very same welfare state.

    The IFS says around 88% of the cuts are yet to be carried out. If you get elected in May, will you play your part in the destruction of jobs and services too Andy? Or will you vote against cuts, even if they are the cuts that a Labour council put forward?

  91. Uncle Albert on said:

    @ Alan 103 – If such an arrangement were possible it would’ve happened long ago.

    @ Andy 104 – The SP reckon Ken would romp it if he took an anti-cuts position. The proof of the pudding will be in the performance of the TUSC candidates.

  92. Robert williams

    You seem.to indulge in the crudest parliamentary cretinism, only translated to the council chamber.

    It us like a cargo cult re enacting the rituals in the hope that the great sky bird will return to resurrect the mighty liverpool council.

    In reality there is an ideological and political battle to be waged over the capability of the state to intervene in the economy for growth and jobs .

  93. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Jim mclean: Always look at the Welfare State along the Prussian style as a product of the capitalists need for fit cannon and factory fodder.

    That’s odd, since “capitalists” opposed many of these reforms.

  94. Robert P. Williams on said:

    andy newman,

    Didn’t catch your answer ther Andy? This isn’t an abstract question. It is me asking you if you will vote through cuts or not. I’d like to know what you would do if elected.

  95. Andy, I would dearly love to see the Bradford West result stiffen the resolve of activists on the left of the Labour Party. Sadly, I see little evidence of it happening. From the perspective of Liverpool, the Labour group appear unanimous in following Joe Anderson’s acceptance of the cuts. For that reason I spoke in favour of Tony Mulhearn at the TUSC launch meeting.
    “Uncle Albert’ (why these odd titles?), just because the left has been unable to get its act together in the past I see no reason to give up on the idea.

  96. By the way, I don’t want to strike a negative note. I think a blog airing left opinions freely is a brilliant idea, but I really can’t see any point in various socialist groups sniping at each other so regularly. A lot of it isn’t a patient, fraternal discussion of the way forward for people on the left, but a kind of Punch and Judy show.
    I am not trying to sound superior. I was in the SWP from 1974 until the mid 1990s and I am sure I did my fair share of Ya-booing, but there is a time to grow up and recognise that, in the greatest social and economic crisis since the Thirties, if the left has something to say it needs to be self-disciplined, human and….relevant.

  97. redcogs on said:

    Al:

    On the matter of who you vote for as a ‘working class voter’ well if you are unawareany other left candidiate in the ward or constituency you are in why not stand yourself say as the candidateSocialist Respect Green Party ? Failing that join the SWP !!!!

    Can i take the unwillingness to offer voting advice to those in areas where there will be no socialist candidates to cast for as your Party’s position A1?

    Good. Silence on the matter is infinitely preferable to arguing that it is necessary to vote for free market Labour ‘with a heavy heart’, or ‘without illusions’ etc etc..

    On this at least, the Socialist Party’s current attitude around the Ken and Boris fiasco is sensible, and certainly preferable to the incoherent nonsense involved in criticising capitalist Labour until election time (when ‘vote Labour’ advice has usually been offered).

  98. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Jim mclean:
    Surely revolutionaries should all vote Tory in a marginal seat.

    Yes, like Millies in the 80s, they must move to key constituencies also. Perhaps even join the Conservatives and push it further right.

  99. Robert Williams

    Labour in Swindon are standing on a manifesto commitment to cut the councils use of management consultants, to slash the huge hospitality budget. To end the wasteful vanity projects that have characterised Tory rule, and to reduce the £11 m per year in debt interest.

    So we alteady committed to that sort of cut.

    We will also show political leadership in opposing the government strategy of austerity. And work with the trade unions.

    However when we come to set a budget then we would need to set a legal one, and do the best we can.

  100. Alan. Gibbons

    It has been worse!

    Sadly left groups snipjng at one another is a reflection of the real state of the left, not an artifact of the Internet.

  101. Alan

    I also think that though the Labour party’s centre left has been slow out if the blocks. Over the next year you will notice the tide turning.

  102. andy newman:
    Alan Gibbons

    Do.you not see the possibility that bradford west could also help the left within the LP make the same argument against cuts?

    Well, that scenario didn’t particularly help the left of the LP in 2005 after GG’s victory in bethnal green. Different circumstances now,perhaps, but nonetheless…

  103. Robert P. Williams on said:

    andy newman,

    Well thanks for the answer. Here is another one to ponder.
    When the still massive cuts are made in Swindon, many trade unionists may decide to take industrial action in order to prevent those cuts. They will want to defend services, keep their childrens schools open etc. etc.

    If a Labour council is faced by a strike… what will your position be? Will you support it?

  104. #122

    good question, I hope to give you as straight an answer as I can.

    My view is that when labour are running the council, then the controlling council group are the employer side. However, in Swindon there are a group of trade union activists standing as candidates, and Labour cannot gain control without that group fo 6 or 7 trade unionists also being elected. It will be our job to ensure that there is not a major strategic divergence between the views of the labour group and the trade unions.

    In broad terms, the Labour group in swindon is on the same page as the trade unions in believing that jobs and growth are the way forward.

    So two scenarios could arise that might cause a potential difficulty. One, if the mood of confidence to oppose cuts in the unions grows and leads to a national stike against the government. In this case, I see no difficulty in Labour councillors supporting that strike, even though we are employer side. Even if the labour group hypothetically was minded to oppose, we would have a big enough trade union block on the council to neutralise that.

    A more tricky problem would be if the council tried to negotiate a deal with all the unions, but one sectional interest could not agree and had a strike. In which case , that would have to be judged on its merits (i.e is it the GMB or not (joke!))

  105. “On this at least, the Socialist Party’s current attitude around the Ken and Boris fiasco is sensible,”

    Actually its self indulgent nonsense. The working class will benefit from a Livingstone victory and suffer from a Johnson one.

    If you think that more misery will have the working class flocking around the Millies looking for ‘Leadership’ God help us you’re wrong.

  106. Vanya on said:

    #100 Jimmy Glad to see that you’ve commented on this thread to explain why you’re not going to comment. If you hadn’t done that then people like me would be worrying and wondering why you weren’t commenting.

    Thank you for taking the time out if your busy schedule to write and post your words of wisdom.

    I eagerly await you not commenting again. Perhaps next time you’ll have a bit more to not say?

  107. There is only on really important condition for a qualitative change in socialist prospects, and that is for the existing left to choke on its sour, and impotent rhetoric, under the impact a huge outbreak of spontaneous class struggle. I’m also certain that parts of the self proclaimed left as it exists today would be hostile to class struggle, not under the control of one or other bureacracy, and seek to lead it back under the stranglehold of NL.

    But some won’t, and for us who would welcome a serious outbreak of class warfare against the 3 party coalition, the necessary condition to capitalise on that, at least as far as the electoral system is concerned, is simple, stand Respect candidates in every constituency; raise a fun do so. Start now. Time is short. Basic policies are easy to formulate, but the crucial one will be that this would be a movement whose explicitly stated aim is to replace New Labour.

    If this is not the time to throw off the suffocating burden of new labourism, then there will never be one.

  108. redcogs on said:

    Bern:
    There is only on really important condition for a qualitative change in socialist prospects, and that is for the existing left to choke on its sour, and impotent rhetoric, under the impact a huge outbreak of spontaneous class struggle. I’m also certain thatparts of the self proclaimed left as it exists today would be hostile to class struggle, not under the control of one or other bureacracy, and seek to lead it back under the stranglehold of NL.

    But some won’t, and for us who would welcome a serious outbreak of class warfare against the 3 party coalition, the necessary condition to capitalise on that, at least as far as the electoral system is concerned, is simple,stand Respect candidates in every constituency; raise a fun do so. Start now. Time is short. Basic policies are easy to formulate, but the crucial one will be that this would be a movement whose explicitly stated aim is to replace New Labour.

    If this is not the time to throw off the suffocating burden of new labourism, then there will never be one.

    A big thumbs up from me.

  109. “Failure” that brought us the welfare state – something that has bettered the lives of generations of WC people.

    If that’s failure then show me success.

    Depends what your political project is, I guess.

  110. I agree, Andy, that sectishness is a reflection of isolation. In some ways, as an independent socialist, I am in a sect of one. Working with a very broad alliance to defend libraries has made me rethink how to concentrate on those issues which unite us, rather than divide us. I work with Trade Union leaders, members of the ‘mainstream’ political parties, groups on the left, organisations like the WI, professional bodies. I don’t need to tell people I am a socialist. It comes out naturally.
    I have been interested, and disappointed to discover that at many very large events not a single member of a left organisation has turned up. At the 300 strong rally and lobby of parliament for libraries on March 13th not one representative of a left group was evident.
    This is only interesting if it leads to conclusions:
    1) the interests of the vast mass of people come first.
    2) whether left groups are present or not people will fight to defend their interests
    3) the greater the self-proclamation of leadership the smaller the influence of the political group
    4) genuine socialists must be assessed by their ability to relate to the real day to day battles of the mass of people. That goes for elected representatives in parliament too.
    5) they will be ‘leaders’ not because they tell people they should be, but because people ask them to be. They will only deserve to keep that respect if their words are confirmed by deeds.

  111. Before anyone asks how that translates to current events I unconditionally support Livingstone for Mayor of London, however much I find some of his actions unsettling. In Liverpool I support Mulhearn against the cuts agenda of Joe Anderson. I have endorsed TUSC at events in Manchester and Sheffield. In the council elections, with no left candidate standing in our ward, I will vote Labour. I don’t think it is hard for socialists to the left of Labour to come up with a flexible and principled approach.

  112. Robert P. Williams,

    Thanks for this.

    As I have said I personally would welcome a challenge from the left as the biggest problem we all face, regardless of our respective strategies, is the fact that the political discourse in this country is so manically right-wing. A left challenge to Labour would help shift the discourse back so I do hope a serious, consistent and successful explicitly socialist challenge presents itself in the coming years.

    However, I do believe it is a mistake to concentrate on things like “breaking the union link” at this stage for the reasons I have outlined. I also think the left generally needs to be honest about the declining fortunes for any left alternative at all over the previous decade rather than presenting the current situation as day zero. If we don’t learn from our mistakes – and more to the point admit that we have made them rather than continually pretending we were always right all along – then we remain far more prone to failure.

  113. Ideally, there would be no need for any alliance. This is a problem of split votes that is caused by our voting system. If we had a proper voting system (i.e. STV) or even AV, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion.

    As it is, while I’d love to see a national alliance including Greens, TUSC etc. I don’t think this is at all likely. This is because in the Green Party we have a decentralised structure and are directly opposed to Labour style centralised structures. We dislike the party executive telling local groups what to do and so a top down national alliance with other parties would be unlikely to be voted in. This is the reason why Greens and RESPECT have never officially formed an alliance.

    However, local parties are free to form arrangements with other left wing groups and have done so in the past. This sort of informal cooperation is really the best we can do. Possibly, this could be seen as a criticism of our decentralised structure but I believe it is right for ideological (subsidiarity is one of our core principles) and practical (it protects against hijack from the right a la New Labour) reasons.

    – Duncan; Green Party member and supporter of the Green Party, RESPECT, the Pirate Party, TUSC and some individual Labour people.

  114. Karl Stewart on said:

    Robert P Williams, Andy’s answred your question, now can you clear up the SP’s position on the London mayoral race?

    Does the SP call for a vote for Liviongstone or does the SP take a nuetral position?

  115. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    TUSC is not standing in the election for Mayor.. that doesn’t mean that there is some new law in the universe that says we have to clearly endorse one of the other political parties, or limit our response to those put forward by some other party.

    We have criticisms of both candidates, but you can read this article for yourself and decide which candidate comes off worse.

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14308/11-04-2012/london-mayor-election-boris-versus-ken

    Here is the conclusion:
    “In this election the best way to hold Livingstone to his promises is to elect a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Assembly member in the London-wide Member list. Even just one workers’ representative in the Assembly would shake up London politics and be a platform – inside and outside City Hall – to build the mass movement of Londoners needed to fight back in the age of austerity.”

  116. That still doesn’t answer Karl’s question.

    Robert, you expected Andy to provide an answer to your question. Have the courtesy to answer other peoples’ questions.

    Personally, I am not that interested in what the SP (or SWP or others) call for, because in the real world it will only have an impact in the hundreds and will have no real impact on the vote. But if you want people to answer your questions, you shouldn’t evade theirs.

    Robert, saying “that doesn’t mean… we have to clearly endorse one of the other political parties” doesn’t answer the question. If the SP hopes to have real influence, surely it has to have a credible assessment and be able to give clear advice to its members and those people its members come into contact with.

    What will that advice be?

  117. “TUSC is not standing in the election for Mayor.. that doesn’t mean that there is some new law in the universe that says we have to clearly endorse one of the other political parties, or limit our response to those put forward by some other party.”

    No, not a law, but a long established principle – you do what’s best materialy for the working class. If what you do harms the working class you can rest assured it won’t be forgotten by that class.

  118. Robert P. Williams on said:

    tony collins,

    I have answered the question.
    If you don’t like the answer or it doesn’t fit into the simplistic ‘black or white’ response you are looking for is not my problem.

    I propose we vote for people who don’t support cuts.

  119. Karl Stewart on said:

    Robert, the article you link to makes no explicit recommendation as to who readers should vote for.

    But it does repeat Boris Johnson’s criticisms of Ken Livingstone’s programme.
    The theme of your SP
    article is “Ken can’t carry out
    his promises,” which is exactly what Boris Johnson is saying.

    So does the SP advocate a vote for Boris Johnson?

  120. Robert P. Williams on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    The article says that the SP considers BJ a “Danger to the working class”… so no we don’t advocate a vote for BJ.

  121. It does seem odd. I don’t have a problem with saying (as a TUSC supporter and voter and a member of the SWP) I will be voting for Livingstone and am encouraging others to as well.

    That’s not an iron principle, and under other circumstances I might take a different position. In which case I’d say so. If I was planning to abstain I’d say so, for example.

    I suppose there are situations where there really isn’t a position to take on who to vote for – such as for the AFC Wimbledon Player of the Year, for example. Or an election for milk monitor. Is that the SP’s view on the London Mayoral election this year?

  122. Robert P. Williams on said:

    I don’t support candidates who advocate cuts on the scale that all three ‘cheeks’ support. The working class will suffer far more than I would be willing to endorse under any of the capitalist parties.

    I would only endorse a candidate who will fight all cuts.
    I’ve had it with the lesser-evil argument, it is getting us nowhere.

    Clear enough?

  123. Jellytot on said:

    It’s pretty clear from Robert P. William’s answers that the SP are calling on Londoners not to vote for anybody for London Mayor. It other words to abstain from voting in that particular part of the London Vote and and to elect a TUSC candidate on the London wide list.

    It’s not a position I agree with but it is a position.

  124. George Hallam on said:

    Lewisham People Before Profit is standing in the Greenwich and Lewisham constituency.

    Our candidate is Barbara Raymond who is also involved in the occupation of council houses to prevent their sell-off. Barbara works as an unpaid Family Support Worker at Greenwich Court and is also involved in Lewisham Pensioners’ Forum and the National Pensioners Parliament.

    LPBP has an economic programme that addresses Britain’s economic weaknesses. In line with this we are opposed to all cuts.

    We want more power to rest with ordinary people and so we are opposed to directly elected ‘executive mayors’ like Boris Johnson or Steve Bullock [Mayor of Lewisham].

    We are not backing any candidate for Mayor of London. To oppose the cuts, vote for TUSC on the Party List (orange) ballot paper.

    For more information see our website http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.org.uk/

  125. christian h. on said:

    As JT says, you may disagree with the SP’s position – I do as well – but you can’t accuse Robert of failing to answer the question. He did.

  126. redcogs on said:

    Is calling for a vote for Ken calling for a vote for capitalist Labour? i’d say it was.

    Why would any socialist organisation want to support capitalism?

    Could someone please explain?

    Surely the logical next move for those socialists who are prepared to urge support for the Labour version of the free market system may as well be to go the whole hog and register as paid up members of mercantile Milibands Party and seek to encourage softer forms of strike breaking, less murderous weapons of mass destruction etc, but to do so from within?

    Remaining neutrally silent on the matter of who to vote for in the Mayoral contest is a more honest and attractive proposition than urging the working class of London to vote for some employers lapdog and showman who will not take anyone a single inch towards socialism.

    If the Socialist Party are indeed refusing to ask the workers of London to vote for capitalism, then they are surely correct.

  127. The last comment makes me despair. If socialists can’t see the difference between a right wing Tory who talks about ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’, sneers at the ideas of gays marrying, supports naked greed in the City, etc and an imperfect Labour candidate who has opposed racism and sexism, was willing to invite Sinn Fein in the face of huge hostility and has been sufficiently associated with the left to have stood as an independent I just give up. In some ultra left fantasy world it may be possible to envisage a straight fight between The Socialist and The Capitalist ushering the Glad Day of Classless Heaven, but we deal with the real world. There, you have to take sides even though the candidate you back occupies an ambiguous position with some very positive elements and some negative ones. The dreamworld demagogues who want to fight the battles of a world that doesn’t exist will have great difficulty being heard in the world that does.

  128. I dont feel inclined to engage with the distracting noise from redcogs.

    But as the Socialist Party do have a limited but nevertheless not inconsequential footprint in the unions, the argument from Robert needs addressing.

    As I remarked before it is an extreme form of parliamentary cretinism to fetishise the question of voting “against all cuts” , when it is undefined what that even means, without any recognition of where the driving force behind the cuts comes from, what the level of ideological opposition to the cuts is, and what the real level of confidence and combativity to resist them is.

    So instead of regarding this as a tactical and strategic question, the SP lift it to be an arbitrary litmus test to differentiate themselves from the rest of the left.

    If translated into trade union terms it would mean a no compromise approach that would lead to industrial action as the only approach even when the union couldn’t win, it would lead to shop stewards being sacked, recognition being lost, and risk the union being shown to be a paper tiger.

    In the PCS where the SP have influence they wouldn’t be so stupid.

    And in UNITE the SP backed Len who is nit a headbanger.

    So why do.they lose all sense when it comes to elections?

  129. Karl Stewart on said:

    Robert,

    Two questions:

    1. If you can’t support any of the candidates, why didn’t you stand your own candidate?

    2. Where in Ken Livoingstone’s election programme does he advocate cuts? Which cuts is he calling for?

  130. faultylpgic on said:

    #144
    Just a question to Robert.
    Were the Militant right to call for a vote for Callaghan, Foot or Kinnock? I am sure we would agree they didn’t fight all cuts etc did they? But I recall Militant not just voting for these but going bonkers against anyone not in the labour party. It seems Robert is saying the Militant were wrong for all those years voting for Labour candidates who went along with capitalism and cuts etc..

  131. jim mclean on said:

    Should a councillor “oppose” cuts? Or perhaps ensure that their limited revenue is dispersed in a manner that the most vulnerable groups are protected from the harsher aspects of Westminster’s austerity plans.

  132. Karl Stewart on said:

    Robert, you said at (144) that you won’t support any candidate that advocates cuts.

    Which cuts are being “advocated” in Ken Livingstone’s mayoral election programme?

  133. Northern Lass on said:

    Karl stewart this is from this weeeks Socialist, Both Livingstone and Johnson accept the idea that working class people should pay off the debts of the bankers through cuts to public spending. That Johnson would support this is no surprise. But Livingstone, again disappointing many, said in January that he agrees with Labour’s backing of the government’s public sector pay freeze.

    Livingstone has even gone so far as to praise Labour leader Ed Miliband as a “visionary politician”. This is the same Ed Miliband who has said a future Labour government would not guarantee to reverse a single coalition spending cut!

  134. cliff foot on said:

    #156 – yes, but this aint news and Livingstone’s views on many things fuck a lot of people on the left off, me included. However, there are clear differences between him and Boris. A Tory victory will be a real setback for working class people, whereas if Ken were to win, people will expect him to deliver some reforms eg on transport, and Ken has a very credible record on ‘race’ and anti war issues.
    A ‘plague on both your houses’ approach condenms you to sectarian irrelevence, your choice, i suggest a rethink.

  135. Can we clarify, are we to assume that the SP led PCS will refuse to accept any compromise ever that would lead to loss of a members job?

    Does this mean that PCS will simply refuse to negotiate, allowing management a free hand?

    Or does it mean PCS would call for industrial action, even where it can’t deliver it?

    These are the suicidal positions that logically they would have to take to be consistent with what they are demanding of Labour councillors.

  136. Easternhemisphere on said:

    #158 “Does this mean that PCS will simply refuse to negotiate, allowing management a free hand?

    Or does it mean PCS would call for industrial action, even where it can’t deliver it?”

    This is a terrible analogy. Any trade unionist worth their salt would try to persuade members to fight. If the mood is not there you may have to accept compromises, even job losses if you are not strong enough to stop them. However that is very different to declaring in advance that you are not going to fight. To put it another way, would you urge support for a candidate in a union election who argued that there was no alternative to the unions members accepting a cut in living standards and a deterioration in working conditions just because they had a record of supporting anti-war demonstrations? That at least is a reasonable analogy and I’m sure some of you would, although personally I wouldn’t.

    Andy’s argument on Swindon council is badly thought out too. If you are not prepared to support an illegal deficit budget, then what would your support for a council workers’ strike against the resulting cuts be worth? An honest person who genuinely believed a labour council had no alternative but to carry through cuts would surely advise against such a strike. In reality that is the role that Labour lefts who don’t support setting an illegal budget, will play. They will express sympathy and oppose concrete action by unions and the local communities. If the mood for action amongst their members is too strong to resist some of them will be swept along and may even support strike action. However, even in this case their support will be half-hearted because they don’t believe it is going to lead anywhere positive short of a general election.

  137. Vanya on said:

    I don’t know why Robert has bee let off the hook. He hasn’t answered the question directly/ explicitly and in essence has refused to do so.

    Imo this is either out of petulance (I don’t have to do what you tell me to) or embarrassment on behalf of himself and his party that they have painted themselves into this corner with their sectarianism (which as Andy points out is in marked contradiction with the position they took on the Unite gs election) .

    As to why no candidate for mayor, could it be because TUSC (which in London includes the Morning Star, and nationally the SWP) simply wouldn’t agree with it? And the SP don’t want to waste resources or risk splitting TUSC (or possibly their own party) by standing themselves?

    That I suspect is also the reason why Robert, echoing the position in the article in the Socialist, refuses to give an explicit and direct answer as to whether the SP oppose Livingstone.

    And that is the point.

    Every vote that doesn’t go to Ken is a vote for Boris.

