Sunday 9 May 2010

So what happens now?

Dave Hill speaks at the count after the results are declared.  TUSC got 194 votes on a largely disappointing night for the left.  The highlights were of course the election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and the smashing of the BNP challenge in Barking and Dagenham.

The real story of the election is that we may be about to be governed by an alliance of one party which could not manage to get an overall majority despite just about everything being in place for them, and another party which actually managed to do worse this time than last time.

New Labour locally wasted so much time and resource in trying to stop Lucas in Pavilion that they probably threw away the chance to hang on to both Kemptown and Hove.  Despite Hove being number 10 on their hitlist with a Labour majority of about 400, the Tories only just managed to slip past by about 1800 votes and can thank the Greens for even managing that.  But I am shedding few tears for NuLab.  The party which brought us the disaster of Iraq, the ongoing morass of Afghanistan, the love affair with big business, PFI, ID cards, and the "deregulated labour market" got its come-uppance.  What is clear is that the electorate has no enthusiasm for the idea that ordinary people should have to pay for the crisis created by the bankers and the speculators.

As I write, it seems that we will be governed by a Tory-Lib stitch-up. I don't think the numbers are there for a "progressive coalition", unless the Lib Dem rank and file get serious cold feet about getting into bed with the Tories. Even then, Labour needs just about everyone else to stand a chance of a majority.

For the Left it was a difficult night - TUSC struggled to make an impact, notwithstanding the sterling efforts of such candidates as Dave Hill , and Respect lost its one MP when it was hoping to add another two.  Even the Greens struggled nearly everywhere except the well-resourced Pavilion, though having Parliamentary representation is undoubtedly a breakthrough for them.

The lesson here is that the Left in Britain needs to lose the habit of squabbling and gain the habit of campaigning on the issues that matter to people.  There is the basis of an anti-cuts campaign locally building from March's big demonstration.  TUSC seems likely to carry on in some form and we should look to the local elections next year, whilst in the meantoime uniting to defend services and jobs in both the public and the private sector.

My comrade Liam has produced a summary of Respect's local and parliamentary election results here and here

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