The decision by Lindsey German to stand as the Respect candidate for mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly (GLA) list will bring a breath of fresh air to the campaign.
Along with George Galloway, who heads Respect's list for the European election in London, her involvement ensures that socialist politics will be at the forefront of the election over the coming weeks.
Lindsey has been the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition since its formation three years ago. In that time the coalition has established itself as a truly inclusive and democratic force that has changed the face of British politics. We now know that the Blair government was on the brink of collapse on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, such was the size and strength of the anti-war movement. That it survived and the war went ahead had more to do with the spinelessness of New Labour backbenchers than any lack of will or effort by those who opposed the war.
Lindsey's continued commitment to the coalition means that she has had to stop editing this publication after almost 20 years. She steered it through a difficult period when the working class suffered some serious defeats. More recently, however, we have seen the emergence of a truly international anti-capitalist movement that has embraced and enthused large sections of the world's working class and dispossessed. Socialist Review has been at the forefront in reporting these struggles and shaping many of the debates that have emerged as the movement has grown.
The rise of the anti-capitalist and, more recently, the anti-war movement has meant that ideas that were once confined to the margins of British politics are now accepted as mainstream. It indicates a significant shift to the left in the consciousness of millions of people and a willingness to engage in a debate about what is wrong with the world and to do something about it.
Socialist Review will continue to argue that working class self emancipation is the key to creating a society based on fulfilling human need. To raise the profile of such arguments Socialist Review urges all its readers to get involved in the Respect campaign over the coming weeks. The Respect coalition was only formed a few months ago and, while it embraces much wider and more significant forces than the Socialist Alliance was able to, it still has a lot to do to make an impact on 10 June.
There are a number of things in its favour. Firstly, as we show in this issue of Socialist Review, there is the diversity and campaigning experience of its candidates, many of whom have been central to the anti-war movement. Secondly, there is the weakness of the Blair government and the morass it now finds itself in. The recent decision to grant a referendum on the European constitution in the near future is a reflection of this. In part this is because Blair is so petrified of souring relations with his buddy Rupert Murdoch, who threatened to withdraw his newspapers' support if a referendum was not called. More significantly, however, it shows that the reverberations of the Iraq war are being felt in all aspects of British politics.
Blair's promise when elected was to put Britain at the centre of Europe. Instead his close alliance with the White House has left Britain on the margins in Europe, and relations with the other EU superpowers at their lowest for some time. This has left Blair open to attack from the Eurosceptics and fearful of his own electoral position. Such weakness is an indication of how much the electorate distrusts New Labour.
The elections on 10 June give us an opportunity to make Blair's life even more uncomfortable. They come after a period in which we have seen the most significant mobilisations of popular protest ever. The challenge for activists is to revive the networks which have emerged over this time and get them involved in the challenge to New Labour. The prize, if we are successful, is a further shift to the left in British politics and the beginning of the end for the warmonger in Downing Street.