With less than two weeks before polling day, the Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists has two priorities: to get out on the streets and doorsteps, and to do a last trawl for activists who will sign the SCSTF statement and support the campaign, even if only on the scale of distributing some SCSTF broadsheets in their workplace or trade-union branch.
SCSTF supporters have been out on the streets in London, Sheffield, Leeds, and other cities, with stalls advertising the presence of campaigners who support a Labour vote but are also organising a force to put pressure on the Labour Party and intervene in the labour movement from the left.
We use the posters, broadsheets, and leaflets available from the SCSTF website, the trade-union petition against the cuts (also available from that website), and megaphones to attract attention.
A new factor in the last week has been the number of people stopping to talk at the stalls who think of themselves as left-wing but are now inclined to vote Lib-Dem.
It isn't surprising, since in the TV debates the Lib-Dems have come across as more left-wing than Labour. But at the street stalls we tell them that:
- The Lib-Dems are for a ban on strikes and compulsory arbitration of disputes in the public services. The Tories are only toying with that idea.
- The "Orange Book", the manifesto of the Lib-Dem right-wing which now controls the Lib-Dem leadership in the persons of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, calls for scrapping the National Health Service and replacing it by "social insurance" on the model of many European countries and of Australia - a much more "market-oriented" system, and one where erosion of the principle of health care as a free public service is much easier and quicker.
- The Lib-Dems initially opposed the National Minimum Wage.
- The Lib-Dems cite Canada's Liberal government of 1993-8 - the nearest equivalent in Canadian history to Thatcherism - as their model of how to deal with a budget crisis.
- A Labour vote can be linked to a fight in the unions, and to some degree even in the local Labour Parties, to rally the labour movement for working-class policies and against the leaders. There is no such social base in the Lib-Dems.
Campaigners in Sheffield report a worrying number of Afro-Caribbean voters there saying they will vote BNP out of hostility to East European migrants. The arguments explained in SCSTF's anti-BNP leaflet are vital here. Unlike most other anti-BNP leaflets, it takes up the media lies and prejudice about immigration. There are also people who stop at SCSTF stalls for the opposite reason: that they are glad to find someone, at last, speaking out publicly for migrant rights.
SCSTF activists round the country are now planning meetings for after 6 May. Combatting the cuts, pursuing the Labour leaders' promise of a comprehensive review of the entire anti-democratic structure imposed on Labour by Blair in 1997, campaigning against the anti-union laws, and maybe arguing against Lib-Lab coalition, are already obvious items for the agendas of those meetings.
The London SCSTF meeting is organised as a follow-on from a conference on 15 May initiated by the Labour Representation Committee and co-sponsored by SCSTF, and some after-6-May meetings in other cities will be jointly organised with, or have speakers from, local LRC groups.
Check out the details at http://bit.ly/scstf.