    And if you talk about ‘the best way to hold Livingstone to his promises…’, you are hardly being unambiguous about your feelings about the politics of the two, are you?

  138. Karl Stewart on said:

    But Robert, Ken Livingstone is arguing that there is an alternative.

    He hasn’t advocated cuts in his election programme. Apart from a 7 per cent cut in fares.

    The rest of his policy platform is based on investment and growth.

    An extension to the DLR, development of electric-powered buses to be built in London – creating more jobs.

    Cheaper fuel costs for Londoners through a new fuel co-op.

    Regulation of private rents and better rights for tenants.

    The building of more council housing.

    And he isn’t advocating a public-sector pay freeze – that’s simply untrue.

    In fact, Ken Livingstone is pledged to give lower paid counci employees an above-inflation pay rise if he’s elected.

    Robert, which of these policies do you oppose?

    And how on earth can you say there’s no difference with Johnson?

  139. Its interesting to see just how important the left, other socialists etc see the opinion of the Socialist Party to be. In other threads I’m sure I’ve read people saying how small and insignificant they are!

  140. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 125 ~~~ so who is sneering now?
    Yes Vanya my busy social life, both personal and political, does intrude on being an internet sado, I am sorry about that but that is the way of Life for me.

    Today, and the past week, I was campaigning for the candidate who is standing for the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition. Now in our area of the Scotland, the Lothians, the First bus company is closing a bus depot, reducing another making 200 staff redundant and closing down all the rural routes. Part of our campaign is for the two bus companies, First and Lothian Buses, to be brought into public ownership and an integrated public transport policy created for Edinburgh and the Lothains. Now when we discuss out in the streets our plans with the public, of all ages, there is positive response to the idea of public ownership. Now we, the SACC, were the first to organise the petition against the Cuts instituted by First, and by the way this is a political question because the bus company is destroying the public transport system because of the cuts imposed from the SNP government, who are carrying out the austerity programme from the ConDem government, now the Scottish Labour Party has jumped on the bandwagon and were out in force today with their petition, which bemoaned the Council/Government but offered no solutions to the situation. Due to the fact that they have no solutions, only acceptance of the austerity programme, only slower.

    Which comes to the questions who do the Socialist Party/ Socialist Party Scotland advocate in the council elections? I think Robert P Williams explains the position quite clearly, along with the SP article that has been posted in several places on this site over the past few days. I consider there is a nick-picking and deliberate distortion on this question from the detractors of the SP. Or maybe it is because of the question that I have discussed before on other threads that the political understanding of the long standing contributors is at such a low level they cannot see it. I do not know, because for the life of me the SP article clearly states what the SP mean

    But let’s make it quite clear how we look at the question of Livingstone in London and that can be translated through-out the country in the local elections, and we are taking about the local elections not some abstract parliamentary election at the moment, by giving this quote from the aforementioned article: “Both Livingstone and Johnson accept the idea that working class people should pay off the debts of the bankers through cuts to public spending. That Johnson would support this is no surprise. But Livingstone, again disappointing many, said in January that he agrees with Labour’s backing of the government’s public sector pay freeze.”

    Now from that point of view there cannot be a vote advocated for any Labour Party candidate who will, if they become elected, carry out the ConDem austerity programme, and they will because that is what the Labour Party leadership say; if there are not Anti-Cuts candidates elected to hold them to account. Whether it is in London, the rest of England or Scotland! If I lived in London I would not vote in the Mayoral election, just as will not vote in my council election, because there is not an anti-cuts candidate standing. All the candidates standing support Cuts, I do not. But that is different from telling people not to vote for the Labour or SNP candidate. I have a dialogue with the working class not just at election time, but week in week out to explain to them that the Labour Party is no different from the Tories/SNP, because they advocate austerity because they do not have an understanding of the current economic crisis and how to solve it. I explain that we, the working class, needs to fight against the austerity programme in the election by voting for anti-cuts candidates to taking the fight into the council chambers and build the campaign in the communities and with the public sector trade unions to defeat the austerity programme and the Government along with it. That is the way to do it. By explaining this case and building the struggle against the ConDem austerity programme we are constructing an opposition force in the class struggle to change the balance of forces in the working classes favour to stop and end the austerity programme and Government.

    How TUSC, the SACC and any other anti-cuts candidate will do in the May elections I do not know. But we are trying to build an alternative for the working class to have a point of reference against all the main stream political parties that support the austerity programme, and Labour and Livingstone support cuts by their statements. But whatever votes they get, high or low, it will still not be good enough for you ‘old time contributors’, you will still carp and whinge. The problem with the ‘old time contributors’ here is that they want to dot ever I and cross every T even before they will leave the their internet safety and cross their front doors to engage with the working class; apart from Mr Newman who is in fact a Miliband Clone and does not think for himself. Now I am not sneering, I am telling it as it is, sorry I do not have any airs and graces.

    Now Vanya I will be going to my Mother’s today to make her dinner and so on and I will be back late so I will not be responding to any comments that are made against the above today; or at all because as Robert said this discussion is going nowhere. And I have a full week ahead of personal and political activity. But I would like to tentatively suggest that you start to go out into the communities, and not just to do election work, and advocate your ideas, as I do week in and week out, and see where it takes you.

  141. Karl Stewart on said:

    Clive, the SP’s position is important because it, along with the SWP and CP, has been one of the three non-Labour left organisations of any significance.

    JimmyH, once again, Ken Livingstone does not advocate a public-sector pay freeze. Ken Livingstone has pledged an above-inflation pay rise for lower paid council emloyees.

    So it’s simply untrue to claim that Ken Livingstone advocates a a public-sector pay freeze.

    Also, Ken Livingstone has not advocated cuts – apart from cuts in fares and reduced energy prices – so to claim that Ken Livingstone advocates “cuts” is also untrue.

    So, having been thoroughly trounced in the political argument, the SP is now simply lying about Ken Livingstone’s policy programme.

    Tory lies are aimed at getting the Tory candidate elected.

    But what is the SP’s purpose with their lies here?

  142. Jimmy H you really need to get your story straight- is it pointless and too much of a waste of your clearly valuable time to post on here or not?

    I am very confused.

    I am also confused as to why the fact that you have time to both post on here and carry out political activiity doesn’t make you an internet saddo, while for others who don’t share your political affiliation it does.

    Strange that.

    Btw I’ve been up early this morning as a pro-Palestinian protest at Manchester airport. Hopefully there will be a post with photos/ video shortly from others who were there.

  143. It seems to me that the interests of the Socialist Party (and often the SWP) are not well served by their self-appointed tribunes here. And not only here.
    Other partcipants in this discussion should lay off Jimmy Haddow style and concentrate on what he says – the positive elements of which are often obscured by the hostile buzz around his less useful utterances.
    Without much effort we can see quite a big gap between the positions taken say, by Callinicoss, and the real world pragmatism and selfless work by many SWPers.
    And whenever I have heard the Great Leader of the Socialist Party speak I wonder how he manages to square his world view with the actual role his members often play in the trade union movement.
    The problem of people who subjectively view themselves as revolutionaries, who try to think and behave like revolutionaries but who live and work in a manifestly un-revolutionary situation is often resolved by a language (and by rituals) remote from the mass of people.
    Very dangerous.

  144. Karl Stewart on said:

    I love how JimmyH suddenly breaks off from his “David Ellis” ranting to give us his itinery for the day…

    “…so, down with Livingstone and to the barricades comrades and I’ve just got to pop down to Sainsbury’s to make the most of their ‘two-for-one’ offers and then pop in to see my mum…”

  145. Jimmy H you say you have a dialogue with the working class, in your words “to explain to them … …’

    Do you never learn anything yourself during this “dialogue”?

  146. George Hallam on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: How TUSC, the SACC and any other anti-cuts candidate will do in the May elections I do not know. But we are trying to build an alternative for the working class to have a point of reference against all the main stream political parties that support the austerity programme, and Labour and Livingstone support cuts by their statements. But whatever votes they get, high or low, it will still not be good enough for you ‘old time contributors’, you will still carp and whinge. The problem with the ‘old time contributors’ here is that they want to dot ever I and cross every T even before they will leave the their internet safety and cross their front doors to engage with the working class

    That says it for me.

    As Benjamin Franklin observed, any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

  147. “But I would like to tentatively suggest that you start to go out into the communities, and not just to do election work, and advocate your ideas, as I do week in and week out, and see where it takes you.”

    I’ve seldom read such pompous shite. Jimmy we all live in communities in the course of normal interaction we get the opportunity advocate our ideas. That’s how ideas are spread.

    You seem to think you are a missionary bringing light to the dark areas of humanity. Maybe you should give up Milliedom and become a street corner evangelist roaring away about the one true way at the indifferent and unenlightened.

  148. Karl Stewart on said:

    George,
    Ken Livingstone has pledged an above-inflation pay rise for lower paid GLA workers.

    Therefore he does not advocate a public-sector pay freeze.

    And he’s pledged to extend the DLR, the Croydon Tram and to start the manufacture, in London, of electric-powered buses – increasing the size of the fleet and creating new jobs in the capital.

    He’s also pledged to cut Londoners’ domestic fuel bills through Transport for London, divert pension fund investment into council house building and introduce new regulations on private rents, along with greater security for tenants.

    Oh, and he’s pledged to retore the £30 per week EMA.

    What part of this policy platform do you disagree with?

    Where in his election policy platform does Ken Livingstone advocate cuts? (Apart from cuts in fares and fuel prices?)

  149. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: George,
    Ken Livingstone has pledged an above-inflation pay rise for lower paid GLA workers.

    I am well aware of Mr. Livingstone’s pledges.

    When we can to Lewisham recently he asked the audience:

    “Who wants us to build council houses again. Put your hand up if you want to build council houses again”.

    The whole audience raised their hands. The whole audience except that is the front row, which consisted of the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, and his acolytes who sat motionless.

    The point was that the Labour Party in Lewisham doesn’t build council houses and has no intention of doing so. On the contrary it has a long-term policy of selling off council-owned houses at auction (something PBP has recently managed to halt – at least for the moment).

    As the meeting ended I jokingly suggested that instead of the London Mayor he should stand for Mayor of Lewisham. With his policy on building council houses he could win a lot of support.

    He laughed and then said what a good person Steve Bullock is. “I’ve known Steve for years, he used to work for me.”, he said with a winning smile.

    Karl,what do you make of this performance? (I think ‘performance’ is the most appropriate word here.)

    The conclusion I drew was that Mr. Livingstone is not someone I would choose to go tiger shooting with.

  150. So George, your position is because there is a battle between left and right within the labour party … … you refuse to back the left.

    Hilarious!

  151. George Hallam on said:

    andy newman: So George, your position is because there is a battle between left and right within the labour party … … you refuse to back the left.

    No, this is not my position.

    I can’t see why anything I said would make you think that.

    As to a “battle between left and right within the labour party”, there doesn’t seem to be one. Read Livingston’s comment to me about Bullock.

  152. Karl Stewart on said:

    George, you’re unbelievable!

    You’ve just said that you’ve heard Ken Livingstone publicly pledge that he wants to build more council houses.

    And that there are people in the Labour Party who don’t agree with him.

    And for this reason you’re not supporting him for mayor of London?????

    A Ken Livingstone victory would strengthen the hand of those who want to build council houses?

    A defeat for Ken Livingstone would strengthen the hand of those who don’t want to build council houses.

    But because of this you’re not supporting Ken Livingstone?

    George, there’s no logic to that position whatsoever.

    Do you SP guys ever stop to wonder why your party is in terminal decline?

  153. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: George, you’re unbelievable!

    You’ve just said that you’ve heard Ken Livingstone publicly pledge that he wants to build more council houses.

    No, it’s Livingstone who’s incredible, I’m just skeptical.

    Read my account again.

    What I heard was Livingstone ask his audience if they would like to build council houses. If there was a pledge then it must have been pretty vague because I missed it.
    .

  154. Karl Stewart on said:

    Oh I see George,
    Well I’ve heard him say he wants to divert pension fund investments to fund a council house building programme of half a million new homes.

    What do you think?

    Do you think council house building is a good idea?

    Would a Ken Livingstone victory make council house building more or less likely?

  155. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Oh I see George,
    Well I’ve heard him say he wants to divert pension fund investments to fund a council house building programme of half a million new homes.

    What do you think?

    Do you think council house building is a good idea?

    Would a Ken Livingstone victory make council house building more or less likely?

    Yes and No Difference.

    A switch to council house building would be a massive change in policy.

    It will take a whole movement to achieve that.

    Livingstone is not interested in building such a movement.

    He is a machine politician.

    He’s very good at pushing the right buttons to get people to support him.

    Don’t expect anything else off him and you won’t be disappointed.

  156. George Hallam on said:

    andy newman: Is George HaLLam in the SP or the Sparticist League?

    No

    Mr. Livingstone has been a force in the London Labour Party since he rejoined in 2004.
    My question is, what did he do to change Labour Party policy on council housing in places like, for example, Lewisham?

  157. christian h. on said:

    Nick (166.): Whereas Nick “shoot the dentists” Wright is sadly a very accurate representative of his political tradition.

  158. Karl Stewart says “Well I’ve heard him say he wants to divert pension fund investments to fund a council house building programme of half a million new homes.”.

    Genuine question – If pension funds are to be “invested” in building council homes then what rate of return is to expected and who pays for it – the tenants?

  159. George Hallam: Yes and No Difference.A switch to council house building would be a massive change in policy.It will take a whole movement to achieve that.Livingstone is not interested in building such a movement. He is a machine politician.He’s very good at pushing the right buttons to get people to support him.Don’t expect anything else off him and you won’t be disappointed.

    If Livingstone wins he will have a mandate to build Council Housing. I would like that and so would many others in London. Combined with action for fairer fares and reinstatement of EMA this is a package that would benefit millions.

    You think Livingstone is a machine politician presumably on the grounds that he wins elections. Yet Livingstone is someone who has delivered time and time again on major policy initiatives.

    London needs Livingstone to win this election and anyone who thinks otherwise is really living in an alternative universe.

  160. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jim:
    Karl Stewart says “Well I’ve heard him say he wants to divert pension fund investments to fund a council house building programme of half a million new homes.”.

    Genuine question – If pension funds are to be “invested” in building council homes then what rate of return is to expected and who pays for it – the tenants?

    Hi Jim, at the meeting I was at where Ken Livingstone talked about this, if I understood correctly, the local authority pension fund would then be the legal “owner” of the council houses.
    In answer to a question on “right-to-buy” Livingtone said that council houses built under such a system would be exempted from the right-to-buy legislation.

    George, your argument that Ken Livingstone’s policies are unattainable are simply an ultra-leftist version of Boris Johnson argument that the policies are unattainable.

  161. Karl, thanks for that but it doesn’t answer my question about rates of return and who would pay for them. Your reply also suggests that the new homes will not be “council” houses either but have some sort of effectively private ownership even if ownership is by a “local authority pension fund”. Now, as a tenants’ activist of many years standing I support the building of new council homes – there’s a desperate need for them everywhere but it’s not pedantic to ask the question I’ve asked. Rents are skyrocketing and tenants’ are paying the price. With recent negative changes in housing benefit it would be a retrograde move to make providing homes for those in need as a moneyspinner for anyone including pension funds. We’ve seen the transfer (privatisation) of thousands of council homes through LSVT over the last twenty years with the only real beneficiaries being the financial institutions. It’s one thing to build new homes for rent but it should not be allowed to become a means of further wealth transfer from poor to rich. Why doesn’t Ken Livingstone simply advocate the building of new council homes full stop or is it that he does not want to be seen challenging the financially “impossible” but rather as a “responsible” politician working within the parameters of existing government policy and spending restrictions? I don’t live in London and consequently the issue is from one perspective peripheral to me but it seems that Livingstone is not putting forward radical policies that challenge the status quo. There needs to be more ambition from Labour candidates particularly those claiming to be left.

  162. George Hallam on said:

    SA: You think Livingstone is a machine politician presumably on the grounds that he wins elections. Yet Livingstone is someone who has delivered time and time again on major policy initiatives.

    No. My assessment of Livingstone is not based on the fact that he has been able to win election. However, it does have something to do with the way he wins elections.

    I’ve only ever heard Livingstone speak a handful of times and I’d never spoken to him before the meeting I described. On the other hand I have, in a desultory manner and from a distance, observed him over a long period. Apart form the stuff in the press and his books I have, from time to time, chatted with people who have worked closely with the man.

    I’ve noticed the following about his political modus operandi:

    He has never built a cohesive movement. Livingstone’s “empire” has always been a Habsburg-style patchwork of domains rather than a unified territory. This has meant that he while he has been able to win a lot of votes his base has always been fragile.

    He is good at publicity. He tend to achieve this through being outspoken or making gestures, often on peripheral issues that appeal to one of his many constituencies. He tends to avoid fundamental questions. This complements the fragmentary nature of his following.

    He always has a loyal band of willing hands and feet to mobilise support. These have been formed by a succession of ‘left’ groups that are impressed (dazzled) by his ability to win elections and are flattered by his attention.

  163. George Hallam on said:

    Jim: Your reply also suggests that the new homes will not be “council” houses either but have some sort of effectively private ownership even if ownership is by a “local authority pension fund”.

    Well spotted.

  164. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: George, your argument that Ken Livingstone’s policies are unattainable are simply an ultra-leftist version of Boris Johnson argument that the policies are unattainable.

    Wow! I never realized that I was an ultra-leftist stooge for Boris Johnson. That’s a guilt-by-association double-hit. If this were Scrabble you would have scored a lot of points.

    Alternatively, given the parameters he’s working with, Livingstone’s policies are unattainable and Mr. Johnson and myself are simply pointing out the obvious.

  165. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I have noted your comments and I would like to apologies if my words have caused offense. You are correct I do not see the world as you do and I should have taken my advice in post 100. I suppose my ‘angry tone’ comes from the fact that the older contributors on this site seem to be so empirical in their political outlook. For example, Mr Stewart continual argues that Ken Livingstone has never said that he will make cuts and only put forward positive social policies for the people of London and for that, Mr Stewart says, he must be supported. Agreed that is the superficial position, but the logic of the present economic crisis which is going to last for a very long time, combined with the austerity programme will mean that Livingstone if he wins will, as the Labour Mayor, either stand up to the Government or capitulate and carry out cuts.

    This thread started off about RESPECT and the Greens joining together in an electoral alliance. So let us look at the only Green Party council in Britain, Brighton. When the Greens won last year in Brighton the ‘left’ were empirically sycophantic over the victory here and other media outlets. I believe that I, and others, made a number of comments that if the Brighton Green Council was to stand up to the Government austerity programme on the people of Brighton was that they were to develop a fighting strategy of a Needs Budget and building a campaign with the Brighton people to fight any cuts that the Government was going to impose. The Green Party did not do that and what did they do was proposals amounting to £35 million of ‘savings’ over the next two years; and the impact of these cuts will see 120 posts axed, as well as funding reductions in a number of vital services. The point is the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition (BSTCC) in which SP members participate warned the Greens before the election and after that if they fail to take a stand against the ConDems then they will impose cuts. And the pragmatic, empiric, ( and sometimes Pontius Pilate) view by the majority of older contributors is to accept that policy. I do not and will continue to advocate the building of a mass movement to demand extra funding to maintain and increase council services. BTW I agree with the contributor on post 45 that the Green party is pro-capitalist and not a party of the Left, even though there may some people in it who consider themselves left-wing. Even after the experience of the Greens in Brighton there are contributors who put them on a pedestal.

    Once again I apologies for my tone which is as harsh as my Scottish accent and my Trotskyist politics!

  166. This discussion is increasingly bizarre.

    On the issue of council housing we have soi dissant “leftists ” being scornful of Labour Party initiatives to build because the exact ownership and funding model is not the same as in 1960.

    The first I heard of this idea was from Alison Seabeck when she was shadow housing minister, I think the idea is that the councils use land they already own and arrange to borrow from the LGPS. Given the existing rent levels and the stability of housing as an investment then very attractive borrowing rates could be achieved.

  167. Vanya on said:

    Jim- my view as someone who was a council tenant and campaigned to stop my block and the rest of the remaining council stock in Manchester being transferred to a housing association, is that there is still a huge difference between being the tenant of a social landlord on the one hand and a private one on the other.

    I would always argue that such transfers should be opposed, and – would prefer new social housing to be council owned every time.

    But the difference in security of tenure provided by an assured tenancy aginst an assured shorthold tenancy, is nothing to be sniffed at.

  168. #191 Liam the article is very interesting, but your current’s commitment to a demoratic party was rather compromised in my opinion by your decision to walk out when you lost a vote at the last conference.

    You clearly made a mistake then and it’s a shame that you can’t find a way now to correct it.

  169. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow:
    Mr Stewart continual argues that Ken Livingstone has never said that he will make cuts and only put forward positive social policies for the people of London and for that, Mr Stewart says, he must be supported.Agreed that is the superficial position, but the logic of the present economic crisis which is going to last for a very long time, combined with the austerity programme will mean that Livingstone if he wins will, as the Labour Mayor, either stand up to the Government or capitulate and carry out cuts.

    You’re saying that Ken Livingstone, if elected, may or may not enact all of his programme. Well surely what we need to do is keep these campaign pledges high on the political agenda and publicise them as widely as possible. This will help to build the political environment in which these policies can be pushed through, despite Tory opposition.

    The worst response is to say, as the Tories are saying, that this programme is impossible.

    That’s utter nonsense. London’s economy is larger than many sovereign states and is more than capable of comfortably being able to provide for the housing, jobs, transport, health, welfare and education needs of all of its citizens.

    What’s been lacking has been the political will to do so and the political environment in which not meeting these needs is unacceptable – Livingstone’s victory will be a step in this direction and we should be pushing in this direction too – not regurgitating the Tories’ attacks.

    Jim, on the housing issue, I don’t agree that such a funding source would mean that the homes would be privately owned. The local authority pension funds are a public financial source. Another advantage of this funding proposal is that – according to Ken Livingstone – the ‘right-to-buy’ legislation does not apply. So there is an added protection against future dimunition of stock.

  170. John Grimshaw on said:

    “The pink ballot paper is to elect the mayor. Electors can vote for two candidates in order of preference. TUSC is not standing for mayor.

    The yellow ballot paper is to elect a Constituency London Assembly Member, in a first-past-the-post vote. London is divided into 14 multi-borough constituencies. Each constituency elects one Assembly member. TUSC is not standing in the constituencies.

