European Elections: The Alternative Parties

By Londonist Last edited 107 months ago
European Elections: The Alternative Parties

Londonistvote.jpg
European elections. Thur 4 June.
Brussels isn't like Westminster. For one thing, the expense accounts are bigger. For another, it's actually possible for small parties to get elected. London already has MEPs from UKIP and the Greens. When, tomorrow, the city elects the eight people who'll represent it in Brussels for the next five years, there's a real chance that other upstarts could rear their head.

And so, we thought we'd take a look at the more unorthodox people squabbling over a ticket on Eurostar this year.

The Christian Party/Christian Peoples Alliance are exactly what you expect, and campaign on a platform of God (they're pro) and gays (they're anti). What you wouldn't expect, though, is that their leader would be the bloke who wrote Sinitta's 1985 pop classic, 'So Macho.' He's a vicar, these days.

The English Democrats are dedicated to being very, very angry about the West Lothian question. They want an English parliament, an end to EU membership, and a stop on immigration. They're not racist, though. Their candidates include a Kenyan-born car repairman, for a start.

Libertas isn't quite as sinister as it might sound. Founded to campaign against the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, it's now, confusingly, Europe's first pan-European anti-Europe party. Its candidates elsewhere on the continent include a former Latvian PM, but in London it has to make do with ad-man-cum-disability rights campaigner Max Burt.

Yes2Europe is the one to vote for if you're pro-European and conservative. It's thus of no interest whatsoever to anyone other than Kenneth Clarke.

Its mirror image, No2EU, combines a hatred of Brussels with a love of socialism. It's led by RMT boss Bob Crow, so is unlikely to win many friends with a London electorate. Not to be confused with...

…The Socialist Labour Party, which scourge of Thatcherism Arthur Scargill founded in 1996, after managing the impressive feat of becoming disillusioned with the Labour government before it had even been elected. Not to be confused with...

…The Socialist Party of Great Britain, which was founded in 1904, and thus presumably dismisses Crow and Scargill as a lot of Ramsey-come-latelies. It advocates 'impossibilism'. With the socialist left vote splitting three ways - and the People's Front of Judea expected to show up any day now - we suspect this to be a well named creed.

Jury Team offers 'politics without parties', by picking its candidates by direct selection. This is where Esther Rantzen will go, should she go through with her threat to invade Luton. Its top candidate in London is the rather less famous former HSBC man Reza Tabrizi. Although someone of that name is listed on IMDB for his work on cinema classics including Life is Hot in Cracktown and How My Dad Killed Dracula ("Two young teens don't believe their cousin's dad killed Dracula. Then he picks up a shovel and starts to dig..."), this appears, disappointingly, to be a coincidence.

None of these are actually likely to win a seat. One that really could, though, is the BNP. The party won 4% of the vote in 2004. With turnout likely to fall, and disgust with the mainstream parties at an all-time high, it's quite possible it could double that to win the 8.2% required to win a seat.

This, we feel, offers the best reasons to go to the polls on Thursday. If you don’t want the BNP to be your face in Brussels then, whoever you vote for, please vote.

By Jonn Elledge

Last Updated 03 June 2009

Rob Lugg

Do we really need the RMT bashing? The way I see it they are standing up for their members interests far better than any other union at the moment (we in Local Government have been offered 0.5% (when 60% of Local Government Workers earn less than £16,000 a year) and even though our union is more than ten times the size of the RMT we will undoubtedly do nothing to fight for better (after 10 years without a pay rise).

People who complain about their own conditions (unemployment, pay freezes, increased workload, etc.) due to the recession and get bitter at the RMT's members for not putting up with the same should seriously look at themselves. Have you chosen to join a union and organise for better conditions, or have you decided to live the dog-eat-dog dream and fend for yourself, if the latter then that's your choice, you can always change it.

Greedy capitalists damaged our economy, and have already cost us trillions in public money, yet you turn your anger on a few workers, most of whom earn less than the average for London, and tell them they are wrong for fighting against a 0.5% pay rise. Sort your life out!

Rob
a proud supporter of our tube workers and a proud Londoner!

Jonn

I wasn't RMT bashing. (Well, not a lot.) I don't think it's controversial to suggest that a lot of Londoners aren't exactly pro-Crow, though. Whether that's fair or not is a different question.

Rob Lugg

I'm sure that your assertion that the RMT take action for blatantly 'spurious' reasons is based upon your experience of working for LUL or thoroughly researching the background of each strike. Or might it be based upon articles you've read in, say, the evening standard perchance...?

No-one working on the tube expects to win 5%, they have been offered 0.5% or thereabouts every year for five years though (probably the main reason for the strike), which amounts to standstill in pay for now and undoubtedly pay cuts in the future. That is why a massive majority voted for strike action, and why not a single RMT member will cross the picket line next week (which is not something I can say about recent strikes in Local Government!).

Obviously when in negotiations a union sets a figure to aim for and keeps asking for that until made a reasonable offer. I strongly suspect that if the TFL management offered a 2% 1 year deal (which would hardly break the bank coming in at a couple of hundred pounds extra each year for the average member of staff) it would be accepted by the membership (who actually get to decide and are not unreasonable people). Apparently your fantastic knowledge of the RMT's evil leadership doesn't extend to understanding basic negotiating skills.

As for your assertions about the capitalist reality we live in, I know perfectly well about reality, and how capitalism works thanks. Perhaps if you, and too many others like you, learned to get past the entirely superficial understanding of economics taught in our academic system to see the reality of the far more complex social interactions involved below the surface we'd be better off. I understand that even the greatest minds of the western media are unable to get past the obstacle of their expensive educations but it only takes some independent study.

You talk of inflation, or more accurately deflation, as the RPI is now in negative territory. well anyone with a decent understanding of daily life has been able to see that neither the RPI nor the CPI are an accurate representation of the real change in the cost of living over the last few years. For example, a considerable proportion (if not a majority) of RMT members will live in Social Housing. This year the government forced ALL councils to increase their rents by almost 6% in April, in my borough rents are now becoming unaffordably expensive for ordinary working people and yet the government is still holding back more and more of the rents paid by those living in council housing (now amounting to hundreds of millions each year) which used to be spent on repairs and services.

Gas and electricity prices are still over 300% higher than they were just a few years ago and have barely shifted following massive drops in oil prices, I could go on.

Whilst the costs of many consumer goods have gone down massively (distorting headline figures), well, our members can't eat iPods.

As for the reality of the recession, the reality is that most workers have seen their living conditions worsen for the past 10 years of supposed boom and now we are told things will get even worse. In the meantime every last proper industry or meaningful level of our economic system is to be shut down and the jobs exported overseas. If businesses in this country cannot even afford to produce goods here then that is only a sign of the degeneracy of the system itself.

Anyone who knows anything about history knows that the greatest gains made by working people in the UK were made at a time when the country was bankrupted (after WWII) but workers refused to put up and shut up for the greater good of the nation (read the ruling class). Like my nan, they went out and fought tooth and nail for a decent future for themselves and their kids, now it is all unravelling.

I'm happy to pay (negligibly) more taxes so any worker can have a decent pay rise, and their example will spur me to fight for my own pay to improve at the expense of the bosses. Apparently hundreds of billions of pounds spent on mopping up the greed and unviability of finance capital is of far less worry than the minimal costs involved in this pay claim. If the system can't afford decent pay and conditions, then it doesn't deserve to exist!

All of which is pie in the sky and old fashioned in other people's view I'm sure. Personally I think ideas of working people taking what is given them and pulling together for the greater good of (queen and) the country is what is old fashioned, no matter how it's packaged.

Rob