Simon Harvey of the SLP

Who do you think you?re kidding, Mr Scargill?

It is difficult to know where to start in commenting on our general secretary?s ?analysis? of the election results. What is absolutely clear, however, is that, in his determination to ?prove? that the Socialist Labour Party is continuing to move onward and upward, while the Socialist Alliance and Scottish Socialist Party are doomed to irrelevance, Arthur Scargill is unscrupulous in his attempts to obscure the facts.

Firstly, in Scargill?s mind, the SLP had to win more votes than the SA. As he says, those who set up the alliance ?cannot seriously have believed that such a body, with its disparate policies, could make a significant electoral impact?. Well, some people did not want to believe it.

In the attempt to make his prediction a reality Scargill pulled out all the stops to stand as many candidates as possible. It did not matter that our membership had haemorrhaged and was incapable of mounting any sort of campaign: he had the money to pay the deposits and print the election addresses, and if he got an SLP name onto the ballot paper in enough constituencies, then surely he would do better than the SA - wouldn?t he?

Afraid not. The total SLP vote, achieved by 114 candidates standing across Britain, was 57,288. The SA, with its 98 candidates in England and Wales only, picked up 57,553. Just a couple of hundred votes in it - although of course the alliance averaged significantly more per seat than the SLP. So, to disguise this unpalatable fact, Scargill has simply changed the figures - awarding the SLP an extra 200 and deducting the same number from the SA total.

There is no question of a simple error of calculation. The figures were all published in the Weekly Worker within a week of the election (June 14). This blatant falsification demonstrates once and for all that Scargill has lost all credibility as any kind of working class leader or rational human being. This statistical jiggery-pokery on a microscopic scale is performed for the benefit of his membership. But even the remaining SLP comrades cannot be so easily fooled, surely? Or is Scargill actually trying to persuade himself?

What is remarkable about his report is that he uses whatever particular statistic that can be employed to show the SLP results in a favourable light - without any regard for methodological consistency. For one purpose total votes are given, for another percentages only, for another average votes. The idea is to avoid whenever possible comparing like with like. Figures which show that the SLP lost support or did less well than its rivals are by and large suppressed.

For example, Scargill wants to brag about the SLP?s achievement in the 1999 European election of winning 86,749 votes on an extremely low turnout. But this shows up the much lower 2001 general election returns. So he points out (correctly) that in 1999 we were standing in 641 constituencies and that ?an accurate comparison therefore can only be made between what the SLP achieved in the general elections of 1997 and 2001? (Scargill ?forgets? to mention, however, that in 1997 we had only 64 candidates - just over half our 2001 total).

Yet, when it comes to Scotland, he drags up the very same comparison with the 1999 European elections. He is able to boast that then the SLP?s average vote was 130 per constituency, compared to the 265 achieved last month. Yes, Arthur, but weren?t you just saying that the turnout back then was ?only 23%?? Talking about absurd comparisons, how about this? - the SSP?s 72,518 votes in the general election (in Scotland only, obviously) was ?below the 86,749 votes secured by the Socialist Labour Party on a UK-wide basis in the 1999 European elections?.

Scargill is obsessed by those horrible ?Trotskyists? in the Socialist Alliance. Pointing to the one region where the SLP really did do better than the SA - Wales, where the alliance is weakest - he states: ?There can be no doubt that the Welsh Socialist Alliance ? were determined to secure more votes than the Socialist Labour Party. The fact that they failed to do so is a testament to our political integrity and our refusal to be associated with this unholy alliance ?? But in England the SA did much better than us. What does that say about our ?integrity? and refusal to cooperate then?

He also seizes upon the fact that in St Helens South - one of 35 seats where there was a clash, with both the SLP and SA contesting - ?Our party had declared its intention to contest ? over a week prior to a New Labour defector [!] being put forward as an alliance candidate. This action alone should demonstrate that there must be no electoral pacts, no discussions, and no involvement with the Socialist Alliance ??

In that case, how can he object to the SA going ahead and nominating its own candidates? Scargill does not mention, by the way, the uncomfortable fact, that his St Helens candidate, Mike Perry, had wanted to withdraw in favour of the SA and has since stated his intention of working with the alliance in future.

All this Scargillite double talk is simply amusing on one level. The same can be said about his ludicrous claim that SLP membership is ?now at its highest ever level?. However, what he has to say on the SA?s party political broadcast is no laughing matter. He complains bitterly that the SA, ?which is only registered as a political party in England, was allowed a UK-wide broadcast?. He admits to having demanded that ?there should be no arrangement which allows groups or alliances of political parties and organisations (some of which are not registered) to be regarded as one party for the purpose of a party election broadcast?.

So Scargill is not just arguing over the technicality that the SA, although it stood in Wales, was not registered there, or that its broadcast was shown in Scotland, even though it was not contesting north of the border. He actually wants the state to ban the SA?s broadcasts altogether. If you can?t defeat your opponents politically, call on your enemy to do it for you.

Scargill is not content with having led the SLP to disaster, driving out all its best members and, through his bureaucratic, anti-democratic and dictatorial methods, destroying the potential it once had for the establishment of a working class party. He also wants to ruin the genuine efforts others are making in the direction of left unity.

Real comparisons
England Candidates Votes Average Average %
SLP 96 51,299 534 1.50
SA 92 55,295 601 1.73
Scotland Candidates Votes Average Average %
SLP 12 3,184 265 0.85
SSP 72 72,518 1,007 3.36
Wales Candidates Votes Average Average %
SLP 6 2,805 468 1.39
WSA 6 2,258 376 1.11
Great Britain Candidates Votes Average Average %
SA/SSP/WSA 180 130,071 723 2.26
SLP 114 57,288 503 1.42
SLP 1997 64 52,110 814 1.85
Fact and fiction
SLP 1997 vote SLP 2001 vote SA 2001 vote
Claim: 52,516 Claim: 57,497 Claim: 57,304
Fact: 52,110 Claim: 57,288 Claim: 57,553
Comparison with 1997
Claim: SLP "maintained or improved its vote ... throughout the UK"
Fact: SLP average vote fell from 814 to 503
SLP average percentage fell from 1.85% to 1.42%
Claim: Socialist Alliance "failed miserably"
Fact: SA outpolled SLP, both in terms of total vote and percentage