May 5, 2021 | 9 minutes read | Tags: Class struggle in Britain, News & Analysis, Bourgeois Politics

London Mayoral Elections, or Why We Don’t Vote

Our communities must take power to get what we need. We need to resist the police, stop gentrification, build programmes that allow us to survive and support one another, and to defend and organise our communities - this power will never be granted to us, but it's ours for the taking.

London Mayoral Elections, or Why We Don’t Vote

Red Fightback does not stand in elections, and we do not support voting in them. We object to the capitalist state and any attempt to legitimise its violence towards us working and oppressed people.

We are often asked why, and criticised; surely we should be supporting a candidate? If somebody is going to be elected, why not the best of the bunch? Surely, deep down, we all love the Labour Party?

Unfortunately for Keir & Co, no we really don’t. Our argument is that the state is immune to change. Even if someone were to run who supports working and oppressed people - and that’s a big if - the structures that exist mean that the state, be it local or regional, is not going to stop defending the interests of capitalism. History has proven time and time again that radicals in the system must either bend or be broken. We need a whole new state if we want a society that has our interests at its heart.

But sometimes, the proof is in the pudding - or in this case, a 20-person buffet. Let's have a little look at the long list of who is running for the illustrious position of London Mayor ahead of the May 6th vote, and see who the advocates of voting are actually advocating for.

Sadiq Khan, Labour Party

The Labour incumbent is clearly the favourite to win this race. Labour owns London, in their eyes, and it would take a big event to change that. Typically, opposition parties do well in the regional elections in-between general elections, compared to the governing party. If, by some chance, Labour loses the London Mayoralty, the Hartlepool By-election, the Welsh Senedd or a good chunk of the other council and Scotttish seats up for grabs, we might see Keir face a leadership challenge. No doubt it would be another hopeless bid to transform Labour into something useful for the working classes, that distracts us from real organising.

Sadiq has embodied Labour's specialty of false promise and let down. The Independent Workers of Great Britain, a union defending the rights and lives of working people, had to take Sadiq to court when his congestion charge pushed many drivers into deeper poverty and debt. In January, it was reported that the number of rough sleepers on London’s streets went up 23% in three months during winter. Homelessness is a policy area that you would think all politicians would agree on, and yet you never hear it mentioned in any manifesto. Why? Because the homeless are not a strong voting bloc, and if politicians can’t win your vote they don’t care about you.

We also can't ignore Khan’s role as effectively the Leader of Labour in London, and therefore councils across London. In Haringey, the Council has repeatedly broken its pledges to stop gentrification, instead facilitating it and doing little to protect the much loved Latin Village market. In Elephant and Castle, Southwark Council gave the go-ahead to Delancey to destroy the shopping centre, pushing out local majority-migrant traders in favour of profitable private development. The same council is building on community green space in Bells Garden’s estate in Peckham, and Labour councils are doing the same throughout Brixton, Brick Lane, Bermondsey and all across London. All these places have Labour councils, and all our communities have been let down over and over again.

And yet Labour is confident that it has your vote, because who else is there for the working classes in London? In a way, they do have the monopoly on the ballot paper. But we cannot accept these crumbs - our answer, of course, is to throw out the ballot paper itself.

Sian Berry, Green Party

Third time's the charm for the Green Party's Co-Leader Sian Berry, running again for City Hall. Alas, it seems unlikely, despite some moderate gains in polls and consolidation as London’s third/fourth Party alongside the Libdems.

The Greens face an ongoing contradiction. On the one hand, they want to be on the left of Labour, arguing for a more radical agenda than the likes of Keir - a bar so low they can cycle over it. Simultaneously, they want to echo their european counterparts and offer a professional, corporate green politics that looks like a more palatable, millennial version of the Libdems. These two directions are at odds, and in recent decades we've seen the Greens’ somewhat radical - albeit idealistic - edge give way to opportunist attempts at gaining real, centrist power (that naturally fall short and then some). This is exemplified in the Greens’ original and often forgotten cynicism of the EU, which gave way to relentless support for Remain post-referendum, regardless of whether that position was actually preferable for working and oppressed people.

Do not buy for one second that the Greens are capable of radical change. Without connection to the masses and solid, unified political principles to root a Party, they will always fall into desperate bids at power. So, fourth time's the charm?

Shaun Bailey, Conservative Party

A smart choice for the Conservatives, Bailey’s “B” initial will statistically increase his vote rate by anywhere from 1-10%. Other than that, he’s not got much going for him. Johnson's success in running Mayor was largely based on Boris as an individual and the boost opposition parties in Westminster get regionally, which seem unlikely to be replicated in this lacklustre fizzle of a campaign. Tory gains elsewhere in the country are largely due to the party’s new emphases that electorally play well in the North but worse in the more metropolitan London. If the Tories anticipated winning this one, they wouldn’t have sent the Prime Minister and best Mayoral candidate in their history up to Hartlepool three times last week.

It's unlikely that anyone is going to be voting for Bailey under an illusion that he's got proletarian interests at heart. In case you are, be aware that his big issue is more funding for police. It's interesting how the Kill the Bill movement wages on and yet remains entirely ignored by all candidates. Indeed they all actively advocate more money for the force that murders people, under the banner of "public safety".

Labour’s Khan brags about adding more than 1000 extra pigs on the streets since he became Mayor. The ballot box battle is really over who you want to be putting more cops on the street. For those of us who want to be getting rid of police and building community solutions, we have to look elsewhere.

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat Party

Ugh, Libdems.

The Rest

The avengers-style assembly of paper (i.e. hopeless) candidates for Mayor are bewildering, ranging from simply uninspiring to outright cartoon villains.

