Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The postal voters

Lambeth Council has just made available statistics which show that, although the overall turnout was only 20%, the number of postal voters who voted was much higher at 46% (there were 1023 postal voters out of a total electorate of 11,236, 484 of them voted). In one voting district the turnout was only 16%.

This must mean something, probably that it's easier to vote from home than to go to the polling station or maybe that those who go to the trouble of registering for a postal vote are more interested in voting. The Green Party agent said that they had sent their manifesto only to postal voters.

The trouble is postal voters get to cast their vote before the election campaign is over, which means they can't take into account any last-minute developments.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A bit of psephology

Here's the result with percentages:

Labour 1575 (69.3%)
Lib Dem 277 (12.2%)
Green 177 (7.8%)
TUSC 76 (3.4%)
Con 74 (3.3%)
UKIP 64 (2.8%)
Ind 20 (0.9%)
Soc 11 (0.5%)

Turnout: 20%.

Everyone knew that this was a one-horse race, but nobody predicted (see yesterday's blog) a landslide Labour victory of this proportion. It's the sort of percentage that Labour used to get in the mining valleys of South Wales when the pits were still open. It looks as if inner London is becoming a Tory no-go ahead like the Northern cities.

Although everybody was expecting Labour to win, there were other contests going on -- LibDems v Greens for second place; UKIP v the Tories, even us v TUSC) -- and it can be seen who won these. Whether we like it or not (and we don't), in the public perception where there are two candidates describing themselves as "socialist" they are seen as rivals for the votes of those who consider themselves socialist. But not just in the public perception, but also amongst those who consider themselves socialist. Although we don't attach all that importance to the number of votes we get, it is undoubtedly true that we get more when there is not another candidate calling themselves socialist. In fact the combined vote for TUSC and us is about the same here (3.9%) as it was in the Brixton Hill by-election in January (4.1%). That would seem to be the measure of the "anticapitalist" audience.

In any event, TUSC must be pleased with the result. Finishing ahead of both UKIP and the Tories, they have shown that they can consistently get about 3% in elections with their "anti-cuts" campaign. This will be a protest vote against the cuts rather than for Trotsky's transitional programme or for Militant's strategy for combatting them and, as such, will have some significance. But 3% is not enough to launch a general strike over the issue.

UKIP will also be disappointed. This time (compared with Brixton Hill) they ran a much more professional campaign (expensively produced glossy leaflets, etc) specifically aimed at winning over Labour voters. They got nowhere. It looks as if they really are just an external faction of the Tories in rural and seaside areas, especially those with a noticeable presence of migrants from East Europe. They are not going to make a breakthrough in the big cities. It is difficult to understand why they thought that their appeal to old-fashioned Britishness was going to have an impact in a ward where, in the 2011 census, only 5116 out of a population of 15,771 (a little over 32%) put themselves down as "White British" (see here). Parties such as the BNP and them are no threat in places like this despite the fuss made about them by "anti-fascists".

One of our reasons for contesting these by-elections (apart from the wards being in walking distance of our Head Office) was to get us known more locally in preparation for next year's full borough council elections in May next year (which are going to be held on the same day as the Euroelections, which should increase the turnout a bit). We will almost definitely be contesting the Larkhall and Ferndale wards as we did last time. Ferndale ward is also in Brixton (bordered by Brixton High Street and Acre Lane). In the meantime we'll be continuing leafletting them and adding the nearby parts of Brixton Hill and Tulse Hill wards.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The raw result

Lab 1575
LibDem 277
Green 177
Con 74
Ind 20
Soc 11

Turnout 2282 (20%).

Analysis follows tomorrow morning.


