Delegates from across the country came together at a Socialist Workers Party (SWP) national meeting last Sunday to discuss the 1 May election results and the way forward for socialists.
Lindsey German, a leading member of the SWP and the Left List candidate for London mayor, introduced the debate.Lindsey stressed how Labour’s defeat in the 1 May elections was “a dramatic change in politics at the top level, but it wasn’t a big shift to the right”.
Labour’s policy of triangulation – copying its opponent’s policies – and “its inability to appeal to its core supporters led to this defeat”.
Lindsey said, “We are at the centre of a great deal of what goes on. The London election result for the Left List was a very disappointing vote as the left was squeezed – although we made an impact in a number of areas.
“We need to explain the reasons behind the result, keep pushing for strikes on a number of issues, campaign against the Nazi BNP, and continue to intervene in the debate around elections and what is happening to Labour.”
Delegates stressed that the SWP had played a vital and central role in organising the unions’ fightback on 24 April, the 100,000-strong Love Music Hate Racism carnival against the BNP and the election campaign.
Speakers emphasised that the space to the left of Labour meant that the SWP should remain committed to an electoral alternative.
Sue McPherson, who won 10 percent of the vote standing for the Left List in Gorton South in Manchester, spoke of the effect the campaign had.
Sue said, “We were rooted in campaigns and had real roots in two of the sub-wards in the ward.
“We shaped the debate of the election. We are going to be meeting with all the people we came across during the election to plan other campaigns.”
Lecturer Howard Miles said, “The 24 April strikes are a fantastic illustration of the level of opposition to what the government is doing.
“The young people who struck are not weighed down with the previous experience of some in the movement. There is an upward trajectory of industrial struggle that provides the audience for the left.”
Caroline from Camden said, “A local campaign against the privatisation of GPs’ surgeries showed how we can start to pull together networks as a springboard to bigger and better things. This has meant an alternative voice has been heard.”
Sara Tomlinson, a teacher in south London, said, “Up to 50 people turned up from a number of campaigns at a meeting called by the Lambeth Unison union branch last week against the privatisation of local services.
“I wanted to give a message of hope and spoke about the 24 April strikes and the protests against the BNP.
“When I pointed out that if we are fed up with the council then we need to offer an alternative to it, this created a vibrant debate.”
Delegates agreed that the campaigning the SWP was involved in could lay the basis for undercutting the BNP and filling the gap that the Labour government has created.