Socialist Worker

Radical vote squeezed at the ballot box

Issue No. 2100

The closely fought mayoral contest between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson dominated the London elections – and seriously hampered the Left List’s ability to make an impact.

Many potential Left List voters were scared into supporting Labour by the prospect of the Tories making their first real comeback since they were ousted from government in 1997.

Despite the Left List mayoral candidate Lindsey German getting a good response on the campaign trail – and connecting with the concerns of many working class Londoners – the left vote was badly squeezed.

This meant disappointing results for the Left List, polling 0.92 percent (22,583 votes) in the London-wide assembly list and around 1.36 percent (33,438 votes) in the constituency ballots. In the mayoral election the Left List vote came in at 0.68 percent (16,796 votes).

The recent split in Respect undoubtedly damaged the left as a whole. The combined vote of the Left List and George Galloway’s Respect Renewal fell below Respect’s London assembly vote in 2004.

The split created confusion at the ballot box and in the campaign, with both Left List and Respect appearing on ballot papers in London. It also meant that the Left List was hampered by attempting to establish a name and recognition very late into the campaign.

It was not just the Left List that was hit by the election squeeze. The Greens received unprecedented media coverage and endorsements as the “fourth party”. But they were unable to significantly improve their vote and only just maintained their two assembly seats.

Outside London the left was able to make more of an impact in the council elections in some areas of the country. Mukhtar Master came second in Preston’s Town Centre ward, winning 37 percent of the vote and narrowly losing to Labour by 74 votes.

Maxine Bowler also came second in Sheffield’s Burngreave ward with 23 percent. In Manchester, Nahella Ashraf won 13 percent in Rusholme ward, while Sue McPherson took nearly 10 percent in Gorton South ward.

In Cambridge, the Left List’s Tom Woodcock came third in Romsey ward polling 15 percent, while in Bolton, Neil McAlistair also took 15 percent in Rumworth ward.

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