There is to be a parliamentary by election in Lewisham East. It is a seat that has been vacated by Heidi Alexander who has decided to work for the London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The date for the By-election is 14th of June.
Anne Marie Waters of For Britain Party has announced her intention to contest the seat on the 12th of May and she said it seems almost poetic. It is the first by-election up for grabs since the party was recently formalised, after much to-ing and fro-ing with the electoral commission. It is also a constituency Ms Waters knows very well. She contested it for UKIP in 2015, coming third after Labour and Conservative beating both the Greens and The Liberal Democrats. She was also due to contest it again in 2017 but was deselected while Paul Nuttall was at the helm.
It is a very strong Labour seat. The shortlist of Labour candidates for the Lewisham East by-election in June is made up of only black and ethnic minority women. Either Janet Daby, Brenda Dacres, Sakina Sheikh or Claudia Webbe will be picked to run as the party’s candidate for the by-election on 14 June.
But with Labour in some kind of free fall after its recent anti-Semitism and Brexit internal divisions and the Conservatives also riven by in fighting, there is a possibility of For Britain actually getting a parliamentary seat! (Labour are also endorsed by the Lewisham Islamic Centre, making For Britain an obvious counter vote)
On the 14th May the UKIP announced David Kurten is to also contest the seat! UKIP are not the party they were under Nigel Farage, despite Gerard Batten being a good and articulate speaker there still more pressing problems with UKIP. Not least the public perception of them. There are the 100 or so seats they just lost in the locals, along with the series of leaders and interim leaders they have gone through recently. They have also narrowly avoided bankruptcy and are probably not ready to be taken seriously yet.
This seems to be a very good way of dividing the voting public who are becoming increasingly disenchanted with what the Lib/ Lab/ Con established parties have to offer.
We end up having a fragmentation and fractionalism that leaves everything atomised. Has anyone noticed that the left seem to ‘get things done’. Minor disagreements are put to one side, overcome. Perhaps they are not, but no body is really aware of them. The left have been doing this successfully since the 60’s. So successful in fact that they are now established in media, culture and even education.
We seem to fight each other, Lewisham East is an example of this. There is clearly a battle to be won and it cannot and will not be done from an atomised and diluted position.
Batten and UKIP on one side and Waters and For Britain on the other, need to realise they are allies. Imperfect allies but they are both on the same side of the political spectrum. The goal is, and must be, to win.
And what of the possible outcomes at Lewisham East? If Kurten wins, For Britain will be highlighted as an embryonic party that cannot cut it in modern political life. If Waters wins, UKIP will be shown as a still fractured party that has still not got over Farage deserting them.
And if Labour win, remember it is a safe seat for them, both will be humiliated and have to retreat to lick their wounds.
This counter movement, of opposition to the established left, is a young movement. Like a child, if it is to grow, to be a viable alternative to the established Lab/ Con parties, it must put away childish things. One of those things must be fighting among ourselves, where the only winner will be the opposition we are hoping to replace.