Tony Greenstein | 10 July 2024 | Post Views:

This coming Friday at 6.30 the Socialist Labour Network has invited a range of different speakers to give their views on the election that has just gone by and the prospects, as they see them for the Left during the Starmer government.

Never before has a government been elected with a huge majority to almost universal public indifference if not hostility. The voting turnout, 59.8%, speaks for itself. The second lowest since the war. This says everything about the decay of bourgeois democracy. Anyone who remembers the 1964 election of Harold Wilson’s government with a nail biting majority of 4, after 13 long years of Tory government, cannot help but notice the difference.

1964 was a time of the Beatles and optimism. Change was in the air. It was no mere slogan. With Starmer Change is a PR slogan signifying nothing more than a change in the Board of Directors of UK Ltd. It is the kind of change that Big Brother would have approved of in 1984.

In 1966 Wilson achieved a majority of 98. The Labour government abolished capital punishment, outlawed racial discrimination, introduced equal pay for women, homosexual law reform as a result of the Wolfenden Report and the 1967 Abortion Act.

Unlike Starmer’s toadying to the USA, Wilson refused the request from US President Lyndon Johnson for British soldiers to fight in Vietnam. In a curious reversal of US policy, which up till then had been to eliminate British influence in the Middle East, the Americans argued against Dennis Healey’s decision to retreat from East of Suez. See The Fall and Rise of Britain’s ‘East of Suez’ Basing Strategy

In 1951, 1955, 1959, 1970, 1979, 1992 and 2017 (under Corbyn!) Labour had a higher % of the vote but didn’t win the election. Under Corbyn in 2017 Labour won 40% compared to Starmer’s 33.8% and yet it won 150 fewer seats.

Starmer Labour went out of its way to dampen expectations. His main selling point was that he would be no different from the Tories. Whatever else you can say about Blair people were excited by his victory. Starmer by way of contrast is a personality free zone. A man entirely devoid of charm or charisma. He is the personification of the Coercive State. He is the face of corporate capital.

Nowhere was this more evident than in his own constituency Holborn and St Pancras. In 2017, under Corbyn, Starmer received 41,343 votes, (70.1%). In 2019 he gained 36,641 votes (64.5%). In 2024 his vote halved to 18,884 (48.9%). Socialist Independent Andrew Feinstein came from nowhere to pick up 7,312 votes (18.9%). Starmer repels even his own constituents.

Putting it another way, in 2024 Labour received 600,000 fewer votes than in the ‘disaster’ of 2019. Whichever way you look at it, Starmer’s Labour Party did not receive a vote of confidence.

Starmer’s support for genocide in Gaza has cost it dearly. Four right-wing Labour MPs lost their seats to candidates opposing Starmer’s support for Israel’s Nazi behaviour.

Despite predictions from the pollsters, Jeremy Corbyn sailed home winning by over 7,200 votes.  Even the BBC found it hard to find critical voices in his constituency. George Galloway unfortunately lost his seat in Rochdale but by less than 1,500 votes.

The Green Party had their best ever general election performance and gained 3 seats compared to their previous one, including a 10,000 vote victory over obnoxious war monger Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol West. However as I have previously warned, the Green Party is not a left-wing party although they make radical noises. They support staying in NATO and want to green capitalism.

The other highlight of the night was the defeat of Jonathan Ashworth, shadow Paymaster General. Ashworth lost his Leicester South seat by nearly 1,000 votes to Shockat Adam, who said: “This is for Gaza.”

Craig Murray – stabbed in the back by Muslim communalists

In Blackburn, the constituency once held by Barbara Castle and Jack Straw, Labour’s Kate Hollern lost by 132 votes to Adnan Hussain. Craig Murray for the Workers Party got over 7,000 votes too.

Ayoub Khan – the new independent MP for Birmingham Perry Barr

In Dewsbury and Batley, Labour’s Heather Iqbal, lost by nearly 7,000 votes to Iqbal Mohamed. In Birmingham Perry Barr the corrupt former Labour MP and Henry Jackson Society member Khalid Mahmood lost to Ayoub Khan causing the Jewish Chronicle’s David  Rose to froth at the mouth over his having questioned Israel’s fictitious rape narrative and stories of beheaded babies.

