Friday, November 29, 2013

Landslide victory for abstentionists

Here's the official result (for the 19% who bothered to vote):

Paul Gadsby Labour 1319 60%
Colette Thomas LibDem 468 21%
Kelly Ben-Maimon Con 153 7%
Rachel Laurence Green 113 5%
Elizabeth Eirwen Jones UKIP 87 4%
Steve Nally TUSC 44 2%
Daniel Lambert Soc 22 1%

There were 11618 electors, of whom 2206 voted, i.e a mere 19% or less than 1 in 5. In other words, a massive 81% abstained. This must represent a feeling (justified) that it doesn't make much difference who you vote for or which party runs the council things will be the same.

As predicted Labour won easily. Of the three council by-elections in Lambeth over the last year, this represents the best result for UKIP and the worst for TUSC. It confirms (for what it's worth, which is probably not much) that the "left of Labour" vote in Lambeth divides 2 to 1 between TUSC and us. Which puts them in the same league as us rather than as any sort of challenger to the Labour Party. The new Left Party that is to be founded tomorrow in Bloomsbury should also bear this in mind. They are unlikely to do much better if that. In any event, we'll carry on putting the straight case for socialism without making any election promises or proposals to try to reform capitalism.

Three of us went to the count (which was over by 11.30). The Tories told us that their canvassers came across 8 people who said they were going to vote for us. Most of them may well not have gone to vote in the end but at least, after reading our "Revolution the only solution" leaflet, they were prepared to tell canvassers that they wanted to get rid of the whole present system.

The next local elections will be the full borough elections on 22 May next year. We'll probably have a couple of candidates in Lambeth.

Quick result

Announced at 11.30pm:

Labour 1319
LD 468
Con 153
Green 113
Soc 22

Pathetic turnout of 19%.

More tomorrow morning

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The last leaflets

Finally managed to get yesterday evening into the flats in Cormont Road and to distribute our leaflets to the occupants, with the help of a non-member volunteer. He particularly wanted TUSC to do badly. It appears that their tactic of trying to hi-jack other struggles really puts some people off. Anyway, that's virtually the whole ward covered by 4,500 or so leaflets.

Came across some TUSC leaflets for the first time, on the ground. Also a Liberal leaflet in red and giving the impression of a being a leftwing Labour one critical of the Labour-controlled Council. As we know, the main parties play dirty in their scramble for votes.

Not seen any Green activity, but their candidate does make a valid point in her statement on the Brixtonblog about Labour's claim to have frozen Council Tax for everybody:
freezing council tax for the wealthiest while taking away council tax benefit from those who earn the least,
This is a reference to the fact that Council Tax Benefit has been reduced for those under pension age on other benefits, meaning that they have to pay some Council Tax whereas they didn't before. One of the cuts imposed on local councils by the government, imposed in turn on them by the economic crisis and the need to reduce spending and so taxes on profits.

Nothing more to do before the count tomorrow after the polls close at 10pm. Three of us will be there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Revolution the only solution

The Brixtonblog has just put up our candidate's 300-word statement. Scroll down through the reformist promises of the other candidates here.

For those who've heard it all before from the other parties, here's the socialist message from Danny Lambert:
In that interview with Paxman, Russell Brand called for a revolution against the present system of elite rule and neglect of people’s needs. I agree.

But no more than Brand’s is our idea of revolution one of riots, barricades and blood on the streets. It’s about a complete change in the basis of society. From the present minority class ownership and production for profit to common ownership, democratic control and production to meet people’s needs.

The present system can never be reformed to work in the interest of the majority. All the other candidates disagree and are promising to reform it in one way or another. But reform has been tried many times and look where we still are.

The present system can only work by putting profits before people.

That’s why, faced with an economic crisis, the government has been reducing services and cutting benefits. And why local councils have been forced to do the same. It’s to leave businesses with more profit in the hope that this will lead them to start expanding again. That’s how capitalism works and can only work.

