|Here until May 23rd|
On Wednesday evening it was confirmed via their Facebook page that the elusive People Before Profit Party is to stand a single candidate in the new Foyleside ward of the city in the forthcoming council election. Having an insight into the workings of this organisation I am aware that the People Before Profit project originated from the ashes of the failed Socialist Environmental Alliance (S.E.A.) with both parties being Socialist Workers Party projects. This was obvious last election time when three out of their four candidates in Derry were members of the Socialist Workers Party.
|The pervious incarnation the SEA led by the SWP|
The statement released on Wednesday from People Before Profit three years after their last statement described their candidate as “Super-activist Shá Gillespie” and listed a number of things that Sha Gillespie has either been associated with, been supportive of or been an active supporter of.
Sha would seem to appear to be active on a number of issues but more so as an individual involved in various campaigns rather than a representative of a political party, in a similar way when Eamonn McCann appears on current affairs programmes on TV he does so as a political commentator and not a member of People Before Profit. I have no wish to be dismissive of Sha or anyone, and this is not my intention, for I would argue politics needs more women like Sha, who will stand up, but I would argue that independence would be a better stance. However the question being asked by many is what the Derry branch of People Before Profit as part of an all Ireland Organisation have done here in Derry since the last election? A quick glance at the People Before Profit website shows that the Derry page hasn't been updated since May 7th 2011.
Now before someone comes back saying something ludicrous such as they have been active but not together, please remember that they are registered as a political party and the electoral promises made last time were made under the People Before Profit banner and not any of the other acronyms they are involved with in one capacity or another.
I should make it clear that I respect the right of anyone to stand in a democratic election. I would however hope that the candidate going forward is honest about his or her stance and the platform they stand on. I also believe that when there is a chance for change those who want change should look strategically at the best way of achieving this change, even if this means putting an outside candidate before their party.
In the ward where Sha Gillespie will stand there already is an independent candidate, one endorsed by the local community, a candidate who has been on the ground consistently engaging with the community, a candidate who I feel has been more than competently highlighting and addressing the issues faced by people in our communities on a regular basis, not just at election time.
When I cast my vote this election time I will be looking at the track record of the candidate and asking myself what they have done to warrant giving them my vote. Too many people gave too much just to flutter a vote away on people who are merely around for elections and offer nothing outside of election time. And what I see from some of the independent candidates standing this time is that their standing for election is a natural progression of the work they have been doing within the communities they are standing in. Their stance will bolster their grass roots work, putting people before parties and agendas.
Here in the north we have a voting system known as proportional representation, a system described by comedian Jake O'Kane as a “a complex mathematical formula designed to ensure the largest number of undesirables possible get elected.”
This complex formula makes it the more difficult for alternative candidates to get elected as the mainstream party supporters generally award transfer votes to other party members. I became aware of this having stood as an independent candidate in the last election. From what I learned at that time I believe the logical way forward in terms of electoral success and positive change is for one candidate to stand in each ward as an alternative to the political parties, parties who have done so little for this city, but claim so much.
|So young & foolish!|
Having had experience of People Before Profit I am aware that outside of election times and occasional random stand alone events in Derry they are defunct. If I am honest I at one stage thought People Before Profit was a viable alternative, so much so I spoke on the platform at their 2010 Westminster Election Launch. At that event I encouraged people to join what I believed to be a vehicle for change as opposed to an SWP election vehicle. Those in the audience with an inkling of what was actually going on must have thought what an absolute prat!“I first got into politics in November 2004 when I was involved in the S.E.A. campaign against water charges. I stood in the election to oppose water charges but after the election the S.E.A. disappeared.”
Personally I prefer independent candidates as no matter how honest, decent and genuine a person is a party candidate will have to toe the party line even if this line is disconnected from one election to the next!
I do remember a song I heard at one time, and the lyrics would be very relevant at election time
Liars, Liars at your door,
Chalking up the votes, keeping score,
With the same old lines we've heard before...
So put people before parties and their agendas!!!