Scargillite spin

SLP statement, Friday June 8

In the general election held on June 7 2001, the Socialist Labour Party contested 114 seats - more seats than any other single left political party in the history of elections in the United Kingdom - and secured 57,497 votes, an increase of 11.34% compared with our party?s vote in the general election in May 1997.

There were those on the left in Britain who claimed that an alliance of ?left? political parties/organisations could win substantial electoral support in a general election in the UK. Those who argued to establish such an alliance involving at least 15 separate political parties or organisations cannot seriously have believed that such a body, with its disparate policies, could make a significant electoral impact.

Despite all its efforts, the alliance secured only 55,635 votes, a result not only below the 57,497 votes secured by the Socialist Labour Party, but a vote considerably below the one confidently predicted by this conglomerate?s architects.

However, all on the left recognise the deeply disturbing fact that in this election, despite high unemployment, savage attacks on health, education, pensions and social services, despite spreading privatisation, no political party claiming to be on the left was able to secure more than two percent of the UK-wide vote.

Even more disturbing is the fact that New Labour in winning the 2001 general election secured the lowest vote - only 25% of the electorate - in living memory. Indeed, the combined vote of New Labour and the Tories represents less than half the electorate: scarcely a mandate for government.

No-one, particularly on the left, has been able to win the support of that part of the electorate that abstained from voting - including those who represent the natural voice of protest against the evils in our society. These are people who have lost all faith in political parties- and they include those sections of the electorate demonstrating against globalisation in Seattle, Nice and London.

All SLP members can feel proud of the magnificent work they put into this general election campaign. We not only increased our vote but made significant gains in membership and saw two councillors come over to us, a move which means we now have a total of four councillors committed to socialist policies representing citizens and communities.

The significant increase in our membership that has taken place throughout the campaign is something that should give all SLP members confidence in building our party into the only socialist alternative to those who openly support the ?free market? and the capitalist system.

Arthur Scargill
SLP general secretary