News from Nowhere

The campaign blog for Socialists in Scotland campaigning in the Livingston by-election - uniting for world socialism.

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Post-Mortem of the Poll Result

( The following is taken from one of the Party's on-line discussion forums )

My conclusions from the election result are:

1. We got 0.12% of the vote which is what we got at the Scottish Parliament elections when there were 10 or so candidates, and is pretty much what we should expect at a by-election when there is more than just Labour, Liberal , Tory to choose between.

2. I think when we have stood in the absence of any other " Socialist " ( by name ) party then we gain a fair number of votes ( up to 1% of the vote ) simply because we have " socialist " in our name . When someone else uses that name and offers a more immediate or apparently reasonable position ( based on a set of carefully-focussed reform demands ) , then most of those votes disappear , leaving the residual 0.1% who actively go out and vote for the SPGB and against SSP or whoever....

3. seems to me to be a fairly consistent trend . Does the 0.1% actually represent voters with some sort of socialist consciousness ? I think so , although anyone standing on any sort of position is likely to get around 0.1% of the vote ( e.g. we were beaten by the independent Tory who stood on a mixed bag of issues, and the Alliance for Change was a religious nut ) . The key question of course is how do we get that 0.1% of the voters ( or 0.03% of the adult population ) who are prepared to actively go out and vote at elections , actually involved ? It does represent 15,000 people in U.K. In other words , only one in thirty of those who are prepared to actively vote for the SPGB ( even when other socialist parties are on the ballot ) are actually members of the party . Not sure if that is good or bad news ?!

4. Given that the SSP and Greens stood on a raft of apparently attractive reforms (do away with prescription charges , defend local services etc ) , the idea that offering such reforms is a gateway into political change is somewhat smashed against their combined 3% of the vote . Far better to actually say what it is you are standing for , than be caught halfway between , and ending up without influence and without putting a genuine case for change.

5. Anyway , tempting as it is to read significance into the poll result , the main reason for standing was in order to get our leaflet thru' 50,000 doors at low cost . I think the overall cost ( for deposit , leaflet printing etc ) worked out at about 3p per leaflet , which is very cheap I think for production and distribution . The real measure of the worth of standing at election is whether we perceive any sort of increased website clicking , or contacts with Head Office , or attendances at local branch meetings . It strikes me that this is something we can measure , to try and compare the effectiveness of standing at elections against other publicity options we have.

6. Bearing in mind Alan Johnstone's comments regarding the numbers of leaflets coming through doors etc , it might be more worthwhile contesting elections that aren't by-elections, when our leaflet will stand out a little more . On the other hand , general elections are completely TV-dominated that we are maybe even more suffocated . Local elections are a cheaper option and may be an arena where our voice can be heard a bit better , and people are more inclined to vote for something ( as opposed to just keeping the Tory out etc ) . On the otherhand , I think it can be quite difficult to put forward real revolutionary politics in a local election environment, when everyone just wants to talk about the positioning of a bus shelter etc

Brian Gardner , Socialist Party candidate


  • At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Family and friends save the day for the old SPGB.

    The SPGBs cannot expect the voters to vote for soething that appears strange to them - hearing this case for the first time. And for the others thinking your just another lefty.

    Get real SPGB, your 70 odd years of inaction and politcal snobbery has let you on your own-e-o.

    What is their to do?

    Some old members need to either get of their backsides or move aside for younger blood.

    Socialist supporter

  • At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We dont expect them to vote for something strange, we ask them to get in touch with us.It is absurd to say family and friends vote for us as they are specifically asked not to do so. As is anyone else who thinks we stand for a reformed capitalism.The only reason for our idea of socialism seeming strange to anyone is the bastardisation of the idea by the left and the labourites who still call themselves socialist,connecting it to reformism.

  • At 10:50 PM, Blogger Daniel Owen said…

    Uh, yeeeeah... That's why electioneering is kind of pointless. And bourgeois. And not going to happen. And if it did happen there'd be a military coup. So, you'll need military and industrial strength on your side. Plus, it didn't work for the Social Democrats did it? No. It didn't. Parliamentarianism is the worst possible path.

    Bullets, not ballots!

  • At 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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