The General Election and Me

This post was written by Dan on March 4, 2010
Posted Under: Economy,Elections

The whole blog seems to have caught election fever, and what with various other priorities pulling my more creative attention away, I thought I might as well stick my oar in and let people know what my personal priorities are going to be around the election. Obviously, I think these should be your priorities too.

Firstly, the challenge to the left of Labour. This is unfortunately going to be far weaker than it needs to be. Nonetheless, a few trade union branches, activists and organisations have got together to form the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). I’m not wild about TUSC’s prospects, but some of the candidates are well placed to have an impact. In Preston, where I’ve done some electoral work before, Valerie Wise, former Labour councillor and daughter of the former Labour MP will be standing. Valerie is a good candidate, and should get a credible vote. In Cambridge, where I also have some experience, Martin Booth, a well-respected local trade unionist is standing, and I assume there will be a challenge for the council seats too. Activists in Cambridge have been doing good electoral work over the past few years, and last year Tom Woodcock received an excellent vote for the council standing on the slogan ‘make the bankers pay’. I’ll be spending a weekend or two in Cambridge giving them a hand. I can’t speak confidently about the other areas that TUSC is standing, though I hear good things from Manchester and Sheffield, and I heard the candidate from Tottenham speak last week. She is a teacher at the sharp end of cuts in Further Education in the area, and is standing against Education Minister David Lammy. That could be interesting. It is important that where we stand we get credible votes. Getting weak votes damages confidence and credibility. Finally, beyond TUSC (and I’m going to say this very clearly so our friends at Socialist Unity can hear me), we should be supporting Salma Yaqoob in Birmingham, George Galloway and Abjol Miah in East London, Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent and Caroline Lucas in Brighton, and some other Greens as well.

Secondly, beating the fascists. We need a mass campaign against the BNP which exposes them as the fascists they are. This means all the hard work in constituencies, leafleting door to door, talking to people, arguing with them to use their vote against the BNP etc. It means challenging them wherever they appear, and it means taking the media to task whenever they give them a platform. This is an encouraging campaign launched by those in the media against giving the BNP a soft ride. In the past few months there have been two worrying incidents where hardened, experienced fascists have been presented as examples of ‘disaffected young people thinking about the BNP’. Where this happens it needs challenging and exposing. From my new home in Essex I’ll be joining a couple of Unite Against Fascism’s days of action in Barking, trying to ensure that Nick Griffin doesn’t win a seat. Find out what UAF and Love Music Hate Racism are doing in your area.

Finally, and this is the bit many of you won’t like, in Colchester I will be voting Labour.  I’m not going to join the Labour Party, I’m committed to building an alternative to it, but who wins in this election makes a difference.  It will make a difference whether public sector cuts are made by an agressive, ideologically committed Tory Government or by a Labour government with one hand tied behind its back. It will make a difference to the confidence of working class people to resist these cuts. It will mattter whether or not it is Brown’s  face or Cameron’s we wake up to on the 7th May, a Tory victory would demoralise the best activists, and empower every scab and every bigot. 

The final task in the next few months, something that cannot be considered apart from the election, is to build networks of resistance that can fight back whoever wins. Whether this is in Education, in the wider public sector, or in the IT or airline industry, these networks will be vital in the months and years to come. This cannot be postponed until after the election. Stop the Tories, but build the resistance whoever wins.

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Reader Comments

Dan, I can’t help thinking you miss the point with your ‘I’m going to say this very clearly…’ comment. You’ve devoted considerable space to TUSC, then tagged the high-profile Respect candidates, Dai Davies and Caroline Lucas on at the end, very briefly. But that’s what irritates people, isn’t it? The fact is that the candidates you devote so little space to are far more significant than those you devote more space to. They should be the main story, not a single sentence at the end of the paragraph. It isn’t sectarians who have a problem with this attitude – it is anyone with a sense of proportion!

Written By Alex Snowdon on March 4th, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

Due respect, Alex, it’s up to each individual to decide the weight they give to each candidate, on the basis of how far their policies match up with one’s political programme.

On some reckonings, people like Martin Booth are in with as much chance as Salma Yaqoob etc, and since Dan is at Cambridge, it seems fair enough that TUSC, who have been endorsed by the Cambridge Socialists, should come in for some reportage and scrutiny.

Personally I don’t much hold with quite a bit of what Salma says – but I’d still vote for her. In the interim, I’d prefer to look around the UK and find out about the candidates with whom I have more in common – some of which are affiliated to the group I’m a member of, some of which aren’t – and I don’t think this is either unreasonable or sectarian.

Written By Dave Semple on March 4th, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

Re: Cambridge. Tom is standing in the locals in Romsey. Not sure if there will be any other candidates in the locals. Keep up with the campaign here:

TUSC in Portsmouth seems to be getting off to a good start with the local RMT’s backing, and David Henry standing against Blears looks to be running a good campaign.

Written By EddM on March 5th, 2010 @ 2:39 am

Alex, the post is about what I personally will be doing during the election. I took that opportunity to mention TUSC more generally. Respect and Caroline Lucas have plenty of coverage elsewhere. I think you’re confused about what sort of post this is supposed to be.
I’m not sure I agree with Dave that Martin Booth has the same chance as Salma Yaqoob, though I’d love that to be the case!

Written By Dan on March 5th, 2010 @ 7:54 am

Surely it’s best to hold your nose and vote for Bob Russell in Colchester? His voting record (abortion aside) is actually fairly progressive (better than Diane Abbot’s!).

Written By Pippa on March 6th, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

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