One of my main political preoccupations is working out how to achieve working class political representation, now that the Labour Party has been shut down as an avenue for doing this. I know that local Labour Party activists will tell me I'm wrong about this, but I think that the rule change at the conference in 2007 (Bournemouth), barring unions and local parties from moving motions on current political issues, was the last nail in the coffin. Trade unions still hand over vast sums of money to the Labour Party, but have renounced practically any say in what the party does. Why should working class people continue voting for it?
I still advocate a Labour vote where there is nothing better on offer (ie, for now, almost everywhere, alas) but I'm thinking all the time how to build a political force that can challenge mainstream politics from the left, that is not just single-issue, or transient, and that can honestly claim to represent the interests of working class voters and credibly appeal for their vote.
Or, as Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian recently "This gaping hole calls for a new party. Let's call it Labour".
There is certainly a case for standing candidates - anti-cuts, anti-privatisation - candidates in the coming elections. I wish we had stood in the by-election recently in Edgware. Even if these are just propaganda candidacies, their message cries out to be voiced and heard. I don't believe in trade unionists and working-class campaigners leaving politics to the politicians and just going in for industrial and direct action.
And what of Totteridge? Yes, it would have been good to stand in Totteridge as well, not that we would have stood a cat-in-hell's chance of getting elected. In a debate over where we should stand if we did, in Edgware or Totteridge, the cost-benefit analysis would have made us decide for Edgware. It simply takes too long to walk up a millionaire's drive in Totteridge just to deliver one leaflet compared to the relatively high population density in Edgware!
But even the millionaires of Totteridge surely deserve someone better than Brian Coleman representing them. Read the latest tale of his arrogance and say I'm wrong. I don't believe in rotten blocs, actually; I don't think I can meaningfully work in a group with Liberals or Tories - and certainly not anything to their right - but I do hope that there are some people in Totteridge who are prepared to put up a credible candidacy against Brian Coleman in the next council elections. For all our sakes.