The count starts late this evening, but this site runs a competition for its members to predict the results of coming elections. Here's the various predictions made for this by-election:

Tulse Hill Lab 64 Green 12 LD 9 Con 6 UKIP 4 TUSC 3 Ind 1 SPGB 1(or whichever other far left group it actually is)

Tulse Hill Lab 53 Green 9 LD 20 Con 5 UKIP 5 TUSC 2 Ind 3 Socialist 3

LAMBETH - Lab 59, LD 14, Grn 10, UKIP 7, Con 5, TUSC 3, Ind 1, Soc 1

Lambeth, Tulse Hill: Lab 52, LD 17, Green 11, UKIP 7,Con 6, TUSC 3, Ind 3, Soc 1

Lambeth: Con 8, Lab 43, LD 13, UKIP 12, Green 17, TUSC 3, Soc 2, Ind 2

Lambeth LB - Tulse Hill
Lab 60.1%
LD 12.1%
Grn 10.7%
Con 7.9%
UKIP 4.8%
TUSC 2.1%
Ind 1.4%
SPGB 0.9%

LAMBETH - Tulse Hill
Amna AHMAD (Liberal Democrats) 10.4
Mary ATKINS (The Labour Party Candidate) 59.6
Bernard ATWELL (Green Party) 15.3
Timothy BRIGGS (Conservative Party Candidate) 8
Adam BUICK (The Socialist Party (GB)) 1.6
Elizabeth JONES (UK Independence Party (UKIP)) 2.5
Steve NALLY (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 1.1
Valentine WALKER (Independent) 1.5
It's interesting that the figures are given in percentages because the absolute number of votes will be influenced by the turnout which could fall below 20%, giving the new councillor the legitimacy of a Police commissioner.

The winner of the competition will be evident by about midnight.

Vote socialist

Well, maybe you've had the leaflet, and bleary eyed you're just getting ready to go out and vote, and you've decided to quickly look online and see what we're saying. So, let's be clear: we don't want your vote. We're not in this for office, or power, we're in this to abolish a society in which people are made to work for the people who own all the property. We're in this to call you to revolt. If you want a stateless, classless, moneyless society where we co-operate to produce the things we need, then you need to revolt. You need to say that that is your priority, not where to put the bus stop or the new roundabout. You need to tell your fellow workers that you want them to revolt too.

That is what putting a cross next to The Socialist Party candidate means, it means a rejection of the whole system of government and society, with no compromise. It's a big leap, let's see you make it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Redistributing misery

Lively hustings meeting last night with all the candidates (but with the Tory arriving half way through) and much heckling. Ninety people present (which is more that you usually get at a hustings for an election to parliament). Maybe it's this part of Brixton or maybe a local election generates more interest amongst a minority. In any event, the Brixtonblog is to be congratulated for organising it.

The Labour candidate was in a hopeless position, trying to blame the ConDem government for the cuts but defending the way Labour-run Lambeth Council were implementing them. The LibDem candidate was also in a hopeless position because she was unable to criticise what the government was doing and the effect this was having locally and was reduced to extolling her own virtues. No wonder the Tory turned up late as what could he say (beyond, as he did, that they hadn't done much leafletting or canvassing as Tulse Hill was not an area where they were strong on the ground)?. The Green Party candidate didn't really follow through his strong case that "right across Lambeth Labour is pursuing a programme of evictions in order to sell housing to developers and profit from high property prices" (he didn't even switch his mobile phone off).

The UKIP candidate was more prepared than last time (she was also their candidate in the Brixton Hill local by-election in January), specifically targetting Labour rather than Tory voters, presumably in pursuit of some UKIP national strategy for inner London and Northern cities; interesting display of populism, though. The TUSC candidate put across their single-issue "No cuts" campaign and got denounced by UKIP as "Bob Crow's fan club". The Independent candidate explained his case against the Labout council's plan to move him and his fellow residents from their sheltered housing and sell off the land to developers. Our candidate said that it was capitalism, not the government or the local council (or the EU), that was responsible for the problems facing people in Tulse Hill (and elsewhere) and that the other parties' claims to be able to solve them were just empty promises worth nothing as many non-voters already understood.

What the Green Party had called "Labour's programme of evictions" turned out to be one of the main issues of the meeting. It really is the case that the Labour Council has decided that, to raise money to try to compensate for the cut in grants from central government, it will sell off part of its land and housing stock to private developers. This of course involves removals and evictions. This was not popular with the audience which gave the poor Labour candidate a hard time (she'll probably still win, though).

