Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
This figure is absolutely appalling. It is even worse than the Hansard Society survey published a week ago showing just 48 per cent of people certain to vote in an election, down 10 per cent over the previous year, and interest in politics collapsing from 58 per cent to 42 per cent over the last year.
Why is this the case? Well, many people now see little point in voting as the parties ‘are all the same’ and ‘don’t listen to ordinary people’ anyway. They have a point. While most of us would prefer a Labour council to a Tory one, many people have long memories and see little to choose between Labour and the Tories, especially at the national level.
Elected mayors will be the solution…
Well, they won’t actually. Almost all the referenda in our major cities about whether to introduce an elected mayor failed – most by a significant margin. Only Bristol bucked the trend, with Doncaster voting to retain its mayoral system – glad to know the good people of Doncaster have a sense of humour….
Of course, it’s a pity Boris got back in and Ken failed in London. And it’s great that Jenny Jones performed well and came third. But again, unlike the local government pundits and the mainstream politicians, most people obviously do not think an all-powerful local mayor is the solution to their dissatisfaction with democracy. And they are right to think that. The same will be true of the new elected Police Commissioner elections this November.
What is really needed is for central government to devolve power massively down to local government and on to local citizens. Labour promised it but didn’t deliver. The Coalition promised it but the Big Society has failed – with the Hansard Society recording a collapse in volunteering over the last year from 29 per cent to 21 per cent.
There is no alternative…
Yes there is. And where it was offered, people often took it. Respect won five councillors in Bradford, following up the recent spectacular success of George Galloway in the by-election, the Greens won 8 more seats in England (but lost a few too) and 6 more in Scotland. And TUSC won two council seats (in Preston and Walsall) but lost Dave Nellist in Coventry. But these gains were very modest for the Left alternative candidates. In most places, there is still a mountain to climb before such candidates are seen as credible and electable.
The Nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland fared worse then expected. Jim Bollan was re-elected for the Scottish Socialist party in West Dunbartonshire.
At least the Far Right candidates did badly – the BNP lost in all the 136 seats they contested, and their vote in the London mayoral elections fell by around two thirds.
Davy Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Governments are manufacturing a new 'enemy within', write Yasser Louati and Malia Bouattia
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism