Going, going, gone ... green
Two mavericks continue their attempts to undermine the fight to forge a united working class challenge to Blair, based on the success of the London Socialist Alliance. Peter Tatchell wants the LSA to subordinate itself to the Green Party, while Nick Long, the Socialist Party's main ally in its anti-LSA obstructionism in Lewisham and Greenwich, now places himself outside the socialist alliance camp. We publish their separate statements Reds and greens
On the list section of the London Assembly vote on May 4, reds and greens won a combined 16.41% of the poll a sixth of the total turnout and nearly two percent more than the Liberal Democrats. The Green Party polled 11.08%, and 5.33% was won by the London Socialist Alliance, myself (standing on a green-left platform), the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation, the Socialist Labour Party and the Communist Party of Britain.
If all those votes could be united together in a broad electoral alliance, the green-left would be the third force in London (and possibly English) politics - pushing the Liberal Democrats into fourth place. There are two lessons to be learnt from the London election. First: when we are divided, the left is weak. Unity is strength! Second: a radical, broad-based political alliance to the left of Labour is electorally viable and can win seats.
Looking to the future, the priority must be the construction of a comprehensive, inclusive alliance of radical, left, alternative and green political forces including single-issue campaigns and groups representing minority communities along the lines of the successful Alliance 90 coalition in Berlin.
The Alliance 90 model is instructive and inspiring. It did not call itself socialist, although socialist-inspired parties and policies were central to its organisation and programme. It won seats precisely because it reached out and united nearly all radical political movements, including many greens and others who did not traditionally identify with the left. This open, inclusive approach got electoral results.
In the UK, the creation of a red-green alliance will likewise only succeed if the radical left is willing to give up vanguardist, hegemonic politics and dare to enter an alliance of equals. This means broadening its 'pure' socialist agenda and sharing power with other progressive political forces outside the orbit of the orthodox left, such as roads protesters, campaigners for the legalisation of cannabis, anti-GM food activists, and organisations fighting on behalf of women, the elderly, lesbians and gay men, black people, and the disabled.
In particular, there can be no successful green-left alliance without the involvement of the Green Party which, in the London election, did more than twice as well as all the radical left forces combined. Are left groupings like the LSA willing to work with the Green Party in spirit of genuine partnership? Or are they prepared to cooperate only if the Greens enter an alliance on the LSA's terms and if they conform to its agenda?
This is a very pertinent question because, on the basis of the May 4 poll result, the Green Party can arguably claim to be the major radical/progressive force in London - and perhaps England. The left has no political or moral authority to ignore the Greens - let alone subsume them within a left-dominated alliance.
What is to be done? Is the LSA prepared to give up a bit of its power and autonomy to be a part of a bigger, broader alliance? Including not just the Green Party, but also single-issue pressure groups and minority community movements? Or does the LSA see itself as the alliance, to which everyone else must subscribe? I hope not, because that would result in the continuing fragmentation and marginalisation of the left and other progressive political movements.
The London election has shown that reds and greens united could be the third force in London and English politics. But that will only happen if all the constituent organisations are prepared to give up a bit of their sovereignty, work together in an alliance of equals, and promote a political agenda that is broader and more inclusive than that of the traditional left.
Bright red tomato
Following discussion with a number of leading Independent Labour Network activists, local independent socialists and Green Socialist supporters, community socialist and local trade unionist. Nick Long is to make a green socialist intervention in Lewisham West at the next general election.
Nick will be standing on an 'Independent Labour/Green Socialist' ticket.
Nick will be raising concerns about the local waste-burning plant, support for home zones, traffic-calmed streets, a programme of community and public works, support for asylum seekers, abolition of the monarchy, defence of allotments, more cycle routes, support for credit unions and local trading exchange schemes, decriminalisation of soft drugs and supporting those calling for a broad new party of the left which is both red and green and much more!
Nick will be supporting local tenants campaigning to fight off proposals to sell their homes, users of the local leisure centre fighting closure and those campaigning against privatisation of local services.
Nick is adopting a bright red tomato with a large green stalk as his campaign symbol! Those who want to see develop a socialist politics which is more than a regrouping of the revolutionary left and who want to see the Socialist Alliance develop a community and green perspective are welcome.