Local councils do have a choice, not to not make any cuts, but to decide how to apply them. It's as if the central government (which is responding to the current economic crisis by cutting its spending so as to give profits, the life-blood of the system, a chance to recover) has said to local councils: "you've got to make cuts, but you choose where to make them". Lambeth Council has decided to sell off some of its housing assets. It may well be true that this will provide them with some money to avoid cuts elsewhere but at the cost of bringing misery to those affected. They could have chosen not to do this, but they would then have had to make more cuts than otherwise and impose the misery on someone else.

That's the sort of choice of redistribution of misery you have to make if you assume responsibility for running capitalism at local level. Not even the TUSC policy of the council refusing to make any cuts and acting illegally would work. The central government would just send in a commissioner and impose the misery anyway. Quite simply, there is no way under capitalism in an economic crisis of avoiding cuts and the misery they bring; one way or another, in one form or another, they will be imposed. It is good that people don't like this but discontent and protest is not enough. The only way out is to get rid of the capitalist system and replace its minority ownership and control and its production for profit by common ownership and democratic control and production to meet people's needs. As one persistent heckler, a socialist, put it, get rid of the system.

He'll hust and He'll hust...

Well, while we wait for the various write ups of the Hustings, lets make do with the Twitter feed. Strangest one being the Green Party's "Socialist Party says system to blame for Labour Party's misdeeds. How about taking some responsibility?#tulsehillhustings" The personal responsibility when faced with a rotten system is to get rid of it, not try and run it differently (because you can't).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Not all that much to report

Today we held our stall in Brixton again, the only one this time as the SWP seem to have disappeared while the Militant group had theirs in Brockwell Park at the Lambeth Country Fair. We took their usual space but this didn't seem to cause any confusion as the first person who stopped to talk started "Ah yes, you're the anti-Leninist socialists" (yes, that's right). Met the same (Roman Catholic) religious ranter as last week who claimed that the Shroud of Turin was genuine. We told him it was a medieval fake. Also an ex-SWPer who is now a David Icke follower who told us that all wars and all economic crises had been caused by the Rothschilds and who assured us that Icke wasn't anti-semitic.

At 12 noon there was a pathetic UK Uncut demonstration opposite outside the HSBC. Pathetic in terms both of turnout (perhaps a dozen) and appearance (a tatty banner proclaiming "Stuff the Banks") and purpose. Their leaflet blamed the banks and in particular HSBC for causing the crisis and claimed:
The government tell us there is no alternative, that public services and the welfare system are too expensive. This is a lie. They tell us the only way to deal with the deficit is to slash public spending. This is also a lie. Austerity isn't working and there are alternatives to the cuts. Make the banks pay, stop the tax-dodgers and hands off our public services and welfare state.
Yes, these are lies and there is an alternative, but not within the capitalist system. They didn't spell out what "the alternatives" were, but whatever they are supposed to be ("make the banks pay", "stop the tax-dodgers"?) they see them as being applicable under capitalism as, when we crossed the road to talk to them, they told us that they weren't interested in socialism but wanted to do something now.

We still don't know what and of course it's not true that the banks caused the crisis (any more than that the Rothschilds did). The whole capitalist system did. It's just what happens from time to time under capitalism as all business enterprises pursuemaximum profits and cutback on production when there are no longer so many profits to be made. The only alternative is replace the profit system with one based on common ownership and democratic control so that there can be production to satisfy people's needs instead of for profit.

We went on to Brockwell Park and the Lambeth Country Show. Thousands there enjoying the music and the food. We visited the "Trade Union Village" and looked at the books on the Labour Party stall. Noticing that they were all novels we asked if they any political ones. The man laughed and said "What, at a Labour Party stall!" We exchanged our election leaflet for one of theirs saying "You can't trust David cameron with the NHS". Failed to find the Militant stall masquerading as "Lambeth Socialist Party".

