No choice for voters

Open letter to John Nicholson, Greater Manchester Socialist Alliance convenor, from GMSA member John Pearson

Congratulations on winning a Big Issue T-shirt for your ‘star letter’ in the current edition of Big Issue in the North. You wrote:

“So, low turnout is to be blamed on polling stations being in the wrong place. It would apparently be better if they were all in supermarkets. It couldn’t be that all the main parties looked identical in most parts of the country and so there wasn’t much of a choice for most voters? It couldn’t be that most of the powers have been removed from local government and so there isn’t much to vote for? And it couldn’t be that the ‘spin doctors’ want fewer elections, just for the occasional mayor (and prime minister?) who can be trusted to do everything for us? A one-stop shop indeed.”

Perhaps your letter had been ruthlessly edited, but I was surprised that you did not go on to explain why the Greater Manchester Socialist Alliance, which at present you lead, decided against standing a slate of candidates in those same elections, on a socialist platform. If GMSA had done this, then many more voters in Greater Manchester could have had a real choice. It is quite true that local councils have very few powers, and that Blair’s constitutional reformation is fundamentally anti-democratic. It is precisely such issues that GMSA candidates could have emphasised in a campaign that was certainly not “identical” to those of the bourgeois parties, but which could have advocated a fight for real meaningful democracy and demonstrated the need for the working class to seize political power.

Quite frankly, your lamenting the lack of choice for voters comes a bit rich when, only a week ago, the GMSA, under your influence, rejected a motion from the Communist Party of Great Britain which would have committed the Alliance to work for a united electoral campaign in future local, parliamentary and European elections. You appear happy to win prizes for describing a problem, whilst at the same time you obstruct the solution.