The results of last week's Ravenscliffe By-Election were.
Stephen Blair - Con - 229 (25.3 per cent)
Gill Burnett - Lab - 213 (23.6 per cent)
Sarah Barnes - BNP - 180 (20 per cent)
John Parsons - Lib Dem - 149 (16.5 per cent)
Geoff Locke - Ukip - 131 (14.5 per cent)
26.18 per cent turn-out (902 votes in total)
Even for a local by-election the poll was pretty low, so not too much can be judged by it. But, this was not a good ward for the BNP to stand in, and yet it came third. As can be seen if the BNP Light UKIP vote had gone to the BNP they would have won comfortably, though in reality the UKIP candidate who lives in the Ward is not your normal UKIP nutter, and he did warn against voting for the BNP.
Labour's showing was respectable given the position of Labour nationally, and the fact that Labour's campaign was pretty abysmal. The Tories were able to use the fact that they now control the Council, and have done a few cosmetic improvements in the area to get out enough votes to win. Its possible some Lib Dems voted tactically to make sure the BNP were kept out - the Tories were always likely to win - but given the low poll that seems unlikely to account ofr much of their poor showing. The BNP will no doubt see the result as encouraging for their further forays into Newcastle Borough as a logical extension of their strong posiiton in Stoke Council. Having won secure positions in the large Council estates in Stoke at Bentilee and meir, and other traditional working class areas they now look likely to expand into the deprived areas of Newcastle in Chesterton and Silverdale, where large former Council estates could provide them with further bases.
The result shows that what I said in my previous blog clearly applies. It is no longer enough to simply attack the BNP, certainly not to base activity on the idea that its just a matter of preventing a vote for the BNP. Its necessary to provide a positive alternative, and realistically that can only be the LP. The events of the last week have shown to me that also what I said previously has been proved to be correct. The idea of an anti-fascist organisation that seeks to defeat the BNP without itself developing a political alternative is very limited. There are two alternatives. Either an anti-fascist movement has to be one which is fairly homogenous, that is it must essentially be one made up of working class organisations which have at least some geenrally shared principles or else that anti-fascist organisation has to focus on a very limited set of objectives - in effect just mobilising to counter the BNP when and where it mobilises.
If the BNP are attacking a local ethnic community, I'm not bothered whether the bloke standing next to me opposing them is a rugby player from the local Conservative Club, or a philosopher from the Socialist Party, but if some propaganda is going out then I know in advance that I will have some common grounds with the SP comrade, but absolutely none with the Tory. But, in reality as expereicne has shown if a political alternative is to be presented to workers it has to be a credible alternative, and not the fantasy politics of the sectarian left. In reality it means that the political alternative to the BNP can only be channelled through the LP. That is not going to come through the current LP leadership, and, unfortunately, it is unlikely to come through many of the ordinary rank and file LP members in the branches. Its only Marxists who can put forward the interests of the movement tomorrow in the movement of today. The long balls aching job of plodding away day in day out, patiently explaining to those workers the solutions that need to be developed remains the main task of Marxists today.