In Birmingham Hodge Hill, former cabinet minister Liam Byrne won by 1,566 votes over James Giles, the Worker’s Party candidate. In Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips won by 693 votes against the Workers’ Party Jody McIntyre.

 In Birmingham Ladywood Labour’s Shabana Mahmood defeated Akhmed Yakoob of the Workers’ Party by 3,421. In 2019 Mahmood won by 28,582 votes. Mahmood was the shadow justice secretary before the election. Birmingham Ladywood is another area with a high proportion of Muslim voters.

This produced a backlash by far-right ex-Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen Pollard who described them as “the rise of sectarian voting”, while Telegraph columnist Sam Ashworth-Hayes condemned their victories as: “Total, utter failures of integration.” It is a bit rich of Pollard to call Muslim voters ‘sectarian’ given the campaign he waged amongst Jewish voters not to vote Labour under Corbyn!

In Bethnal Green and Bow, where many were also angered by Starmer’s talk about deporting Bangladeshi people, Labour’s Rushanara Ali won by less than 1700 votes against independent Ajmal Masroor .

This election saw a determined challenge to Starmer and his most loyal sycophants by two main groups. One was by the Workers Party which fielded 150 candidates and which aimed to build itself through its opposition to genocide in Gaza, aiming at the Muslim vote.

The other was a determined campaign by left and Muslim campaigners that saw Ashworth defeated and Wes Streeting very nearly defeated by Leanne Mohamad in Ilford North. Just 500 votes separated them.  If the Green Party hadn’t stood, Streeting might now be out in the cold.

The example of the French where a united left campaign has squashed the fascist National Renewal’s hopes of winning control of the government, should be a lesson to us. A united left in Britain could also do this but this means burying the tradition of sectarianism which means that one’s differences over who said what in 1917 are more important than today’s struggles.

There is a very useful compilation of all of the left’s candidates that has been compiled by the very public sociologist blog. It includes all the left groups that stood. I have compiled a table of how many candidates each group stood and their average results.

The list is effectively divided into two: on the one hand the socialist and Muslim independents did relatively well.  The Workers Party candidates also did well but not on the scale of the above.

On the other a kaleidoscope of left sects did very badly, making no impression. It is to be hoped that some of the latter might eventually realise that standing candidates who receive only a fraction of 1% achieves nothing other than a lost deposit.

There were 65 candidates and in total they gained just under a quarter of a million votes with an average of 8.9%. This is clearly a promising start.

They included Corbyn. People were primarily campaigning over one issue, Gaza. It included Muslims and the thousands of socialist exiles from the Labour Party that was.

What distinguished many of the campaigns was a wide community involvement. I can only speak from personal experience in Hove where British Palestinian, Tanushka Marah, was elected at an all-Brighton meeting of 150 people. The campaign came primarily out of the wider Palestine solidarity campaign in Brighton & Hove against genocide in Gaza.

Socialists, feminists and environmental campaigners participated in an energetic campaign. We chose Hove because the current Labour MP, Peter ‘Killer’ Kyle, is an ardent supporter of genocide in Gaza and Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel.

Hove is not a naturally left constituency. When I came to Brighton 50 years ago it was one of the safest Tory seats in the country. All three Brighton & Hove seats were Tory. Brighton Pavilion was represented by Monday Club MP Sir Julian ‘gunboats’ Amery. Kemptown’s MP was Andrew Bowden, who finally got caught up in a corruption scandal and was ousted in 1997. Only Kemptown had ever been Labour, during the Wilson era when it was won in 1964 by Dennis Hobden by 7 votes.

Hove was won in the Blair landslide of 1997. Before this year left candidates usually got derisory votes, usually under 500.  So the achievement by Tanuksha of 3,048 votes (5.9%) marked a real triumph. She also saved her deposit.

Overall 27 of the 65 independent candidates got over 5% and thereby saved their deposits. The total vote for the independents was nearly a quarter of a million

The Workers Party is very much the creation of George Galloway whose profile has never been far from the limelight. When George won a by-election in Rochdale in February and slimy Sunak slithered out of 10 Downing Street to condemn the election result (one wonders whether he or Paul Mason had considering making it a criminal offence to vote for George) his reputation was established nationally.

