Where to begin....
Well I think the thing that has stuck in the mind of most on the left in Britain has been the election of 2 BNP MEP's in the North West (Nick Griffin) and Yorkshire and the Humberside (some bloke I can't remember the name of but he had been chair of the National Front). Yet they did this on the back of a lower vote in those regions than they received in 2004.
And this points us to the startling feature of these elections - the collapse in the vote for Labour - nationally they were down 7% to 15.7% behind both the Tories and UKIP. Indeed the Tories actually topped the poll in Wales!
But the collapse in Labour's vote wasn't to do with Labour voters switching to other major parties like the Tories and the Liberals - they simply weren't coming out to vote and many of them won't come out to vote Labour again - such is the stink over the last few weeks, particularly from the expenses scandal, but the economic model they presided over has collapsed and in a similar way to what appears to have happened in Germany and France, they don't really have an alternative to it.
What this result has done, I think, is exposed that the strategy of relying on turnout, of saying don't vote BNP doesn't work. What we must do is put forward a positive alternative - and give workers a political voice that represents their interests and seeks to rectify their grievances.
And this is where I feel No2EU - Yes to Democracy comes in. Okay so the name was a bit crap, the platform was vague and limited and it achieved a small (but marginally better than what I personally expected) 1.01% of the vote nationally coming behind the SLP, but I still stand by the decision of the Socialist Party congress to take part in the coalition.
For one thing it meant that the RMT union has stood candidates in an election against the Labour Party and signs are that it will do the same in a general election, which I think will help hasten other unions to do the same. Also it meant that Socialist Party members were taking part in elections everywhere in the country - not just targetting a few specific wards or constituencies - which I believe meant people were more willing to take our material and read it. Which is especially good considering we published our own material, of course supporting No2EU but also, emphasising the points we felt were most important and allowing us to go beyond the limited No2EU platform. In North Wales this has meant we have been able to gain contacts in the last two months outside areas we are currently organised in (and in North Wales organised can be a little loosely applied due to the shear geography of the area). Take a look at the report that Socialist Party members and sympathisers in Wrexham have written http://www.socialistpartywales.org.uk/news/2009-06/8-wrexham-stall-report.html and this is an area where we didn't have any members til very, very recently.
I am reliably informed that the total left vote (that is of No2EU, SLP, SSP & SPGB) was 340,805 which is 2.25% which apparently is the highest left vote in European elections on a UK wide scale. This needs to be built upon with a challenge in the general election when it gets called and the organising of that challenge needs to be done now.
Which brings me onto the Greens. Their vote was the most increased in the election up some 2% or so, despite them not getting any new MEPs elected (they retain their current 2). Given they came close to beating the BNP in the North West should No2EU not have stood?
I don't think so - for a start I would argue that there are many working class people who probably wouldn't have voted Greens who did vote No2EU. More fundamentally however, is that simply backing the Greens would have put off the task for another election of trying to build an independent political voice for workers - and much as socialists and the Green Left within it may want the Green Party to become that, I don't think it can or will. However, I would welcome collaboration between the Greens and a new workers party (certainly when neither can contest all the seats in an area), but the key point is that that party needs building immediately otherwise working class votes will keep going to the far right as a protest and potentially worse.
Rest of Europe
By far the best result of the elections for me was the news that the Socialist Party's (CWI Irleand) Joe Higgins had been elected as an MEP in Ireland as well as winning 6 council seats in the elections.
But also SYRIZA in Greece got 4.7% and one MEP and the Bloco de Esquerda (Left Block) got 10% of the vote (not sure how many MEPs this translates to). I have to say though I'm finding it hard to find out the results for various groups in Europe so any comments people can leave to help would be appreciated. But the general gist is that in Europe the left (and I mean the actual left) has gained slightly.
Also released today were the election results for the UNISON NEC with 6 Socialist Party members elected onto the UNISON NEC - Roger Bannister (North West), Glenn Kelly (Local Government) and Jean Thorpe (East Midlands) retained their seats. They have been joined by April Ashley (Black Members), Vicky Perrin (Yorkshire and Humberside), and Hannah Walter (Northern) - however several other on the left have lost their seats.
The End of Progress?
3 hours ago