By Colin Foster
Thursday 10 June will be a big election day, but, unfortunately, one with a small socialist presence. Seventy-eight Euro-MPs will be elected, by proportional representation in each of 12 giant regions.
The regions vary in size from three Euro-MPs to 10.
In London, the mayor and 25 members of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) will be elected.
For mayor, voters can cast first- and second-choice votes, and the second-choice transfers will count if no candidate gets an outright majority of first choices.
For the Assembly, electors have both a constituency vote (for Assembly members elected first-past-the-post from 14 constituencies), and a "list" vote (for another 11 top-up seats, allocated to provide proportional representation).
Four thousand eight hundred of England's 20,000 local council seats are being contested, and all of Wales's 1,200 council seats. The council elections are first-past-the-post.
In last year's local government elections, the Socialist Alliance ran 161 candidates and the Socialist Party 31. The Scottish Socialist Party contested the Scottish Parliamentary elections almost everywhere, winning six seats.
One year on, discontent in the trade unions and in the working class with the Blair government has increased. Blair has responded by steaming straight ahead with privatisation, top-up fees, and foundation hospitals. There is an even stronger case in these elections for candidates who will speak up openly, boldly, and consistently for the working class, for socialism and for the Iraqi working class and democrats against both Bush and Blair and the Islamist and Ba'thist forces in Iraq.
Unfortunately the Socialist Alliance has been liquidated by its dominant faction, the SWP, into George Galloway's Respect coalition.
A number of Socialist Alliance groups have defied the liquidation and will stand socialist candidates on 10 June. Two supporters of Solidarity will stand on the "Democratic Socialist Alliance - People before Profit" ticket: Alison Brown in Burngreave, Sheffield, and Daniel Murphy in Chorlton, Manchester.
Other "Democratic Socialist Alliance" or independent socialist candidates will be standing in Merseyside, Birmingham, Exeter and Stockport. The Alliance for Green Socialism is contesting nine wards in Leeds and the Yorkshire-Humberside Euro-region. The Socialist Party is running a number of council candidates, including at least 12 in Coventry, where it already has three councillors.
The Scottish Socialist Party is contesting the Scottish Euro-region.
We urge our readers to support those socialist candidates, both by activity and financially.
Where the socialist forces are too weak to run candidates, we urge readers to vote Labour.
We explain elsewhere in this paper why we do not support George Galloway. Obviously we do not support Tony Blair, either.
The Labour Party, however, is still a lot more than a personality vehicle for Tony Blair. Most of the big trade unions are affiliated to it. It is still possible, though much more difficult than in the past, for the rank and file of the unions to use Labour Party structures to voice their political demands.
Some trade unions - the Communication Workers' Union, the Fire Brigades Union, and the RMT rail union - are now joining with Labour left-wingers to launch a Labour Representation Committee to reassert the principle of "political representation [for] working people, their families, and communities".
Voting Labour should be combined with building the LRC to fight Blair and Brown.
The case for voting Labour, rather than abstaining in disgust, is strengthened by the presence of the fascist British National Party in the elections.
The largest possible turnout against the BNP should be combined with the strongest possible pressure for the working-class and socialist politics that are needed to undercut the fascists.