    The orange ballot paper is to elect the remaining eleven Assembly members – the London-wide Assembly Members – from party lists in a form of proportional representation. This is the ballot paper where you can vote for TUSC. This is the crucial vote – the one that gives us the chance to shake up the Assembly. If TUSC receives 5% of the vote the candidate at the top of the list will be elected.”

    The above is from an article in the Socialist advising people on how to vote in the forthcoming elections. It is clear what SP (TUSC) are saying should be voted for the rest however is a mystery. Since TUSC is not standing for mayor I assume that I am to understand that they are calling on its supporters to abstain in this area? Further I assume that the reason for this is that Livingstone is an untrustworthy Labourite, and that his politics are the same as Boris Johnsons? I am not a Livingstone supporter but it is clear to me that his policy issues are not the same as Johnsons and more importantly that a vote for Livingstone is an anti-Tory vote. So I shall reluctantly but happily be voting for him on May 3rd. What happened to the notion that revolutionary socialists should be vote for the social democratic candidate in the absence of anything better to get them in and put them on the spot and demand that they deliver.

  171. LA pension funds, like any other investment funds, are supposed to try to get the best possible rate of return for their investors. That is their job, and there are all sorts of regulations to ensure that this happens. If they go into housing in a big way, they will need to show a decent return. The best way to do this as a landlord is to charge market rents and allocate housing on the basis of ability to pay. And tenants won’t have any means of influencing their landlords through the ballot box, because the landlord will not be a council, but an investment fund.

    Of course it is a good thing for LA pension funds to invest in the communities where their pensioners live, so there is a strong case to be made for investing in housing. But it wouldn’t be council housing, and it is silly to pretend otherwise.

  172. Karl Stewart on said:

    No-one’s “pretending” Francis, this is a proposal I’ve heard Ken Livingstone put forward during a campaign speech.

    It makes perfect sense to me. Surely it’s better for these funds to be put towards something socially useful rather than invested in the capitalist stock market.

    This is an odd conversation, people on the left seeming to argue for “rates of return” and “market rents” when a socially beneficial use for public funds is being mooted.

    Of course it’s a good thing for these public funds to be used for housing.

  173. prianiikoff on said:

    As someone who never joined Respect after the split in the Socialist Alliance, I remain unconvinced that “Bradford changes everything”
    All that we know so far is that George Galloway can win elections to Parliament and that Respect can win council positions.
    Liam’s account of Repect’s rise, fall and rise on the SR web-site is quite revealing..
    In particular, the recent proposal to wind down Respect to foundation status, which the Bradford result narrowly averted.

    If Respect wins the majority of a whole council in May, then there will be more evidence of a qualititative political breakthrough.
    But it would be no more than the one “Militant” achieved in the 1980′s, when it had 4 MP’s and ran Liverpool Council.
    Such a victory would pose the question of what tactics such a council would adopt in fighting the cuts.
    It would be relevant to many other councils too, creating the possibility of mobilising people from a variety of parties in a common struggle against the Coalition.
    This could certainly involve Left wing Labour, Greens, and even supporters of Plaid and SNP.

    But the Greens, Plaid and SNP are not working class organisations.
    They don’t have an organic relationship with the unions and all of therm have implemented cuts in areas that they control.
    So the idea of a common electoral programme with them is potentially a dangerous one.

    Nor do I see any imminent prospect of members of the Labour Party and unions deserting en-masse to Respect.
    In all the time I’ve spent on stalls and demos against the cuts over the past year, I’ve only met one solitary person who was a potential supporter of Respect.

    There is certainly a layer of Labour supporters who are critical of the the leadership of the party.
    Young people are alienated from politics in general. Those whose parents traditionally vote Labour don’t automatically follow suit.
    In the run up to the local elections, they’re not being reached by traditional canvassing methods.

    Right wing Labour councillors will lose support in areas where they’ve been implementing the cuts.
    However, Labour membership is up and activity is generally quite high.
    Contrary to what some argue, winning people to the left of the party is relatively easy.
    What’s harder is arguing for socialist, as opposed to neo-Keynesian policies.
    But in fact, that problem applies to most the Left of Labour parties too!

    In France, the real contest in the Presidential Elections will be between Sarkozy and Hollande.
    Le Pen’s vote will transfer to Sarkozy and Melenchon’s to Hollande and PS.
    Mutatis, mutandis, the same applies in Britain.
    Even if Respect picks up votes in May, Labour still represents the alternative to the Coalition.
    As long as that’s true, and Labour gets the support fo the majority of the working class, it’s necessary to promote socialist policies within the Labour Party.

  174. #198 In spite of what I said above Francis does in fact make a reasonable point.

    Pension fund trustees have a legal duty to try and get the best return possible on investments, whatever you or I feel morally they should be doing.

    So while my bottom line, as stated above, is that we want social housing and not the shorthold tenancies offered by private landlords, it is very much preferable that such social housing is owned by the local authority.

    And interestingly, when Gerald Kaufman came out in support of our campaign, taking the opposite line to the (Labour run) council, he made the same point as Francis about accountability in a leaflet that we distributed.

    None of which should detract one iota from the need to support Ken for mayor.

    #196 As I said earlier in this or another thread, I suspect there are strong differences within TUSC in London on this question, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are not within the SP as well.

  175. Karl – I am neither arguing, nor seeming to argue, for anything. I am merely pointing out what a pension fund does, and, as Vanya confirms, is legally obliged to do. LA pension funds are not “public” funds. They belong to their current and future pensioners, and can only pay out the pensions if they show a decent rate of return. So if they start directly investing in housing, it won’t be a social service but a money-making scheme; alternatively if they start lending to councils to build houses, again, it will be in the expectation of profits comparable to what they could get elsewhere in the market. For pension funds to behave otherwise would be a dereliction of their duty to their stakeholders.

  176. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hmmm……well if I was wealthy enough to have enough excess money to become a member of one of these savings schemes, then I’d be delighted that the funds were being used to provide housing for the homeless.

    I think that’s an excellent use of spare money.

    What’s interesting in this is that Ken Livingstone has started from some pretty basic principles,
    1. People need homes to live in
    2. London’s one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
    3. Let’s use some of that wealth to build homes for people who need them.

  177. Vanya – I think it was you who suggested we should all learn to be more relaxed about having agreed positions on every issue, wasn’t it?

  178. #203 “Hmmm……well if I was wealthy enough to have enough excess money to become a member of one of these savings schemes…”

    Interesting way of referring to local authority employee members of pension schemes Karl.

    Watch out, someone might start calling you a tory prtending to be left-wing :)

  179. #204 Good point. Have I assumed correctly that TUSC doesn’t have its own postion on the mayor election then?

  180. “Interesting way of referring to local authority employee members of pension schemes Karl. Watch out, someone might start calling you a tory prtending to be left-wing”

    Or even a “soi-disant” leftist.

    In a thread about whether councillors should pass on cuts because they can’t legally do otherwise it’s bizarre to think that the Trustees of pension schemes can just do as they please because they fancy supporting social housing rather than getting the best returns for their members, as they are bound and trussed up hand and foot by the law to do.

  181. The SWP says vote Ken to beat Boris. The SP seems to be advocating abstention.
    So… no?

  182. sheffielder on said:

    As a Green candidate next month and a member of Green Left i would certainly not be in favour of anything more than localised electoral arrangements with Respect. There is no chance whatsoever of a merger , or even a national electoral pact. The Greens are firmly to the left of Respect on social issues such as gay equality and abortion rights as well as on the economy where we go far beyond aping Old Labour.
    There are a few on here who try to say that the Greens are pro-capitalist and not working class which is bizarre. You are certainly more likely to meet a cross section of society at Green meetings than any other left grouping. The idea that the SP/SWP are working class and we are middle class is completely inaccurate.
    As for Brighton the decision made by the Council was forced by pisspoor behaviour by Labour as Andy Newman has acknowledged on this thread. However many Green members disagree with the line taken , including Caroline Lucas (a local MP). The Green Party gives a lot of autonomy to local parties and is not controlled by a behind closed doors CC(SWP) or a leader who has been in control for nearly 50 years(SP). This leads to decisions that others may not agree with but it is decided democratically by local members.

    In London i hope Jenny Jones makes in impact in the vote for Mayor. I appreciate that lots of people may vote Livingstone to get rid of Johnson however a more radical voice against the cuts needs to be heard and Jenny provides that.

  183. Karl Stewart on said:

    Vanya:
    #203 “Hmmm……well if I was wealthy enough to have enough excess money to become a member of one of these savings schemes…”

    Interesting way of referring to local authority employee members of pension schemes Karl.

    Watch out, someone might start calling you a tory prtending to be left-wing

    Errr….what’s “Tory” about arguing for money to be used to fund social housing rather than invested in the capitalist stock market?
    Which Tory argues for that?

  184. Vanya on said:

    #211 I was (I thought humorously) referring to the suggestion that members of a local authority pension fund could be described as wealthy members of a saving scheme.

    They are after all among the people the public sector unions were leading on strike in November last year, including some of the poorest paid.

    The tory press was trying to portray such people as priveleged compared to those employed by the private sector with worse or no pension schemes.

    On the housing issue let’s be clear:

    1)Pension fund trustees are, as Mike points out, legally obliged to get the best return for their investments on behalf of their members.

    It’s not about people making morally or politically better choices in terms of investment.

    2) Getting the best return for investment is not necessarally compatible with being a good social landlord (keeping rents down, being tolerant of arrears for those in difficulties etc).

    3) But social housing, even if it isn’t council, is in almost all cases better than private rented.

  185. Vanya actually meant that it’s very much a Tory attitude to say that people in public sector and local government pensions schemes are “wealthy”. Or haven’t you noticed the unprecedented attacks going on against them at the moment?

  186. Vanya on said:

    “The Greens are firmly to the left of Respect on social issues such as gay equality and abortion rights…”

    Not sure what being further to the left means when it comes to social issues, but I would be interested to see the evidence for your assertion.

    I mean in terms of party policy btw for the avoidance of doubt.

    I’ve met one or two Greens over the years who are anti-abortion but I know that doesn’t reflect your party policy.

  187. #201

    Francis King: if they start directly investing in housing, it won’t be a social service but a money-making scheme; alternatively if they start lending to councils to build houses, again, it will be in the expectation of profits comparable to what they could get elsewhere in the market. For pension funds to behave otherwise would be a dereliction of their duty to their stakeholders

    I think you miss the point here. A pension fund will have a raft of different investments at different rates of return, and generally higher interest rates are associated with higher risk; and lower rates with lower risk.

    Lending to a local authority is already low risk; and lending for housing is lower risk still; and I know of discussions between Labour councillors and LGPS fund managers that suggest that given the current low base rates, then very attractive funding arrangements could be obtained from the LGPS funds for social housing.

    This is not an abstract question, it si one contingent on the specific oppotunity.

  188. Karl Stewart on said:

    OK, let’s have the “saving money for the future is a fundamentally reactionary concept” argument another time.

    Back to the point. If there are enormous sums of money lying idle or being invested in the stock market, then why not divert those monies to fund the building of council houses?

    I can’t for the life of me see why anyone could object to this?

    Statutory rent regulation is the way to address any concerns over tenants’ rights? But such concerns exisit regardless of whether this particular proposal is actually introduced.

    As for the rules regulating the various schemes, there is no law forbidding investment in social housing. Nor is there a covenant or trust deed in any of the local authority schemes forbidding such investment.

    It comes down to an interpretation as to the wisdom or otherwise of such investment.

  189. George Hallam on said:

    tony collins: Watch out, someone might start calling you a tory prtending to be left-wing

    Errr….what’s “Tory” about arguing for money to be used to fund social housing rather than invested in the capitalist stock market?
    Which Tory argues for that?

    This has now become very convoluted and rather silly. So it is understandable that you have missed the point.

    The suggestion is that you might be taken for a Conservative who was “pretending to be left-wing”, that is, for an agent provocateur who is putting forward an illusory scheme with the intention of damaging the credibility of ‘The Left’.
    The useful points that have emerged through this discussion are:

    Mr. Livingstone’s scheme would use money from the local authority pension fund to build houses for rent.
    These properties would be exempt from ‘right to buy’ legislation.
    This is because the legal owner of the houses would be the pension fund, not the council.
    Consequently, they would not be ‘council houses’ except in the Pickwickian sense of the term.
    On the positive side, the result would be to both increase the quantity of rented property available and to offer terms superior to those provided by private landlords.
    On the negative side, the advantages offered over a commercial scheme could not be very great because the investor, the pension fund, would be legal obliged to get the best possible rate of return. Assuming that the scheme was classified as ‘low-risk’ the interest rate would be relatively low, but no lower than a similar private scheme.

  190. “If Respect wins the majority of a whole council in May, then there will be more evidence of a qualititative political breakthrough.
    But it would be no more than the one “Militant” achieved in the 1980′s, when it had 4 MP’s and ran Liverpool Council.”

    Except Millitant was part of the Labour Party and stood as Labour rather than as an independent entity. Millitant’s subsequent electoral sallies in England have produced very little.

    If Respect were to gain control of Bradford it would be an achievement of a different order.

  191. Vanya on said:

    #217 “OK, let’s have the “saving money for the future is a fundamentally reactionary concept” argument another time.”

    Yes but I suggest (with a view to a possible date in the future) that you have it on the picket line with public sector workers fighting to protect their pensions.

  192. Nadia Chern on said:

    Respect is standing 12 candidates in Bradford in which a third of the seats on the council are up. There is not the slightest arithmetical possibility of Respect gaining control of a council at this stage. To analyze the possibilities, lets start with some reality.

    Prianikoff, despite his obvious froth against Respect, is quite correct to note that most of the anti-ConDem vote will go to Labour. Talking to a local Green candidate a couple of days ago, he confirmed that this was his experience despite possessing a good local vote over the last couple of years. The electoral field will continue to remain difficult for Respect which is the reason why it has concentrated its campaigns in Bradford and Tower Hamlets this year.

    As for Green collaboration, Respect remains very interested in seeking to mximize this though I find Josiah’s article appallingly ill informed on the British and European history (the comparison with Europe is puzzling as Josiah does not seem to have noticed a different electoral system will affect coalitional tactics). The local arrangements in the North West of England have largely foundered on the Green position that to aggregate its own vote in preparation for the Euro elections, it must stand in every ward even when against Respect.

    Its not a criticism to note this, just to point to the electoral realities that affect dreams of alliance. Electoral strategy will often make alliance difficult even with the political will to work together.

    As for Sheffielder’s remarks, just another ignorance feigning knowledge.

  193. Jellytot on said:

    @215Not sure what being further to the left means when it comes to social issues, but I would be interested to see the evidence for your assertion.

    Me too ‘Sheffieder’ at #210.

    Interested in how you come to that conclusion.

  194. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition London Assembly Election Broadcast 2012

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCPvcnDRboU

    The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing around the country, for the Mayor of Liverpool, and on the London list for the Greater London Assembly elections on 3 May 2012.

    “Alex Gordon, train driver and President of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers Union RMT, is the lead candidate on the TUSC London list in the elections.

    “Alex explains that TUSC opposes all cuts and privatisations. The bankers caused this crisis, the government bailed them out, and now it wants us to pay, Alex explains. TUSC says: Make the banks and big business pay for their crisis.

    “Other policies are: Opposition to workfare: Jobs with a living wage for all
    Fully funded public services. No to cuts. People before profit. No to privatisation.
    Equality for all. No to racism.
    Affordable homes for all.
    Education is a right not a privilege and should be free for all.
    Cheap, efficient and safe public transport for all.”

  195. Andy – well, if the case is simply that certain LA pension funds might be able to lend to councils on marginally more favourable terms than commercial banks, then all well and good – but is a lack of cheap credit the main thing holding councils back from massively replenishing their housing stock? I wouldn’t have thought so.

  196. #223 Latest YouGov/Evening Standard poll now out. Has TUSC on 0% for the London Assembly election. Yes, that’s zero percent.

  197. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hey Vanya,
    In the almost impossibly unlikely scenario of LA workers striking against proposals to invest the funds from their savings/pension schemes in social housing, then of course I’d have that argument with them on their picket lines.

    I wouldn’t cross a picket line under any circumstances, but I would urge them to collectively end their action.

    I think that’s the right way to respond to reactionary strikes, as such a strike would be.

    But in reality, that particular scenario wouldn’t happen. Such investment would clearly be in their interests, as comprehensive housing provision benefits us all.

  198. Further to #226. It’s not looking good for the Greens either. They’re on 3% for the Assembly, which would mean the loss of both their seats.

    Interestingly UKIP are on 5%, so they could get a seat.

    Boris is ahead of Ken 53% to 47% after second preferences are distributed.

    Only bright spot is that Labour are well ahead of the Tories for the Assembly (and for a general election they are leading by 50% to 33%).

    But apart from that there’s little to lift the spirits of any section of the left.

  199. Uncle Albert on said:

    226: “TUSC on 0% for the London Assembly election.”

    Surely not. The S.P. newspaper has stated that an antt-cuts platform would win it. The 0% must be a typo – the preceding 1 and 0 have been omitted.

  200. Francis
    Actually now that councils have been empowered, as a Parthian shot from Gordon Brown, to build again, then access to finance is indeed an issue.

    Those councils who have retained their housing stock are advantaged here, as they can leverage their assets and rental income.

  201. I would expect TUSC to poll at around 0% at this stage. I’ve never imagined we had a chance of a seat. There are, what, about 5m votes, with about half bothering? So 12,000 votes would register as 0%. As would none. I’m not sure that tells me anything very much.

    #207 – yes you have

  202. Bob

    Readin the poll carefully while TUSC register as 0% among eg all non–whites and all young people they have a niche of 1% among white women aged betwen 40 and 59 in social class CDE

  203. Vanya on said:

    Karl, not sure if you’re being deliberately obtuse or I’m not making myself clear so here goes:

    You clearly see a pension fund as savings.

    You suggested that saving for the future is reactionary.

    Local authority workers have recently been fighting to protect their pensions.

    Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that you may have an argument with them on this score.

    I am not suggesting that you would cross a picket line.

    I am not suggesting that local government workers would go out on strike against their pension fund being used to build social housing.

    I am saying that the trustees of a pension fund have a legal duty to ensure the best return on an investment, and the profit motive is not the best guarantor of someone being a good landlord from a tenant’s point of view.

    Therefore, while more social housing is good in and of itself, it is better if it can be provided by the local authority.

    I flipantly referred to you using tory arguments because this is something you have done yourself in relation to other people elsewhere on here recently (ie the SP).

    It’s a silly game to play. Like accusing people of being tories because they think Scargill should have had a ballot in 1984.

  204. jim mclean on said:

    Scottish Greens published their Local Government manifesto today. Dont think they are into long term alliances at the moment. If SNP change their NATO stance as expected and the opportunists keep on grabbing the council seats they may be getting a few new members.
    The manifesto is available to view on-line at http://www.votegreenscotland.org.uk.

  205. Jellytot on said:

    @226Latest YouGov/Evening Standard poll now out. Has TUSC on 0% for the London Assembly election. Yes, that’s zero percent.

    That could suit some in the TUSC who are looking for an excuse to ditch that particular alliance.

    They could argue that it’s clearly getting no traction so a divorce would be appropriate.

    @231I would expect TUSC to poll at around 0% at this stage

    :-)

  206. The best thing to come out of the poll for the left is how badly the BNP and other far-right are faring – with the obvious exception of UKIP. But I consider UKIP is just an unpleasant extension and magnification of the extreme, bitter end of the Tory Party rather than anything overtly fascist.

    Anyone who expected TUSC to do better than 1% is living in cloud cuckoo land – although worryingly judging by Twitter some of the younger and newer followers seem to be under the impression TUSC really is on the verge of a major breakthrough…

  207. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    209 ~~~ I have tried to find where the SWP say vote for Ken to beat Boris. I cannot find it so I would be grateful if you could reference it, please. So I can read it!

  208. Has Respect published a manifesto for the council elections? It would be good to see Respect do well but I fear that in the eyes of many they are a single issue party with people seeing Galloway more as an independent than as a Respect MP. That said I would love to see them win.

    I’m also amazed that the Socialist Party is neutral on the question of Boris v Ken.

  209. but I fear that in the eyes of many they are a single issue party

    Well it would depend on what the issue was. What single issue did you have in mind? If it’s Iraq/imperialism, then that is something stunning, given the absolutely relentless propaganda drive that’s been going on for years now, and the relentless attacks on Muslims who speak out. If imperialism is still a big enough issue to cause that much of a political upset, then perhaps we need more people standing on an explicit platform against it. Similarly, if the issue is racism, then I’d be proud to be seen as a single-issue party, cos if anti-racism can get that many people to vote for one candidate, it says something brilliantly positive about the entire community.

    And further, if it’s cuts and poverty, again if the issue was enough to give George a 10,000 majority, let’s have more of it.

    The “single issue party” stuff was hung around Respect’s neck from 2004-2010. We can probably put it to rest now. Cos if we are seen as a single-issue party, clearly that issue resonates massively with the voters. And if we’re not, well that’s just as good.

  210. prianikoff on said:

    A critique of the Green Party by Joseph Healy, who until recently was a member for 10 years.
    (I seem to remember he chaired a workshop at the Coalition of Resistance’s first Conference)

    He focuses on their role in implementing a cuts budget in Brighton.

    http://links.org.au/node/2823

  211. prianikoff on said:

    re #221 Nadia Chern “Obvious froth”

    The only obvious froth I blow is from the top of my Cappucino (and I’ve given up coffee).

    I may have been dismissive about Galloway’s chances in Bradford West prior to the election.
    But to predict otherwise would have been equivalent to putting £1000 on “Neptune Collange” to win the National.

    I also wasn’t aware at the time, that the Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, unlike the retiring MP Marsha Singh, supported the Afghan war.
    This meant that being a Muslim actually *hindered him*, turning a positive factor into a negative one.
    So he ended up a bit like poor old “Synchronised”.

    There is obviously widespread disgust at Osbourne’s budget and the latest Tory donor scandal.
    As I pointed at at the time, support for the Tories and Liberals has plummeted- they are ripe for the taking.

    This is not something I made up, but based on my experience of talking to people while canvassing for the local elections. I don’t just tick boxes.

    The Labour leadership has thus far, only weakly differentiated itself from the Coalition’s policies.
    If this persists, Milliband and Balls risks blowing the party’s chances.

    There is certainly a space for anti-austerity policies, for getting out of Afghanistan, restoring EMA, abolishing Tuition Fees and Prescription Charges, raising Corpor
    ation tax and introducing a 50-75% upper income tax band.

