Wednesday, April 13, 2005

blair ditch project

Many people in the UK are wanting to use the forthcoming election to send a clear message to Tony Blair about his privatisation, attacks on civil liberties and, above all, the war in Iraq.

Some folks, like those at Backing Blair, are advocating voting for whoever stands the best chance of beating your Labour candidate. Thing is, for most of us that's the Tories. Protesting against a right wing agenda by voting for an even more right wing agenda makes no sense. It is obviously counter-productive.

The Labour party would not feel they'd lost ground cos of the war and the assaults on education and the NHS, they'd see they'd lost ground to the Tories so they'd ape the Tory agenda. If it succeeds, it would send a message to all parties to go more right wing.

There are others who've come up with a smarter plan. The Blair Ditch Project:

60,000 voters in Sedgefield, County Durham, have the power to decide if Blair still represents their interests and the interests of the country. The rest of us have the power to help them make the right decision.

The plan is that in the weeks running up to Polling Day, people come to Sedgefield from all over Britain to encourage the loyal Labour voters there to remember the terrible cost of the war in lives, resources and liberties lost.

They will argue that removing Tony Blair from office would be good for their constituency, good for the country as a whole, good for the Labour party, and good for the rest of the world under the slogan 'Do Labour a favour - Don't vote for Tony'.

How likely is it? More than you'd think.

There is apparently little love for Tony Blair in Sedgefield. Since his arrival in 1997 the inaccessible and always absent MP has done little to help the people deal with the under-investment, unemployment, drug addiction and hopelessness faced by these one-time mining communities. Because of his lack of socialist roots and his top-down approach to organising, Blair's local network of foot-soldiers is very thin on the ground.

Also, unlike Backing Blair, this campaign isn't asking people to vote for candidates they despise, merely their second choice.

In September 2003, a similar anti-war campaign in the Brent East by-election succeeded in overturning a 13,000 Labour majority. In that instance the votes went to the Liberal Democrats. In Sedgefield the last Labour majority was 17,713, but that was already a 5% swing away from Labour to the Tories and the Lib Dems. At least 20,000 people didn't vote at all, and Blair had lost 7,000 votes since the previous election.

If enough people come and speak to the residents of Sedgefield on their doorsteps, there is a real chance that Teflon Tony's home constituency could turn out to be his Achilles Heel.

The campaign will use a double-decker bus and mobile tannoy, cinema screenings around the constituency, and a series of Public Hearings on the Iraqi War, bringing soldiers' families, Iraqi civilians and expert witnesses to testify in Sedgefield.

If we each give one day of our time to the people of Sedgefield, the pay-off is unimaginable.

There will be a camp-site with a canteen and toilet facilities for people staying overnight, and a meeting point for day visitors. (There could also be limited accommodation with local people).

More info and stuff at the Blair Ditch Project site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i saw a report on telly the other night with a political analyst saying that when labour won back in '97 is was off the back of years of seething resentment and dissapointment from the british public with the tories - he said although we are all quite pissed off with labour re the war etc we are not quite as moved to make a radical decision to vote conservative again - particularly when the thatcher years are still very fresh in folks memories

up here in scotland i think it will be a cold day in hell before the tories get a majority vote again but i do suppose we have better choices such as the scottish socialists and the lib dems