I make no apology for raising this in a local election. It’s not what local councils, or even national governments, do that shapes how we live. It’s the economic system. And that’s what got to be changed.

Brand says we shouldn’t vote. I agree we shouldn’t vote for parties that are out to run the system. I don’t either. But we shouldn’t allow them a free run. That’s why the Socialist Party is contesting this election. To give people a chance to show they want an essentially peaceful democratic majority revolution to replace capitalism with a system in which productive resources have become the common heritage of all to be used for the benefit of all.

From our archives

Although Peckford Place not in the ward, it's only a few streets away. So here's an old leaflet from the Maoist cult that is said to be lodged there.

Needless to say (for our followers here, though not for the mainstream media), Maoism has nothing to do with either Marxism or socialism. It was the ideology of the state capitalist rulers of China. Based on leader-worship it is completely repugnant to socialists. We envisage socialism as a society of free and equal men and women based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production that can only be established by the democratic action of people who want and understand it. Only sheep need leaders.

We put our money where our mouth is. In the Lambeth Central by-election in April 1978 they were amongst our ten opponents. We got 91 votes. They (standing as the South London People's Front) got 38.

Our TUSC opponents in this by-election, on the other hand, see China as some sort of "deformed Workers' State". Deformed, yes, but apart from that it's just capitalist as everybody can see now.

In the meantime a volunteer has come forward to help us access the blocks of flats in Cormont Road, so these will be leafletted this evening. Better late than never.

Also the Brixtonblog have asked for a 300-word statement. More on this later.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yesterday in Brixton

As it was sunny we went ahead with the stall outside Brixton station yesterday. This is the place to be on a Saturday for leafletting. Amongst our rivals were Roman Catholics giving away free rosary beads, people giving out leaflets for "The End of the World Spectacular", Mr Kajali and Mr Moussa both claiming to be "from birth a gifted African spiritual healer and advisor" promising 100% guaranteed results for "problems concerning black magic, love voodoo, sexual impotency, business transactions, exams & court cases" (for a fee of course). Also competing were people paid to hand leaflets for some business, in this case a local gym but it could have been Specsavers.

Among the more rational were protestors against selling the main Lambeth College building on Brixton Hill to property speculators (one of them said he thought he had once voted for us), two young women campaigning against female genital mutilation (they said they didn't want to attack the culture of those who did this; we told them they should; they gave us a cup cake), and "Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism" who seem to be propagandists for leftwing governments in Latin America especially Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Absent were the Spanish-language pentecostals and Militant who are usually there. We imagine Militant were all out distributing their election leaflets which seem to have arrived late. We sold a couple of our pamplet on Marxian economics and gave away our leaflets for an-hour-and-a-half. Also met a comrade out shopping. It's a small world.

On the way to the CLR James meeting at the Oval cricket pavillion in the afternoon, we managed to gain access to some closed buildings by following a Labour canvasser. At first he thought we were TUSC but then realised who we were, saying "You're the people who want to get rid of money and let people take what they need". Well, yes, more or less. The Labour Party seem to be pulling out the stops. We've seen at least 5 different leaflets they've put out. One of their promises is that, if they win the next election, they'll overturn the Bedroom Tax. We'll see. As the Labour candidate said in one of his leaflets:
In past campaigns I've met people who told me that there wasn't much difference between the main parties.
So have we, and they're right.

At the CLR James meeting much of it was about English literature and what books should be studied at school and university. The organisers did not present James as a black role model but the opposite: as somebody who believed in universal values. Not black or any other identity but human identity. Some in the audience didn't approve of this approach and didn't clap all the speakers. His widow, Selma James, said he held that "Every Cook Can Govern". This comes from Lenin (though he relegated this to the distant future; in the meantime the Single Vanguard Should Govern). James, it appears, took it more literally. His widow in fact presented it in the way our candidate likes to. She said it didn't mean that "ordinary" people could govern since every individual was "extraordinary"; what he was advocating was collective action by these extraordinary individuals to change society and then run it. But she then spoilt it by saying that he was a leader. His writings on state capitalism in Russia, as well as those on cricket and his book on the slave uprising in Haiti during the French Revolution, The Black Jacobins. One of the speakers (Kenon Malik) described this as the first recorded successful slave uprising in history. I suppose it was. Must read the book. It's in our library.

