At its conference on March 29/30, the International Socialist Group overwhelmingly agreed a document which recommitted us to the ecosocialism direction we have been taking for the last two years and strongly endorsed a position that building Respect Renewal was the way forward in terms of building a political alternative to New Labour. The current election campaign Respect is conducting in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bradford will be a key priority over the next month.
When it came to deciding how to vote in the London Mayoral elections, Respect Renewal is not putting forward a candidate for Mayor. Given that, we had to decide which of the other mayoral candidates to support both as first and as second preference votes.
The meeting endorsed the position argued by Alan Thornett in his widely circulated article “Socialists and Ken Livingstone” that given his relationship with privatisation, the property developers, the City of London and the Metropolitan police and his attacks on striking transport workers, Ken Livingstone is unsupportable as a first preference vote. We do however call for a second preference vote for Livingstone against Tory bigot Boris Johnson. No one argued against this approach.
Lindsey German is convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and in policy terms we would have agreement with her on more issues. But her mayoral campaign is an integral part of the destructive Left List campaign for the mayor and the assembly which is a direct rival to the Respect campaign.
Moreover the Left List itself is a direct result of a split in Respect which was damaging to the wider movement and which was completely unnecessary.
The Green Party in England and Wales have also been part of the anti-war movement from the beginning. Siân Berry is not only putting forward a strong environmental platform but also campaigning on a living wage for Londoners, for affordable housing and for bringing back London transport into public ownership.
In these particular circumstances, the meeting decided to call for a first preference vote for Siân Berry in what many argued was a tactical decision.