Losses and gains of June elections

Over the past two years the anti-war movement has successfully challenged the manufactured consensus of the powerful. To find out what is being done in their name, people have sought out and opened up numerous paths to the truth. Websites, for example, are giving voice to the opposition in Iraq, and to whistleblowers in the US, UK and UN. We are piecing together information that was previously in the public domain only as fragments.

July 1, 2004
4 min read


Hilary WainwrightHilary Wainwright is a member of Red Pepper's editorial collective and a fellow of the Transnational Institute. @hilarypepper

As we put the pieces together, these truth seekers are being vindicated, and have grown in influence as a result. The queues and overflows for Noam Chomsky’s Olof Palme lecture in May (see “Don\’t mention (the reasons) for war“), the popularity of Michael Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 9/11 and the packed houses for the Tricycle Theatre’s dramatic re-enactment Guantanamo are all signs of a critical culture seeping through the Iraq-induced cracks in mainstream politics.

Initiatives coming directly from the movement are showing a new ability to break through. Thus, this month Red Pepper profiles War Times (“The voice of alternative America“), the impressive US anti-war tabloid. And we give a platform to the Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and the Media Project (“Truth can find asylum”, page 31 in our print magazine), which counters tabloid vitriol against immigrants, and brings refugee journalists together to strengthen an alternative view.

The mainstream media, meanwhile, is up to its old tricks: hyping up the UN’s imprimatur for the Bush-Blair Iraq escape plan, and ignoring the Iraqis” dissatisfaction with the proposals (see “Avoiding Vietnam in Iraq“). On the Red Pepper website, critical media analyst Rik Hine presents a collection of essays monitoring the media’s cosy, uncritical relation with government.

But it’s not enough to win the argument. Our next problem, starkly facing us after the results of last month’s elections, is how to turn critical consciousness into relentless political challenge.

The most effective left intervention in the elections was the stopping of the British National Party (BNP). We must not underestimate the strength of racism and little Englandism. The rise of the racist UK Independence Party, with Kilroy setting himself up as the British Pym Fortun, presents our most urgent challenge over the coming months. But in the local elections, the left’s ability to build broad coalitions, to work together consistently, avoiding public rows, was decisive in thwarting the BNP. We combined nationally researched information with knowledge of local issues to ensure that our message hit home. We reached out to people completely neglected by the Labour Party, and directly challenged the racism against which few politicians are prepared openly to stand. We reached people put off by boring meetings and hectoring leaflets, and drew young people to the anti-racist banner with style. Can’t we learn from this as we prepare for the next electoral challenge: the building of an effective green-left alternative to New Labour?

Planning for the general election starts now; not in a sudden turn to parliamentary politics, but in building the foundations for a common electoral strategy rooted in extra-parliamentary campaigns. We cannot afford to repeat the division of the left vote that occurred in the June elections between the Greens and Respect. Under some proportional electoral systems different parties can stand separately and then share second-choice votes, or work together after the vote, as with the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party. But if the radical left is ever to be a political force in England, we first have to make the initial breakthrough. Changes in the electoral system could follow.

To make that breakthrough, just as to halt the BNP, we have to build a coalition appropriate to the purpose with a manifesto of policies summing up opposition to New Labour, but which also imagines alternatives: we need to address the domestic and international questions on which we already regularly work together in many towns and cities. Come election time, we could use such coalitions to create a “mosaic” of electoral allegiance based on who supports this manifesto and who has the best chance of winning. The mosaic would include Labour MPs who have campaigned against the war and occupation, and who resist privatisation, student top-up fees, the government’s asylum policies, and so on. It would involve deals between Greens and whatever emerges from Respect or other independent left or trade-union electoral initiatives. October’s European Social Forum would be a good moment to consolidate this idea.


Hilary WainwrightHilary Wainwright is a member of Red Pepper's editorial collective and a fellow of the Transnational Institute. @hilarypepper


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally

Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces

Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'

Confronting Brexit
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond

On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network

Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter

#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement

Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.

Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill