Manchester Central in the General Election

Ian Parker on the candidates perhaps worth voting for


Manchester Central gave Lucy Powell, standing for the Labour and Co-operative Party, 70% of the vote in the 2019 election, and, with nearly 30,000 votes, this a super-safe seat. Lucy Powell was actively opposed to Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, and will, no doubt, be an obedient loyal minister in a Starmer government. The Tories came second last time round with around 15%, followed by the Lib Dems on 6.5%. Trailing behind were the Brexit Party, and then the Green Party, and then the crank 107 votes went to the Socialist Equality Party.

The Green Party

As well as the Tories, Reform Party, the toxic populist Workers Party of Britain, and the Liberal Democrats, there are two “independents” standing this time. And there is Ekua Bayunu standing for the Green Party. This is a tricky decision for the left, for Ekua is a good comrade, active as a Labour Party councillor before she defected to the Greens following some undoubtedly racist activity against her by the local party. She has been active in radical refugee support politics, and has been part of local initiatives to build a political link with practical work around refugees and asylum seekers.

Ekua pretty well held together an ill-fated attempt to bring together left groups around refugee politics, an initiative scuppered by the sectarian interventions of the Revolutionary Communist Group – Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism. Ekua has also been part of public meetings that have put Gaza on the agenda, including for and by the local Green Party. She deserves a good vote, and while she will not turf out Lucy Powell, a vote for Ekua would send a signal that there is opposition to Starmer’s silence about genocide, and opposition Starmer’s “economic growth” at the expense of the environment agenda.

Communist Future

This is a hard choice because there is another good alternative, Cat Rylance standing for Communist Future. Communist Future have had to move fast, originally planning to stand in a number of Manchester constituencies, they have now pared down their ambitions to Manchester Central. Cat, who has been active in other revolutionary campaigns and groups, is a wise choice. She spoke at the launch of the Communist Future election campaign in north Manchester at the end of May.

It was, it has to be said, a rather weird radical café basement event, and seemed to be designed to forge a link between ex-members of the Communist Party of Great Britain Provisional Central Committee (CPGB-PCC) and some artists who had designed a special new font for the manifesto, the website and the campaign literature. To be fair, these comrades have learnt from their bruising experience with top-down “democratic centralist” politics over a decade ago, and, after some apparent promises of funding from the CPGB-PCC, no money has been given by them to this campaign (and rumours are that this is because that group is internally divided and dwindling).

Cat gave a good speech about building an inclusive alternative while one of the other activists inserted a good additional page on Palestine into the manifesto booklet. Then the artists talked about how much they were inspired by the work of Mark Fisher, a good sign, and the importance of design to radical politics. After that we were subjected to a recording of the whole manifesto being read out with trippy music backing. But, look, no one, no group is perfect, and we have some tough times ahead so we’ve got to find a way to do things differently. It was a good try, and they are good activists.

Anti-Capitalist Resistance comrades in Manchester have already given money to the Communist Future election campaign, and we believe that a vote for Cat Rylance will make public a desire for a real alternative. The vote will be small, let’s be honest, very small, and a more sizeable protest vote will, we hope, go to Ekua Bayunu. But a real alternative which is also an alternative to the kind of electoral politics that the mainstream parties devote their time to is an urgent necessity, and will be so following the election. We need to build resistance to a Starmer Labour government now, and working with Communist Future will be part of that.

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Ian Parker is a Manchester-based psychoanalyst and a member of Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

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