On leaving we found 4 people ftom the "South London Anti-Fascists" distributing leaflets at the gate advertising a confrontation between them and the "English Volunteer Force" (apparently a breakaway from the EDL) in Croydon next Saturday. We gave them our leaflet.

Only sign of the Rushcroft Road (ex) squatters protest we saw was a sticker saying "Lambeth Council. Eviction Council".

Actually, there was quite a bit to report.

Meanwhile the Brixtonlog has added the statements of the Labour and Green Party candidates (scroll down towards the end after reeading the first statement).

Friday, July 19, 2013

What's happening on Saturday

We underestimated the number of letter-boxes we would be able to access. It's nearer 5000 than the 3500 we estimated. So we had to print some more. Unfortunately this meant that some postal voters may have voted before they got our leaflet. Talking about leaflets, we've seen discarded Labour, LibDem, UKIP, TUSC and even our leaflets but none from the Tories or the Greens. They don't seem to have bothered. The Green candidate doesn't even have a "Vote Green" poster in his own window.

Tomorrow we'll have a stall again in Brixton (meet Windrush Square at 11am) and after that we'll go to the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park (which borders on the ward). There are political stalls there (maybe we'll meet the Green candidate) and the evicted Rushcroft Road squatters are planning something. Sounds more interesting than looking at farm animals.

Then on Tuesday it's the hustings with the other candidates. Details here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stop the Thing!

People are always asking why we don't campaign for reforms, if only to win more support for our cause.

An illustration of why we don't play that game can be found here:
After many months of campaigning to keep Clapham Fire Station open Lambeth Conservatives welcome the news that the fire station will not close.

Commenting, Lambeth Conservatives Group Leader John Whelan said: “This is fantastic news for the community and the borough as a whole.

"The Lambeth Conservatives have opposed the closure from the start and are delighted that our constructive community lead campaign has been a success.

“This is in sharp contrast to Lambeth Labour who were all talk and no action.
.So, the Tories out reformed Labour by campaigning hard (against the, er, Tory Mayor).

As with our attitude to the Whittington Hospital closure, we want to put the security and well being of working folk first and foremost, and our only concern is not that the "local" service is saved, but that the protection provision remains adequate. But campaigning for that isn't our job *as socialists* our job is to put the case for socialism. Local people are capable of campaigning for their own interests without us (or, indeed, without socialist consciousness).

A vote for us is an act of rebellion, saying that politics as normal can't go on.

Four candidates speak

The local online paper the Brixtonblog has started publishing the statements of the 8 candidates. The first 4, including us, are here.

Here's what we said:

Things are not produced today to meet people’s needs. They are produced to make a profit. And that’s the cause of the problems people in Tulse Hill face.

Under the profit system profits always come first. Before providing basic services like health care and transport, before improving conditions at work, and before providing decent housing.

It’s profits first, people second.

Under the profit system production is in the hands of profit-seeking business enterprises, all competing to maximise the rate of return on the money invested in them.

Decisions as to what to produce and how much, and how and where to produce it, are not made in response to people’s needs but in response to market forces.

As a result, the health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. The profit system can’t help doing this. It’s the only way it can work. Which is why it must go.

I know this is only a local by-election but make no apology for raising this issue. The reduced incomes and cuts to services that people in Tulse Hill are having to put up with are a direct result of the profit system being in an economic crisis.

When this happens governments, whatever their political colour, have to cut their spending so as to give profits a chance to recover. As local councils are largely financed by central government this trickles down to the local level too.

So, what’s the alternative?

One thing is certain. The Tories, LibDems and Labour — and now UKIP — have nothing to offer. They all support the profit system and are only squabbling over which of them should have a go at running it.

If we are going to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves, without professional politicians or leaders of any kind.

We are going to have to organise ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared to serving human needs not profits.

Production to satisfy people’s needs. That’s the alternative. But this can only be done if we control production and the only basis for this is common ownership and democratic control.

I have been put forward by the Socialist Party as a name on the ballot paper you can put an X against to register your rejection of the profit system and your agreement with the alternative.

