The passing politicians’ show – Somerset and Frome: A socialist elector writes
This by-election in Somerton & Frome was triggered by the resignation of the Conservative MP (David Warburton) over allegations he took cocaine (which he at first denied, then later confessed) and sexually harassed a number of women (which he still denies). This is an almost pointless election because the constituency is to be abolished at next year’s general election.
There were 8 candidates to be Somerton & Frome’s final MP. Below are some of their election promises and what I, as socialist elector in the constituency, make of them:
Sarah Dyke (Liberal Democrats) There’s not much to write about this one. She blames the cost of living crisis and the NHS crisis on the Conservative government, not the capitalist system. Didn’t they make massive cuts to the welfare state during the Conservative/LibDem coalition government? Despite this she got elected.
Faye Purbrick (Conservatives) Again, there’s not much to write. There’s just the usual phony promises about: securing more investment in transport and better broadband; protecting ‘our’ green spaces; building more ‘affordable homes’; etc., etc.
Bruce Evans (Reform UK) This is a great party to vote for, if you think the Conservatives are too left wing! They want to: lower taxes; ‘utilise the UK’s fossil fuel supplies’; ‘end the costly Net-Zero plans [what Net-Zero plans?] that make our (!) economy uncompetitive’; ‘oppose a cashless society and central bank digital currency’; and ‘implement a voucher scheme to provide timely healthcare treatment and eliminate waiting lists [that sounds an awful lot like NHS privatisation]’.
Peter Richardson (UKIP) Basically the same as Reform UK.
Neil Guild (Labour) Starmer must be doing a great job of purging Labour of the Left, because the candidate here for the last two elections was a leftist, but they now have a rightist. Of the usual vague promises on his election leaflet, two contradict each other: ‘Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7,’ and ‘Make Britain a clean energy superpower to create jobs’. He is also a trade union official (though it’s not clear which union), which goes to show you can’t necessarily trust trade union officials.
Lorna Corke (Christian People’s Alliance) This is a conservative Christian party that are for ‘promoting different points of view in schools’, which they feel has been abandoned by ‘new age liberalism’ which they define as ‘promotion of LGBT and the sexualisation of young children’. They have a novel policy on ending corporate tax avoidance, which is to: ‘introduce a turnover tax (5 percent initially), which is a seller’s VAT’. Two ways they want to use the ‘£40.5 billion’ raised from this tax is to: ‘support marriage and the family with significant grants’, and ‘guarantee everyone sleeping rough a night shelter and free meal’. How generous of them to want make the lives of homeless people slightly less horrible (instead of getting rid of the system that causes homelessness)!
Rosie Mitchell (independent socialist) A member of the Labour Left from 2016-2020, so at least her vague promises on improving society are sincere. She says she is committed to: ‘a fairer, less profit driven system that works for society and for the planet’. Which makes me wonder how socialism went from meaning ‘a classless, stateless, moneyless global community of common ownership and democratic control of the Earth’s natural and industrial resources, where people live by the principle of: from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’ to ‘a less profit driven system’. She got 635 votes.
Martin Dimery (Green Party) Firstly, I personally knew Martin from my time in the Green Party (before becoming class conscious). The Greens are by far the most reformist party, so their policies deserve more attention than the others. They want to:
- Quickly process refugee applications in France (as is permitted). Nothing wrong with that. Although, what to do with refugees isn’t the problem. The problem is that world capitalism causes people to become refugees.
- Build more affordable and council housing, using environmentally sustainable methods. Homelessness will always be an issue as long as homes are built for profit instead of solely for use. Case in point: the homelessness charity Shelter was set-up in the 1960s when there was a lot more council housing than today. Also, where is the money going to come from to make these homes ‘environmentally sustainable’?
- Create local not-for-profit banks, that will [apparently] re-generate town centres. This goes to show they don’t understand how banks work, or that town centres face a lot of competition from cheaper online retailers.
- Nationalise ‘our’ water and energy companies, who have seen bills go up and standards go down. Firstly, nationalisation won’t end the energy crisis. Secondly, it would be much easier to regulate the water companies, forcing them to spend part of their profits to responsibly dispose of sewage (instead of using tax money to do that, which would eat into the profits of the UK’s capitalist class as a whole).
- Re-join the European Single Market and Customs Union because [apparently] ‘our’ industries and agriculture have suffered enough. Why don’t they just call a spade a spade and say they want to re-join the EU?
To be fair, they do say where they would get the money from. They would:
- Introduce a “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions. Please read this excellent article on what’s wrong with that: (tinyurl.com/3jceepek)
- Reduce loopholes to stop the super-rich from avoiding paying taxes. They don’t say how they would do this; perhaps they should copy the Christian People’s Alliance’s policy.
- Generate bigger windfall taxes from the oil companies. If the oil industry aren’t making higher than usual profits, how can they windfall tax them? This shows that they don’t mind the oil industry making profits, as long as they pay high taxes.
None of them got my vote. I wrote ‘Socialist Party of Great Britain. One World –One People’ on my ballot paper.
The sources for this article were the election leaflets and this piece from the Frome Times (tinyurl.com/2s4jmby5).