Socialist Worker

How the left can make a breakthrough in London

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2094

The Left List campaign for the London mayoral and assembly elections is up and running. Activists have been hitting the streets of the capital getting the message of opposition to war, racism and privatisation across to voters.

The Left List is standing in all 14 London constituencies and for the assembly list in the elections set for 1 May.

Lindsey German, who is best known as the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, is the Left List’s candidate for mayor, and is heading up the organisation’s list for the London assembly.

She spoke to Socialist Worker about how her campaign is going.

“The election combined with the fifth anniversary of the war on Iraq means I’ve been busy from morning to night recently,” she said. “There’s been a lot of media interest.

“I’ve been on Channel Four News on more than one occasion, and interviewed on TV and radio. And I have been to dozens of meetings, mayoral candidates’ hustings and protests.

“This campaign is very different to the 2004 election, when I was nearly elected to the assembly – the response now is even greater.

“That reflects the growing thirst for an alternative to the main parties. Our task is to translate that general feeling into votes.

“This time there’s much more anger and a readiness to talk about an alternative. In this election everyone gets two votes and I’m calling on all my supporters to put Ken Livingstone second.

“But Livingstone is much more unpopular than he was four years ago – and he is moving to the middle ground in an attempt to appear not too left wing in the face of Tory Boris Johnson’s challenge.

“I’m the only socialist candidate for mayor. Sian Berry, the Green candidate, and I are the only women candidates.

“There is only one ethnic minority candidate – so the election is pretty much dominated by white men, which is a disgrace in such an ethnically mixed city as London.

Numbers

“We may not have the resources, money and the media profile of the big parties.

“But we do have the enthusiasm and commitment of our activists, which we have in numbers the other parties don’t have.

“We want to visit the people who voted for us in previous elections and leaflet estates in areas where we are strong. But there are other things that we can do to raise our profile, such as leafleting railway stations or tube stations.

“People have to be as imaginative as possible – activists have leafleted football matches and dog tracks. Now we are busy organising car cavalcades and street theatre.

“There is also set to be a strike of teachers, lecturers and other groups of workers on 24 April. This is a big constituency for us and we must make sure that we reach it.

“There are five a half million people on the London electoral register and we have to campaign across a huge area.

“The way to make an impact in these circumstances is to target the students, trade unionists, pensioners, anti-war activists, and to win their votes.”


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