The Last Socialist?

Whatever illusions were invested in the Socialist Labour Party, events on May 7 must surely have dispelled them. Entering the local elections with about 20 councillors, to a man, defectors from Labour, the SLP exited with none. In the supposed stronghold of Barnsley, Anne Scargill romped home with a majestic I03 votes. Not withstanding the election of former Labour MP Dave Nellist in Coventry results for the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) were just as ominous. In former Militant power bases like Liverpool, despite the low turn out, it managed to accumulate less than two per cent in some wards. At such an inauspicious juncture news filters out that the SWP, for the first time in over 20 years, intend throwing their hat into the electoral ring. This, a mere twelve months from proclaiming Blair's election 'a class vote and a victory for the working class'. Hardly convincing evidence that they have a finger on the public pulse. The SWP claim that 'discontent with Blair was shown in the local election results'. If anything what the elections demonstrated is that the 'political centre' with Blair at the helm is still expanding. The centre will of course contract. This inevitably leads the aforementioned to conjure a complacent scenario where they will be the automatic beneficiaries of a Labour slide. They are gravely mistaken. After over half a century of false promises, cowardice, opportunism and betrayal the working class have not merely lost all faith in parties like them, but at a fundamental level in socialism itself. On May 8 a socialist, Dave Nellist, became a councillor in Coventry. He was the only one. And the last one?

Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '98