Backroom Deal… Good Idea?

Some food for thought from Rothpol’s email inbox:

So… a by-election for Rawmarsh in May.

Is this the time for a Respect/TUSC ‘agreement’? A ‘Granita’ moment? As we know, a depressingly large number of voters will always vote for the mainstream parties (in which we now have to include ukip and bnp) so the Respect and TUSC vote comes from a reduced pool. In conversation with ordinary voters during the recent parliamentary by-election (see note at end for a declaration of interest here), the non-partisan voters told me that they could vote for either Respect or TUSC, so is it now time for Respect and TUSC to stand side by side instead of in opposition? Because of Labour mind control (what else could it be? Landslide for Sarah Champion? Seriously?), clear second is the initial goal in these elections. When you are clear second, otherwise politically steadfast voters may turn to you at the next election because you then have the appearence of a viable alternative.

With a pooling of resources, second place is achievable now in 2013, and who knows? First place in 2014 locally? An MP in 2015? I say second place now because it’s realistic. Of course you would be striving for first, but even with Rotherham Labour’s poor record, we know how long it takes to gain a shift in voter loyalty.

I have the feeling that Respect already get this, hence the invite for TUSC people to attend the Respect public meeting early in May, but I worry that if individuals on both sides of the Respect/TUSC fence start to worry about being ‘subsumed’, or not being picked as a candidate, or focussing on the differences between the parties rather than the similarities, then we continue to hand victory, neatly gift wrapped, to the status quo. We should learn from the example of SYRIZA in Greece who terrified the Troika by putting aside their differences and forming a left coalition that the public could support. How did they do this? By focussing on the policies that were shared by all and agreeing to differ on the others.

Personally, I will always look first at an independent candidate’s policies and views because I want an elected representative who answers to me and my neighbours, not to a party hierarchy, or an entrenched ideology (of the left OR right). However, time is short for us now – unnecessary genocidal austerity measures from successive governments compliant to the wishes of the financial elite of the City of London, down to the sometimes bizarre and infuriating council decisions which shock and outrage many of us – and we will have to do whatever it takes to change things quickly.

Which brings me back to my main point; although I would class myself as tending towards an independent candidate, I would now vote for the Respect or TUSC candidate in Rawmarsh… But which one? There are issues and policies from both that I support but I can’t vote for both. If this confusion is repeated amongst the disaffected left (who will never vote labour again) and voters looking for an alternative to the mainstream parties, a split vote between Respect and TUSC is inevitable.

Perhaps George should light up a cigar in a back room somewhere so a deal can be reached?

(On the conflict of interest mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s only fair to say that I got the feedback on Respect and TUSC whilst informally canvassing for Simon Copley, the independent candidate. Simon more than doubled the TUSC vote with no resources and no public awareness – just the ability to make sense to those who talked to him, but just think… a coalition of Copley, Respect and TUSC would have received 2641 votes… That would have been a very healthy third, and an outstanding foundation for elections to follow.)

Warren Vale

9 thoughts on “Backroom Deal… Good Idea?

  1. Sounds awful, and I thought I knew Politics, but what is TUSC?
    Oh just looked on Google. Is someone on drugs there, or so desperate to see the local Labour shower defeated that you will grasp at straws?


  2. Unfortunately there is a split in the left vote, but I must say that TUSC are the better option. I find respect to be very divisive and actually bad for the left. Galloways comments on rape are unforgiveable, and everywhere they stand all they achieve is a left v right argument with the bnp and ukip while labour romp to victory.
    I have recently been elected for TUSC in Maltby and TUSC have been in rotherham actively fighting the cuts for several years and in rawmarsh they have supported recent strikes at rawmarsh comp and the stagecoach depot. Respect turned up at the by election and have been invisible since, meanwhile TUSC lobbied the nhs trust board with 3000 signatures against the brutal cuts. TUSC are growing in rotherham at present and we will perform well in this election.


    • Firstly Joe, well done in Maltby. I don’t think I’ve congratulated you yet on this blog. Your first paragraph though shows exactly what I’m getting at. It feeds the division whilst criticising Respect for being divisive.

      I can only stress again the limited time left to change politics in this country. Come 2015, when party X takes control and continues the genocidal austerity measures left over from party Y, these policies will be so entrenched that it would take an armed revolution to remove them. Long term private contracts will have been signed, and governments will say their hands are tied. You all know how this goes.

      The only way to get the numbers needed to stop old people starving, or dying of hypothermia, or ensuring that our children get the education that they deserve, or those needing welfare help are treated with a little human dignity is to be a bit more pragmatic.

      This may mean holding our noses to some of the specific issues we disagree on and presenting the public with a set of policies that we DO agree on. I wouldn’t argue that it’s the best way, but the current time scale is against us, so I would argue that it may be the only way to stop the established parties from ‘romping to victory’ – and don’t think this is limited to labour… tory and lib dem voters will suffer just as much. The pain (as usual) starts with the poor, but it WILL be moving up – This is an equal opportunities looting!


  3. I have contacted the Rotherham Respect Cttee secretary and she has confirmed that Respect are not standing a candidate in the Rawmarsh by-election and she has indicated support for TUSC, so I hope that the Left who want to see an alternative to Labour will get behind the TUSC candidate, steelworker and socialist Andy Gray.

    Regarding Joe’s comments above, I think that they are true of the Respect national party but we have found the new Respect supporters in Rotherham friendly, and open to working jointly on campaigns and issues, and hope that can continue.


  4. Thanks Warren for being candid and constructive. I would be very happy to cooperate constructively with TUSC and Respect (ie notably discourage Indies from running against them) as the crying immediate-term need for Rotherham is a healthy opposition to make Labour more accountable to the electorate. As my view are broadly left wing I would have no trouble coalescing with TUSC informally. I am a bit more reserved on doing similar with Respect for reasons Joe outlined but happy to talk to them, and build bridges.


  5. I would just like to clarify that as alistair has pointed out, the respect branch in rotherham are a good group and I hope that in future we will be able to work together. My critisism is based on my belief that we need to establish a new workers party, to which ends TUSC are already a coalition of parties supported by trade unions, thus I believe that respect (nationally) should join under the TUSC umberella.


  6. can you please ask Joe Robinson in regards to issue of Yvonne Ridley what is his opionion in regards to Yvonne Ridley, it looks to me that Joe does not want to work with Respect Party over George Galloway comments, he has made in the past, what about Yvonne Ridley, she is great role model for our community.


    • Unfortunately a role model is not what we need in these austere times. What we need are visionaries. I feel that respect make a lot of noise yet take very little action, I site all recent protests/demonstrations I can think of. We need to unite and fight these cuts on a day to day basis, not just at election time.


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