Monday, 8 June 2009

Vacancy: New Party Needed

Given the disastrous victory for the Nazis last night, I think we can safely say that anti-fascist action wasn't enough.

Everywhere on the web in the run up to these elections we've seen anti-fascists win the arguments and humiliating the lying racist bastards. There's been fairly vigorous anti-fascist action on the streets too, especially in the NW where the fuhrer is setting up shop. But it wasn't enough.

I think it's pretty obvious that the fractured, fragmented left vote is responsible here. Low turnout and the lack of a single left alternative has made these elections the most right-wing I've ever seen in this country. I even found myself counting a victory for the Greens as somehow 'left' just to keep snatching at straws.

We have to do something. I suppose that the three main parties are centre-right themselves is something that it's almost easy to overlook, precisely because it is so prevalent, but when you take the victories of UKIP and Nazis into account it is clear that a right-wing narrative underpins most of the vote in the UK. The left have virtually no space left in public.

Wiser heads than mine will no doubt be providing a fuller analysis as the day goes on, but surely it shows just how desperately we on the left need to form a broad front electoral coalition that unites us.

The problem is that I genuinely can't see where the momentum for a new coalition can come from. My party has something of an image problem amongst parts of the left, although I've never really been sure why. Labour clearly can't tear itself away from The Project and most people I speak to have never even heard of John McDonnell. No2EU never really stood a chance at the Euro elections and nor did the SLP - polling made that pretty clear.

We are stuck. We can't tear down our existing organisations in favour of a new one - to take my party as an example, if we restricted ourselves to an electoral position we would destroy the very point of the party - so we need a coalition. I always thought RESPECT was perceived as too single-issue to make it very far as a permanent electoral entity, and the same with No2EU this time. We need to have a party which can put forward a genuine socialist alternative at the ballot box.

Of course, that gives us a hugely difficult problem in itself - agreeing on a programme. How far will the various groups go to compromise? I don't think any such programme should be overly calculated on concerns of 'electability' oddly enough. I think that left-wing ideas are perfectly electable, if they're put across with conviction and given the space to be explained - and besides, putting 'electability' ahead of ideology will only break apart any coalition worthy of the name before it gets started, or mean that it isn't a left-wing organisation if it does get somewhere.

But any such coalition needs resources as well as a programme. If we build one, we can expect significant party time will be taken away from other issues, like anti-fascist activity. And to get any media time at all it needs to be able to bring into it the union bureaucracy and as much of the Labour left as can be torn away from the party, which still, even now, seems like a Sysephean effort. And we'd need to be able to incorporate what electoral socialist organisations do exist into any coalition - which I can't imagine will be popular with the SLP or the SPGB.

Frankly I'm not in a great position to do anything about this myself. I'm just a humble party hack who gives up what time I can, when I can, to go to meetings and sell papers - and I've not always been terribly good at that. But something does need to be done to bring the left into some kind of unified electoral party that can make significant efforts to recapture the elected parts of our governmental machinery. Now that the fascists have got £2m to spend I think we can assume that they will become an ever greater threat, especially at a general election next year.

Update: Check out Anton Vowl - he's excellent today. But I'd avoid Socialist Unity, unless you want to be dragged into the very factionalism and infighting that got us into this mess in the first place.*

*Although it has also got some very handy background info on former NF leader and now MEP Andrew Brons.


Update: A productive/constructive discussion about the way to respond to this clusterfuck is currently ongoing over at Len's place. So if you've got tuppennyworth to add to this, why not go somewhere frequented by slightly more than 3 people? (Although I love you all, of course.)

Although of course, if you annoy Lenin he'll probably kick you out so you'll end up back here anyway...

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