The Oval is a few streets away to the north-west of the ward. Meanwhile a couple of streets to the south of the ward police were asking locals about the alleged case of slavery. They say it resulted from once commonly-held political ideas. It will be interesting to see what these were.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Higher pretensions

According to this, one of the candidates has higher ambitions: she wants, even expects, to become an MEP. Must look out, after our stall in Brixton High Road this morning from 11.30 to 1pm, for her Vassall ward election address to see if it says "Vote for Elitism". We can confirm, from her performances at the Brixton Hill and Tulse Hill by-elections, that she is being honest.

Don't understand how workers can even think of voting for UKIP, the external faction of the Tory party.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interesting factoids

From this twitter feed.

London by-elections since 2010: Holds - Lab 32, Con 26, LD 6. Causes of by-elections: death 19, resignation 49, disqualification 5.

London by-election gains since 2010: Lab 3 in Barnet, Islington, Lewisham ; Con 1 in Kingston ; LD 1 in K&C ; UKI 1 in Havering, Ind 2

Next weeks by-election in Vassall ward in LB Lambeth will be the 73rd and last since the 2010 London Borough elections. Only 8 saw gains.

Clearly people don't change their minds readilly. But when they do, they can move mountains.

A bit of local history

I don't want to turn this into a local history blog, but since nothing much else is happening at the moment. By coincidence the latest issue of the William Morris Society Newsletter just out has an article on "Susan Minet -- Saviour of Kelmscott Manor?" Apparently she made a substantial donation which prevented Kelmscott Manor having to be sold off. The name "Minet" rings a bell as there's a "Minet Library" in Knatchbull Road. It is the same family.

According to the article, the Minet family were Huguenot refugees from Catholic France who made their money by buying freehold land in Camberwell (and elsewhere) in the 18th which soared in value as London expanded. This enabled the Minet family to be philanthropists and they build a model estate in Camberwell (this part of Vassall ward has an SE5 postcode). The article quotes a report from the 1890s when they were built describing some of the buildings on this estate:
two five-storey blocks of apartmentss which have decorative steeped gables and exotic fluted chimneys. Richly clad with invy, they appear freshingly human compared with others of the period outside the Estate and are democratically given a prime location overlooking the parks.
These are the buildings on Cormont Road facing Myatt's Fields park. They were sold to Lambeth Council in 1968.

The article says of the buildings that "Morris would surely have approved!" Actually, he surely wouldn't have as they're the sort of ornate mock-Gothic buildings he used to rail against. Our objection is different: they don't have any outside letterboxes and the 230 or so residents have still not received our leaflet.

While on local history, not far away is Burton Road where John Major, the new champion of the "genteel poor" (from which he came)and scourge of the toffs who make up most of the Tory cabinet ministers, used to live. But there's no blue plaque there to mark the house.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Voting continues

The Returning Officer has just informed candidates and agents:
We sent out just over 1,000 postal votes and around 300 have been returned so far. Hopefully we'll receive at least double that number by this time next week.
Don't know if they will but, if they do, that would be a 60 percent turnout of postal voters. As the turnout of the other 9000 or so electors cannot be expected to be much more than 20 percent, this means that over 40 percent of those who vote will be postal voters. A bit worrying from one point of view because the election campaign still has a week to go.

Having distributed most of our leaflets there's not much to do, though we did see the Tory candidate canvassing in Vassall Road the other day when we managed get into one of the gated communities to distribute our leaflet.

