A Breakthrough for the Left, a Setback for New Labour

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I find it really disappointing that many people on the left are still stuck in the navel-gazing mode.

Rachel Aldred and James Woodcock (July/August SR) ask how Respect has failed to make the obvious breakthrough 'when we were right about Iraq and helped organised brilliant demos'. The only explanation forthcoming seems to be over-optimism. I must disagree.

The combined socialist vote in 2000 would have been 5.3 percent across London. In 2004 the combined Respect/Green vote was 13.2 percent, three times that of the BNP. The Greens were the real competition for the anti-war vote on 10 June, not any other less significant 'socialist' outfits. However you look at it, the failure of Respect and the Greens to work together was a missed opportunity.

People don't see the movement as 'another heroic failure', but something that's only just begun.

The anti-war movement has exposed the warmongering leaders beyond all doubt. Without the anti-war movement Bush and Blair may have sent their troops into Syria and Iran by now. That the anti-war movement in Britain has founded a national political platform is a massive step forward, even before the election results.

On the industrial front important strikes have been won. More and more trade unionists are looking to rank and file organisation. The argument to open up the political fund is being won. Some unions-the CWU, FBU and PCS-have attempted to link themselves to the anti-war/anti-capitalist movement.

Yes, we do need to work to reinforce the votes in areas where we've done well. If we take the attitude that we live in hostile times, that we must not be too optimistic, and keep it internal instead of reaching out, we will let this opportunity pass. If we let the movement pass us by we will pay dearly for it.

Adam Marks
London