During the June Batley by-election, George Galloway as the candidate for the left wing Workers Party had placed a series of weather proof message boards on the road into Batley from the railway station,. The message which was most striking was the claim I WILL BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS AT HOME AND ABROAD. But at the same time he was quoted as having other and less attractive messages notably “I’m standing against Keir Starmer. If Keir Starmer loses this by-election its curtains for Keir Starmer. So if, for whatever reason, you think that they current leader of the Labour Party needs to be replaced, I’m your man”. Rachel Sylvester stated that “In his campaign posters he is pictured – fists raised – in front of the slogan STARMER OUT”.
Personally I did not encounter any of this when I went to the by election, but this is consistent with a view of politics on the far left which sees damaging the Labour Party as the key objective. It is irrelevant for those who see Labour as the obstactle to progressive politics that the gainers from this would be the Tory Party. When the Labour Party was formed in 1900 as the Labour Representation Committee, one of the founding organizations was the Marxist Socialist Democratic Federation which had a critical attitude to Labour’s aims of getting election victories and in 1911 quit to form the British Socialist Party and in August 1920 formed the British Communist Party. The last century has seen a rocky relationship between explicitly socialist parties and splitting the vote has often been the accusation leveled against them when they fought elections which Labour could win. But the target has not been an individual before and Galloway should explain why he took this stance – losing the seat, which did not happen, might not have damaged Starmer. But it would have delivered the seat to the Conservatives, no other candidate could win bar the two major party figures. What gain would that have been to the Left? Are they, as has been argued on many occasions, not the Assets of the Conservatives making the hold of reaction stronger?
Trevor Fisher 7 7 21