We could do this. Here’s how…
There are millions of people in this country who, like me, have used the phrase ‘politically homeless’. They have been thrown out of, or lost faith in, their ‘natural’ choice of party. There are also increasing numbers of people who, like me, have realised there’s more to politics than the competition between red, blue and any other party colours that choose to challenge the tyranny of red and blue. We know the ‘minority parties’ won’t get far, though, and many of us are having trouble believing we can magically agree on yet another new party, and get them into a realistic position before the next election.
There’s a better way
There are millions of people, if you put them together, who have thrown their efforts into the anti-austerity movement, perhaps via the People’s Assemblies, or through their unions. Others have chosen one of the big issues our survival depends on, and started working with XR, or Stop the War, We Own It, the women’s movement or groups campaigning for the NHS or housing security.
It’s become obvious to most that the main political ‘opposition’, Keir Starmer’s Labour, is supporting establishment values rather than the people’s. Labour’s willingness to defend basic needs is minimal. By basics, I mean things most of us agree that we need – like the NHS, water, power and transport services, housing and workers’ rights. Many people also value women’s rights, anti-racism and of course the environment – our children’s future. Millions of us won’t sit easy with a party that neglects or worsens those issues.
You are being taken for a ride
Starmer’s Labour is cheerfully dancing to the right, confident that they don’t have to be much different to Johnson’s Tories now. They think a few familiar names from the last century, a few professional looking politicians who handle themselves better than Johnson, are all that’s needed. The Greens are still too absorbed in arguing with each other over whether women exist to come anywhere near XR in environment-defence campaigns let alone on any other issue that matters to real people. The Lib Dems are still as pointless as they have been ever since Nick Clegg demonstrated their ‘beta Tories’ stance. There are other options in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, if you’re Welsh, Labour may seem less of a lost cause to you but for English voters, no other party is going to get a nose into Westminster politics unless we force our politicians into a complete overhaul of the voting system, and indeed, many have joined vote-reform pressure groups in order to do just that.
Great – we need electoral reform. Join a vote-reform pressure group, but that isn’t very exciting, and doesn’t feel like the whole of an answer, does it?
Get mad AND get even
The politicians you shout at on the telly are all completely confident that you’ll choose red or blue or give up and do nothing. It’s time to prove them wrong. In the next election, there will be a lot of people who will need to be persuaded to vote at all. This is the situation where inspiring independent candidates have a really good chance and, if those independents want to win, now is the time to be planning and organising.
*** Key point***
But they need to have something most maverick independents don’t have. They need an organisation to fund them, and a ready base of informed supporters.
In the past, that’s been a fatal problem for independent campaigns but, after the lively, activist-led politics of the Corbyn years, we have a lot of good, honest anti-austerity organisations that could provide just that.
If you’re a member of a campaigning group of any kind, on any issue, national or local, that has natural justice on its side, get talking now about whether you have someone who’s real candidate material – someone your group would rally round with enough enthusiasm to inspire others. You should be preparing now, to offer (for example) your own ‘Refugee Support’ candidate, or ‘Housing is a Human Right’ candidate, or ‘Anti-Austerity’ candidate, or ‘No Shit’ candidate (the latter has become a popular slogan in my town, since our water company was taken over by a shameless, profiteering polluter).
Take back control
In the last two general elections, independent candidates were often unpopular because the main parties had a lot of passionate support. In one of those elections in my town, an independent candidate won a mere 400 votes but they were votes that could otherwise have toppled an unpopular Tory MP. Although that maverick candidate raised some important issues and gave the unpopular MP some nasty moments in the hustings, he was seriously considering leaving town after voting day for his own safety. The situation has changed now. In most constituencies, no-one would weep for the loss of any main party candidates.
Consider both council and national elections. Don’t let the reds and the blues choke our politics. If every council had a range of experienced, specialist independents, if every hustings at the next GE had a range of candidates speaking knowledgeably on the real issues, seasoned activists from those pressure groups we all support, like We Own It, Defend the NHS and the rest – if that happened, the major parties would have to pull their socks up, start doing real politics, or lose seats big time.
An up-surge of eloquent independents will threaten career politicians’ security. That will make them listen to us. Think about your groups and campaigns, talk the issue through with fellow activists, and get organised now. It’s a big job, but it’s far, far more satisfying than sitting around feeling bullied by lousy politicians. Find a well known campaigner on an important local issue to put up for council, and an effective activist on a big national issue to put up for the next General Election. At the very least, your candidates will raise the level of the debate and make the big party politicians work but it’s perfectly possible that if enough groups did this, we could make lousy politicians a backward-looking minority on your council and in Westminster.
Doesn’t that idea just bring joy to your heart? Who are you going to talk to? I’ve already had conversations with several possible groups. Which of your local (for council elections) or national (for the next General Election) activist groups could do this? Talk to them – let’s get to it, now.
Times are hard, and the articles on this site are freely available but if you are able to support my work by making a donation, I am very grateful.
Click here to donate (links to Paypal and/or credit card form)