    That’s just for starters.
    Such an election programme could become a springboard for arguing for re-nationalisation of key industries.
    Why for instance, should the fate of the CORUS steelworkers on Teeside, depend on which group of businessmen in Thailand has just taken over their company?
    Or those of Lotus carworkers in Norfolk depend on which group of Malaysian capitalists have just taken over theirs?
    Why should Vauxhall workers on Merseyside be waiting on a decision from GM in Detroit over its European operations?
    These are the sorts of issues that a socialist programme needs to address.

    While it’s not easy to do that from within the Labour Party at the moment, it’s possible.
    Ken Livingston has shown that with *some* of his platform in the Mayoral elections in London.

    Just as Melenchon raises demands that will resonate in the PS in France, left of Labour campaigns could have a similar impact here.

  212. Lawrence Shaw: I consider UKIP is just an unpleasant extension and magnification of the extreme, bitter end of the Tory Party rather than anything overtly fascist.

    I don’t think that’s true, really. UKIP has always contained an element of at least semi-fascists. Until he was kicked out for publicly supporting an electoral pact with the BNP, Buster Mottram was a case in point.

    Another example is the current leader of the EDL-backed British Freedom Party, Paul Weston, who was the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Cities of London & Westminster in 2010.

    Since Nigel Farage took over from Geert Wilders admirer Lord Pearson as party leader he has tried to move UKIP away from that sort of far-right politics, evidently calculating that there are more gains to be made from disaffected Tories than from BNP and EDL supporters, so it is necessary to project a more respectable image.

    The individual who heads the UKIP list for the London Assembly, Steven Woolfe, is a Farage protégé and has no identifiable links with the party’s semi-fascist wing.

    However, as Farage’s recent “Ayatollah Livingstone” statement demonstrates, the distinction between the “moderate” wing of UKIP and the party’s racist far-right element is entirely relative.

  213. Nadia Chern on said:

    Prianikoff, that’s all very good but the froth was in your statement at #199:

    ‘All that we know so far is that George Galloway can win elections to Parliament and that Respect can win council positions.
    Liam’s account of Repect’s rise, fall and rise on the SR web-site is quite revealing..
    In particular, the recent proposal to wind down Respect to foundation status, which the Bradford result narrowly averted.’

    If you take the SR self-serving non-analysis of Respect as gospel, it is no wonder that you tie yourself in knots about the recent history of Respect. It all reminds of a left cover for the campaign in the mainstream press to denigrate Respect’s achievement.

  214. #242

    Yes Tony the single issue I had in mind was the war. I am not saying that Respect IS a single issue party, I’m sure it has lots of policies, but it is SEEN to be an anti-war protest vote. Also, Galloway is regarded more as an independent than as Respect leader. This leads me to think that Brandford is more likely to be a one off rather than the start of a qualitative change in English politics. But I would love to be proved wrong.

  215. I suppose the issue of Galloway being regarded as an independent is more a function of Respect being a highly localised party – Galloway as a personality is so much bigger than the party he represents. I dunno how we’d get around that really.

    My only real response to whether or not Bradford represents a sea-change in resistance to cuts etc. is to say, we need to just get on and act like it does represent that – I suppose our choice is to assume it is a local phenomenon and ignore it, or to just be optimistic.

    Hard one to call really. Part of the problem in 2005 in Bethnal Green is that most of the left boycotted the victory and what it meant. This time, the fact that we’ve got some interesting well-known names joining Respect, the mainstream media acknowledging that it means something, and other political players coming to us offering to work with us, sends a signal that people do think something different is going on.

    So I guess we’ve just got to run with it.

  216. Vanya on said:

    Nadia Chern: If you take the SR self-serving non-analysis of Respect as gospel, it is no wonder that you tie yourself in knots about the recent history of Respect.

    Absolutely.

  217. Uncle Albert on said:

    # 247 Andy: “My God that is a terrible broadcast”

    It is. I was so embarrassed I didn’t make to the end.

  218. Jellytot on said:

    @252I was so embarrassed I didn’t make to the end.

    It didn’t improve.

    I can’t see it appealing to anybody but already committed activists.

  219. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman:
    #223

    My God that is a terrible broadcast

    Surely if you are a socialist who wishes to use elections as a vehilcle to put working class activity and fightback at the centre of your politics, it beats the ‘Good ol Ken’ bollocks by a country mile?

  220. Stuart, I didn’t think it put any case for anything. Just cos it used words that socialists like doesn’t make it good. It was a feel-good film only for people who are already going to vote Tusc.

    Lines like “The trade unionist and socialist coalition are leading trade unionists and socialists”, and “the reason I’m here today is, to bring solidarity greetings” don’t have any impact at all, no matter how good the people delivering them are. In fact, simply saying “jobs for all”, “equality for all” etc. is meaningless in the absence of anything that potential voters could use to judge how such things might be achieved, and the credibility of those proposing it.

    Making a party broadcast is really hard, and I don’t know if I could’ve done better. But at the very least, I would’ve made sure that every second of the broadcast had tight, meaningful language and contained something of value, as opposed to “cut cut cutback fight fight fightback”, Jackie Turner talking to a half-empty room and sounding depressed (as she probably is, given what’s happening to her profession) and Alex Gordon not being able to get more than 500 metres away from RMT HQ.

    The whole thing had the dull, staid feel of one of those “contributions from the floor” at a public meeting where the audience ends up wishing they’d escaped during the previous speech.

  221. Why so terrible and embarrassing?

    I watched it with a London Underground worker who’s an RMT member, someone who is not a member of any party but is pretty angry with mainstream politicians and is a good lefty.

    He was saying “oh my god this is just fucking awful” at regular intervals. He said it made the subject incredibly boring, and made no sense of what it was offering. He said it was more like a video made to encourage Tusc members to go out and campaign, rather than something that might get people to vote for them. It certainly hasn’t convinced him.

  222. I think its ok. It feels like its aimed at activists in particular rather than the working class in general. I don’t think its as bad as some here are making out, but I don’t think it’s the sort of party political broadcast Lenin would have made. It doesn’t speak so much from the lived experience of workers, more from that of already convinced political activists. Alex Gordon is not the most exciting orator, on this example.

  223. What ted said, more or less.

    (I don’t think “tusc” as a word works particularly well, either. But, you know…)

  224. I write as someone who will vote for TUSC in the list part of the GLA Elections. Other two votes will be cast for Ken for Mayor and Labour in the constituency section of the GLA elections.

    Despite TUSC getting my vote the broadcast is unimpressive.

    It says very little about London, which is a bit odd given the election being stood in is in the city. Not much said about London’s public transport network, nothing specific about how cuts are impacting on the NHS in London, nothing about campaigns in the capital that have sprung up to defend education and to oppose free schools, nothing about the crisis in the Met, police racism, deaths in custody, last year’s riots, nothing about the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

    Hard to see how it will attract (m)any people not already going to vote TUSC, to do so.

  225. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    ted: but I don’t think it’s the sort of party political broadcast Lenin would have made.

    I am not really sure that that is the best measuring stick for the quality of a broadcast made in 2012.

  226. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    prianikoff: Such an election programme could become a springboard for arguing for re-nationalisation of key industries.

    Or those of Lotus carworkers in Norfolk depend on which group of Malaysian capitalists have just taken over theirs?

    Are luxury sports-cars now to be considered a “key industry”?

  227. If your idea of a good time is to spend Saturday afternoon walking from Embankment to Hyde Park via Whitehall, in the middle of the road behind a big red banner, then that broadcast might press all your buttons. That may be a majority of us on this blog, but it’s a vanishingly small proportion of the general public.

  228. Hasanyi_Janos,

    Haha – OK, fair one. But what I meant was that it doesn’t exactly “smell of the workers’ vodka”. It is a video of socialists, by socialists, for socialists, and doesn’t seem to be reaching out beyond that, which is precisely what Tusc needs to be doing.

  229. I think they really missed a trick. “TUSC AGAINST CUTS” doesn’t work.

    Given that Tusc’s selling point is this “absolutely no cuts ever”, the right slogan should’ve been “Don’t vote for CUTS – vote for TUSC”. The relationship between the letters would’ve actually had a psychopolitical reinforcing effect: If you don’t want cuts, vote for Tusc. It’s almost a mirror-image.

    Anyway look, the broadcast is the left talking to the left. I vividly remember the Left List public meeting in May 2008, entitled something like “The BNP, Labour’s Crisis and the left”. I said at the time, it was an awful awful concept for a public meeting in Bethnal Green, and the irony, given that it was about racism, is that there would be no Muslims there (which turned out to be true).

    The left is very good at talking to, and about, the left. But that comfort zone is something people need to get out of. This broadcast shows how hard it is to break out of that mindset though.

    I’ve seen a few SP members online really enthusiastically praising the video. It’s good, if you want to play it at union meetings where 6 people turn up. But it has no meaning outside the tiny circles of the far left.

    Lenin would totally have over-used green screen if he’d made it. You know what they say about communists and virtual reality.

  230. The broadcast was awful and highlights how the far left have never really gotten to grips with how to get their message out to a broad audience.

    The broadcast put forward a view of TUSC which suggests that TUSC is male, rooted in industry, and heavily reliant on an archaic political dicourse that belongs more to the 1950s than today. Then again that is just exactly what TUSC is and that is why it will sink without a trace.

  231. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    G: The broadcast put forward a view of TUSC which suggests that TUSC is male, rooted in industry, and heavily reliant on an archaic political dicourse that belongs more to the 1950s than today.

    I wonder if you actually watched the video? There were a number of women featured prominently in the broadcast and the union leaders were from service-sector unions. As for the “archaic political discourse” I assume that’s some kind of sociologist private language that you are using.

  232. Uncle Albert on said:

    #267: “As for the “archaic political discourse” I assume that’s some kind of sociologist private language that you are using.”

    No, G was just being polite.

  233. stuart on said:

    tony collins,

    My point wasn’t so much about the TUSC broadcast being ‘good’, more about it being, at least from a socialist perspective, far better than Livingstone’s.

    In reality, TUSC are not likely to win masses of votes. The votes are going to go to the ‘main parties’. IMO the best thing TUSC can do is push the idea of ordinary people fighting as best they can. To that extent, the centrality of large numbers of people protesting against the current background of austerity was positive. I’m sure there were ways it could be done better but credit where it’s due.

    And in that respect, little credit should go to Livingstone. Individual people saying ‘Go on Ken, do it for London’ is politically weak. It doesn’t encourage people to struggle collectively. You may argue that Ken is looking to win masses of votes and strikes don’t play well with the Labour Party. Fair enough, but as socialists we should not be applauding such an approach.

    Much less should we be applauding Livingstone calling for ‘more police’ and spending more time ‘talking to police’. Again, that may well win lots of votes from the law and order brigade but is that good for socialists? In the light of the Mark Duggan episode it ranks as nothing less than disgraceful.

    Unlike the SP, I would urge a vote for Livingstone. However, their general critique is broadly accurate.

  234. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    245 ~~~ Thank you very much for this, Mr Newman? Is there any material giving the reason why the SWP are backing Labour’s Livingstone? Again I have not seen anything despite reading their literature on-line.

  235. Janos

    Are you showing off again?

    G’ s point was perfectly sensible and well expressed.

    I must admit I turned off before any women appeared, and while Alex is a service worker, he certainly tries to project th image of Fred Kite.

  236. stuart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow:
    245 ~~~ Thank you very much for this, Mr Newman? Is there any material giving the reason why the SWP are backing Labour’s Livingstone?Again I have not seen anything despite reading their literature on-line.

    I think SWP have always supported voting Labour over Tory. It’s more to do with supporting the people who vote Labour (recognising it as a ‘class vote’) than praising the actual candidate.

  237. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Andy Newman: Janos

    Are you showing off again?

    You are my conscience Andy. If all G wanted to say was “the language sounded old-fashioned” then why not just say so. All this use of “narrative” and “archaic discourse” is really unnecessary.

  238. Jellytot on said:

    @273It’s more to do with supporting the people who vote Labour (recognising it as a ‘class vote’) than praising the actual candidate.

    Why would the millions who vote Labour require “support” from the SWP to do so?

    I’ve always seen the call to vote Labour as necessary to avoid charges of “absentionism”, of being “Ultra-Left” and of cutting themselves off from the wider Labour Movement.

    It’s more to do with Intra-far Left positioning and maintaining the perception of influence.

  239. Uncle Albert on said:

    #269: “Much less should we be applauding Livingstone calling for ‘more police’ and spending more time ‘talking to police’.”

    What on earth can be wrong with such a proposal?

    Problems usually arise when the police don’t do their job as they should. The best way to avoid undesirable outcomes is to ensure the police are properly funded – enough of them, properly resourced, to meet operational requirements – and by “talking to police” to ensure priorities are appropriately identified.

  240. Uncle Albert on said:

    275: JT: “maintaining the perception of influence”

    Possible headline: “It’s the SWP wot won it!”

  241. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:

    Why would the millions who vote Labour require “support” from the SWP to do so?

    I’ve always seen the call to vote Labour as necessary to avoid charges of “absentionism”, of being “Ultra-Left” and of cutting themselves off from the wider Labour Movement.

    It’s more to do with Intra-far Left positioning and maintaining the perception of influence.

    I never said anything about ‘requiring SWP support’, those are your words. Either way, voting Labour can be seen as an act of solidarity in voting against the openly bosses party.

  242. stuart on said:

    Uncle Albert:

    Problems usually arise when the police don’t do their job as they should. The best way to avoid undesirable outcomes is to ensure the police are properly funded – enough of them, properly resourced, to meet operational requirements – and by “talking to police” to ensure priorities are appropriately identified.

    I sincerely hope you are part of a small minority of posters on this thread.

  243. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    273 ~~~ “ I think SWP have always supported voting Labour over Tory. It’s more to do with supporting the people who vote Labour (recognising it as a ‘class vote’) than praising the actual candidate.”

    With all due respect that was not what I asked. I want to know the official SWP reason for supporting Labour’s Ken Livingstone

    Once again with all due respect it has not always been the SWP position to support Labour in Elections. During the late 1970s and 80s during their ‘downturn period’ the SWP opposed work within and to the Labour Party; and even standing against them in elections as well, which was a decision they took in 1976 when it was the IS and continued when they became the SWP.

    Again, I would like to read, for my own benefit, the political reasons why the SWP are backing Livingstone as Labour Mayor. Thank you.

  244. Uncle Albert on said:

    # 279 Stuart: “I sincerely hope you are part of a small minority”

    I may be. But what’s the point in standing for office if you’re not prepared to deal with the day-to-day concerns of those who might vote for you?

  245. Jellytot on said:

    @280Once again with all due respect it has not always been the SWP position to support Labour in Elections.

    I also think in the GE of 2005 they did not call for a vote for Labour. That’s why they had to go through the arguments again in the lead up to the GE of 2010 when they went back to calling for a Labour vote.

  246. We’ve stood against Labour many times, we are standing against Labour in these elections as part of Tusc. We don’t support entrism, never have, but call for a Labour vote without illusions that they will be able to deliver socialism by gradual reforms or by a swift enabling act, where necessary, to nobble a greater foe such as Tories or Nazis, which is why we are calling for a Livingstone vote because he has the best chance of kicking out Boris and giving both the Coalition and the Blairites a bloody nose. It weakens the coalition and creates more space, more favourable conditions for trade unionists, anti-cuts activists, anti-racist activists, anti-war activists – socialists – to operate. Even if only marginally.

  247. Vanya on said:

    Stuart- Uncle Albert can speak for himself but my view is that there are legitimate functions for the Police and the overwhelming majority of people want those functions carried out effectively.

    That does not mean that we have to accept racism, arrogance, brutality etc and if they are used against peaceful protesters/ demonstrators or strikers we will be on the other side, as I’m sure most of us have been at some time.

    In fact, taking a simple (semi-anarchist) anti- police position has a tendency to let the Police off the hook.

    What we should be doing is campaigning for more effective ways to combat police misconduct and making them more accountable and representative.

    I don’t know how representative that makes me of the posters on here, but I know how representative it makes me in terms of real concerns of working class people in the real world than those who take the simple ACAB approach.

  248. Karl Stewart on said:

    JimmyH,
    Maybe the SWP have taken a look at Ken Livingstone’s policies:

    1. A 7 per cent cut in fares
    2. Restoration of the £30 per week EMA
    3. Regulation of rents and new rights for tenants
    4. Cheaper domestic fuel bills
    5. Extension of the DLR, tram and new electric-powered buses

    And decided that these policies are better than Boris Johnson’s.

    (Just a wild guess!)

  249. #283

    ted: We don’t support entrism, never have,

    That isn’t strictly true, is it?

    After all your paper used to be called “Labour Worker”, and the IS had people of the editorial board of IIRC “Young Guard”, and worked within the Young Socialists.

    I don’t think that the IS abandoned the tactic of entrism until 1967/1968

  250. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:

    I also think in the GE of 2005 they did not call for a vote for Labour. That’s why they had to go through the arguments again in the lead up to the GE of 2010 when they went back to calling for a Labour vote.

    My guess is that there was a tactical element. The 2005 election was a foregone conclusion and the mood against Blair was strong. Even someone as astute as Tariq Ali was calling for a Lib Dem vote, stupidly IMO. So you may not find any urges to vote Labour in 2005 from SWP but that does not represent a departure from the broader analysis of what voting Labour in election means.

  251. stuart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow:
    With all due respect that was not what I asked.I want to know the official SWP reason for supporting Labour’s Ken Livingstone

    Once again with all due respect it has not always been the SWP positionto support Labour in Elections.During the late 1970s and 80s during their ‘downturn period’ the SWP opposed work within and to the Labour Party; and even standing against them in elections as well, which was a decision they took in 1976 when it was the IS and continued when they became the SWP.

    Again, I would like to read, for my own benefit, the political reasons why the SWP are backing Livingstone as Labour Mayor.Thank you.

    Standing against Labour at particular times or supporting other socialists does not preclude supporting Labour in general against Tories. Possibly the lack of literature on the 2012 mayoral election reflects a distinct, and justified, lack of enthusiasm for Livingstone. Though maybe something will appear nearer the time of polling.

  252. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    If there is any substance to what you say, Livingstone does not make that point. His broadcast can only be seen as appealing to a law and order vote.

  253. stuart on said:

    Uncle Albert:

    I may be. But what’s the point in standing for office if you’re not prepared to deal with the day-to-day concerns of those who might vote for you?

    But appealing to such ‘day-to-day concerns’ does not differentiate Ken from right-wing political parties. It’s the kind of stuff we might expect from a Labour right-winger, but not from anyone supposedly on the Labour left. So from a socialist point of view, especially coming so soon after the Duggan killing and the riots, is to say the least, disappointing.

  254. #289

    stuart: His broadcast can only be seen as appealing to a law and order vote.

    Is the SWP still standing on the bizarre position of “driving the police off our estates”, that we saw during a rush to the head during last years riots?

    Given that working class and poorer people are more likely to be victims of crime, it seems a concern for law and order is very sensible for the left to express.

  255. prianikoff on said:

    #248 Chern “If you take the SR self-serving non-analysis of Respect as gospel, it is no wonder that you tie yourself in knots about the recent history of Respect.
    It all reminds of a left cover for the campaign in the mainstream press to denigrate Respect’s achievement.”

    I don’t take *anything* as Gospel.
    George Galloway was always going to try to get back into Parliament, but Respect as an organisation was foundering.
    No one has denied the part about changing it to a Respect Foundation.

    The problem with SR, is that having left Respect, they’re now trying to get back on the bandwagon.
    Which makes them look like opportunists.
    I’ve got political differences with Respect and some of its leading figures.
    I’ve made this clear from its inception.

    Your comment about such criticisms reminding you of a “left cover for a campaign in the maintream press” is a particularly unfortunate one.
    Of course you could plausibly argue that a Giraffe reminded you of a lampost.
    I could equally argue that you were a political paranoid with Stalinist DNA.

    I’d strongly suggest that you withdraw from this line of argument immediately and never, ever, repeat it.

  256. prianikoff on said:

    #262 Hasanyi Janos re Lotus.

    “Are luxury sports-cars now to be considered a “key industry”?

    The car industry in Britain is (nearly 2 milliion units/year)
    However, it’s entirely owned by foreign multinationals.
    So all strategic and technical decisions about its future direction are outside the remit of any domestic agency.

    Rather like the armaments industry, socialists would argue for conversion of luxury car production to low emission useful vehicles, including public transport.
    Nationalisation would facilitate that process.

    btw. Lotus has pioneered some technologies that are widely applicable, such as active suspension and has done some work on electric vehicles.

  257. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman:
    #289

    Is the SWP still standing on the bizarre position of “driving the police off our estates”, that we saw during a rush to the head during last years riots?

    Given that working class and poorer people are more likely to be victims of crime, it seems a concern for law and order is very sensible for the left to express.

    I’m not taking the first point too seriously. There is a differennce between what people may say in the middle of a riot and what might appear on an election leaflet. But I’ve always regarded relating to working-class insecurities over crime by calling to beef up the police as the preserve of the right. The left should IMO counter this by stressing the need to fight poverty. What is the point in trying to outbid the Tories on police numbers?

    A lot of w/c people may ‘worry’ about immigration but I would utterly condemn, as I’m sure you would, any Labour candidate who panders to this ‘day-to-day’ concern’. I take a similar position on law and order.

  258. Uncle Albert on said:

    #290 Stuart: “It’s the kind of stuff we might expect from a Labour right-winger”

    But the unfortunate events you mention may not have occurred if the concerns of those involved had been properly represented by elected politicians. This is what addressing day-to-day concerns involves. And this is why Ken is correct to identify policing priorities.
    George Galloway’s claim is relevant: the Bradford victory was a version of the London riots.

    Why shy away from crucial areas of policy, or surrender them to the Right – isn’t that what may have led to the difficulties you mention in the first place?

  259. faultylpgic on said:

    #288
    Is the SP position that Livingstone and Johnson are the effectively the same?

  260. Geoff Collier on said:

    But to be strictly true, there are two versions of entrism. Entris Sui Generis was the belief that that Labour can be won to revolutionary politics, as opposed to small groups looking for anybody they could find who was remotely interested in their ideas.

    The Militant/Socialist Appeal were the prime example of the former. The Socialist Review Group/IS were largely of the latter, although not every supporter necessarily agreed with that.

    Andy Newman:
    #283

    That isn’t strictly true, is it?

    After all your paper used to be called “Labour Worker”, and the IS had people of the editorial board of IIRC “Young Guard”, and worked within the Young Socialists.

    I don’t think that the IS abandoned the tactic of entrism until 1967/1968

  261. Andy Newman:
    #283

    That isn’t strictly true, is it?

