Time and again I have heard people on the non LP ‘left’ say that giving support to Ken Livingstone in his campaign for Mayor is only creating an illusion in what he stands for. I find such attitudes nonsensical as it is not a question of having illusions in Livingstone, it is about recognizing the reality on the ground and the damage a victory for Boris Johnson would do to the working classes and the political left as a whole.
I try to avoid writing about the SWP, for I regard them as a hinderance in the struggle for socialism and at times I wonder who is pulling the SWP central committees chain. Not least because in the last ten years they have been one of the main components in building two broad left coalitions, the Socialist Alliance and Respect. Yet when the SWP leadership concluded they might loose control of these coalitions, they deliberately crashed them in the most undemocratic way, leaving the political debris for others to pick up, whilst they went on their way without a glance in their rear view mirror.
As is their right the SWP central committee have decided to stand one of their number, Lindsey German as a candidate for Mayor of London in the May 1st Mayoral election. It is beyond me what they hope to achieve by this, beyond acting as a left spoiler and depriving Livingstone of a few thousand votes. Ms German’s claim that this will not occur as she has asked those who vote for her to give their second preference to Livingstone is remarkable for its duplicity. Think about this, for four weeks she goes around London telling workers Ken is a sell out, but come polling day no matter vote for him anyway with your second preference vote; now that is spreading illusions.
It is not only against Labour leftists like Livingstone that the SWP (left list) is standing candidates, in the Greenwich and Lewisham Constituency it is standing a candidate for the London Assembly against long standing socialist campaigner, health worker and local Socialist Party councillor Chris Flood. In the City and East (S@E) constituency the SWP is standing against George Galloway, who has a good chance of being elected despite the SWP acting as a spoiler. The hypocrisy of this act is appalling as until the SWP split from Respect they were the strongest advocate on the left for Galloway’s brand of politics.
Despite the behavior of the SWP over the last ten years which I describe above, there are still leftist who are willing to give the SWP the benefit of the doubt and vote for Lindsay German and other SWP candidates. I cannot understand their thought process, they claim it is because she is a revolutionary and Livingstone is not and thus it is their revolutionary duty to support German. If they believe this they have clearly not read Lindsay’s election manifesto, which is reformist to the core and in truth its contents are not dissimilar to Ken Livingstone’s.
In any case ones loyalty is to the working class and not this or that particular leftist candidate. Surly it must be clear to even the most dogmatic leftists that a victory for Johnson will not only embolden the Tories, but will give the Brownites the excuse they need to move further to the right, pray tell how will this benefit working class people or the left in general.*
1/ German, Galloway and SWP CC committee member when they were comrades.
2/ Ken Livingstone