Soon after George announced an intention by the WP to contest 500 seats but that proved too difficult and the final tally was 152. The 152 candidates gained a total of 210, 000 votes with an average of 3.48%. Although some candidates did well, a lot got derisory votes. 26 WP candidates (17.1%) saved their deposit compared to 41.5% of the Independents.

It obviously makes sense for the Independents and the Workers’ Party to join forces in future elections but there are formidable political obstacles to this. The targeting by Galloway of migrants and refugees as a threat to British workers’ standard of living, pay and conditions is unacceptable.

Galloway fails to recognise why it is that the boat people crossing the Channel are scapegoated despite being a fraction of overall migration. Our rulers only rule because they are able to divide and rule, setting one section of the poor against another. Galloway plays into this and thinks he’s being smart by being seen to be tough on law and order and refugees.

Patriotic socialism’ has a long and inglorious history. It resulted in social democratic parties supporting their own ruling classes in World War I. It has been tried, not least by Henry Hyndman of the Socialist Federation, who was an anti-Semite and a supporter of imperialism and the Boers. It has always been a disaster. Patriotism is how the ruling class fools the working class into supporting their imperialist ventures and dying in their wars.

People Before Profit stood 3 candidates in one of Britain’s remaining colonies, Northern Ireland. They gained an average of 2,80l votes and 7.1%, saving two of their deposits.

One must not forget the 84 candidates that a variety of the left sects stood. Without fail they gained derisory votes and lost their deposits. One wonders what is the point of such an exercise in futility but to some like Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party what matters is keeping the flag flying. Scargill has spent nearly 40 years since the Miner’s Strike trashing his own political reputation.  It is rather sad.

The main group is the Trade union and Socialist Coalition  [TUSC]. At one time it was sponsored by the RMT under Bob Crowe but since then it has distanced itself from it. TUSC was the creation of the Socialist Party.

TUSC stood 40 candidates and without exception they did abysmally. Not one of them saved their deposit or gained over 1000 votes. The highest vote was by Dave Nellist, the former Coventry MP, who secured 2.2% in Coventry East. They secured an average of 0.79%.

Given the success of the socialist independents it’s time that TUSC called it a day and threw its lot in with other socialists. It is clear that their project has failed.

The Communist Party of Britain, which prints the Morning Star, stood 14 candidates. They did even worse than TUSC.  They secured an average of 0.46% which is less than 1 in 200. My advice to them is to join with other socialists, ditch your resident Zionist Mary Davis and stop plugging the two-state apartheid solution for Palestine.

Scargill’s  Socialist Labour Party was formed after Labour ditched Clause 4. It stood 12 candidates who got an average of 0.7%. Scargill once turned up at a party AGM with more votes in his back pocket than the rest of the delegates put together, representing the previously unknown Lancashire Miners Welfare Organisation! The SLP today is the living dead and is unlikely to survive Arthur’s passing.

The grandly titled Workers Revolutionary Party stood 5 candidates obtaining an average of 0.52%. The WRP has been around a long time and it was led by Gerry Healey before he was expelled for raping women comrades. This did not stop Corin Redgrave extolling his ‘achievements’ and proclaiming that “If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.”

Other left fragment which stood candidates included the Alliance for Green Socialism (in 2005 I was a candidate for them!) which stood 2 candidates who gained an average of 0.3%.

There is Communist Futureof which I know nothing, which stood one candidate who obtained 0.3%.

Communist League stood 2 candidates who obtained an average of 0.4%. It is one of the splinters of the old International Marxist Group and supports the American Socialist Workers Party, which is no longer on the left, supporting as it does Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

Socialist Equality Party is anotherTrotskyist sect, an offspring of the WRP, led by David North. It publishes the World Socialist Web Site which often has well informed articles. It also stood 2 candidates, obtaining an average of 0.3%, one of whom stood against Starmer, thus splitting the socialist opposition, or rather they would have done if Tom Scripps had obtained more than 0.2%!

TheSocialist Party of Great Britain was founded in 1904. They are the Jehovah Witnesses of the left. They stood 2 candidates obtaining an average of 0.25%.

The newly inaugurated Transform also stood 2 candidates obtaining an average of 0.75%. Clearly they haven’t transformed anything.

One would hope that all these groups would either disappear or join with other socialists but I suspect life would have no meaning for them if they were to make an acquaintance with reality.

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

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