    After all your paper used to be called “Labour Worker”, and the IS had people of the editorial board of IIRC “Young Guard”, and worked within the Young Socialists.

    I don’t think that the IS abandoned the tactic of entrism until 1967/1968

    Strictly, it’s absolutely true. The IS hasn’t existed for 45 years and they abandoned entrism 10 years before that. The SWP has never advocated entrism.

  262. #297

    Geoff Collier: Sui Generis was the belief that that Labour can be won to revolutionary politics,

    Technically, I think the term entrism sui generis derived from Pablo, who argued that there was a long term stabilisation of capitalism, such that revolutionary politics in the metropolitan centres of Western imperialism was largely irrelevent, and that the revolutionary loci had moved to the anti-colonial movments, and that the class struggle manifestd itself through the rivalry between the imperialist and socialist states.

    Pablo argued for a form of entrism sui generis for Trotskists to adapt to this changed reality by joining the mass communist parties, for what would be a long haul. His limited group of supporters in the UK were hampered in implenting this by the small size of the CPGB, although the leading individual, John Lawrence, possibly one of the most talented individuals associated with British Trotskyism, did join the CP, after a long battle to be allowed to do so, other British pabloites, like the later MP Audrey Wise, joined Labour.

    But by definition, entrism sui generis in the Pabloite sense was not about transforming labour into a revolutionary party, but in working most effectively as a minority current to support what Pablo identified as the new revolutionary agents of change, the USSR and the anti-colonial movements.

  263. #294

    stuart: A lot of w/c people may ‘worry’ about immigration but I would utterly condemn, as I’m sure you would, any Labour candidate who panders to this ‘day-to-day’ concern’.

    You are absolutely wrong here, it is necessary for the left to engage with the concerns that people have about immigration, and seperate out the hostility to immigrants and migrants (which we obvioulsy oppose), from legitimate concerns about lack of resources, and downward wage pressure (where we argue for more resources, and for migrants and immigrnats to be unionised, and employed at the same wage rates and conditions)

  264. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Of course socialists should engage with people’s insecurities but there should be certain red lines that are not breached IMO. Immigrants should not be indentified as a ‘problem’ and ‘more resources’ should not be advocated for the police.

  265. On the question of the relationship between the Green Party and Respect it is important to restress the relative ‘autonomy’ that local and Regional Green Party structures operate under which is in my view can be a positive feature ensuring a form of internal democracy that is more flexible than the more centralised decision making that has always been a feature of the organised left.
    Local agreements between RESPECT and the Green Party have clearly been made: For example – despite RESPECT having a substancial base of supporting in many parts of Birmingham and at one point having 3 Councillors on Bham City Council there is not a single RESPECT Candidate standing in Brum on May 3rd.
    In County Council Elections in 2013 in England it would again make sense for RESPECT and the Green Party to take a sober assessment of local conditions and come up with local pacts. But with regard to the European Elections my position is clear I feel that RESPECT could build on its Bradford Base and win a Euro seat only if the Greens in Yorkshire agreed to stand down… to have both RESPECT and Green candidates would possibly enable the BNP to retain its MEP in Yorkshire. Clearly in the rest of England Respect can back Greens and the rest of the left should do likewise if TUSC stands in the Euros or any last minute repeat of the NO2EU fiasco of 2009 repeats itself we risk handing Euro MEP seats to UKIP or even BNP
    The Green Party has the potential in the context of the Euro Elections in 2013 to make a great leap forward… This means Taking Euro seats in the North West, West Midlands and South East… if these 3 Green MEPs are joined by 1 RESPECT MEP in Yorkshire this would represent a tremendous gain for the whole of the ‘left’. Any process of discussion and agreement between RESPECT and the Green Party that can help us achieve this breakthrough in 2013 is to be welcomed.

    I also feel that given the new leadership of Plaid Cymru the Green Party in Wales will have to face up to new realities and begin a process of discussions with Plaid to avoid splitting the progressive vote. I know nothing of local conditions in Wales but maybe Welsh Greens may want to simply liquidate into Plaid??
    Greens in Cornwall may face a similar issue in respect of Mebyon Kernow??
    I trust that in the local elections on May 3rd the Green Party will make significant gains… and i hope that when the Green Party Conference meets in Bristol in September that Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway, Leanne Wood, Dick Cole and hopefully Ken Livingstone will be honoured guests helping to prepare a great leap forward in 2013.

  266. Andy is correct about Pablo ,though what also went with his anlaysis was a belief that the crisis of capitalism ( in the 1950′s !) had reached such a stage that there was no time to build independent revolutionary parties but instead all efforts should be directed to winning over the existing social democratic ( and Stalinist ) parties, Duncan Hallas wrote a supreb demolition of this approach many years ago in an article about the SLL.
    Geoff is right too.in so far as the methodology of entry adopted by the RSL ( SP) became not a short term expedient tactic but a long term strategy which entailed sowing the illusion that the LP could be turned into the vehicle for carrying out the socialist transformation of society and that this could be achieved via parliament.
    So strictly speaking Ted is right to say the IS/SWP never practiced entryism if we accept the definitions of both Andy and Geoff !
    On the somewhat more relevent issue of Livingstone and the SWP’s position on voting or not for Labour
    Our starting point is that unlike the SP we understand the contradictory nature of social democracy. The LP for us is and remains a Bourgeois Workers Party ,a party that ( still ) commands the support of millions of workers who still believe that it represents something different to the Tories. Even if few of them ( unlike some on here ! ) believe it will usher in the socialist utopia millions still regard it as ‘their’party which will at least seek and say it will improve life for them, as opposed to a naked party of capital.
    From what I can see the SP have at various times taken only half of what Lenin said ie when they were in the LP it was a ‘workers’ party ,now they are outside it is a ‘Bourgeios’ party. Nor can I see any logic in their ‘theory’ that with the collapse of Stalinism a period of ‘reaction ‘ came about that effectively put an end to 100 years of social democracy and that almost overnight every social democratic party became ‘capitalist’ parties in the sense that they became indistinguishable from the open parties of big business such as the Tories ,the UMP or the CDU. How such a formula can explain the tact left by Hollandes in France I do not know.
    What it has led to is a incredible ‘ultra left’posturing leading them to stand against the likes of John McDonnell ,who in my opinion is at least as good as a left parliamentarian as was Nellis, Pat Wall or Terry Fields.
    Oddly though the SP maintain a touching illusion in the notion that change can come through the existing state apparatus hence the reason they refuse to support Ken is that they do not believe he can deliver. I am a supporter of TUSC but I would say even if TUSC won every seat our ability to deliver will depend on the balance of class forces outside of the Council chamber and on the strength and combativity of our class not on how wonderful our ‘programme ‘is.
    The SP seem to think that in some far off day you voted Labour because it could deliver or that it was genuinely committed to the ending of capitalism. As an early poster said ‘Callaghan ,Wilson, Foot ,Kinnock ?’ the SP called for a Labour vote when they led the LP did they seriously believe that these figures were committed to socialism ( as opposed to social democracy ie capitalism with a few crumbs thrown our way )
    Of course we are under no illusions that what the SWP says will be decisive in terms of people voting Labour so UA little digs are of no importance there is no ego to prick here.
    Of course it entirely possible to vote for Ken without having any illusions that he will deliver .after all it was Livingstone himself I think who wrote a book entitled ‘if voting changed anything they would abolish it ‘
    The simple way of looking at it is if you are in a workplace and a debate breaks out about who to vote for would you want to be with those who say they will back Ken or those who say they will back Boris ? ( and lets be honest that is the real choice on offer)
    I suspect anyone saying a ‘plague on both your houses’ would find it very difficult to get a hearing.
    As always the key is not the ‘programme’ or can or can’t he deliver but how can we build the maximum resistance to the attacks, whether they come from the Tories ,Labour or the Greens ( as in Brighton )

  267. prianikoff,

    So SR members must have dreamt that Respect was about to wind itself up when the Bradford by-election came along? That Conference motion about effectively giving up electoral work and turning itself into a “foundation” – just a figment of our imagination…?

    We left Respect over the undemocratic decision to campaign in Scotland – but in truth, at that point there was very little to leave!

    So it’s “opportunist” to welcome the Bradford victory? No doubt it would have been “churlish” not to have done so.

    Clearly an opportunity has opened up. It’s another “US Senate” moment for George. Let’s hope he doesn’t follow this one with another “Big Brother” one.

  268. #305

    Al: Andy is correct about Pablo ,though what also went with his anlaysis was a belief that the crisis of capitalism ( in the 1950′s !) had reached such a stage that there was no time to build independent revolutionary parties but instead all efforts should be directed to winning over the existing social democratic ( and Stalinist ) parties, Duncan Hallas wrote a supreb demolition of this approach many years ago in an article about the SLL.

    While discussing Pablo may seem obscure, it is at least more relevent than what Socialist Resistance think about Respect.

    I think we are both correct here. While at an international level the Pabloites speculated that a third world war would push the Communist Parties to “fulfill their revolutionary potential”; I think that British Pabloites were not entirely on the same page as Pablo himself.

    John Lawrence had done a fantastic job in editing “the Newsletter” in getting the collaboration of a number of Labour MPs to write for it who were sympathetic to the USSR.

    So I think the appeal of Pabloism to him was more a rejection of Healy’s growing “stalinophobia”, and the “party” delusions exhibited snce the SLL was launched out of the Club; and his “entrism” into the CP reflected his growing convergence toward the approach exemplified by the British Road to Socialism.

    I would argue that the British were really “pabloites of convenience” using an international factional battle as a pretext to do what they wanted to do anyway, break with Healy, and leave small group politics behind.

  269. I have to say it is many,many years since I have engaged in any discussion of Pablo without the term ‘revisionist’ being used !!!

  270. So SR members must have dreamt that Respect was about to wind itself up when the Bradford by-election came along?That Conference motion about effectively giving up electoral work and turning itself into a “foundation” – just a figment of our imagination…?

    This is really tedious. Respect was not about to ‘wind itself up’.

    Kevin Ovenden answered this on the previous thread:

    “Somehow some myth has developed that a substantial section of Respect or even some of its leadership wanted to dissolve the organisation. I’m not sure where anyone got that from. The reality is that we agreed an approach which placed an emphasis on promoting the political positions we stand for in a context of a squeezed electoral space – hence initiatives like the Respect Foundation meeting in London on the Middle East, which was a very good success. Everyone recognised that we would seek out those electoral opportunities that we thought were propitious.”

    True, I don’t think many of us (George excepted) thought that electoral opportunities would come back to the forefront quite so spectacularly. But the content of all our discussions was how we could sustain ourselves, at least until after the next General Election, and not at all about how we could shut Respect down.

    [These criticisms lose some of their force when you remember that they come from an organisation - Socialist Resistance - that walked out of Respect so their members in England could give paper support to the Scottish Socialist Party. There's a lot of competition for the worst-timed, most ill-judged and pointless split in history, but this one is a contender...]

  271. Vanya on said:

    #306 “We left Respect over the undemocratic decision to campaign in Scotland – but in truth, at that point there was very little to leave!”

    Therein lies the truth.

    Your decision had very little to do with Scotland. There would have been nothing in Respect’s constitution to stop you from continuing to support the SSP. The only thing you would have lost there imo was further self-respect given the events that the SSP leadership were involved with at the time.

    Your leaflet at the conference stated that it was wrong for English based parties to operate in Scotland, even though Socialist Resistance organises from Islington and have no separate group in Scotland.

    You left because you saw no fuure for Respect and were just looking for the right excuse. Bad choice, never mind eh?

    And my receollection is that we had a vote on a motion that was circulated before hand, and then passed by a majority, in spite of your current’s threat to split if it was passed.

    The procedure was a damn sight more democratic than a few decisons I can recall from your organisation when I was a member.

    As for proposals in Respect conference documents for the first conference after you left I think you’ll find that few if any of us are going to bite and give you the credit of warranting any discussion, however selectively and misleadingly you quote them.

    If you want to be taken seriously I suggest you start acting seriously, if that is possible for you any more.

  272. Vanya,

    Hopefully a darkened room with a comfy bed beckons! But whatever. I’m not that up for an angels-on-head-of-a-pin discussion about the true meaning of that motion.

    Bradford West was a spectacular result. The question of whether it gets used or squandered is still out there, but I’m hoping for the best.

  273. Jellytot on said:

    @312Crikey Vanya is there no organisation that you haven’t fallen out with !!!!

    I don’t think he was ever dumb enough to join your lot ‘Undertaker’.

  274. Geoff Collier on said:

    What is the purpose of the Foundation?

    Mark: This is really tedious. Respect was not about to ‘wind itself up’.

  275. #315

    Geoff Collier: What is the purpose of the Foundation?

    Well I wasn’t involved in those discussions, but one of the last things I argued as a national committee member of Respect, was that they needed to find a mechanism for promoting the politics of Respect that allowed people who could not support Respect electorally could engage with.

  276. Nadia Chern on said:

    Prianikoff – Most of the time, I find your contributions insightful and intelligent. In general, I greatly appreciate the research and analysis you bring to discussion on this site. Therefore, I would be happy to apologize if you felt I had crossed a line in disagreeing with you.

    However, when it comes to Respect, you have always struggled for an analytical frame (you are not alone judging by the abortive discussion of whether Respect is social democratic or not). In the case of the Bradford West election and your perception of Respect, the analytical problems posed are leading you to use dubious, weak sources to assert things that are simply untrue and to follow the mainstream press in positing various factors that cannot be substantiated or justified. Note the silliness of arguing about Respect taking control of Bradford council. Hence my remark and, however much you threaten, it is no substitute for serious analysis or argument.

    The Respect Foundation has been launched and will continue to function. The reasoning behind it is that there are a body of ideas associated with the Respect project that continue to hold a significant purchase in British politics. These ideas revolve around anti-imperialism, uncompromising opposition to Islamophobia and neo-liberal economic chaos and a series of positive strategies emerging from this. There are many people that support these ideas but cannot be associated with the Respect Party as it is an electoral party that stands against Labour, Greens, etc. These people have proved willing to work with a Respect Foundation that operates as a political think-tank.

    Meanwhile, the Respect party continues to contest elections and campaigns. It did retreat from some electoral activity as the scale of the ‘Labour squeeze’ became clear. However, it was always the case that Respect would pick and choose possible electoral contests on the groundwork that had been done locally and the prospect of delivering a national message against the ConDems. We noted that if we had a party that had been successful in winning some elections, it would be foolhardy to erode that by constantly losing and picking up low votes. The National Council debated this with a number of positions emerging last year, none of which resulted in any factionalism or splits. A consensus emerged around the strategy and the organizational consequences for trying to maintain a party that could reach a large audience from a restricted position in terms of resources.

    George Galloway’s election proves that this was the correct strategy. It does not necessarily mean that Respect will move to contest every election yet as the electoral squeeze remains in many areas. In some, we are capable of breaking the hold of Labour on the anti-ConDem vote. In others, it means a long term strategy of building up local branches and connections.

  277. Nadia Chern on said:

    Oh, btw, can you please explain what Stalinist DNA is? I have read most of the hopelessly reductionist babble of evolutionary psychology but, alas, never heard of such a notion.

  278. Vanya on said:

    Andy BH: I’m not that up for an angels-on-head-of-a-pin discussion about the true meaning of that motion.

    I bet you’re not!! :)

  279. Vanya on said:

    #312 “Crikey Vanya is there no organisation that you haven’t fallen out with !!!!”

    There’s so many of them and so little time :)

    I do however understand the need to fight the real enemy…

  280. It’s a long time since I read up on this stuff, but my recollection is that Pablo’s tactic of entryism sui generis applied exclusively to entry work in Communist parties.

    His argument was that the repressive internal regimes in the CPs would make it impossible for Trotskyists to appear openly as such within these parties. Therefore the entryist fraction would keep their Trotskyist allegiance hidden while a parallel independent organisation would be maintained outside the CP that could openly promote the Fourth International’s political line and complement the more restricted political activity and propaganda of the entryists.

    This tactic applied in countries – e.g. France and Italy – where the main workers’ party was the CP. In Britain, however, that party was the Labour Party and Pablo argued that Trotskyists were obliged to work there rather than in the CPGB.

    Entryism sui generis didn’t apply to entry work in the Labour Party because Pablo thought its internal regime was sufficiently liberal to allow for the production of an explicitly Trotskyist publication. He criticised the Healy group in the early 50s for failing to produce such a publication and instead relying exclusively on Socialist Outlook and (the early small-format) Labour Review, both of which put forward a left Labour rather than a Trotskyist political line.

    (It was Socialist Outlook that John Lawrence edited, by the way, not the Newsletter.)

  281. # 303

    Stuart, where I live in Scotland, the police are planning to close local police stations as part of the process of centralising the Scottish police force. Many of the stations being closed are in the heart of communities worst effected by crime and many communities are unhappy about this loss of a public service. Out of interest what would your response to these closures be?

  282. G: # 303Stuart, where I live in Scotland, the police are planning to close local police stations as part of the process of centralising the Scottish police force. Many of the stations being closed are in the heart of communities worst effected by crime and many communities are unhappy about this loss of a public service. Out of interest what would your response to these closures be?

    What places like ‘Alloa, Musslebrugh, Fife ,you know places now devastated by crime and drugs since…. the Police helped Thatcher butcher the coal industry.
    My response is that had they have closed them 28 years ago they’d be less crime around today
    Coal Not Dole !

  283. Jellytot on said:

    @324My response is that had they have closed them 28 years ago they’d be less crime around today

    A real vote-winning argument on the doorstep that !

  284. stuart on said:

    G,

    From what you are saying the local police stations have not prevented the areas from being the ‘worse effected’ so perhaps throwing police at the problem is not the solution. What is the youth unemployment rate in those particular areas? A socialist fighting an election should be addressing that rather than calling for more police or joining campaigns to keep stations open.

  285. Vanya on said:

    #324 Showing a strange ignorance of the nature of the policing operation during the miner’s strike which was clearly NOT generally about local police in the affected communities, but largely moving in effective armies of occupation from out of the area.

    What I want to know is what are people in these communities supposed to do about the minority of anti-social elements who blight their lives?

    Yes we should argue for better facilities and jobs for the young, for better policies for drugs etc. Yes we should point to a different vision of society.

    And no, I don’t agree with the ASBO regimes established in such places as Manchester.

    But the bottom line is that people in working class communities, particularly poorer ones, need protecting from crime, especially violent crime, and unless you’ve got a worker’s militia up your sleeves, the Police are the only ones who are able to do this.

    The old trotskyist approach of “first we must imagine we have a tin opener” doesn’t wash.

    And I speak as someone who represents people in jail and in a previous job helped people make complaints and bring civil action against the Police, as well as having been at the receiving end of rough policing including in ’84-’85.

  286. prianikoff on said:

    #307 Andy BH

    Aren’t SR just doing the usual USEC thing?
    -stampeding from one “new mass vanguard” to another and losing a bit more of your historic identity with each turn. It’s what you do.

    I’m not a dogmatist however.
    Contrary to some insinuations, I was pleasantly surprised by the result in Bradford, particularly against such a right wing Labour candidate.
    I look forward to George Galloways future interventions in Parliament and, of course, hope that he develops a constructive relationship with LRC supporting MP’s there.

    But don’t expect all Labour Party members to start jumping ship en-masse as a result of Bradford West.
    I’ll wait for Respect’s next MP and its first Council majority before making any judgement on whether “everything has changed”.

    After all, the repeatability of experiments is a basic tenet of the scientific method. Otherwise, there would be such things as “superluminal” neutrinos.
    (not that I’m suggesting anyone here has a lose plug)

  287. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    stuart: What is the youth unemployment rate in those particular areas? A socialist fighting an election should be addressing that rather than calling for more police or joining campaigns to keep stations open.

    Isn’t it possible to do both?

  288. stuart on said:

    Hasanyi_Janos: Isn’t it possible to do both?

    It’s possible but not desirable if you are looking to use elections as a way of putting over a socialist message. A socialist should counterpose the fight against capitalism ( demand jobs and services) to the call for more police (the paid arm of the capitalist state). If you are just looking to gain votes by any means necessary then call for more police but I don’t like seeing socialists using elections in this way.

    I’m not making a point about how individuals use the police in their particular lives, I’m talking about socialists and elections.

  289. Al,
    We could reduce or avoid cuts by cutting duplication and waste. I have had 4 letters from HMRC in a week, 3 to tell me about various overpayments, 1 with a cheque (from a different part of the country!) Still not sure if I am to receive a further cheque!
    Just 1 example of the millions wasted on bureaucracy. Then there is the Olympics, 9,000 million pounds and rising for just 2 weeks of sport. How many jobs in the Police, Library service or NHS could be funded with that amount of money?

  290. “What I want to know is what are people in these communities supposed to do about the minority of anti-social elements who blight their lives?”

    A fair and pressing question and the answer is a police service that is responsive to the needs of working class communities and is locally accountable.

  291. Vanya on said:

    stuart: I’m not making a point about how individuals use the police in their particular lives, I’m talking about socialists and elections.

    What a cop-out (no pun itended)!

  292. Anonymouse on said:

    1) Respect has a clause in its constitution (adopted by its conference and only amendable by its conference) that states that a condition of Respect membership is support for Respect candidates in elections. As George Galloway stood as a candidate of Respect in Glasgow in 2011 (and not for any other slate or organisation or as an individual), anyone advocating a vote against Galloway and for the SSP (or anyone else) in May 2011 would have breached the Respect constitution and have put themselves outside its membership. Socialist Resistance chose to resign (‘amicably’) rather than breach the constitution, making it clear that they had never had an ‘entryist’ or hostile policy towards Respect membership.

    2) The turn to standing in Scotland for the Scottish parliament without a conference debate on Scottish policy or manifesto left Respect with no position on the key constitutional question of the (Scottish Parliamentary) election – whether the Parliament should call a referendum on Scottish independence and what position to take on that referendum. The lack of such a preparatory debate left Respect high and dry in the election and they only achieved a marginal vote compared to the claims of a likely breakthrough that were made initially. The SNP captured the parliament, despite the PR system supposedly making that impossible, on the basis of left rhetoric based on an anti-Tory majority with a significant element opposed to rule from the (Tory-led) government in Westminster.