Next activity (weather permitting and at the moment it doesn't look as if it will) will be a stall on Saturday morning in Brixton High Road as near as we can get to the exit from Brixton tube station.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Voting begins

Those that applied for postal votes for #vassall ward by-election, you should have rec'd by now, pls send back before 28th (election day)
So Says the Lambeth Democracy Team. So, if you've got your ballot paper in front of you, and you've come here to check us out after reading our leaflet: "Hello!" This is your chance to make history: you can start a revolution. No leader can do it for you. You have an awesome weapon in your hands. Just use it: refuse to give your consent to parties that will allow the status quo to continue. Vote for yourself: vote socialism. (Also, today is the deadline for applying for proxy votes, so you can ask someone else to vote for you for a change...)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just seen this tweet from the UKIP candidate: "Delightful Autumn day canvassing for Vassall by election passing Van Gogh's Lambeth home." That'll be Van Gogh, the European immigrant's home then... Fnar.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

CLR James and socialism

All the letterboxes we can get to have not been leafletted. Only gated communities have been left out. We're not too worried about the snooty ones but some are council properties. We're working on a way to access them.

No election activity on Brixton High Road yesterday. The Militant stall did not even have copies of their election leaflet. We might do a stall there ourselves next Saturday. The Vassall ward Labour Party has published the list of candidates on their site. Gratifying to see us referred to as the Socialist Party as on the front of our offices in Clapham High Street, but no doubt annoying to those who have attempted to usurp our name and claim that the "Socialist Party" supports the TUSC candidate.

According to the Brixtonblog, a meeting to launch research on the life of CLR James is to be held at the Oval cricket ground on Saturday 23 November. This is just outside the ward, but we would be going anyway as James is an interesting person. A Trotskyist in the 1930s he came round to the view in the 1940s that Russia was a form of state capitalism, i.e not socialist nor (as our TUSC opponent still maintains it was) a "Workers State". In view of the fact that he looked forward, eventually (in full communism), to a society in which money would not be necessary it was a travesty that his picture should have appeared on the now virtually-defunct and always pointless Brixton pound.

The authorities are obviously trying to promote him as a role model for black people, but this could backfire on them as his life can also be used to get a word in on socialist ideas. That's why we'll be at the meeting on 23 November.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Labour's Utopian dream

Just seen this The council of 2043 by Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council. A vision of where councils may be in 30 years time. We can see the inspiring vision of Labour:
For other councils, such as the pioneering then London borough of Lambeth (now part of the South London authority) the dire financial situation added impetus to the cooperative approach that the Council had adopted several years earlier: putting residents at the heart of decision making. It meant identifying strengths and skills in the community and building on those; it meant that decisions were made on a social as well as financial basis. In doing so, the cooperative approach generated a wealth of innovative ways and means to deliver activities – with the council providing a platform to make things happen rather than delivering itself.
Wow. I'm stirred. Lets take to the streets to demand that councils
become the connectors and enablers of local society: assessing local needs; joining up the right people and right organisations; enabling the most creative and socially productive projects; and critically, acting as the custodian of the peoples values.
Basically, what councils do now, only with a fancy Dan name. March forward under the slogan of 'Accomodating to Austerity'. I for one am enthused. So, it's clear, from their own pens: vote Labour for a redistribution of poverty!

It is entirely utopian to believe that this means anything other than living within the dictates of the interests of them as own the world, and can only be considered a pipe-dream. But what a modest pipe dream.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revolution cafe

Here's the suitably-named cafe where we were planning to meet yesterday,

Meanwhile the Brixtonblog has published the list of candidates here. Don't know if they'll be organising a hustings as for the last two Lambeth council by-elections. Most of Vassall is in Brixton but outside their area. We'll see.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nearly done

Five of us finished off covering the ward today. Some 4000 of the 5000 have now been distributed. Only 500 or so needed for what's left, so we'll have some over for handing out in the street or if we do a stall. The remaining 500 letter boxes should be covered before the deadline we set ourselves of 13 November when the ballot papers will be sent to postal voters (some 10 percent of those on the electoral roll).

We had planned to meet at lunchtime in a cafe in Mostyn Road called "Revolution" which sounded suitable and which we hoped might give us a free coffee for the free advertisement we'd been handing out for them entitled "Revolution the only solution". But it was closed.

