Simon Harvey of the SLP
Scargill's GLA 'campaign'
Despite all the approaches to negotiate a common left list for the Greater London assembly elections with the London Socialist Alliance, Socialist Labour Party general secretary Arthur Scargill has contemptuously brushed aside pleas to see sense and stubbornly insisted on going ahead with the SLP slate, headed by himself.
Nominations have been handed in and the deposit paid for the 11 candidates contesting the PR seats. But how will the London working class know that we are standing? Unlike last year's EU elections, there will be no free delivery of election manifestos by Royal Mail and no TV election broadcast. All Arthur has to rely on is a couple of dozen semi-active members to hand out leaflets and push the five or six public meetings he will be addressing across the capital over the next four weeks. The Morning Star will not even consider taking adverts to publicise the SLP meetings - it has its own, equally dismal, Communist Party of Britain campaign to promote (the CPB could manage to fill only nine places on the 11-person slate).
While three million SLP manifestos were delivered to London homes for the Euro elections last year, a good proportion of the 100,000 leaflets printed last month may well end up collecting dust under members' beds. London comrades inform me that, apart from the Ealing and Southall branch, run by London president Harpal Brar, only two of the other Constituency SLPs make any pretence of functioning. The four or five others that exist on paper are in fact just about defunct.
Reluctant regional secretary John Hayball is doing his best to put on a brave face to the handful of demoralised members, despite meeting with a less than enthusiastic response even from some of our candidates. He is also said to be disappointed that Scargill has overruled his ideas for publicity - stunts are not the sort of thing that serious parties ought to be engaging in, according to Arthur.
Last year, benefiting from the free delivery and TV broadcast, we won just under two percent - picking up the votes of disgruntled anti-EU nationalists as well as some militant workers. This year, while the LSA has every chance of picking up at least one seat, we will be lucky to register a couple of thousand votes.
And to think that Scargill could, if he had chosen to cooperate with the LSA, have figured near the top of a joint list and spoken to thousands at meetings across the capital. But Scargill's sectarian obstinacy and deluded arrogance is leading him - and what remains of our party - into oblivion. Instead of grasping the LSA lifeline, he is left with a slate of ultra-Stalinites and eccentric losers. A sad end for a man who once was known as an intransigent and committed working class fighter.
For more from Simon Harvey check out http://www.cpgb.org.uk/simonharvey/