"Gammons running for UKIP" is an evergreen statement, and yet never truer than now. An "evangelical preacher, motivational speaker and entrepreneur" whose biggest issue is unused cycle lanes, this nasty little man has barely broken into any of the dozens of races happening May 6th, effectively cementing over UKIP’s grave. Indeed, the most typeface written about Peter Gammons so far is likely the piece you’re reading now, authored by some transgender commies. This will no doubt make him seethe when he returns to moaning about potholes on Facebook after the election.

Gammons is also not the only pathetic attempt to emulate Trumpish “outsider” vibes from rich men that can barely contain their smirks. With the slogan "Make London Great Again", David Kurten is running for the Heritage Party, which seems to be some 1920’s speakeasy turned into a political party. You will be shocked to learn that his top issues are crime, freedom of speech and defending British culture from “genderqueers” and “cultural marxists” - so, he’s heard of Red Fightback then.

He uses the term "lockstep" to refer to Tories and Labour being in sync - innocuous enough, unless you know that the white supremacist types such as at InfoWars talk about the Rockefellar "Lockstep" document, allegedly planning the COVID-19 pandemic ten years ago, on a weekly basis. If you doubt that he might be just that far right, take this eye-watering quote from his website: "I give lectures on Cultural Marxism and political correctness among other topics, as well as after-dinner speeches”. "Cultural Marxism" is a buzzterm for conspiratorial, anti-semitic claims that universities and other cultural hubs are enforcing a Marxist agenda. Naturally, it is completely disconnected from a reality where communism is obscured and villainized, and the very notion of Marxists dictating academia is an oxymoron. David is too busy doing after-dinner speeches like some aristocratic version of Come Dine With Me to have any sense about what Marxism actually is. No doubt he shall find out someday. Alas for now, it's curtains for Kurten.

Talking of which, we also have failed actor Laurence Fox running. He really proves that politics and acting are two sides of the same coin; both are accessible to and run for the rich white man, both are based on deception, and Laurence Fox can do neither. He started up the Reclaim Party for the task, who have described themselves as “UKIP for culture”, showing he’s really gunning for Mr Gammons’ voter. Fox pledges to stop police dancing with protestors, which he’ll be pleased to know is such a successful policy it’s already been enacted, as evidenced by the violent and tango-free shutting down of demonstrations by the pigs in recent weeks. After his personal boycott of Sainsbury’s and generally pathetic attempts to become the new Jordan Peterson, the Pogues have the right idea.

Brian Rose as Batman Villain

Fox is almost entirely indistinguishable from another warrior of freedom, Brian Rose. Thankfully the Fox and Rose makes for a great pub name, when they need another attempt to rustle up some money pretending to care about people post-election. Rose is yet another baffling contender - not for Mayor, given his <1% poll rankings, but for the most ludicrous candidate technically competing in the race. Looking like Count Olaf working in Gotham Bank, this Trump-but-online podcaster has launched a rigorous online campaign. He must be kept up at night, then, by the fact that Brian Rose, British light middleweight boxer title holder from 2011 to 2012, is still google’s first result under the name. Rose (candidate, not boxer) has toured round all of London in a Battle Bus. It’s very odd to have someone claiming to understand working people, when the only bus he’s ever been on has a big picture of his face on it.

Alongside the other far right candidates, Robbie Rotten has made a real thing out of opposing lockdown. He has had fascist fave David Icke gracing his podcast not too long ago. Rose has a clip of getting, in the subtitles’ words, “arrested” for breaking lockdown restrictions by campaigning on his bus. In reality he was issued a fine. Of course he views himself as a victim of over-policing, despite this being a minor slap on the Rolex compared to what communities in London face every day, who will face even more due to the pledges for more police spending from every candidate.

The right are not the only grouping who have emptied out their recycling into the mayoral nomination inbox. The environmentalist liberals have put forward Valerie Brown of “Burning Pink” (read: Extinction Rebellion) and Vanessa Hudson of the Animal Welfare Party. Whilst the environment is a vital issue, the simple fact is that ecological collapse and capitalism are inextricably linked. Until the London Mayor can overthrow capitalism, there is little to gain from such half-hearted tactics that are disconnected from real people. We have the Remainers, who still argue with a straight face that remaining in the EU is the most important question of our time. Richard Hewison of Rejoin EU, represents this corner, as apparently the Libdems and Greens are not sufficient to argue this point 5 years after the referendum.

There are, exhaustingly, even more. Piers Corbyn is yet another anti-lockdown candidate, who will probably get all 20 of his votes from people hoping he’s his brother. Farah London has demonstrated that posing with cops while wearing the ”thin blue line” union jack and having the right name still gets you far in British politics. And Kam Balayev of the Renew Party has built an entire manifesto of word beginning with “re”; re-energize, rebrand, retake etc. If only he’d resign.

And then there’s Count Binface. He seems kinda nice.

Conclusion

That’s more or less the list; there are still some more candidates that have been unmentioned. It is genuinely shocking how many people can run who all love violent police, who refuse to adequately tackle or in some cases even to believe in COVID-19 and who defend capital above all.

It's odd, after all that, for us to have people and especially fellow revolutionaries ask why we don't find ourselves compelled to engage with electoral politics. As stated, no structure built by and for the defence and expansion of capitalism can ever be harnessed for good. It also happens to be the case that there isn’t a single candidate on that ballot who is worth your time.

The question is “what do we do, then?”, and the answer is simple: our communities must take power to get what we need. We need to resist the police, stop gentrification, build programmes that allow us to survive and support one another, and to defend and organise our communities  - this power will never be granted to us, but it's ours for the taking. Red Fightback organises in streets across London and Britain, connecting communities, supporting struggles and building the revolution person by person.

There is no point pretending that elections will do anything.  If you need support on the ground today - get in touch. The politicians will promise; the communists will be there.