In the general election the Socialist Party stood one candidate, if only to show that we hold that a socialist-minded wage and salary working class can use the ballot box in the course of establishing socialism. Elsewhere we advocated a write-in vote for “World Socialism”.
The constituency, Vauxhall, just south of the Thames in central London, is one we had contested a number of times before. We had expected our opponents to be only the ordinary capitalist parties – Labour, Tory, LibDems and Greens – but in the event there were also candidates from the Christian Party (an attempt to introduce the US “Christian Right” here), the English Democrats (who want a separate parliament for England), the Animal Protection Party (hunt saboteurs challenging the sitting Labour MP, Kate Hoey, who is chair of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance), and Workers Power (a breakaway Trotskyist group).
We met most of these candidates in three well-attended hustings, the last one in a church near the Oval attracting up to 200 people. The Post Office distributed 56,000 of our manifestos to households in the constituency.
As the Green Party candidate said he was an ‘ecosocialist’, this meant that there were three candidates saying they stood for socialism. This provided a case study of the difference between our and their approaches. The Green Party is not of course a socialist party and does not claim to be, even if individual members such as their candidate in Vauxhall do. Basically, the Green Party stands for a return to small-scale capitalism. Their election address made the same sort of promises as the main capitalist parties, only even less realistic – a minimum wage of £8.10 an hour, a non-means tested pension of £170 a week, a million new jobs installing free insulation in “every single home” and (of course) “protect our NHS”.
The Trotskyist candidate made even wilder promises (seemingly on the basis of take what the openly capitalist parties are offering and multiply by three), such as:
All of this assumes the continued existence of the rich who are to be taxed – and so the continuation of capitalism as a society where there are rich people, whose income comes from the exploitation of workers.
We, on the other hand, argued that, as capitalism was the cause of the problems, the only way to lastingly solve them was to replace capitalism and its production for profit and wages system with socialism, a society of common ownership, democratic control, production solely for use, and distribution according to the principle ‘from each their ability, to each their needs’. We didn’t advocate any reforms to capitalism, just socialism.
As a German group put it in a comment on the election they sent to us:
“Even fringe left-wing parties like Respect bow to the dictates of ‘realism’ and respect private property through their demands of ‘taxation on the big corporations and the wealthy to fund public services’ – a demand which requires big corporations to make the kind of profits which can then be taxed” (See Here).Precisely. So, all the measures in the Trotskyist manifesto were supposed to be implemented under capitalism. Ridiculous. We doubt whether even their proposers believed this possible. In the event nobody else did either. True, we didn’t do much better but the point is: when Trotskyists with their programme of “transitional” reforms are getting the same sort of vote as us who are advocating only socialism, what’s the point of advocating reforms and not socialism? You might as well advocate taking over the bakery (and the wheatfields) rather than bigger and better crumbs.
The result was: Hoey (Labour) 21,498; Pidgeon (LD) 10,847; Chambers (Con) 9,301; Healey (Green) 708; Navarro (English Democrats) 289; Martin (Christian) 200; Lambert (Soc) 143, Drinkall (Workers Power) 109; Kapetanos (Animal Protection) 96.