Friday, February 13, 2015

Canterbury Tales - Explaining the Socialist Case


 Report from Rob Cox on the Canterbury Hustings last night:
 “This was my first experience of appearing at a hustings meeting. There must have been about 80 people there (mostly students  at the University) – many more than I expected.
The evening started with a two-minute statement from each candidate.  I had the ‘privilege’ of going first instead of the sitting MP, Tory candidate Julian Brazier, who was late attending.
 In my statement, I pointed out that “We live in a world where we can send machines into space to land on distant planets. Yet hundreds of millions lack basic human needs or live just a salary cheque away from destitution because making profits has to take priority” and that “The Socialist Party is standing to raise the issue of ending this system and replacing it with one which is designed to meet people’s needs.”
 Interestingly the Green candidate described himself as an “eco-socialist” and held his views “for some of the reasons that Rob mentioned”.
 There were then three questions from the chair and nine from the floor, which each candidate answered.
 There was one question on how our policies would impact on the university so I introduced them to the concept and consequences of the abolition of money and wage slavery, which went down well with some of them.
 The UKIP candidate put his foot in it by saying they would fund students as long they took the right courses, and even the chair had a go at him about that.
 There was a question on national debt so I explained how booms and busts are natural in capitalism.
 I also got to explain how nation states were an artificial creation and about how there are only two classes and racial divisions are not scientifically valid.  And that they were better joining a trade union than expecting governments to support human rights.
 There was a question on NATO membership which gave me an opportunity to explain that we have opposed all wars since WW1 and were the only party to do so, and advised that the best way they could stop a war was to refuse to join the army. The Tory didn’t seem to agree as he went out of his way to say “I support the soldiers”.
 At the end the audience was asked to vote on whether they planned to vote in the election (most did), if they had made up their mind how (most had), and whether the debate had changed their minds (a handful agreed).
 A couple of the candidates and several students said they thought I had done well – maybe out of sympathy!
 There was a drinks reception afterwards and I was there until gone ten chatting to students. They were interested in how we compared to the left and anarchist groups, and our stance on Marx and elections. I took a few Q&A leaflets along that went down well.
 One of them said he was persuaded to vote for us and would like to go on the branch contact list.
 I also got an invite to speak on a student union radio show and today the Whitstable ‘Churches Together’ group phoned to invite me to a Hustings on Thursday 30 April at 7pm (details to follow). Rob has also received an invitation to talk to residents of a retirement complex sometime in March."
Meanwhile in the Vauxhall constituency, our candidate Danny Lambert faces more competition for attention. Mark Chapman, of the Pirate Party that proposes a host of reforms and palliatives in their manifesto, is also standing in Vauxhall. We can only wonder why they lack the imagination to simply just seek open access to the internet and not to the other things in life?

Also in Vauxhall, the Whig Party has been revived and will be standing. Their candidate will be Waleed Ghani. For those who don't remember their school history, in the days before the extension of the vote to the industrial and urban middle class in 1832, the Whigs were the least reactionary section of the landowning ruling class as opposed to their more reactionary section, the Tories. They later became absorbed into the old Liberal Party. Not sure what we could debate with them. Perhaps: That the 1832 Reform Act should have extended the franchise to the working class? Or: Were the Chartists wrong demonstrate on Kennington Common in 1848 to demand One Man, One Vote?