The others are from the Independent (a victim of the cuts to sheltered housing not prepared to take this lying down), TUSC and UKIP.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yet another day in the life of capitalism

And what the Independent candidate is protesting about.

This is the sort of thing that is happening all over the country as local councils, under pressure from the central government itself under pressure from market conditions, try to balance their books both by cutting spending and increasing their income through selling off assets. It's behind the Rushcroft Road evictions too. Profits before people again, but that's how capitalism works.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A day in the life of capitalism


Voting begins

I see from twitter that some people have already begun voting by post. We have to remember that the voting excitement isn't confined to the election day anymore. So, anyone out there sitting at home with a ballot paper in one hand and a stack of election literature in the other (doubtless you've just come to our blog from the listing on our leaflet) should think whether you want to use your vote to continue poverty and exploitation, or end it outright. If you want people to be poor, vote for our capitalist party opponents; but if you do want a society of common ownership and democratic control, let your fellow workers know by voting socialist.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Half-way there

Five of us were out on Saturday, doing a stall outside Brixton tube station and leafletting the ward. More than half has now been covered and the rest will be this week.

We came across an arty event in Josephine Avenue and took a break in a cafe in Upper Tulse Hill. The owner told us it was frequented by the Labour candidate, so we left some leaflets for her (and anyone else).

Some householders will have found our leaflet and the TUSC one together on their doormat. This might cause some confusion as the TUSC candidate is taking a risk, for a vote-catching party, by declaring "I am a member of the Socialist Party". He isn't. He's a member of the Judean Peoples Front. His claim is risky as our candidate will be described on the ballot paper as "The Socialist Party (GB)" and there's a shop front in Clapham High Street saying "The Socialist Party". This could lead to some people who meant to vote for him voting for us, not that we want reformist votes.

Lambeth Council has published on its website more details of the 8 candidates from which it emerges that the mysterious Independent candidate is standing to protest against the closure and demolition of a sheltered housing unit in Streatham.

Brixtonblog are organising a hustings on Tuesday 23 July. Details here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What is Socialism?

A comment in another place reminds me that as well as talking about the process of the election and the details of the ward, we need to occasionally come back to the basic Q&A about socialism. To be lazy, and because it doesn't need to be said in a new way each time, here is our definition of Socialism:
Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.

But does it really make sense for everybody to own everything in common? Of course, some goods tend to be for personal consumption, rather than to share—clothes, for example. People 'owning' certain personal possessions does not contradict the principle of a society based upon common ownership.

In practice, common ownership will mean everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions.

Democratic control is therefore also essential to the meaning of socialism. Socialism will be a society in which everybody will have the right to participate in the social decisions that affect them. These decisions could be on a wide range of issues—one of the most important kinds of decision, for example, would be how to organise the production of goods and services.

Production under socialism would be directly and solely for use. With the natural and technical resources of the world held in common and controlled democratically, the sole object of production would be to meet human needs. This would entail an end to buying, selling and money. Instead, we would take freely what we had communally produced. The old slogan of "from each according to ability, to each according to needs" would apply.

So how would we decide what human needs are? This question takes us back to the concept of democracy, for the choices of society will reflect their needs. These needs will, of course, vary among different cultures and with individual preferences—but the democratic system could easily be designed to provide for this variety.

We cannot, of course, predict the exact form that would be taken by this future global democracy. The democratic system will itself be the outcome of future democratic decisions. We can however say that it is likely that decisions will need to be taken at a number of different levels—from local to global. This would help to streamline the democratic participation of every individual towards the issues that concern them.

