MILITANT Labour polled 112 votes (3.7%) in last month’s Weavers council by-election in Tower Hamlets, London. Militant’s decision to stand had provoked disagreement within its ranks.
This was not over whether ML’s intervention would split the vote and allow in the British National Party: as Militant itself reports (March 3), all agreed that Labour would eclipse the BNP on this occasion (in the event winning the seat with a 45.5% vote). Rather it was about whether ML’s own vote would be viewed as derisory. The article correctly argues that a failure to put forward an “authoritative socialist alternative” leaves the way open for racist ideas. ML’s vote was seen as a “good foundation” from which to oppose the Labour council’s cuts and rent rises.
But what happens if Militant does build up support so that it really would ‘split the Labour vote’ and risk letting in the BNP next time? Would the organisation then retreat to a shamefaced ‘Vote Labour, but ...‘?
Meanwhile both the Morning Star and Socialist Worker suppressed news of ML’s stand in their reporting of the election.