At 11:17 06/05/00 -0400, you wrote:

>See attached article
>Given the proportional election system of the new London Assembly, this
>should have been a chance for left socialists to elect a few assembly
>members as a beachhead against the centrism of New Labour.  The Greens
>managed to elect three out of the twenty-five assembly members, but vicious
>infighting and sectarian proliferation of candidates assurred that none of
>the far left socialist parties got anywhere.  It looks like Scargill, the
>SWP (IS), Communist Parties and other groups have strongly established their
>absolute electoral irrelevance in Britain.  If they could not win in an
>election where Ken Livingstone was romping to victory with two thumbs firmly
>in the eyes of the Tories and Blair's Labour, is there any reason why anyone
>will take them seriously after this?  Any UK folks with other thoughts?
>Nathan Newman
>Factions blow their chance
>By Ben Leapman
>Extraordinary infighting among five competing socialist factions looks set
>to ensure that none achieves success in the London elections.
>Far Left groups have squandered a unique chance of electoral success on the
>coat-tails of Ken Livingstone. With the rebel MP streets ahead of Frank
>Dobson in the polls, there is a huge appetite among Labour-leaning Londoners
>to cast "safe" anti-Government protest votes.
>The 25-member Assembly, to be elected alongside the Mayor on Thursday,
>appears ripe for fringe candidates to shine. It has few real powers for
>extremists to abuse. The list voting system means parties need only five per
>cent support across London to win a seat.
>Yet extraordinary infighting among five competing socialist factions looks
>set to ensure that none reaches that threshold. The combined votes of the
>far-Left parties may well reach five per cent, but individually it is almost
>certain that none of them will. The row could come straight from Monty
>Python's Life of Brian, in which the People's Front of Judea accuse the
>Judean People's Front of being "splitters".


Greens got three seats in the London Assembly through proportional 
representation, and the Liberal Democrats (who in some respects are left of 
New Labour) got four.

There is no radical left wing representative to back up Livingstone.

Scargill, who actively favoured proportional representation for this 
purpose (unlike Tony Benn), insisted on heading his Socialist Labour Party. 
Their leaflet emphasised "London Underground must be kept in public 
ownership. Both the private finance initiative (PFI, or PPP) *and* 
New-York-City type bonds mean "privatisation" of the Tube by one means or 

Bonds were Livingstone's answer.

Livingstone clearly asked the London Socialist Alliance to keep at arms 
length so he could win as an independent. However it did not pitch itself 
as providing a broader lead, but like most left groups concentrated on 
trying to prove it was purer than the rest.

By contrast Trevor Philips, the black journalist, who has been close to 
Democratic left, has emerged as one of the most influential members of the 
Labour group on the Assembly and likely to become its first chairperson.

Livingstone too has embraced the new pluralist politics. He has gone to 
each of the parties *including the Conservatives* and invited them to have 
a representative in his cabinet. The Conservative asked if that included 
executive office. He replied that that could be negotiated.

London could soon have an assembly, like Northern Ireland, that embraces 
all shades of opinion.

On balance this provides a more transparent arena for the left to argue out 
what really is, and is not, democratic.

Yes quite right to deride the sectarian dogmatic left. They do considerable 
damage in preventing a rational application of a marxist approach.

But it is early years yet in learning how this system works.

I would predict that a radical left candidate capable of crossing the 5% 
hurdle in four years time, will need to combine a radical green as well as 
a socialist stance.

But the theory behind this practice must also be seriously discussed. I 
hope the organisation will be marxist-influenced.

Chris Burford


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