    3) Despite the electoral campaign in Scotland in May 2011, Respect has not formed a permanent presence in Scotland and there are no Respect candidates in the whole of the country for the forthcoming local elections, only held every four years under the STV system. Those who supported the Galloway candidacy and stood on the Respect slate are standing as ‘Solidarity’, though there appears to be no manifesto or website or organisation. Galloway stood on the basis of a unionist policy and support for a Labour government in Holyrood. Since then there has been a significant split in the Labour Party since the election to create the ‘Glasgow First’ grouping contesting the (STV) elections, that is likely to deny Labour a majority in a city they have controlled for over 40 years. Respect has been entirely irrelevant to that process despite the party investing so much in the May 2011 election campaign.

    4) At the same time of the Scottish parliamentary elections May 2011, there were council elections in England where Respect achieved generally poor results – they lost the seat they were defending on Birmingham Council. It was more by luck than judgement that Respect activists in Bradford decided to continue – the national organisation de-camped in a foolhardy mission to Scotland, rather than build up Respect in those areas where it had a toehold including Bradford and Birmingham. Respect lost the by-election in Sparkbrook following Salma Yaqoob’s resignation and for the first time since 2004 has no candidates in the local elections in the biggest council in England next month. In Tower Hamlets, once the most important of its bases, while the party won a by-election in 2011, it has become little more than an appendage to Lutfur Rahman’s independent group on the Council.

    5) While Galloway’s success in Bradford West marks a phenomenal change of circumstances, there is the danger of the Party decamping entirely to Bradford and becoming a one-city party. There are no other Respect candidates in West Yorkshire (nor Birmingham) and very few candidates elsewhere in England (none in Wales or Scotland either) despite the opportunity for national recognition and growth posed by Galloway’s prominent victory and return to Parliament. The 12 candidates in Bradford clearly have great potential, but as has already been stated it would take at least three elections to get to the position of challenging for power – the only thing short on offer short of rhetorical opposition could be a coalition with Labour in the City, which does not look at all pallatable in the short term.

    6) The main electoral challenges from the left in the English council elections are TUSC and the Green Party. The Green Party’s recent experience in Brighton raises questions about how much it is a party of the left, even if it continues to advance electorally and win support from those disgusted at Labour’s continuing rightward movement. TUSC is basically a non-aggression pact between the SP and SWP that is fundamentally hostile to the Green Party, and not a model for creating a national pole of opposition to Labour’s advocacy of austerity acceptance. Despite Galloway’s victory we have to say the prospects for a broader left electoral challenge 2013-2015 look bleaker than they did over a decade ago.

    7) ‘Entry’ into social democratic parties was a short term tactic argued by Trotsky in the 1930s, particularly in the crisis in the SFIO in France but also in relation to the ILP in Britain (then a significant pole of attraction nominally outside the Labour Party). Trotsky never saw it as a long term tactic – his letters compiled in the Pathfinder book ‘The Crisis of the French Section’ and in his letters on the ILP make clear that it was only seen as a short term tactic with a definite ‘Exit’. After the post war boom failed to produce revolutionary advances (outside of Yugoslavia and China, and cut off in Greece), Trotskyists adopted the ‘entry’ tactic almost by default in relation to both social democratic and stalinist parties. Where it was rationalised, the term ‘sui generis’ (‘of a special kind’) was used to distinguish it from the tactic of the same name advocated by Trotsky. During the 1950s it became the largely universal tactic operated by the various fragments of the Trotskyist movement in Europe, generally until 1968 (in the specific circumstances of Britain it was abandoned earlier in the case of the SLL, and somewhat later in the case of RSL/Militant; IS abandoned it in 1968 though their call for ‘revolutionary unity’ was supported by a Labour MP!). Elsewhere, the Lambert current were still operating it in the 1970s and had a member who became a socialist party MP in the Poruguese parliament after the revolution of 1974. The largely ‘reunified’ Fourth International (USEC) produced a very good balance sheet of what the tactic was and why it was abandoned for their 1969 conference – unfortunately it was not debated due to shortage of time, nor was it published to a wider audience – this document is an antidote to the arguments that the USEC was going through an ultra left phase at the time(something that they did go through in 1974 with the ‘New Mass Vanguard’, but despite all the claims about their swing after Mai ’68 was not actually true of their 1969 congress). The 1969 document places considerable emphasis on the role of the mass parties and why the entry tactic was correct for much of the post war period up to that time.

  293. Anonymouse on said:

    Andy Newman:
    #334

    I know we have a new policy of not being rude, but FFS that was boring.

    Time again for quoting large chunks from a 2,500 word apologist article on China’s role in Africa, maybe?

  294. #326

    Stuart, you have not answered my question. The police being the paid wing of the capitalist state, or being used by Thatcher to defeat the miners, means very little to working class people living with the grim reality of crime and anti-social behaviour. Also, why cant socialists support their local police stations against closure and also support tacking youth unemployment at the same time?

  295. #336

    Anonymouse: Time again for quoting large chunks from a 2,500 word apologist article on China’s role in Africa, maybe?

    China’s role in Africa – massively important issue

    Socialist Resistance’s view on Respect – irrelevent noise

  296. G: #326Stuart, you have not answered my question. The police being the paid wing of the capitalist state, or being used by Thatcher to defeat the miners, means very little to working class people living with the grim reality of crime and anti-social behaviour. Also, why cant socialists support their local police stations against closure and also support tacking youth unemployment at the same time?

    I see where your coming from there G. That said I think the real issue is the nature of policing.

    Most polling I have seen from working class areas lists action on crime and anti social behaviour in the top 3 priorities and usually in the top 2. Working class communities disproportionatley experience crime and within that those who are vulnerable experience it most often. Mostly nothing is done about it because policing in the UK does not prioritise it. Campaigning against the closure of a local police station does nothing to rectify this.

    So there we have it, a huge issue of human misery and degradation determined largely by class that most on the Left cannot recognise.

  297. Anonymouse on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Andy Newman:
    #336

    China’s role in Africa – massively important issue

    Socialist Resistance’s view on Respect – irrelevent noise

    I was referring to the practice of quoting large chunks off someone else saying ‘this is interesting’, rather than saying what you think yourself. My comments were a personal observation and have nothing to do with Socialist Resistance or whether I think Pablo was right or wrong in the 1950s (clearly he got some things right and others wrong).

    John Lawrence, by the way, supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 so could never really be regarded as a trotskyist or even ‘fellow traveller’ of Pablo from that point on, hence the reason he was eventually readmitted to the CPGB. He was opposed to CND’s policy of unilateralism too. Most of the trotskyists and even progressive former stalinists at the time were heading in the opposite direction. The convergence of opinion on Hungary in 1956 between Cannon and Pablo was one of the main starting points that led to the reunification of the trotskyists.

  298. stuart on said:

    Vanya: What a cop-out (no pun itended)!

    Not sure why you think that. My point was an attempt to say that in particular cases, for example the Lawrence case, people would understandably demand that the police do their job ‘properly’. But the wider point to be made is that the police are institutionally incapable of acting ‘fairly’ as they are bound to the capitalist state. It is wrong for socialists to give the impression, in election material, that the police are ‘neutral’ or worse still ‘progressive’, and simply calling for ‘more police’ does just that.

  299. stuart on said:

    G: #326Stuart, you have not answered my question. The police being the paid wing of the capitalist state, or being used by Thatcher to defeat the miners, means very little to working class people living with the grim reality of crime and anti-social behaviour. Also, why cant socialists support their local police stations against closure and also support tacking youth unemployment at the same time?

    I did answer your question. I said that you could campaign for both if you wanted to but if you did you would undermine the socialist case. I give my reason for saying this in my post no. 344.

  300. Stuart, you said, “I’m not making a point about how individuals use the police in their particular lives”

    Again you say,

    “…in particular cases, for example the Lawrence case, people would understandably demand that the police do their job ‘properly’.

    Why is this particular issue simply about individuals rather than a collectively experienced problem?

    “…the police are institutionally incapable of acting ‘fairly’ as they are bound to the capitalist state. It is wrong for socialists to give the impression, in election material, that the police are ‘neutral’ or worse still ‘progressive’, and simply calling for ‘more police’ does just that.”

    Are social workers incapable of sorting out any of the problems they are tasked with dealing with? They are certainly regarded by many working class people as an unacceptable agency of state interference in their lives.

    Are teachers in state schools incapable of imparting knowledge? They are also seen as state control agents by many people.

    The thing is that you have nothing to say to working class people about this other than to highlight the negative things about the Police- as if the working class, and particularly the more oppressed sections need you to tell them about these-.

    Basically, you understand why in selected politically important cases individuals may want to go to the Police, but generally there is no point trying to fight for policing to be done better. At least the ultra-left headbangers go on about workers militia, you haven’t even got that pie in the sky to offer.

    Things will be better after the revolution.

    Great.

    As SA says, “So there we have it, a huge issue of human misery and degradation determined largely by class that most on the Left cannot recognise.”

  301. Nail on the head there Vanya.

    There is little point in seeking ‘leadership’ of working class communities if you cannot bring yourself to recognise on of the main problems that beset them.

    It seems to me is that while it is quite correct to assume that the police will not be neutral in industrial disputes or other confrontations with the State it is a grave mistake to assume that day to day policing that more meets the needs of working class communities is impossible this side of a revolution.

  302. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    IMO there is a difference in how you relate to police around certain events (like the Lawrence case) and how socilaists should treat the police in an election. What should an election be about? Getting votes in any way you can or advancing socialism by collective struggle? This discussion arose out of my critique of the Livingstone broadcast in which he called for ‘more police’ or for ‘talking to police not bankers’ (not ‘trade-unionists not bankers’ note).

    Livingstone does not even call for reforms or accountability. He just calls for more police in their current form. I would go as far to say that it is wrong for socialists to call for ‘more police and reform/accountabilty’ as this gives the false impression the capitalist state would tolerate such democracy . In an election IMO calling simply for reform could be acceptable for socialists as a slogan (it would never happen as we would want without mass struggle) but this should never be coupled with ‘more police’ as you would simply end up with more police and no democratic reform. And what is more, this would not do anything to stop the crime that w/c people worry about, so why join in with campaigns that call for more police?

    Your points about social services and education have some validity but quite evidently those who work in them are, at least generally speaking, more inclined to identify with trade-unionism, progressive forms of w/c struggle etc. Clearly there is something in the nature of the institutions and those who work within them. It is no surprise that the Daily Mail are more likely to campaign for higher police numbers than for more teachers and social workers.

  303. Vanya on said:

    #350 “I would go as far to say that it is wrong for socialists to call for ‘more police and reform/accountabilty’ as this gives the false impression the capitalist state would tolerate such democracy .”

    How do you know the limits of democracy under capitalism? Given a level of struggle such limits are impossible to predict in advance.

    If Ken is saying nothing about making the Police more accountable or about dealing with racism etc then he should, but that’s not your main problem as you say, which is that nothing can be done to improve the way the police behave or do their jobs and to ask for it is to sow illusions.

    Your position lets the Police off the hook, and is the type of attitude that stops people complaining about Police misconduct.

    If people listened to your arguments the officer in London who racially abused that black suspect in the riots would not now be prosecuted because he would have said, “ah well that’s just the police for you.”

    “Your points about social services and education have some validity but quite evidently those who work in them are, at least generally speaking, more inclined to identify with trade-unionism, progressive forms of w/c struggle etc. Clearly there is something in the nature of the institutions and those who work within them.”

    What about Prison Officers? Are you in TUSC? The POA certainly was, if it isn’t now.

  304. ” I would go as far to say that it is wrong for socialists to call for ‘more police and reform/accountabilty’ as this gives the false impression the capitalist state would tolerate such democracy .”

    Right then so, a huge swathe of the working class can get on with the fear, humiliation and misery and you will get back to them. Or much more likely you won’t.

  305. skidmarx on said:

    @Vanya & SA – when I read your comments initially I thought that I would agree with your criticism of ultra-leftism, after going back to Stuart’s comment I think you are misinterpreting what he said, either accidentally or casually. He says that calling for more accountability is fine, but calling for it in conjunction with calls for more police means that you’re liable just to get the latter.
    And going back further I see he makes that point in previous comments, so the more I think you are cherry-picking a straw man.

  306. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    You seem to be spending a lot of time on this. I criticised KL for calling for ‘more police’ which I presumed was a no-brainer for socialists. I’m not stopping anyone from complaining neither is my attitude. It is KL who ‘sows illusions’ in his election broadcast (my ‘main problem’). If a left-winger is calling for more police then one can only assume they are useful and on our side. Politically speaking that is not the case though.

    If KL had called for more teachers or social workers that is fine. But if he called for more prison officers that would be grounds for criticism. Would you agree? Prison Officers have struck, good. Do we want more? No. If police strike, good. It weakens the state. But do we want more? No.

  307. stuart on said:

    SA:.”Right then so, a huge swathe of the working class can get on with the fear, humiliation and misery and you will get back to them. Or much more likely you won’t.

    What is this? Are you saying KL was right to call for more police? Are you saying that criticising such a call passively accepts ‘fear, humiliation and misery’? Are you saying that more police is the solution to such fear, hope and misery?

  308. #354

    stuart: I criticised KL for calling for ‘more police’ which I presumed was a no-brainer for socialists.

    why would we automatically oppose this?

    In some parts of rural wiltshire there are no police at all most of the time, due to cut backs. Is that a good idea?

  309. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: #354why would we automatically oppose this?In some parts of rural wiltshire there are no police at all most of the time, due to cut backs. Is that a good idea?

    If you believe that whatever social problems working class people experience in rural Wiltshire can be allievated by the presence of more police in the locality, then you will think it’s a bad idea. I’m not convinced.

  310. stuart: What is this? Are you saying KL was right to call for more police? Are you saying that criticising such a call passively accepts ‘fear, humiliation and misery’? Are you saying that more police is the solution to such fear, hope and misery?

    Reality that’s what it is. Crime and anti social behaviour of the most serious kinds disproportionatley impact on the poorest working class communities causing fear humiliation and misery, oh and often physical pain too.

    The refusal of many on the Left to engage with that reality does indeed constitute passively accepting the status quo. How could it be otherwise?

    I’ve set out what I think in 332 and 341 above.

    I think Livingstone’s call for more police should be seen in the context of his initiation of the Safer Neighbourhoods Strategy and his realisation that crime is a core issue for working class communities not a peripheral one. Therefore to criticise Livingstone for engaging with the concerns of working class communities over crime while being unable to articulate an alternative response is at best worthless.

    At its worst it bespeaks of a politics that is utterly detached from the current struggles working class communities wage to achieve a life that is more than an existance.

  311. Vanya on said:

    #354 I don’t see why opposition to more police is necessarally a “no brainer” for socialists. I think there’s a big algebraic/ context issue here.

    But let’s leave that aside. My understanding was that you not only don’t want to call for more Police but that you object to calling for accountability of the Police because this sows illusions.

    If I’ve misunderstood then my apologies.

    As for prison officers, those of my clients who are subject to excessive daily bang-up because of there being insufficient staff on their wing, or who are waiting excessive time to get their Cat D reviews or ROTLs sorted out because of sick leave, holidays etc or who are in fear because they’re aren’t enough staff to protect them from tougher inmates on their wing and they don’t want to put in to go to the VP wing because they’ll get a reputation for being a nonce or a grass…may feel differently about the idea of calling for more prison officers from the “we” that you speak for.

  312. stuart on said:

    SA,

    apols for writing ‘hope’ instead of ‘humiliation’ in post no.355.

    I’ve read your posts 332 and 341 and the problem I have is that I don’t believe that the police are institutionally capaple of being responsive to the needs of working class communities and accountable. That ignores their origins and their purpose. It is about as useful as calling for increased defence spending in order to promote greater human rights across the world. If socialists called for that at election time I’d criticise it on similar grounds.

  313. Vanya on said:

    “Therefore to criticise Livingstone for engaging with the concerns of working class communities over crime while being unable to articulate an alternative response is at best worthless.”

    That is exactly the point.

    Stuart, you are not providing an alternative response, but dodging the issue.

    Nobody is denying that the Police have huge problems with racism, that they are used to enforce capitalist property relations, that they are capable of horrendous acts of brutality etc.

    But what do you do about the problems with crime that people face now? Are you proposing something better that can in the short to medium term carry out the functions of the Police in working class communities? If so, what is it?

    Or are you saying that these problems don’t exist and that people just imagine being victims of crime?

    Or are you saying that people will just have to put up with them until we get more jobs or better facilities or until the revolution?

    Let’s hear what you do call for, not what you think others shouldn’t.

  314. I think he’s saying that the police don’t currently make a significant positive difference to the experience of working-class communities in respect of crime.

  315. Stuart the Cops will do what they’re told as long as the doing is measured and they are held accountable. There is no need to reach for analogy; look at what they have done in terms of gender and race equality in recruitment. Did they want to do it? No but it was done all the same.

    It is perfectly possible to do the same in terms of addressing the points Vanya and myself made here. The policy would practically write itself. I would also say that I have met coppers who would dearly like to see this done.

  316. stuart on said:

    Vanya: As for prison officers, those of my clients who are subject to excessive daily bang-up because of there being insufficient staff on their wing, or who are waiting excessive time to get their Cat D reviews or ROTLs sorted out because of sick leave, holidays etc or who are in fear because they’re aren’t enough staff to protect them from tougher inmates on their wing and they don’t want to put in to go to the VP wing because they’ll get a reputation for being a nonce or a grass…may feel differently about the idea of calling for more prison officers from the “we” that you speak for.

    Politically, it would be better to call lower prison populations.

  317. stuart on said:

    SA: Stuart the Cops will do what they’re told as long as the doing is measured and they are held accountable. There is no need to reach for analogy; look at what they have done in terms of gender and race equality in recruitment. Did they want to do it? No but it was done all the same.It is perfectly possible to do the same in terms of addressing the points Vanya and myself made here. The policy would practically write itself. I would also say that I have met coppers who would dearly like to see this done.

    Cosmetic, all about PR. Still the same institution. Pretending to be something they aint. In any case, that’s moving a long way from KL calling for more police in his broadcast.

  318. stuart on said:

    Vanya: Let’s hear what you do call for, not what you think others shouldn’t.

    I’ve said. Socialists should call for a set of progressive political, economic and social policies – in counter opposition to more police.

  319. Vanya on said:

    stuart: I’ve said. Socialists should call for a set of progressive political, economic and social policies

    Really? Care to be a bit more specific, because that doesn’t answer the question.

    Unless you think that each time someone asks you your views on how to deal with an issue, the best response is,

    “… a set of progressive political, economic and social policies.”

    Good luck with that :)

  320. My earlier comment about shutting down the police stations in 1984 was to an extent tongue in cheek though the truth is more cops do not = less crime and the truth is the epidemic of crime in former pit villages is a direct result of the destruction of the coal industry ,and no amount of ‘local bobbies ‘ on the beat will resolve that.
    Also Vanya I have at least as good understanding of the policing of the strike , and it was not all Met police. as has recently been reported the key role in the key area Yorkshire was played by the notorious South Yorkshire Police.
    I suppose the nub of the disagreement is whether you believe the police exists in order to defend the property and wealth of the ruli ng class and everything else they do is incidental.
    So therefore yes of course they deal with ‘crime’ but the real and true role is as part of the bodies of armed men
    Much as I would like to comment further the Library is about to close ( blame the cuts ! ) and my home computer is on the blink !

    If you think we can reform the police Vanya and hold them to account good look .don’t stop trying either but it isn’t the odd apple its the barrel that’s rotten

  321. stuart: Cosmetic, all about PR. Still the same institution. Pretending to be something they aint. In any case, that’s moving a long way from KL calling for more police in his broadcast.

    No its not cosmetic there are now actual police officers from a variety of ethnicities and many more women police officers, before the police were mainly white UK and relatively few were women. So it changed in the real world. If that changed so can the policing of working class areas.

    Nor is it moving far from Livingstone who initiated policies that work forces should be representative of the communities they serve. He did this because something needed to be done about racial and gender discrimination.

    So in the real world when peoples lives are improved by policies, said policies cannot be dismissed as cosmetic.

  322. “I suppose the nub of the disagreement is whether you believe the police exists in order to defend the property and wealth of the ruli ng class and everything else they do is incidental.”

    No we have not got that far yet. The nub is do you accept that the atrocious impact of crime on working class communities requires immediate redress or do you think you can wait and do something after the revolution.

    If its the latter expect to judged harshly, or just ignored by those suffering the impact.

  323. stuart on said:

    Vanya: Really? Care to be a bit more specific, because that doesn’t answer the question. <

    OK. A characteristic feature of capitalist society will inevitably be instabilty, chaos, disorder, various antagonisms. Therefore a coercive state is an absolutely necessary part of capitalism, in order to maintain some level of peace and stabilty. To reduce such antagonism, socialists argue, we need to counter the effects of capitalism by, for example, demanding progressive social, economic and political policies. But this is not achieved by strengthening the coercive state.

  324. stuart on said:

    SA: >Nor is it moving far from Livingstone who initiated policies that work forces should be representative of the communities they serve. .

    Is this the same Livingstone that presided over the de Menezes shooting?

  325. Stuart, are we really now reduced to saying Livingstone “presided over” a police murder? Don’t you think you’re going a bit daft now?

    [edited - I got the name wrong, sorry]

  326. stuart: Is this the same Livingstone that presided over the de Menezes shooting?

    You think Livingstone ‘presided over’ de Menezes murder that’s a leap.

    But let’s cut to the chase you have no idea of the nature of the problem and not a clue what to do about it if you did.

    That’s not the best basis to criticise Livingstone’s policing policies is it.

  327. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    stuart: OK. A characteristic feature of capitalist society will inevitably be instabilty, chaos, disorder, various antagonisms.

    How charming. You still believe that crime will disappear and the state wither away.

  328. Darkness at Noon on said:

    stuart: Therefore a coercive state is an absolutely necessary part of capitalism, in order to maintain some level of peace and stabilty. To reduce such antagonism, socialists argue, we need to counter the effects of capitalism by, for example, demanding progressive social, economic and political policies. But this is not achieved by strengthening the coercive state.

    Of course there have never been coercive Socialist states ever never ever. And of course Socialists like Trotsky never implemented such coercion.

  329. Vanya on said:

    #368 Firstly, I didn’t suggest that the armies of occupation consisted only of police from the Met, and I well recall the role of S Yorkshire Constabulary.

    Secondly, why do you refer to ‘crime’?

    When a young woman was raped on a pathway round the corner from my flat, or when someone forced their way into the flat above me and robbed and killed the old woman who lived there, or when a local student was put into a coma by a gang which allegedly includes a lad who lives over the road from me, were these mere ‘crimes’?

    But I can happily tell the local overwhelmingly working class community (many of whom for good reasons have no love of the Police) that they’ll just have to put up with this shit like they do the weather because it’s all the fault of capitalism and the Police are only there to defend capitalist property relations.