In socialism, everybody would have free access to the goods and services designed to directly meet their needs and there need be no system of payment for the work that each individual contributes to producing them. All work would be on a voluntary basis. Producing for needs means that people would engage in work that has a direct usefulness. The satisfaction that this would provide, along with the increased opportunity to shape working patterns and conditions, would bring about new attitudes to work.
OK, a bit longer than I'd normally put in a post, but sometimes things need to be said in depth.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Down on the farm

Of course, in Tulse Hill we also have the agricultural vote to think of. As can be seen at the Tulse Hill Polytunnel. This is a good example of the local growing out of the global: the polythene for the tunnel has to be refined from hydrocarbons using vast industrial processes, but it does allow residents of Tulse Hill to grow food efficiently and locally. There's no reason why thousands of like projects couldn't happen with all the energy and enthusiasm of this one (especially if instead of having to try and be a commercial 'Social Enterprise' the volunteers could just provide food to other volunteers in restaurants or in their homes). The point is the technology is there not just to feed every human on the planet, but to make effective use of even the most unlikely scraps of land. The labour is there, else people wouldn't be volunteering.

Think locally, act globally

Although we make no apology for raising the issue of world socialism in a local election (as it's the workings of world capitalism that are ultimately responsible for the cuts to local services) we don't neglect local issues. Here is an extract from the leaflet on this that we are distributing in Tulse Hill (and before in other parts of Lambeth) mentioned in yesterday's blog:

Feeding the Five Thousand
Capitalism is in crisis and they are making us pay for it. 'Austerity' means increased hardship, attacks on the living conditions and wages of the working class, and 'reforms' to Social Security. Here in Lambeth job losses, cuts in housing benefit, and low pay are forcing families to seek free, charity handouts of food from the Food Bank at St Paul's Church in Ferndale Road. The Church has said that it is feeding 5,000 people.
David Cameron likes Food Banks. His Cabinet Minister for Food Caroline Spelman thinks they are an example of good citizenship in Cameron's 'Big Society'. In reality it is a case of the capitalist state saving money by ridding itself of its role of providing basic support for destitute working class families – of, basically, feeding its hungry citizens – and forcing them to rely instead on religious charities.
Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat politicians all accept capitalism and apply its economic law of profit before people. If Labour was in government they would be following the same economic course. In fact Labour is in power in Lambeth and is imposing cuts to benefits and services.
'I was hungry and you fed me,' says the Food Bank’s mission statement, 'thirsty and you gave me a drink.' Socialism, as a society of common ownership and democratic control, will provide food and drink, and much more, to everyone as of right in accordance with the principle 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'. Nobody should have to rely on charity and nobody would.

Bedroom Tax
As part of making the working class pay for the capitalist crisis, the Coalition government are changing the rules on Housing Benefit from April. The capitalist state will charge you for the bedrooms you have in your council or housing association house. It will be a 'bedroom tax'. The government says it will affect over half a million households.
The capitalist state will be taxing your living space if your children have flown the nest for college or somewhere else to live. If you have one spare room you will face a 14 percent cut in housing benefit, two or more spare rooms and the capitalist state will cut your housing benefit by a quarter ! The capitalist state is making rules on how many bedrooms you can have and who sleeps where. Your kids will have to share a bedroom if they are under 16 and the same gender, and if they are under 10 they have to share whatever gender.
Under capitalism people only get the housing they can afford. The lower your income, the worse your housing. In a socialist  society of common ownership, housing will be about what people need to live and not how much rent they have to pay.

Safety Second
Tory Mayor Boris Johnson wants to save £45 million from the Fire Brigade budget. So he plans to close 12 Fire Stations in London. This will affect people in Lambeth as among those he wants to close are the one at the Clapham Old Town and the one in the next-door borough on Southwark Bridge Road. These closures will put in danger the safety of millions of Londoners because people will have to wait longer for a fire engine. Economic considerations not people's safety are the priority in capitalism.

No more adventures
In August last year Lambeth Labour Council 'temporarily' closed four Children's Adventure Playgrounds in Lambeth.
The adventure playgrounds at Bolton Crescent in Camberwell, Lollard Street in Kennington, Loughborough Park on Moorland Road just off Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, and Wilmington Road, off Landor Road near Clapham North Tube Station all remain closed.
These Adventure Playgrounds were free to access for children ages 5 to 16 but are easy targets for the 'economic austerity cuts' required by capitalism and imposed by the Coalition government and Lambeth Labour Council. Former Lambeth Labour leader Steve Reed promised at a Council meeting in April 2011 that no adventure playgrounds would close. He has now moved up the greasy pole into the House of Commons where he can better serve capitalism when it’s Labour’s turn again to run capitalism, in the only way to can be - as a profit-making system against the interests of the majority class of wage and salary workers.
In a socialist society children's lives would be one great adventure playground, education a creative journey, and the free development of each child the condition for the free development of all children.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More anti-EU than thou

