Saturday 3 May 2008

Mayday means SOS for the left

The recent election results were not only terrible for the government, but also dire for the left. New Labour lost massively but, instead of the left gaining, it was the right-wing who capitalised on their unpopularity.

The Tories tore ahead not only in the council elections, but also took control of the Greater London Assembly, and Tory Boris Johnson became the London Mayor, unseating Ken Livingstone. The UKIP also gained 3 councillors. But, most horifically of all, the Nazi BNP gained 10 councillors and even gained a seat on the GLA.

The reasons for Labour losing so terribly are obvious; war (notably the Iraq war), privatisation, rising prices, and the shift of the tax burden onto poor workers (epitomised by the scrapping of the 10p tax rate). This was not so much a tragedy as the "chickens coming home to roost", and will hopefully be the final nail in Brown's coffin.

But what about the real left? Respect, severely damaged by the split last year, was obviously still not in shape to provide a serious alternative to New Labour. It wasn't all bad news though; Respect came very close to gaining another councillor in Preston, coming a very close second. We also came second in a number of other council wards, including Maxine Bowler in Sheffield Burngreave (obviously my efforts during the election campaign weren't wasted, lol). In a number of wards, we pushed the Tories - the main winners nationally - into 3rd or even 4th place!

There are another few rays of light penetrating the hurricane. The breakaway Respect Renewal gained another councillor in Birmingham. The Green Party gained 5 councillors nationally (including one in Sheffield), despite being seen as 'anti-car' (which is not a good label to have in these days of extortionate fuel prices!).

Even so, these are very grim times for the left. Our main hope of recovery is unity; all left-wing parties must remember that we have more in common than that which divides us, and certainly more in common with each other than we will ever have with the Establishment.

The call for unity also goes out to the working class in general - we also have more in common with each other than we can ever have with the bosses and the capitalist Establishment. Which is why we should support every strike, campaign and fight by workers. Especially as we now face more overtly right-wing councillors, GLA representatives, etc.

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