Greater London Assembly elections
Vote LSA ... Unity created around the London Socialist Alliance must be built, extended and deepened after May 4
For the first time in decades the left has the chance to build a working class party with the potential to supercede the mentality of the sects.
United in the LSA, the Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party of Great Britain, Alliance for Workers' Liberty, Workers Power, International Socialist Group and (more ambiguously and uncertainly) the Socialist Party in England and Wales have come together, along with smaller groups and a wide-range of leftwing individuals, to mount a united electoral challenge to Blair for the Greater London Assembly.
After the energetic campaign involving many hundreds of supporters all over the capital, one and a half million election addresses distributed, thousands of people canvassed, time on television and radio, publicity in national, London and local newspapers, we are confident of achieving a good vote. If we throw everything into the last week before polling, a breakthrough, with the election of LSA candidates to the new assembly, remains more than a possibility.
Such an outcome could help transform the entire political situation - especially in the light of Blair's de-Labourisation of Labour - not just in the capital, but throughout Britain. Scotland led the way. The impact of Tommy Sheridan's victory in the elections to the Scottish parliament last year was also felt south of the border. That said, success of socialists in London would not only reverberate across the country. It would demonstrate that building a united revolutionary party is necessary and immediately possible on an all-United Kingdom basis.
The LSA is set to prove to the splitters - the Socialist Labour Party, the Communist Party of Britain and the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation - that unity pays; that following the sectarian road is a dead end.
Whatever the result on May 4, we must raise the unity achieved so far to a higher level. A working conference, to include the Scottish Socialist Party, socialists and socialist republicans in Northern Ireland, the English Socialist Alliance network and the Welsh Socialist Alliance, must be sponsored by the LSA and its participating organisations, to which all groups that have so far stood aside, including the SLP, CPB and CATP, would also be invited.
The idea for a new working class party is gaining ground throughout the left. The CPGB will fight for it to be a Communist Party based on a revolutionary minimum-maximum programme and democratic centralism.Jim Blackstock
... be on guard against red-green Ken
Ken Livingstone last week gave further hints as to how he sees his future unfolding with his call for a "balanced London authority".
Fearful of the LSA, he recommended a vote for New Labour in the constituency first-past-the-post seats, together with a second-preference vote for Frank Dobson in the mayoral contest. However, signalling his intention to capture the environmentalist protest vote, he called upon his supporters to back the Green Party in the London-wide top-up list.
He justified this chameleon-like behaviour by claiming to want "to make sure that protection of the environment is systematically pursued across all fields of the GLA's work ... A strong Green contingent in the assembly is vital to clean up London."
On his reason for backing Labour in the constituencies, he said: "I am calling for a vote for the Labour Party candidates in the constituency section of the assembly because almost all of these contests are straight fights between Labour and the Tories. Whatever difficulties there have been between Labour and myself, these should not stand in the way of stopping the Conservatives from staging a revival in London. I cannot think of anything worse."
In a further statement aimed at stressing his continued affinity with the Labour Party, he added: "With Steve Norris, who stands for complete privatisation of the London underground, now in second place for mayor, I repeat that my second-preference vote will go to Frank Dobson. I would urge those intending to vote for Frank to give me their second preferences in order to defeat the Conservative Party."
It is clear what balance Livingstone has in mind - one that allows him to play off one group against another and be on top. With Labour favourite to win most of the constituency seats, any Green bloc, no matter how small, must be created from amongst the top-up candidates. And 'Red' Ken is clearly manoeuvring to use the Liberal Democrats as a counterbalance too. At the live radio debate between the four main mayoral candidates on Easter Monday he and Lib Dem Susan Kramer were clearly in cahoots over the way they handled the issue of financing the tube. Each framed their questions to the other so as to denigrate the schemes supported by both Dobson and Norris, the Tory candidate, and play up the claimed advantages of a bond issue, which they both favour. Similarly Livingstone and Green mayoral candidate Darren Johnson lined up together on the question of a 'congestion tax' for motor vehicles in central London.
Livingstone is still keeping his options open. For the moment he is continuing to urge his supporters to remain in the Labour Party, in the hope of being readmitted himself after a time. However, building on his seemingly inevitable victory on May 4. Precisely because of this, it could be that Livingstone is edging towards the idea of an eventual red-green formation - perhaps a new party. Given the opportunity, he might be inclined to lead a split from Labour, based on a combination of 'workerist' populism (in the radio debate he maintained he was a "socialist" - albeit an extremely business-friendly one) and environmental radicalism.
Such an outcome is not one we are seeking to achieve. However, if such a new red-green party was formed, we would have to decide our attitude towards it in the concrete: it would depend on whether we considered it would provide a site for furthering our struggle for what is necessary - a reforged Communist Party.
We previously made the call: "judge Livingstone on his slate" (Weekly Worker February 24). Well, as we know, Livingstone eventually decided that his ambitions would best be served if he stood without a slate. The direction of any future break that could develop around him therefore remains open-ended - although his 'unofficial' New Labour-Green list provides a pointer.
The momentum gained via the Livingstone rebellion against Blair can still generate a positive, working class-based movement. That is why we call for an (extremely critical) vote for Livingstone on May 4.Alan Fox