    #372 I no longer see any point discussing with you following that pearl.

  330. Jellytot on said:

    All states are coercive and there is nothing instrinsically wrong for socialists or progressives to call for more police to address community concerns over levels of crime.

    What we have suffered from is a breaking down of WC consciousness and notions of solidarity. It can be argued that anti-social crime, by the WC towards the WC, has an ongoing corrosive effect on communities, turning people against each other and promoting a culture of fear and suspicion. In such an atmosphere usually the Right benefit.

    In regards to coercion; I’ve never received a satisfactory answer to the question, “What happens to the lazy and feckless under Socialism?”

    Wasn’t it Lenin who said, “He who does not work shall not eat” ?

  331. stuart on said:

    SA:
    But let’s cut to the chase you have no idea of the nature of the problem and not a clue what to do about it if you did.

    That’s not the best basis to criticise Livingstone’s policing policies is it.

    What you really mean is you don’t agree with the ideas I’ve put forward.

  332. stuart on said:

    Hasanyi_Janos: How charming.You still believe that crime will disappear and the state wither away.

    What I’ve actually said is that IMO socialists should not demand ‘more police’ in election broadcasts, that’s all.

  333. stuart on said:

    Darkness at Noon: Of course there have never been coercive Socialist states ever never ever. And of course Socialists like Trotsky never implemented such coercion.

    This is not relevant to the debate over whether Livingstone should be calling for more police.

  334. stuart on said:

    #372 I no longer see any point discussing with you following that pearl.

    To vanya,
    In truth, the ‘discussion’ has amounted, as was pointed out by another poster earlier, to you putting words into my mouth rather just agreeing to differ over whether Livingstone was correct, from a socialist point of view, to call for more police in his election broadcast.

  335. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:
    All states are coercive and there is nothing instrinsically wrong for socialists or progressives to call for more police to address community concerns over levels of crime.

    What we have suffered from is a breaking down of WC consciousness and notions of solidarity. It can be argued that anti-social crime, by the WC towards the WC, has an ongoing corrosive effect on communities, turning people against each other and promoting a culture of fear and suspicion. In such an atmosphere usually the Right benefit.

    And it is the right who call for more police.

  336. stuart on said:

    tony collins:
    Stuart, are we really now reduced to saying Livingstone “presided over” a police murder? Don’t you think you’re going a bit daft now?

    [edited - I got the name wrong, sorry]

    As I’m sure you know, Livingstone as mayor, defended the police at the time of the killing.

  337. #380 I didn’t put forward such a crude position.

    What I want to know is what those who attack Livingstone over this have to say practically in the here and now to working class people who are overwhelmingly the victims of crime what they think socialists should propose to do about it.

    Not Marxism for 5 Year Olds lectures about the nature of the capitalist state, and not what you think we shouldn’t be saying.

    I have to be honest and say that I’ve been asking variants of this question on and off for about 20 years to the same usual suspects and so I should really learn the lesson that I won’t get a sensible answer.

  338. Vanya on said:

    I’ve had the benefit of a night in on my own being an internet saddo.

    So I’ve spent longer than I normally would anylising some of the comments on this thread.

    So I think I’ve sussed out the complexitiies of what Stuart is trying to say.

    Correct me if I’m wrong mate, but I think your point is that Ken Livingstone should not have called for more police officers.

    I hope I’ve not misunderstood you, and if I have I’m sure it’s not your fault, but it does pay to be as clear as you can about these things.

  339. stuart on said:

    Vanya:
    I’ve had the benefit of a night in on my own being an internet saddo.

    So I’ve spent longer than I normally would anylising some of the comments on this thread.

    So I think I’ve sussed out the complexitiies of what Stuart is trying to say.

    Correct me if I’m wrong mate, but I think your point is that Ken Livingstone should not have called for more police officers.

    I hope I’ve not misunderstood you, and if I have I’m sure it’s not your fault, but it does pay to be as clear as you can about these things.

    The lack of clariy rests with you.

    You appear not to take the ‘crude’ view that more police equals less crime but seem to want defend Livinstone for calling for more police. So are you saying socialists should advocate positions they don’t really believe in because they want to be more popular or ‘in touch’ with parts of the electorate? It’s a bit like me saying that I don’t think immigration is to blame for unemployment but I’ll call for stricter controls because that ‘relates’ to some w/c concerns.

  340. #379

    Jellytot: In regards to coercion; I’ve never received a satisfactory answer to the question, “What happens to the lazy and feckless under Socialism?”

    We know the answer to that from the experience of the DDR.

    They are enticed to flee to a capitalist country by bribes and propaganda, which leads them to think they will be living on easy street, where on arrival they are praised as heroic dissidents fleeing “totalitarianism” because of their love for individual freedom.

    They then end up living in a crummy bedsit, in a deadend job in the West, and a third of them try to go back to the socialist country.

    In the excellent academic study “Justice in Luertiz”, a study of 50 years of court records
    in an East german town found only one case of someone seeking to flee from that town to the West out of genuine political conviction and beleif in western liberalism. The DDR authorities assisted him to move to the West by making an exchange with the BRD for an East german prisoner in a Western gaol.

    Court records show that most people fleeing East germany were poorly educated young men aged between 17 and 24, from urban areas and usually from families with a history of anti-social behaviour. Their expectations of what would happen in the West were as delusional as X-factor auditionees. (for clarity I am referring to people who fled after 1961 when the border was closed – the brief experiment of discretely opening the border without fanfare in 1984 led to a different pattern of emigration of more settled,, skilled workers taking their families)

    One of the most challenging experiences of actually existing socialism is that about 10% of the population show no interest in self-improvement, or community.

    The records also show that the state repression of such anti-social people was broadly popular, and for example most stasi informers did so because they thought the authoriites ought to know what their feckless neighbours were up to.

    While politically inconvenient to acknowledge, state repression in the DDR was not against “political dissidents” but against social non-conformity, was broadly popular, and was a continuation of a tradition of enforced communitarian conformity dating back to the Prussian kingdom.

  341. Vanya on said:

    #390 That was a poor attempt at humour on my part- you repeatedly stated that you didn’t agree with Livingstone.

    As for immigration, if you don’t think it’s a problem, why compare it to crime? Presumably you don’t take the view that crime isn’t a problem either? Or maybe you do.

    In and of itself, calling for more police is an inadequate response to the problems of crime in communities. You have to look at how the police are used, how they behave, how they relate to the community, the sort of people who become police officers etc.

    But (to #387) no, I don’t think calling for more police officers is necessarily wrong.

    The point is, if you don’t see the Police as a central part of dealing with crime and see them as problem and oppose calling for more of them, do you think there should be fewer? None at all? And what’s your alternative?

    Unless someone wants to engage with those questions I think that exhausts the issue.

  342. One of the more frustrating things about commenting here is how there is a relatively small group of posters who post a lot, who put themselves forward as “reasonable”, and who argue in bad faith a large part of the time.

    It happens all over the net, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it does here, too. But it’s still very frustrating.

  343. stuart on said:

    Vanya: >As for immigration, if you don’t think it’s a problem, why compare it to crime? Presumably you don’t take the view that crime isn’t a problem either? Or maybe you do.

    Misrepresentation. I didn’t ‘compare it to crime’ in the way you imply. I categorised policing and immgration as election issues. I never said immigration was a ‘problem’, quite the opposite in fact. I said unemployment was the problem.

    The point is, if you don’t see the Police as a central part of dealing with crime and see them as problem and oppose calling for more of them, do you think there should be fewer? None at all? And what’s your alternative?

    Overcomplication. I said Livingstone was wrong to call for more police in an election broadcast (because it gives the false impression that police are progressive). I didn’t say he should call for an immediate insurrection, that would be silly.

  344. #393

    KrisS: One of the more frustrating things about commenting here is how there is a relatively small group of posters who post a lot, who put themselves forward as “reasonable”, and who argue in bad faith a large part of the time.

    I think that argument fails the Occam’s razor test.

    More likely than “bad faith” is simply that there is a debate between people who don’t share the same conceptual paradigm (50th anniversary of Kuhn’s work being published last week, wanted to write something about his the concept of paradigms had changed politics, but didn’t have time)

    If people simply don’t share the same assumptions, then responses can appear obtuse or even rude.

    For example some people are living in a delusional bubble that their routine of selling turgid newspapers and advocating the pipe dream of “revolution” means that they are actually revolutinaries. (By analogy, I think Sarah Michelle Gellar is attractive, it doesn’t mean I am her boyfriend, and if I did that would be a delusion. Thinking a “revolution” would be a good thing doesn’t mean that it is possible, and it doesn’t make you a “revolutionary”. This is particularly true of people who seem to thinkk “revolution” would slve complex social problems – whereas actually experience shows that revolutions are traumatic and ALWAYS lead to violent repression)

    It is not “bad faith” to tease out the assumptions of “revolutionaries” and hold them to the test of real world experience and practicality.

  345. Andy Newman,

    A friend of mine who fled with her family from the DDR in the early 80s tells a rather different story Andy. Her parents were lifelong Communists, her father a member of the Red Front Fighters League. They were forced to flee to escape the Nazis due to their anti-fascist activities. They first went to Czechoslovakia and and then following the Nazi occupation, to the UK, where her mother was placed in an internment camp and my friend was born while her father was deported to Australia. They returned to the DDR after the war to help build socialism, but by the late 70s her mother had drawn the unwelcome attention of the authorities for her artistic activities. It transpired that the local CP secretary had been a Nazi official who remembered her from before the war, who wanted to settle an old score and so they were placed under increasing surveillance, their house was searched, objects moved and artworks vandalised while they were out of their flat visiting friends. Her art was mostly in the expressionist style and not subversive, but the vandals made them overtly sexual and pornographic in order to discredit the family. Following the unhappy death of her mother a short while after, my friend fled to the UK with her daughter, still socialist but disillusioned with the DDR.

  346. I don’t agree, but I don’t think there’s much of any usefulness to discuss on the subject. We just have to get on with it.

    (Adding deliberate rudeness and rotten analogies to posts after submitting is probably not in the best of faith, but there we go)

  347. KrisS: One of the more frustrating things about commenting here is how there is a relatively small group of posters who post a lot, who put themselves forward as “reasonable”, and who argue in bad faith a large part of the time.

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I think admin should look at banning them.

  348. Andy Newman: #393I think that argument fails the Occam’s razor test.More likely than “bad faith” is simply that there is a debate between people who don’t share the same conceptual paradigm (50th anniversary of Kuhn’s work being published last week, wanted to write something about his the concept of paradigms had changed politics, but didn’t have time)If people simply don’t share the same assumptions, then responses can appear obtuse or even rude.For example some people are living in a delusional bubble that their routine of selling turgid newspapers and advocating the pipe dream of “revolution” means that they are actually revolutinaries. (By analogy, I think Sarah Michelle Gellar is attractive, it doesn’t mean I am her boyfriend, and if I did that would be a delusion. Thinking a “revolution” would be a good thing doesn’t mean that it is possible, and it doesn’t make you a “revolutionary”. This is particularly true of people who seem to thinkk “revolution” would slve complex social problems – whereas actually experience shows that revolutions are traumatic and ALWAYS lead to violent repression)It is not “bad faith” to tease out the assumptions of “revolutionaries” and hold them to the test of real world experience and practicality.

    Very true, unless you do not accept that what you define as delusional, because by the same token I could say some people live in a delusional bubble thinking that working within a right wing social democratic organisation which was previously led by a notorious war criminal and which has never in its entire 100 year history advanced the cause of genuine socialism forward one iota and in which former revolutionaries shift so far to the right that they end up embracing vicious stalinist regimes such as former East Germany and Billionaire run China as ‘existing socialism’so far do these delusions grab them that they even seek to be elected to a position that has in the overall run of things little meaning except that they will in all liklihood end up cutting the serices they are pledged to protect
    I could say that but where would it get us ? !!!!
    And I thought things were for once going along quite fraternally !
    ( Anyway at least you’ve got a promotion to celebrate…pity it took a fascist to achieve it for you)

  349. Uncle Albert on said:

    #380 KrisS “Do people really think that more police = less crime?”

    Yes, when resources are deployed effectively.

    Ken proposes the creation of a Repeat Offenders Unit within the Met – re-offending costs London £500 million. If successful in identifying and limiting the causes of re-offending then crime will be reduced and the lives of Londoners will be improved.

    Also, Ken proposes to reduce knife crime by offering all secondary schools a dedicated police officer, committed to tackling knife crime by providing better intelligence, increasing detection levels and building better relationships between young people and the police.

    That’s another measure which should reduce crime.

    Here’s the link to Ken’s policing manifesto:

    http://www.kenlivingstone.com/ken-unveils-new-measures-to-make-londoners-safer-in-his-crime-ma

  350. stuart: What you really mean is you don’t agree with the ideas I’ve put forward.

    No, I really mean you don’t know or understand the issue or have the foggiest what to do about it. I could not have been clearer.

    I’m suprised that you think you have put forward any ideas at all. Repeating a one size fits all mantra and a bit of doggerel about the nature of the capitalist state does not qualify as ‘ideas’on how to deal with the impact of crime on working class communities. Had you been able to sketch out some ideas we may have agreed or disagreed but you cannot, so who knows.

    Some posters here see the issue and have a view about how we got here. It may be that at sometime in the future the issue of the Left and the impact of crime on working class communities could be discussed properly to everyones benefit.

    As to Livingstone wanting more police well it would depend how he intends them to be deployed as to whether that’s a good or bad thing. I think he wants them based in neighbourhoods to give succour to the communities there in keeping with his prevous initiative. If you want to decry that then you have to come up with an alternative means of redress if you wish to remain credible.

    Otherwise it really is “living in a delusional bubble that their routine of selling turgid newspapers and advocating the pipe dream of “revolution” means that they are actually revolutinaries.” to quote 395 above.

    I can’t but note that your actual fighting revolutionaries tend to prioritise protecting their communities from anti social elements from day one. They do this because not to do so would destabilise their support. I suppose its easier to ignore that imperative if you have no communities or indeed any support.

  351. #396

    ted: but by the late 70s her mother had drawn the unwelcome attention of the authorities for her artistic activities. It transpired that the local CP secretary had been a Nazi official who remembered her from before the war, who wanted to settle an old score and so they were placed under increasing surveillance, their house was searched, objects moved and artworks vandalised while they were out of their flat visiting friends. Her art was mostly in the expressionist style and not subversive,

    With respect, you have actually confirmed what I said.

    The persecution here was not based upon political opposition, but the paranoid fear of social non-conformity that gripped the DDR.

    There are many aspects to this, one of this was the pernicious way the SED leadership operated as a gerontocracy, and one who had largely come from either exile or the KZ camps, and all living together in the “Volvograd” complex, they were very out of touch . They were socially timid, and their understandable and genuine fear of Nazi revival or Western revanchism led them to act in an unjustifiable paranoid way; they felt out of control whenever the population failed to live up to their socialist ideals, and this could lead to absurdities like the crack down on guitar music in the 1960s (which led to the Leipzig guitar riots)

    Another aspect was the lack of a culture of rule of law, this was partly understandable “auferstanden aus ruinen”! starting from scratch in many ways, with a legal system staffed by amateurs (there is much to admire in some aspects of the DDR’s legal system with the enormous effort put into arbitrating in minor disputes between citizens). However it was also reinforced by the idealistic aspects of Leninism.

    Interestingly, there was a process of professionalisation, and increasing recognition of citizen rights, and ideals of natural justice during the 1980; paradoxically this had little impact on the day to da lived expereince of the DDR’s citizens, but had quite an infleunce in attitides in the SED, which partly explains their liberal reaction to the protests in 1989.

  352. This book is also pretty good:
    http://www.scottishleftreview.org/li/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=22&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=34

    Whose Justice? The Law and the Left,
    contributions from Colin Fox, solicitor-advocate John Scott, Professors Gregor Gall and Jacqueline Tombs, Tommy Sheridan, Sheriff Alastair Duff, Keith Baldassara, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Clive Fairweather, justice activists John McManus and Richard Haly, lawyer Mike Dailly, STUC health and safety officer Ian Tasker, and Dr Nick McKerrell.

  353. “Another aspect was the lack of a culture of rule of law…reinforced by the idealistic aspects of Leninism.”

    Absolutely- when I discuss these issues with those who still identify with “idealistic aspects of Leninism” I am struck by the feeling that their reluctance to address questions of crime under bourgeois democracy is mirrored by a lack of concept of the rule of law once some form of socialist/ working class order is established.

  354. Left Burglar on said:

    A book on the law and the left by Colin Fox AND Tommy Sheridan, how interesting!

  355. SA: No, I really mean you don’t know or understand the issue or have the foggiest what to do about it. I could not have been clearer.I’m suprised that you think you have put forward any ideas at all. Repeating a one size fits all mantra and a bit of doggerel about the nature of the capitalist state does not qualify as ‘ideas’on how to deal with the impact of crime on working class communities. Had you been able to sketch out some ideas we may have agreed or disagreed but you cannot, so who knows.Some posters here see the issue and have a view about how we got here. It may be that at sometime in the future the issue of the Left and the impact of crime on working class communities could be discussed properly to everyones benefit.As to Livingstone wanting more police well it would depend how he intends them to be deployed as to whether that’s a good or bad thing. I think he wants them based in neighbourhoods to give succour to the communities there in keeping with his prevous initiative. If you want to decry that then you have to come up with an alternative means of redress if you wish to remain credible.Otherwise it really is “living in a delusional bubble that their routine of selling turgid newspapers and advocating the pipe dream of “revolution” means that they are actually revolutinaries.” to quote 395 above. I can’t but note that your actual fighting revolutionaries tend to prioritise protecting their communities from anti social elements from day one. They do this because not to do so would destabilise their support. I suppose its easier to ignore that imperative if you have no communities or indeed any support.

    And you have ?
    Whatever barbs you throw at us ‘deluded revolutionaries’ it pales compared to your hopeless and totally misguided delusions in the Metropolitan Police, maybe you have been asleep these last 30 years but you are in effect to the right of McPherson who at least could see the Police where institutally racist and nothing has happend since his report ,not even the token BME and women officers ,to change that. Indeed if anything recent events have confirmed that opinion.
    Yes not very copper is a racist,not every copper see’s their role as oppressing the poor and protecting the wealth and the power of the rich but like it or not that is in the final analysis the role of the police and anyone who thinks otherwise is not living in the real world.
    If telling it as it is doesn’t suite those who would love to see an ‘anti racist police force’ who spend their days helping the aged and giving succour to the disposessed then you live in your dream world and we’ll live in the real world !

  356. #407

    Left Burglar: A book on the law and the left by Colin Fox AND Tommy Sheridan, how interesting!

    It is only £10, and a very useful discussion, despite the subsequent irony.

    Sheridan’s defence of his argument for tough action against knife crime is particularly interesting; as are the sympathetic articles by criminal justice system professionals

  357. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: Interestingly, there was a process of professionalisation, and increasing recognition of citizen rights, and ideals of natural justice during the 1980.. had quite an infleunce in attitides in the SED, which partly explains their liberal reaction to the protests in 1989.

    So it would seem.

  358. George Hallam on said:

    At the risk of tantalising you with a glimpse of the unattainable.

    “In Germany, where the winners and losers of 1989 are neatly divided along the line of the former Wall and where West Germans can sit in judgment of East German miscarriages of justice untouched by any complicity in their commission, it seems much easier to separate the innocent from the guilty. And the Germans, experienced in historical guilt, expect clear-cut verdicts. Often, they find my preoccupation with discovering rather than condemning what happened morally suspect. When I have talked to German audiences about my research in the legal history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), there will usually be someone complaining that my view of socialist law is “too idyllic” or that I am too generous in trusting my East German sources. I have occasionally caught myself inserting particularly nasty facts about the socialist administration of justice into my presentations (all true and all easily found), not so much because the examples were to the point but because I did not want to lose credibility with my audience. There are limits to how few horror stories you can get away with when talking about East German law to West German listeners.”In Germany, where the winners and losers of 1989 are neatly divided along the line of the former Wall and where West Germans can sit in judgment of East German miscarriages of justice untouched by any complicity in their commission, it seems much easier to separate the innocent from the guilty. And the Germans, experienced in historical guilt, expect clear-cut verdicts. Often, they find my preoccupation with discovering rather than condemning what happened morally suspect. When I have talked to German audiences about my research in the legal history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), there will usually be someone complaining that my view of socialist law is “too idyllic” or that I am too generous in trusting my East German sources. I have occasionally caught myself inserting particularly nasty facts about the socialist administration of justice into my presentations (all true and all easily found), not so much because the examples were to the point but because I did not want to lose credibility with my audience. There are limits to how few horror stories you can get away with when talking about East German law to West German listeners.

  359. #409

    Al: If telling it as it is doesn’t suite those who would love to see an ‘anti racist police force’ who spend their days helping the aged and giving succour to the disposessed then you live in your dream world and we’ll live in the real world !

    But does your “telling it like it is”, which by the way is only a partial and somewhat misleading version of “how it is”, have any practical political outcome? I can see that your reductionist parody of the role of the police is useful for building a shared ideology in the closed world of a propaganda sect; but what do you advocate as practical day to day measures in the here and now for addressing crime and anti-social behaviour?

  360. #413

    George Hallam: untouched by any complicity in their commission

    This is a very important point.

    For all its faults, the DDR was also shaped by its relations with the BRD, and many of its most pernicious aspects were defensive measures to deliberate destabilisation from the West.

    Taken in the round, then there were many aspects of life in the DDR that were humane and even exemplary; and some of the negative aspects were despite the government not because of it.

  361. stuart on said:

    SA,

    Do you regard the austerity measures as a crime against working class communities? Do you think organised resistance to such a crime would bring working class people into conflict with the police?

  362. Vanya on said:

    #409 Stuart and Al actually seem to revel in the fact that they have no positive suggestions to make on this issue.

    #416 So when someone in my block tells me they’ve been robbed on their way back from the shops I’ll change the subject and go on about the real criminals being the government and the banks.

    And the student who was put in coma by the local lads who robbed him? If I meet his parents I’ll say, “what are you worrying about? It’s these bastards who took away his EMA or made him pay tuition fees you should be concerned about!”

  363. My child is a product of what you cry foul Vanya,is your vengence the answer,for those that take what you have got.

    I like the knowing of socialist mind,before i condem.

  364. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    Nobody is telling you what to say to the guy who has just been robbed. Do you agree that talking to a recent robbery victim and fronting a Labour Party election broadcast are different to the extent that they call for different approaches?

