Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, April 21, 2006


Exclusive - Histomat's Print Out and Keep Guide to Voting in the English Local Council Elections 2006!

So the local council election campaign has begun, and many regular 'Histomat' readers have contacted me over the last few days, asking for my advice about how they should vote on May 4th. While it is impossible to really give too many general guidelines, and much will depend on local circumstances and candidates, a few rules can, I think, be drawn up.

1. Don't Vote Nazi. If you have the British Nazi Party standing in your area, then you really have to go and vote against them. Vote for who you like to register a vote against them, but really lots of people voting against them really is the only language these fuckers understand. Fascists tend to be as thick as shit, you see, and can't really do rational arguments. However, fortunately for them, the national media and Barking MPs like Margeret Hodge are usually on hand to make the BNP sound somewhat intellectually coherent - and as if there is a point to their existence in Britain in 2006. The media tend to get all excited when there is a poll showing one in five people in Britain might consider voting BNP and express their utter amazement at the fact. This gives the BNP - which is by European fascist standards a fucking miniscule outfit (21 councillors out of a possible 22,000 councillors) - the sort of publicity that is thoroughly unjustified. If there was a poll asking people say, 'Would you consider voting Green?' then I expect far more than 1/5 people would say 'Yes'. But the media is not interested in even mentioning the existence of decent alternatives to the BNP which poll far more votes than the BNP and have not only more councillors but MEPs, etc. As a result, decent alternatives to the mainstream parties do well to get any mention at all while the corporate media after spending the year routinely demonising Muslims and asylum seekers asks us to think about why people might consider voting for the BNP. Like, doh! Actually, really you have to do more than simply turn out and vote against the BNP if they are standing in your area - join the Unite Against Fascism campaign against them.

2. Vote Respect. If you are lucky enough to have a Respect candidate in your constituency, then Histomat calls for an unconditional vote for them. This is not just because Respect are internationalists and committed to the anti-war and anti-capitalist movement, out of which they emerged out of. A vote for Respect will send the clearest message to Blair that he cannot treat ordinary people in this country with contempt and get away with it. Labour's support is in meltdown because of lies and sleaze and their relentless committment to the corporate takeover of Britain at the expense of ordinary working people - but it has to be the Left and not the BNP who benefit from this. In fact, if Respect make a victorious breakthrough in this election - as looks likely in East London - then Blair will be in real trouble and could be forced to go. Labour's shift to the Right under Blair has only been possible because they assumed 'Old Labour' voters had nowhere else to go - if Respect are successful then New Labour is as good as finished as a political project. See Respect for more.

3. Vote Anti-War. If there is no Respect candidate, but there is perhaps a good anti-war local Labour councillor, or a Green candidate or some other sort of independent socialist type then Histomat urges a vote for this candidate. We need to keep strengthening the anti-war movement in this country, not only because Bush and Blair are still in power and troops are in Iraq, but also because the US wants to use nuclear weapons on Iran. See the Stop the War Coalition for more.

4. Got The Blues?. If you are stuck with just the three main parties standing and none of the local candidates is particularly inspiring then I guess you are a bit screwed. It is not surprising that Tory Boy Cameron announced the slogan 'Vote Blue, Go Green' - he couldn't exactly say 'Vote Blue, Go Blue' could he? After all, adopting Tory policies is what Labour and the Lib Dems are doing at the moment. 'Vote Red, Go Blue' would be the honest Labour slogan - and 'Vote Yellow, Go Blue' is what Sir Ming is offering. Democracy under Capitalism is essentially only ever going to be democratic if you are a Tory - and the sooner people who are not rich and powerful realise that 'bourgeois democracy' is always going to be shit the better. I am not going to say 'Vote Labour' if your local candidate is a careerist fuckwit and while Labour are betraying the values of the labour movement. And I am not going to pretend the Lib Dems are some sort of 'ethical anti-war alternative' who deserve the support of socialists.

5. Small mercies. There is next to no chance of coming across Robert Kilroy-Sick (sic) or the Veritas Party of which he is a member out campaigning in this election. However, if you do spot him, Histomat in no way condones the following sort of action which you may instinctively feel compelled to undertake:



At 10:53 pm, Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

Man, we really, really need an internationalist, marxist, socialist United Front with a clear agenda -- because, while this shite above could be far worse than it is, it is logically some really reformist garbage.

We should actually be far beyond what the likes of Respect actually stand for -- and not feeding the working masses more illusions about the possibilities to be found in bourgeois parliamentarism and electoralism. Leave that shite to the social-democrat collaborator cretins. Revolutionaries are supposed to only be using the bourgeois electoral system to advance the goals of social revolution -- i.e. REAL democracy -- right?

At 11:57 am, Blogger Snowball said...

'We should actually be far beyond what the likes of Respect actually stand for...'

Agreed - which is why the SWP for example has not liquidated itself into Respect but still produces Socialist Worker, etc. and argues for the relevance of revolutionary Marxism - indeed holding a festival called 'Marxism' every year.

'-- and not feeding the working masses more illusions about the possibilities to be found in bourgeois parliamentarism and electoralism'

I disagree with this however. The main obstacle for revolutionary socialism in the working class movement in Britain since the start of the 20th century has been the Labour Party and 'Labourism' more broadly as a political force.

Respect is helping to challenge Labourism's hold over the working class movement at last by fighting for 'Old Labour' solutions which New Labour now ridicules. In doing so it can raise 'socialism' as a valid idea again - and in the process of doing so revolutionaries have a chance to work with and create a dialogue with reformists over what we mean by 'socialism' and 'democracy'.

This is healthier than standing in purist isolation from reformists and simply giving them lectures on the need to overthrow wage slavery. Revolutionaries from Marx to Rosa Luxemburg have always stressed the need to be the best fighters for reforms - indeed, better fighters than the reformists.

At 12:29 pm, Blogger badmatthew said...

I'm with Snowball against the purist ultralefts, but found his approach a bit abstract. What I'd really like is an account of campaigning for Respect in says Leeds, what the response is, etc. I read blog acccounts of the Respect campaign in East London and they have the tang of poltical truth about them. I'd also like a break-down of the activists for Respect,again in say Leeds. How many from the Muslim communities, how many from the SWP, who else? Go on Snowball put more concrete details into your arguments.

At 6:01 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Well Matthew, I think in Leeds the campaign is only just starting to really get going to be honest.

So far, the ward has been covered once with one leaflet and part of the ward canvassed - and now it is a matter of trying to get the rest of the canvassing done with the new leaflet. The area where the candidate is known the response has been good according to those who have canvassed - so far all I have done is a bit of leafleting (in the rain - with two other SWPers and one independent Muslim guy if you must know).


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