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Is the left thinking about next year’s Euros?

On the 22nd of May next year (2014) the European elections across Europe will be likely to deliver shock waves to the austerity agenda. Or at the very least give it a shot across the bows.

votingWhile the results from Spain, Greece, and Italy will be the most eye-catching the British left will almost certainly decide, at the last minute, to run a hodge-podge of conflicting slates that no one has ever heard of. Is this the best approach?

Certainly last time (2009) the ill fated No2EU failed to inspire for a host of reasons, not least because they were out-polled by the mysterious and secretive Socialist Labour Party, let alone the more mainstream outfits.

 

Failed to prepare? Prepare to fail

This last-minutism is certainly a product of the failure of the left to build a stable electoral coalition but also a, not unconnected, amateurism that thinks you simply stand in elections without taking them seriously, doing them properly or really giving it much thought.

All the parties who intend to be elected next year have already selected their candidates, have some sort of strategy in place and the odd spending xl spreadsheet knocking about containing “the plan”.

So, it’ll be no use approaching the Greens to stand joint slates and then complaining that they just look at you strangely – the time for those kinds of negotiations has long passed. The decision will be to either stand against the Green lists or not to stand at all, both of which have merit.

The situation in Scotland is slightly different in that the Scottish Socialist Party will almost certainly stand, and there will almost certainly be one, two, perhaps even three other left slates to choose from – that’s a problem of a different order.

 

Democracy takes a little time and effort

To cover basic aspects like democratic selection processes and agree a joint approach with even a small number of different players you need to take a little time to do it properly. Next year is too late to start thinking about it.

Aside from internal nuts and bolts, like getting common agreement and how to create an ad hoc process that at least feels a little democratic to would be activists and supporters, there are also bigger questions that would need thrashing out. For example;

  • In the context of a European crisis and a belligerent ukip how much should a left campaign actually focus on Europe?
  • Where, if anywhere, is it possible for the left to win a seat and what would a national targeting strategy look like?
  • How are those elections integrated with, for example, the local elections in London?
  • What are the key issues that the left thinks it can win? And how does it use these elections to influences the national political debate?
  • What is the left approach to the other parties standing? Concentrate on kicking the Coalition? Highlight the inadequacies of Labour’s “opposition”? Cooperate with the Greens? Ignore them? Bash them ruthlessly at every opportunity?

There are a whole number of ways these questions could be answered, but the experience of having them presented as a fait accompli from “above” shows that if you want enthusiastic activists that can deliver a simple and vote winning message in their area then you have to take them and it seriously.

Part of that is preparing in advance. The European elections and the General election the year after will only take people by surprise if they haven’t been paying attention, for years. There’s no real excuse for that.

2 Responses to Is the left thinking about next year’s Euros?

  1. james? says:

    i would actually argue if your taking these elections seriously with only twelve months left to go if you have not prepared a slate and selected candidates it would be best to sit them out entirely and maybe concentrate on the council elections at the same time and planning for 2015 instead.

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