Our Socialist Alliance election broadcast on Tuesday represented a further qualitative leap forward for us. Following on from the Socialist Labour Party and the night before Labour?s second broadcast of the campaign, we were in theory ideally placed.
In terms of maintaining a high level of media exposure it was certainly a success. Ken Loach, the producer, was interviewed on BBC TV that morning. And The Guardian felt obliged to give it a critical panning on its website along with a fleeting mention in Wednesday?s paper. All this combined with the featuring of Neil Thompson, our candidate for Saint Helens South, on the BBC news at 10pm to give the SA a high level of media exposure.
As Mark Lawson summed up the broadcast in the following day?s Guardian, ?This was all politics: real people and angry facts? (May 23). Comrade Cecilia Prosper narrated, as various alliance candidates were lined up to emphasise New Labour ?betrayals? in areas such as health, education and pensions. Candidates Karen Reissmann and Greg Tucker spoke recognisably as workers (ie, in their uniforms - nurse and railworker respectively) and had their narrative interspersed with effective sequences like pictures of the Hatfield rail disaster. Other contributors were Louise Christian, Steve Johnston and the late Terry Rodgers - now replaced by Sam Robson as our candidate in Tyne Bridge (Dave Nellist, our national chair, featured on the radio party political).
It was pleasing to hear the alliance?s commitment to the nationalisation of the railways under workers? and passengers? control being restated by comrade Tucker. Unfortunately this was one of the most leftwing statements made during the course of the broadcast, characterised, it seems, by a ?don?t mention the S-word? attitude. In other words economism.
It is impossible to cover everything in a breathless four minutes, 40 seconds, but more emphasis on the SA policy of open borders as a riposte to all the bourgeois parties would have been welcome, given that it was always going to be a major topic in this election.
An issue where the alliance has a position that is distinct from the establishment parties and challenges widespread prejudices is one we should be emphasising.
While we should not be afraid of swimming against the stream, it is entirely possible that a bold stand on the democratic principle of open borders and free human movement could rapidly win support. A poll in The Guardian found that 18% were for ?unrestricted access for economic migrants? to this country, which shows there is a base to build on (May 21).
A strong emphasis on the open borders policy and our commitment to combat the national chauvinism of Labour and the Tories would have given concrete form to Cecilia Prosper?s closing words: ?Our concerns don?t stop with the borders on a map. We stand with all those everywhere who are trying to build a world without poverty and inequality.?