According to this, TUSC are to target UKIP in this election by exposing its leader Farage as a tax-evader. This will be because when it comes to next year's European Parliament elections they will be vying with UKIP for the anti-EU vote. For these elections TUSC transforms itself in NO2EU. They won't stand much chance of making headway against UKIP, but they will contribute to the nasty xenophobic atmosphere from which UKIP benefits. We'll probably be contesting these elections somewhere but on the basis of YES2WORLDSOCIALISM.

Meanwhile we have almost completed the distribution of our newsletter giving the socialist perspective on local issues (food banks, bedroom tax, closing playgrounds, Brixton windmill) and will now be concentrating on getting our election manifesto to people (streets stalls, letter boxes).

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Stat attack!

The people of Tulse Hill should be rich. Some 5,000 or so of you work between 31 and 48 hours per week. That is, Tulse Hill Ward alone is producing a minimum of 155,000 hours of work a week. There’s a further thousand working more than 49 hours. This is a highly educated workforce: over 800 work in education, 700 in Information and communication and nearly a thousand in professional and scientific activities. So, this is an area that would be called by some “middle class”, with professional office based work predominating.

Yet, in such an area, only 600 households own their home outright, and thirteen hundred homes are owner occupied with mortgages. Over two thousand households are in social accommodation, and fifteen hundred rent privately. 2,400 households have one dimension of deprivation (unemployment, overcrowding, lack of education or disability), twelve hundred have two and 490 have three of those four states.

The picture is, that the majority of people in Tulse Hill have to work in order to keep their home, or to keep deprivation away. They may work with their minds or skills, but they are working class non-the-less, selling their ability to work in order to access the means of living. So, they don’t get to use those 155,000 hours of weekly work to make their area better, to look after those unable to work, or anything of the sort. Those 155,000 hours are fed into a system that generates profits for the tiny minority who own the means of living and who demand our labour to get to it.

All statistics from here

Sunday, July 07, 2013

UKIP misses the point

More of our newsletters were distributed in the ward yesterday. More evidence this time of political activity. In fact some streets would have received our leaflet and UKIP's at the same time. A LibDem leaflet carried the same "It's a two-horse race" bar chart that they all do, even though the figures they gave showed that it's really only a one-horse race (as everyone knows)since even if all the Tory voters switched to the LibDems that would only be get them to 35% compared to Labour's 51%. The Labour leaflet was a tribute to their councillor whose untimely death provoked the by-election.

UKIP is an opportunist, populist party but don't seem to have yet learnt (as all vote-catching parties must if they are going to get anywhere) how to adapt what they say to those whose votes they are chasing. Asking people to help them "End mass immigration" wouldn't seem to find much of an echo in this part of the world. They need to take some advice from the LibDems on how to be all things to all people (bringing back smoking in pubs and abolishing parking meters might not be enough). UKIP suffered a blow this week when their flagship policy of withdawing from the EU but still having access to the Single European Market as a non-member like Norway was rejected by the employers organisation, the CBI. They want Britain to stay in, so UKIP are on the own on this one as far as the major British capitalist corporations are concerned.

In any event, whether Britain is in or out of the EU makes no fundamental difference to the majority class of wage and salary workers and their dependents. It's not the EU that is the cause of our problems, but capitalism. So the way out is not to withdraw from the EU (the problems would still continue) but to establish socialism based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that production can be geared to satisfying people's needs instead of to making a profit. If there's ever a referendum on the EU (what a waste of time) we'll be writing "WORLD SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Leafletting the Tulse Hill Estate

Two of us leafletted the Tulse Hill Estate this morning. On our way there we passed Strathleven Rooad (off Acre Lane) and saw it was closed with police everywhere. Apparently, two people had been shot while trying to evict a tenant, an example of the violence generated by capitalist society.

