Friday, 20 April 2012

With Respect, Vote Green

In a move that gives encouraging evidence that the most significant components of the political Left in Britain are shedding their traditional sectarianism and reaching out to build a new movement for change, the leader of the Respect Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, has called on her party supporters to vote for the Green Party in local polls in Birmingham.

Hot on the heels of George Galloway's sweeping victory in the Bradford West by-election, where he shattered the traditional politics of the city and united people from different communities, Salma Yaqoob's call  shows that the Left is poised to build for change that chimes very powerfully with ordinary people. By sharp contrast to the right wing/nationalist alternative parties like UKIP, the English Democrats and the BNP, when people are polled about actual policies - like redistributing wealth and devolving decision-making to local communities - the policies of Respect and the Greens poll far ahead of their opinion poll ratings.

In the Greens' case, when the party manifesto was "blind tested" on quarter of a million people on the Vote-for-Policies website at the 2010 general election, they polled in top place. British culture is more aligned to the principles of the left than years of "middle-England"-obsessed machine politicians realise. The current recession, the dismantling of the Welfare State and the damaging reform of the NHS, as well as the privatising of the education system, are all anathema to most British people - but all three of the main parties are signed up with little but variations on a common theme to separate them.

With opinion polls consistently showing the "Other" parties at above 15% and the Lib Dems imploding to as low as 8%, this may turn out to be a key moment in creating a real, socialist and green alternative to the main parties. Galloway's return to the Commons last week was marked by a distinctively frosty reception from many of his former Labour colleagues who are perhaps increasingly aware that their core vote is softer now than ever after years of being taken for granted by centrists like Tony Blair and Jack Straw, as well as the false dawn of Ed Miliband.

The possibilities for a significant advance by the Left are there: they echo the rise of the Left candidate Melenchon for the French Presidential election, while three parties to the Left of PASOK, the traditional socialist party in Greece, are set to win about 35% of the vote and probably form at least part of the new Government in the upcoming general election. In Britain, the first-past-the-post voting system may frustrate electoral gains by the Left but, as Caroline Lucas' success in Brighton and Galloway's victory in Bradford show, the real alternative can win through even the most stacked and unfair system - all it takes is for both Left wing parties and voters to be true to ourselves.

For Salma Yaqoob's Blog, click HERE


  1. no thanks

    too many jew-haters

  2. Anton
    There is a world of difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

  3. The shackles that have held people to the main parties are falling away fast.

    There is an opportunity here for sure - the key is smaller parties being confident in their message and offering.