Came across more Labour and LibDem leaflets, also one Tory one on glossy paper (in the posh part of the ward between Brixton Road and Clapham Road). It too said it was a two-horse race claiming "Only the Conservatives can beat Labour here". Very doubtful if anyone can, though the Labour candidate must think he has something to fear from the LibDems as he has started a scare campaign pledging to stop LibDem attacks on council housing. It's a dirty business, conventional politics.

No sign of UKIP, the Greens or TUSC as yet.

Friday, November 08, 2013

We spoke too soon

Out leafletting today we can across another LibDem leaflet and what did it say? "It's Labour or Lib Dems here. Tories out of the race here!". The usual it's a two-horse race stuff, in this case to try to cadge Tory votes. In other parts, it's used to get Labour voters to vote LibDem to keep the Tories out. Anything to get votes.

Other leaflets we picked up were the Autumn 2013 issue of Lambeth Labour Rose and a copy of Lambeth Housing Activists. This is sponsored by "Unite Community" which is a section of the Unite trade union for "people who aren't in regular paid work and community activists", an interesting union initiative. It has some harsh things to say about Labour-run Lambeth Council. For instance, on the council's eviction of 'shortlife' tenants:
Lambeth has proven itself to be a cynical and ruthless Authority, showing little regard or concern for some of its most vulnerable inhabitants.
Wat the ... ? So, in reponse to austerity caused by a global crash caused by rich bankers and property speculators, the council has brutalised these communities to give some lovely buildings at knock down prices to ... rich bankers and property speculators.
Strong stuff (we'll let pass the fact that the crisis was caused by the operation of capitalism not "rich bankers").

We must have distributed 1500 of the 5000 leaflets so far. More this weekend and next week.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

We're off

The 5000 election leaflets duly arrived this morning. A couple of hundred have already been distributed in the north of the ward opposite Kennington Park. We thought we'd be the first, but the Liberals had been before. Unusually their leaflet didn't claim that "it's a two-horse race", probably because no-one would believe it as it's a one-horse race which Labour can't lose.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Spoilt for choice...

Kelly Rebekah BEN-MAIMONConservative Party Candidate
Paul GADSBYThe Labour Party Candidate
Elizabeth Eirwen JONESUK Independence Party (UKIP)
Danny LAMBERTThe Socialist Party (GB)
Rachel Anna LAURENCEThe Green Party
Steven Paul NALLYTrade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
Colette THOMASLiberal Democrats
So, seven candidates: six in proposing to work within capitalism (however reluctantly) and ONE proposing standing on a platform of revolution and nothing but. No tinkering, we need to turn the world upside down. C'mon Vassall Ward, do us proud.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Speaking of things outside the ward, Vassall stops just over the road from Kennington Park, where in 1848 this mass meeting of Chartists rocked the establishment to the core. They were raising political demands that could turn the world upside down. Maybe the electors of Lambeth might like to think whether they have the same power in their hands.

Local elections for local people

Apparently the Labour candidate comes from the wrong street:
"As usual Labour have taken local people for granted and put forward an unrepresentative candidate from another part of Lambeth.
According to the Liberal Candidate.

Apparently, he lives almost 200 metres outside the ward. How despicable, how can he possibly understand the needs of Vassall Ward while living in Oval Ward?

OK, so politics is often devoid of policies these days: but this is ridiculous. Given the problems that we share worldwide, such myopia is hideous rather than merely hilarious.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Nominations close

Nominations have just closed today at 12 noon. We don't know who the others are but can guess. It's rumoured that one of them is also called Lambert. Certainly, there's a Robin Lambert who has stood for UKIP in Lambeth elections before (as well in Hendon at the last general election). We won't know till the official list is published next Tuesday (5 November).

Meanwhile we've given the "OK to print" for the 5000 election manifestos. Here's the front page:

They are due to be delivered to our office on Wednesday.