On the Tulse Hill Estate itself we saw Irby House where Ken Livingston was brought up but we couldn't find any blue plaque marking this. We also found a TUSC leaflet which made the dubious claim that:
If even a handful of councils defied the Con-Dems and refused to implement the cuts the government could be made to back down and fund social services properly.
Could they really? Could the government be made to "fund social services properly"? It's not as if the government is imposing cuts because they're bastards (even if some of them could well be) who want to deprive pensioners of their outings or kids of their playgrounds or drive people out of their homes because they've got a spare bedroom. It's because they are in government when capitalism is in one of its slump periods and in slumps government spending has to be cut to help restore profits.

Profits nefore people that's how capitalism works and can only work. There is no alternative within capitalism and it's misleading and even dishonest to suggest that there could be. The only way out is socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, with production directly for use not profit and the application of the principle "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

And the candidates are...

And here are the opposition:
Amna AhmedLiberal Democrat
Mary AtkinsLabour
Bernard AtwellGreen
Timothy Briggs Conservative
Adam BuickSocialist Party
Elizabeth JonesUKIP
Steve NallyTUSC
Valentine WalkerIndependent
Eight candidates for a by-election, political life in the Capital is interesting to say the least. Pleasing (though not unexpected) to not see the fash standing. It'll be interesting in the current terms of debate to see if the UKIP advance continues. Also, have to ask, are parties deliberately choosing people with names high up the Alphabet (including us)? 5 before we get past B. Who knows if that will have an effect for us.

The Tulse Hill parliamentary road...

'As far as I can glean from Comrade Waller,' said Psmith, 'about twenty years ago, when he and Comrade Bickersdyke worked hand-in-hand as fellow clerks at the New Asiatic, they were both members of the Tulse Hill Parliament, that powerful institution. At that time Comrade Bickersdyke was as fruity a Socialist as Comrade Waller is now. Only, apparently, as he began to get on a bit in the world, he altered his views to some extent as regards the iniquity of freezing on to a decent share of the doubloons. And that, you see, is where the dim and rusty past begins to get mixed up with the live, vivid present. If any tactless person were to publish those very able speeches made by Comrade Bickersdyke when a bulwark of the Tulse Hill Parliament, our revered chief would be more or less caught bending, if I may employ the expression, as regards his chances of getting in as Unionist candidate at Kenningford. You follow me, Watson? I rather fancy the light-hearted electors of Kenningford, from what I have seen of their rather acute sense of humour, would be, as it were, all over it. It would be very, very trying for Comrade Bickersdyke if these speeches of his were to get about.'


For just one moment Mr Bickersdyke's memory poised motionless, like a hawk about to swoop. Then it darted at the mark. Everything came to him in a flash. The hands of the clock whizzed back. He was no longer Mr John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, lying on a sofa in the Cumberland Street Turkish Baths. He was Jack Bickersdyke, clerk in the employ of Messrs Norton and Biggleswade, standing on a chair and shouting 'Order! order!' in the Masonic Room of the 'Red Lion' at Tulse Hill, while the members of the Tulse Hill Parliament, divided into two camps, yelled at one another, and young Tom Barlow, in his official capacity as Mister Speaker, waved his arms dumbly, and banged the table with his mallet in his efforts to restore calm.

He remembered the whole affair as if it had happened yesterday. It had been a speech of his own which had called forth the above expression of opinion from Strowther. He remembered Strowther now, a pale, spectacled clerk in Baxter and Abrahams, an inveterate upholder of the throne, the House of Lords and all constituted authority. Strowther had objected to the socialistic sentiments of his speech in connection with the Budget, and there had been a disturbance unparalleled even in the Tulse Hill Parliament, where disturbances were frequent and loud….
P.G. Wodehouse Psmith in the city.

Obviously, our socialist candidate will not recant his socialistic sentiments, but hopefully we can bring some frequent and loud disturbances to the by-election debate.