Friday, December 14, 2007

Brian Haw for London Mayor?

There seems to be a mini rumour flying round that Brian Haw, long standing peace campaigner and camping enthusiast, is going to stand for London Mayor.

I've found evidence of this rumour at the usually reliable jangliss, the often unreliable wikipedia (uncited) and a discussion on whether this would be a good idea on indymedia. Now, it could be these sources are well ahead of the game - if so kudos goes to them for the scoop - but I'm unconvinced.

There's no mention about this on his supporters' website or his facebook group, or any news source that I can find. I wonder how such rumours arise... wishful thinking perhaps?

Whatever the truth of the matter it would be a sad, bad move on Brian's part if he were to do so. Firstly Brian stood for Parliament in 2005, when arguably the war was a hotter issue and more central to how people chose to cast their vote, and he got 298 votes, which is 0.8%. Not exactly impressive. There's no reason to think that Brian can be the center of a larger, better organised, more vibrant campaign this time around that covers the entirety of London rather than just a single Parliamentary constituency.

Now I've supported candidates who got less than one percent of the vote before - but I never came out of those campaigns thinking it was an entirely worthwhile experience worth repeating time and again. One problem is that if Brian stood (which I don't think he will) and gets a dismal vote it allows the right to say "look, less than one percent of the population are opposed to the war, far less than voted for any of the pro-war parties." I don't think we should hand them that opportunity frankly.

The other core problem is that whilst I would be in favour of a unified progressive left candidate Brian could not be it. In fact what he would be doing is asking everyone who is part of the diverse anti-occupation movement who is also a member of a political party to vote against their own candidate. In effect to make a choice between supporting their party and voting against the war. This is made particularly divisive when their party candidate is part of the anti-war movement themselves (like Lindsey German or Sian Berry who will both be candidates).

These other anti-war candidates have a ready made base of support and, by and large, know what they're doing in the electoral field, I'd suggest that instead of trying to win a few votes/activists away from these campaigns people should join one of them if they want to bolster the anti-war vote. I'd also say that voting for one of those candidates would be a statement for something greater than simply for troops to withdraw slightly faster than the British government currently plans - it would be a vote for a more rounded, progressive platform.

If Brian stood it would simply be another vanity candidacy that put his personal ambitions above that of the movement of which he is a part - without proper consultation or accountability for those actions. I hope that he would put such considerations aside for the benefit of those who respect his tenacity without wishing to be part of building some weird cult of the personality. In my opinion we need to have a few less celebrities in favour of a more political politics.

If people do spot any more news on this "story" please do let me know.


Chris Hyland said...

I don't think he'll stand, the only way he could possibly have any decent level of support is if Lindsey and/or Sian stood down in favour of him, which won't happen. I suspect this rumour started through Chinese Whispers from someone saying 'wouldn't it be great if he was a candidate!'. The other option of course would be that he is actually the Respect Renewal candidate. That would be pretty interesting/amusing.

John Angliss said...

"UPDATE: Apologies to JimJay for not providing my sources (which aren't definitive) -

On Facebook there is a profile called "Brian Haw London Mayor" which is adding lots of people (including me) and which prominently carries the message
"Brian is a candidate for London Mayor 2008
add him as a friend and show your support.
Better still join the campaign and help clean up politics and stop the genocide.
Volunteers urgently needed."

There is also a corresponding Facebook group called "Brian Haw for London Mayor" which makes the same claim, so either someone is having a laugh or it's true. It's not on his official site, which I didn't check, but that site hasn't been updated for 10 days. Either way, I'm sure we'll find out the truth soon."

Jim Jay said...

Thanks for this John.

I think it's wishful thinking on someone's part to be honest - but even if it isn't I think it's a real problem.

Brian would get a very low vote and potentially split activists off from more serious progressive candidates - which I think would be a shame.

I also think that Labour members could do worse than supporting thier candidate, although I'm pleased I don't have to.

The advantage of elections is that you get an actual number at the end of it to say how popular you really are - I don't think Haw's supporters are really prepared for that.

Anonymous said...

Although I don't live in London, I would love to have the opportunity to vote for somone one like Brian Haw as opposes to the cretins usually on offer from the main political parties.

You may poo poo the idea, but it should be noticed that Brian Haw won the Channel 4 Political Award last year from a vote of the public by a landslide. This really would be a blood nose for New Labour and also the Tories if Brian Haw were to become Mayor of London, and the only way this can happen is if he stands and the people of London have the good sense to make it happen. Please don't be so defeatist and support Brian Haw.

Jim Jay said...

I think you nmeed to bear in mind that channel four select a small number of people to vote for and brian was the leftist - it doesn't mean much more than that.

I think you need to think about whether people may vote one way in a phone poll for an award that doesn't matter and another for who runs the services in their city.

Brian has stood for election before and got less than 1% - he is not as popular at the ballot box as some people suppose.

He can't win, but he can split the anti-war vote and reduce the campaigns of the two anti-war candidates who are likely to get a respectable vote.

Anyway, it isn't going to happen.

Andy Newman said...

Lindsey German will be a candidate?


Clean up politics said...

Brian Haw for London Mayor
join now or donate click to donate

Jim Jay said...

clean up politics:

either this is one of the most incompetantly launched campaigns ever with no news reporting of this whatsoever (apart from the spam press release site you link to) or it's not happening and you're promoting something that is not so... for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Think someone is taking Brian, or his name at least for a ride...