Minuscule vote for
By Greg Adler
Socialist Alliance in Marrickville
The Socialist Alliance received another minuscule vote at the
Marrickville by-election on September 17, 2005.
The Alliance now operates, with the possible exception of some areas in
Melbourne, as a virtual subsidiary of the Democratic Socialist
Perspective. That fact was underlined by the way in which the decision
to contest the by-election was taken.
At a specially convened meeting of the Marrickville branch of the SA an
unusually large number of DSP members fronted up to firstly steamroller
through a vote that the branch should indeed run a candidate and then
to decide that the most tempting of candidates for the good voters of
Marrickville would be a full-time functionary of the DSP rather than a
teacher, even though the Labor candidate was Education Minister.
The voters proved able to resist this temptation in their tens of
thousands and in fact almost twice as many voted informal as voted SA.
So far little has been offered from the DSP by way of analysis of the
Super-loyal DSPer Nick Fredman has contributed
a piece to the Green Left discussion list prompted by a somewhat
cheeky observation by Marcus Strom that the SA's vote of 1.58 per
cent in possibly the most left electorate in the state was
It is worth reading this piece to get the authentic voice of the DSP
and its abiding contempt of those who once thought that the SA offered
a real opportunity to build unity amongs the left and find a way to
connect with the working class through that.
With what would be a totally bizarre refusal to recognse reality unless
you realise that this is the way the DSP deals with that inconvenience,
Fredman attributes the perspective of "an independent electoral front"
to "a small minority in Socialist Alliance comprised mostly of ISO
members". To give him his due Fredman , who resides far from
Marrickville, may not have been aware of the DSP branch stack that led
to the standing of a candidate, but the identity of that
candidate was a pretty good clue that it wasn't the ISO pushing
the electoral wheelbarrow this time around.
The bulk of Fredman's piece, when he is not shooting gratuitous barbs
at non-DSPers, is spent justifying the running of candidates as a way
of the SA gaining support and respect in the union movement and the
antiwar movement and the gay and lesbian movementt. This is an extended
fantasy that is common to the ears of those of us who have been in the
SA with the DSP. We are constantly told what a leading force the SA (or
at least the DSP part of it) is in all sorts of struggles.
This sort of stuff is undoubtedly believed by Fredman and his DSP
comrades, otherwise as he says, to continue getting tiny votes would be
I am quite sympathetic to Fredman on this. I well remember many years
ago when I was a super-loyal member of the Socialist Labour League I
had the rather difficult experience of explaining to a group of dour
leading Baath Party members in Baghdad why Vanessa Redgrave had
recently suffered an embarrassingly small vote standing for the Workers
Revolutionary Party. If memory serves me well, it was something like
It was pretty obvious from the general tenor of theconversation I was
having with the Baathists that they had been led to believe that the
WRP would perform at a considerably higher level than that. I did the
best I could in the face of the concrete evidence of the lack of
political strength of the WRP.
What I said to the incredulous group was — to the best of my memory:
"Yes it was a low vote but you have to remember that they were very
class-conscious votes." So I can understand how Nick and other loyal
DSPers are able to convince themselves that all these unionists,
antiwar people and gay and lesbian folk full of respect for the SA only
amount to around 500 or so in the Marrickville electorate.
What I can't understand, be sympathetic towareds, or forgive, is
that the DSP has undermined any possibility of the SA developing as a
real independent political force in favour of carrying out its
increasingly sect-like activities, such as this most recent electoral
adventure, thus diminishing any real respect or support for socialism
among unionists or progressive forces.
That is something that the non-DSPers within the SA will have to come
to grips with in the near future and determine how to now proceed on a