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.)