  365. Vanya on said:

    #418 My point is that in relating to people in working class communities who are affected by crime, as socialists we have a choice of either seeking to work out policies and strategies directed at helping to prevent it, or telling people it’s all the fault of the system and trying to change the subject.

    It’s not about vengeance, any more than fighting for better housing, schools and healthcare is. It’s about trying to improve people’s quality of life.

  366. Vanya on said:

    #419 When a politician or political activist speaks about an issue in public they should make it clear how important it is and how they intend to deal with it.

    The only difference between a conversation of the sort I referred to on the one hand and Ken addressing the issue of crime on the other is that one is about a specific instance of the problem and the other is about the problem in general.

  367. You see this is the problem Al ascribes to me illusions that I don’t have in the Met police. Then he decides I’m to the Right of Scarman although I have never said anything to make him think that I don’t recognise the problem of institutional racism. In doing so he misses the point that it was easier for Scarman and the State to point out the bleedin obvious about institutional racism and divert attention away from the reality of endemic corruption and collusion with criminals in the Met. Al does this because he is uncomfortable with thinking about how to address the impact of crime on working class communities. He would rather it was ignored.

    Stuart wants to know if the austerity measures are a crime against the working class. No Stuart they are part of a continued offensive to roll back the gains of the Atlee Govermnent as such the are part of a war against the working class.

    Will organised resistance bring conflict between the working class and the police of course it will but that does not obviate the needs of working class commuities facicing a disproportionate impact of crime.

    I agree with Vanya you’re both glorying in your absolute irrelevance to the class you pupport to be working for. Its like watching a pair of donkeys trying to climb into a bunk bed. There is some entertainment value but its going nowhere.

  368. Vanya on said:

    #416 again.

    I can’t answer for SA, but clearly there will be times when the Police will be used against people taking action to oppose cuts etc.

    And if they are we will be on different sides to them.

    So what?

  369. (I shall follow my own advice and leave this alone – with apologies for anyone who read an earlier, less friendly version of this post)

  370. cliff foot on said:

    Meanwhile, back on the electoral alliance possibilities…well, you gotta hope.

  371. Jellytot on said:

    @391We know the answer to that from the experience of the DDR.

    Very interesting Andy.

    Thanks for posting.

  372. P>I agree with Vanya you’re both glorying in your absolute irrelevance to the class you pupport to be working for. Its like watching a pair of donkeys trying to climb into a bunk bed. There is some entertainment value but its going nowhere.

    Now that’s a very strong way of putting things especially as you know nothing about me or my relevence to the working class ,in fact no more than I know about you, so its not really very helpful is it .
    Secondly quite where your approach has got us either is anybodies guess.
    Incidently it was McPhearson not Scarman I referred to , the latter whitewashed the racism underlying the riots of the early 1980′s, the former produced a report after pressure from the Lawrence family had bounced Blair into reluctantly allowing an inquiry of the Mets role in the death of Stepehen Lawrence.

    Al does this because he is uncomfortable with thinking about how to address the impact of crime on working class communities. He would rather it was ignored.
    Not at all, any more than you could be accused of trying to whitewash and excuse the ‘endemic’corruption of the Met .
    There are really two quite distinct matters colliding here, if all you wish to do is sling insults its best you jump out of this one.

    Of more substance is Vanya’s approach to which I would reply as follows

    No one denies working class communities are blighted by crime, however you define it, but that is nothing new is it.
    The real issue IMO is will more Police ,greater Police powers and resources or even a softer gentler Police force itself deal with that prevelence of crime.
    More Police does not = less crime anymore than the Death Penalty is a determent to Murder.
    The simple and indisputable fact is that poverty begats more crime. unless Vanya you believe there is something in the psychological make up of working class people which makes them more prone to criminality.
    You ask what do we say in the here and now to victims of crime ?
    Firstly I do not say well its all the fault of capitalism so hard luck mate ! However what do you say ? We need more Police ? How will that help someone who is already a victim
    What happens if the more police you demand set about in their time honoured way stereotyping those they think are responsible ?
    Do you deny Vanya that Black people especially black young men are disproportionately singled out by the Police , how will more Police help that ?
    Is there practical things we can do ?
    Yes I think there is , when there was a spate of attacks on ( mainly ) women workers at my workplace, mostly taking place late at night and seemingly targetted at those walking home, as a union officer I met the management and demanded ( and got ) panic alarms for all staff who wanted one, improved security lighting in the areas where the risk was greatest, and use of the works mini bus to transport women home. We also introduced a car sharing /lift scheme .
    We also met the police whom we felt had not being dealing with the matter adequately and who had been very insensitive in their approach ( a number of the women were Philipino workers)
    Did it make a difference ,yes it did, did it require a revolution clearly not .
    Did it require that I fundamentally change my view about the overall nature and role of the Police no it didn’t.
    I understnd where you are coming from Vanya, however I view it as no diffrent from the fact that I want to see the overthrow of captitalism and ultimately the abolition of the wages system,that does not though preclude me from fighting for reforms and higher wages now.
    Where we differ is that I think despite your obvious cynicism about the role of the Police I think your belief that

    <. It’s about trying to improve people’s quality of life.

    Whilst laudable is not something that will be achieved by more police

  373. stuart on said:

    Vanya:
    #419 When a politician or political activist speaks about an issue in public they should make it clear how important it is and how they intend to deal with it.

    The only difference between a conversation of the sort I referred to on the one hand and Ken addressing the issue of crime on the other is that one is about a specific instance of the problem andthe other is about the problem in general.

    When you make a broadcast you address millions of people at the same time and try to get a general message across . A two-way conversation with a distressed individual is different, you will tailor it to the specific content. You wouldn’t jettison your principles but you would be empathic to the particular person.

  374. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Andy Newman: In the excellent academic study “Justice in Luertiz”, a study of 50 years of court records
    in an East german town found only one case of someone seeking to flee from that town to the West out of genuine political conviction and beleif in western liberalism. The DDR authorities assisted him to move to the West by making an exchange with the BRD for an East german prisoner in a Western gaol.

    Do you mean Lüderitz Andy? If so it is worth mentioning that it is a rural village of about 1,000 people. A case study based on Lüderitz should be treated very cautiously and not extrapolated as thought the town were a random sample of people in the DDR. Rather like studying the tiny town of Westcott in Surrey and then drawing conclusions about the UK as a whole.

  375. George Hallam on said:

    Hasanyi_Janos: Do you mean Lüderitz Andy?

    No he mean ‘Lüritz’

    But there is no Lüritz.

    “But the place hiding behind this name exists: a town of about 55,000 inhabitants in that northern part of Germany that not so very long ago belonged to the German Democratic Republic (GDR), now deceased. Lüritz is a pretty town with a big market square, two or three beautiful churches, the remnants of two city gates, a once busy port, a shipyard (now also much reduced in size and workforce), an engineering school, and a number of splendid Renaissance buildings in front of which the tourists study their travel guides. One of these buildings houses the city’s magistrate court. Of its eight judges, seven are West Germans.”

  376. Jellytot on said:

    I think the case study Andy cites in #391 is eminently beleivable and is an interesting antidote to the Right/Liberal/Trot narrative about oppressed idealists seeking to escape from “Stalinist Hellholes”

  377. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    George Hallam:
    “But the place hiding behind this name exists: a town of about 55,000 inhabitants in that northern part of Germany that not so very long ago belonged to the German Democratic Republic (GDR), now deceased. Lüritz is a pretty town with a big market square, two or three beautiful churches, the remnants of two city gates, a once busy port, a shipyard (now also much reduced in size and workforce), an engineering school, and a number of splendid Renaissance buildings in front of which the tourists study their travel guides.”

    Ah, that must be Stralsund then.

  378. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Jellytot: interesting antidote to the Right/Liberal/Trot narrative about oppressed idealists seeking to escape from “Stalinist Hellholes”

    I don’t know that I questioned whether it was “believable” but rather whether this study tells us about what happens to the feckless and work shy under socialism. If the town is a fictionalised Stralsund then it is much more representative of the DDR. However, if we are to believe that those who fled the DDR were all anti-social types then why did the SED bother to build a wall and shoot people who crossed it (recall also that the DDR fortified its border with “socialist” Hungary)? Why not let these anti-social types leave?

  379. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman:

    For example some people are living in a delusional bubble that their routine of selling turgid newspapers and advocating the pipe dream of “revolution” means that they are actually revolutinaries. (By analogy, I think Sarah Michelle Gellar is attractive, it doesn’t mean I am her boyfriend, and if I did that would be a delusion. Thinking a “revolution” would be a good thing doesn’t mean that it is possible, and it doesn’t make you a “revolutionary”. This is particularly true of people who seem to thinkk “revolution” would slve complex social problems – whereas actually experience shows that revolutions are traumatic and ALWAYS lead to violent repression)

    It is not “bad faith” to tease out the assumptions of “revolutionaries” and hold them to the test of real world experience and practicality.

    Andy, I think is a rather unhelpful way to see things. You even seem to be encouraging posters to make destructive interventons. The thread is about ‘electoral alliances’. Within this important topic there is healthy scope for debating attitudes to police and how we deal with this electorally. And in the course of this discussion I have questioned Livingstone’s call for more police. This is not a ‘revolutionary’ demand on my part. Yet oddly I’ve had posters asking me about Lenin and Trotsky and the like.

    It is as if a criticism of Livingstone is the signal to ‘red-bait’ the poster who dares to do so. This is clearly not conducive to any serious discussion about electoral alliances; and you must know that such a discussion will include comrades from the type of political tradition you appear to increasingly despise. Or maybe you wish to drive ‘revolutionaries’ away from any future alliance and so lowering the standard of any debate is for the greater good.

  380. stuart on said:

    SA:

    Stuart wants to know if the austerity measures are a crime against the working class.No Stuart they are part of a continued offensive to roll back the gains of the Atlee Govermnent as such the are part of a war against the working class.

    So an economic ‘war’ against the working-class? And what side are police on in this war? The state/govt/employers? Neutral? The working-class?

    Will organised resistance bring conflict between the working class and the police of course it will but that does not obviate the needs of working class commuities facicing a disproportionate impact of crime.

    So if crime is more likely to be higher in w/c areas, would you accept that crime is economically driven? And if so, how is spending more resources on police going to help the situation?

  381. Janos

    The town of Lueritz is not “fictionalised” it is slightly anonymised only to comply with German law. It was selected due to its typicality.

    It is a serious and humane study.

  382. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Andy Newman:
    Janos

    The town of Lueritz is not “fictionalised” it is slightly anonymised only to comply with German law. It was selected due to its typicality.

    It is a serious and humane study.

    I misspoke — I meant anonymised. I am pretty sure it must be Stralsund, a smallish ship-building city. As you say, its not at all atypical.

  383. George Hallam on said:

    Hasanyi_Janos: However, if we are to believe that those who fled the DDR were all anti-social types then why did the SED bother to build a wall and shoot people who crossed it (recall also that the DDR fortified its border with “socialist” Hungary)? Why not let these anti-social types leave?

    The level of debate on this site is appalling.

    This is supposed to a reply to a comment about the way Inga Markovits’s work is an “
    interesting antidote to the Right/Liberal/Trot narrative about oppressed idealists seeking to escape from “Stalinist Hellholes””

    Janos is saying that our belief in the conclusions of Markovits’s work rest on answering a question about the building of the Wall.

    It should be obvious that this is an empirical study. The evidence shows conclusively that very few left the DDR for political reasons. Markovits also found that a high proportion of those who fled had a history of anti-social behaviour.
    Of course, like any study this one may be wrong. However, given the unpopularity of its findings I think that if there were any major problems with it we would have heard about them by now. But this is by the by. Empirical studies stand or fall by the evidence.

    So why did the SED bother to build a wall and shoot people who crossed it? Those old enough to remember Germany before the Wall should know the answer. West Germany had a policy of headhunting key personnel from the East.

    As it happens, only yesterday I was speaking to someone who as in Berlin last week and went on a guided tour of the Wall. This policy was mentioned. The guide even said that there was even a joke that the West Germans would not only get you a job and a house but they would also fix you up with a beautiful wife. So this policy is known even to the younger generation.

    This exodus of high-level personnel had a disastrous effect on the economy. These people were leaving the country for economic, not political motives.

    So the Wall was built with the aim of holding on to a relatively small proportion of the population.

    It worked: after the Wall was built the economy improved enormously.

  384. #438

    George Hallam,

    exactly right.

    Indeed further up I carefully qualify my comment that I was only referring to the people who fled over the wall.

    Inga Markovitz BTW is not an apologist for “Stalinism”, I think she is a German-American academic from Texas.

    Nor is her very convincing study (which not only looked at the paper records, but also interviewed people who had expereinced all aspects of the legal system) the only academic work to come to this conclusion

  385. Darkness at Noon on said:

    George Hallam: This exodus of high-level personnel had a disastrous effect on the economy. These people were leaving the country for economic, not political motives.

    So basically you believe countries have the right to restrict people’s freedom to move (on pain of death) to improve their economic plight?

  386. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    This is a bizarre discussion and a million miles away from the original point and discussion. Nevertheless, the question I asked in posts 270 and 280 about the political/theoretical purpose for supporting Ken Livingstone has not been answered. The comments by, I presume, SWP contributors and the superficial, and somewhat non-political, observations, by the non-SWP contributors does not answer the actual logic of favouring Livingstone in the statement from their national conference in January. There must be some thesis to the whys and wherefores to their decision; even if it was written before January. You critics of Socialist Party politics may carp and whinge and disagree with it, but at least they always give the reasons behind something they develop by publically advancing their thesis. All I want to do it read the reasons for the SWP supporting Livingstone.

  387. George Hallam on said:

    “So basically you believe countries have the right to restrict people’s freedom to move (on pain of death) to improve their economic plight?”

    No.

    I wasn’t talking about “rights”. I was just trying to understand what was going on.

    It’s a non-lefty thing.

  388. Darkness

    He said it was rational and effective, not that it was good.

    Incidentky many states go to extraordinary and violent lengths to prevent immigration. How us that morally better?

  389. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    George Hallam: Janos is saying that our belief in the conclusions of Markovits’s work rest on answering a question about the building of the Wall.

    No, I am saying that if Markovits’s evidence about flight from a city in the DDR is to be such that it can be applied to all of the DDR then this would suggest that — as Andy stated earlier — refugees from the DDR in general “were poorly educated young men aged between 17 and 24, from urban areas and usually from families with a history of anti-social behaviour.”

    If this were true and the refugees were poorly educated people from anti-social families it is very hard to believe that 1 – the SED would prevent their flight and 2 – that the wall led the economy to improve as you state yourself.

    I am sorry but in your eagerness to dismiss my comment as “appalling” you are happy to believe a number of things that are simultaneously hard to believe.

    What is more likely is that, in fact, the refugees from Stralsund were not, in fact, very representative of refugees from the DDR as a whole.

  390. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    andy newman: Incidentky many states go to extraordinary and violent lengths to prevent immigration.

    Well, generally to prevent people from entering their country not leaving it.

  391. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Of course there is other evidence. More than 3.5 million people fled the DDR for the BDR before the wall was created. It seems unlikely most were “ere poorly educated young men aged between 17 and 24, from urban areas and usually from families with a history of anti-social behaviour”.

    This seems further unlikely given Andropov’s letter to the CPSU Central Committee noting that there was a 50% increase in the number of intelligentisia fleeing in the late 1950s.

    Dowty in “Closed Borders” claims that the majority of refugees were skilled workers and professionals.

  392. Jellytot on said:

    @444If this were true and the refugees were poorly educated people from anti-social families it is very hard to believe that 1 – the SED would prevent their flight and 2 – that the wall led the economy to improve as you state yourself.

    It’s notable that another socialist country, Cuba, did encourage criminal elements to leave the island in 1980 in the Mariel boatlift.

  393. This is risible from you, Janos, because you are seemingly deliberately ignoring the clear qualification I made above:

    Andy Newman: Court records show that most people fleeing East germany were poorly educated young men aged between 17 and 24, from urban areas and usually from families with a history of anti-social behaviour. Their expectations of what would happen in the West were as delusional as X-factor auditionees. (for clarity I am referring to people who fled after 1961 when the border was closed – the brief experiment of discretely opening the border without fanfare in 1984 led to a different pattern of emigration of more settled,, skilled workers taking their families)

    I am specifically referring to those who fled over the wall in the period 1961 onwards. So by raising the issue that

    Hasanyi_Janos: More than 3.5 million people fled the DDR for the BDR before the wall was created.

    you are clearly arguing either lazily or in bad faith.

    There is no relevence to what I said for you to discuss the entirely different patterns of republic flight in the 1940s and 1950s. Where leaving the DDR was an easier and safer option, then many skilled and professional workers left; when it was an unsafe and dangerous option, it was one mainly taken by the most marginalised and excluded people. Is that such a mystery.

    However, very very few people left the DDR (excluding the initial flight of nazis and Junkers) for purely political reasons. People usually were leaving because they thought they could have a better material standard of living in the West. While from the late 1960s onwards some people may have sought a more liberal society in the BRD, we should recall that before then the DDR was actually much more socially liberal in many ways than the BRD, and in fact a theme of the western propaganda beamed eastwards in the 1950s was that the DDR was a Godless sexually immoral society, that did not respect the “natural” role of women as hommakers and mothers; and which had decriminalised homosexuality.

    We were not in fact discussing the complex issues of who left the DDR and why; we were discussing the issue of the socially marginal in the DDR; and the way that asocial teenagers in particular were enticed to flee to the West, often with highly delusional dreams of what they would find there.

    It is, BTW, also somewhat disingenuous for you to argue that of the 3.5 million people who fled to the west prior to 1961, that these were all political refugees, or that those who were political refugees were supporters of liberal democracy.

    It is an inconvenient political reality that throughout the existence of the DDR, the main manifestation of actual political oposition was neo-Nazi, not pro-Western. This manifested itself in swastika grafitti, and even beating up police, and disrupting political meetings.

  394. 445

    Hasanyi_Janos: Well, generally to prevent people from entering their country not leaving it.

    sorry what was the relevence of this?

    This is what Darkness said at 440

    Darkness at Noon: So basically you believe countries have the right to restrict people’s freedom to move (on pain of death) to improve their economic plight?

    I pointed out at 443

    andy newman: many states go to extraordinary and violent lengths to prevent immigration. How is that morally better

    The issue that Darknes raised was whether a state has the right to restrict people’s freedom to move (on pain of death) to improve their economic plight.

    Darkness did not refer to whether this was specific to immigration or emigration.

    Why do we assume the common sense that it is OK to prevent immigration but not emigration?

    If a complex human society is in danger of losing capability to sustain itself due to the loss of key skills by a minority, is some form of conscription or compulsion necessarily wrong?

  395. Look Janos

    You are being really annoying here, because you aren’t actually trying to debate the ideas that other people are putting forward, you are just trying to post up clever clever “gotchas” cherry picking facts that you want to dispute in a smart arse way.

    The thing is, you are even being to lazy to look at the context and qualifications made to that facts you are disputing. So you are trying to be clever and contrarian about things that are not even in dispute.

    You are also being too lazy to follow what the discussion is even about, and are instead trying to make it revolve around your own selective agenda of creating noise about the facts.

  396. Hasanyi_Janos on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Now, earlier you described the study as an “excellent academic study “Justice in Luertiz”, a study of 50 years of court records
    in an East german town”. I assumed then that this was a study of records from the entire post war period — 5 years less than 50 years, but close enough rather than a study of the post-wall period (more like 30 years).

    If that was a typo and the study was only of the post-wall period then I apologise for bringing up pre-wall migration.

  397. #451

    Hasanyi_Janos: Now, earlier you described the study as an “excellent academic study “Justice in Luertiz”, a study of 50 years of court records

    Oh don’t be a fool.

    The academic study was of a 50 year period, but a subset of the 50 year period is the time since 1961, which was therefore clearly covered by the book, as well as other and different infomation about different periods.

    I absolutely clearly wrote above:

    for clarity I am referring to people who fled after 1961 when the border was closed

    your defence to ignoring this is that the book I got the facts from also covered other periods! lamentable.

    Do you think it is illegitimate to use evidence about patterns of flight from the DDR in the period of the wall, it other evidence of other periods is also included in the same book?

    Do you think that no conclusions can be drawn about the social class and status of people who fled over the wall, because they are a different class and status from the people who left when there was no wall?

    If you don’t think these ridiculous things, then why did you raise the question of the 3.5 M who left before 1961

  398. stuart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow:
    This is a bizarre discussion and a million miles away from the original point and discussion.Nevertheless, the question I asked in posts 270 and 280 about the political/theoretical purpose for supporting Ken Livingstone has not been answered.The comments by, I presume, SWP contributors and the superficial, and somewhat non-political, observations,by the non-SWP contributors does not answer the actual logic of favouring Livingstone in the statement from their national conference in January.There must be some thesis to the whys and wherefores to their decision; even if it was written before January. You critics of Socialist Party politics may carp and whinge and disagree with it, but at least they always give the reasons behind something they develop by publically advancing their thesis.All I want to do it read the reasons for the SWP supporting Livingstone.

    From current issue of SW

    ”The Blairite right wing has mounted a ill-concealed effort to sabotage Livingstone’s campaign after they failed to dislodge him as Labour’s candidate.

    Much of their hatred for Livingstone stems from his opposition to the Iraq war and his stance defending Muslims against racism.

    Last week the far right UK Independence Party called for a second preference vote for Johnson in nakedly racist terms. “Ayatollah Livingstone would be a disaster for London,” said its leader Nigel Farage.

    Livingstone’s campaign needs to focus on issues that will mobilise the city’s working class population, such as youth unemployment, lower fares and affordable housing.

    He also needs to go on the offensive against the racists—as he did at last week’s Stonewall hustings when he said, on attacks on Muslims, “Right wing politicians pander to bigotry… Don’t be divided.””

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28216

  399. Martel on said:

    #449 ‘If a complex human society is in danger of losing capability to sustain itself due to the loss of key skills by a minority, is some form of conscription or compulsion necessarily wrong?’

    Undoubtedly, unreservedly, yes.

    By agreeing with to this principle you are effectively arguing that the state should have the right to enslave individuals for fulfilment of whatever dubious aim it deems paramount.

    Agreeing with this authoritatrian statement goes down many dark and unpleasant avenues.

    Nick Wright was making a similar point when he argued that, after the revolution, he would commandeer the Royal Navy to torpedo the rafts of fleeing dentists.

  400. Martel
    So you think the state has no responsibility for ensuring the sustainability of civil society, which in extreme circumstances could mean for example conscrition.