Two weeks to go until the election, and possibly the most interesting news in British politics today isn’t about the general election, but instead the position of Mayor of Tower Hamlets. If you haven’t heard, Lutfur Rahman has had his election in 2014 declared null and void because of his use of corrupt and illegal practices, which means there’ll be a new election to fill the now-vacant post on June 11th in which he’s banned from standing as a candidate. There were all sorts of odd things happening in Tower Hamlets during last year’s elections, and it seems that shining some light upon them has revealed the truth.
The new election will be of interest, not least because the campaign for it will likely begin as soon as the general election is over, and probably with a lot more media attention than a local election usually gets. One fear would be that if George Galloway is defeated in May (we can but hope), it would give him a way back in to politics on his old stomping ground – and putting the unchecked and unaccountable power of a local Mayor in his hands would be a recipe for disaster.
Back in the general election, there’s still two weeks to go till polling day (but of course, many have already cast their votes by post and will continue to do so) but a lot of people do seem to be getting somewhat burnt out after three months of the long campaign, then three and a half weeks so far of the main campaign. Two weeks from polling day seems a hell of a long time away, and I do wonder if party leaders and the news media are hoping for the new royal baby to arrive in the next few days, just to take them out of the spotlight for a day or two. It’d give everyone a chance to stop, refocus and then relaunch everything for the last week or so of campaigning. Indeed, maybe we should propose that all future election campaigns have a pause period during them, to give people space for reflection?
While we wait for the pause, let’s look at today’s minor party: Left Unity. Or ‘Left Unity – Trade Unionists and Socialists’ as the majority of their candidates describe themselves, where they’re standing as joint candidates with Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) we looked at a while ago. Left Unity are yet another attempt to unite the various factions of the left into a single party and become Britain’s Syriza, and are currently doing a good impression of the pre-crash Greek left in not getting the attention of many people at all. This is nothing new in the world of the hard left, where almost every year sees an attempt at creating a new workers party or a new organisation to unite the left under a common banner, and yet by the end of the process, things seem more divided than they ever were before. Coalescences like this tend to work for a short time – as everyone calculates how they can take it over and benefit from it – but then tend to fall apart when everyone realises that this just might not be the vehicle that will bring about the inevitable triumph of the working classes.
Meanwhile, no doubt spurred on by my regular plugs for them, Election Leaflets have had over 2000 leaflets submitted this campaign with surely more to come as the paper storm reaches critical level. Today’s pick from there is a candidate who does make me wonder if the Trades Descriptions Act should apply to party names – the ‘Liberty GB’ party candidate in Lewisham West and Penge. There are many ideas and policies one thinks of in connection with the word liberty, almost none of which feature on this leaflet which is instead the sort of ‘common sense’ string-em-up or deport them nonsense, seemingly concerned solely with the liberty of older white men, not anyone else. Take it as a warning – if you’re at a loss as to who to vote for, don’t always rely on the party name to tell you about them.