Manchester Rusholme in the General Election

Ian Parker on the candidates perhaps worth voting for


Manchester Rusholme is a new constituency where Afzal Khan will probably walk it for the Labour Party after his Manchester Gorton safe-place was abolished in boundary changes. Actually, this new seat for him has a past history as a very old constituency which was represented by Tories, then Liberals and then Labour and then, briefly, by a “Labour Independent Group” that broke to the left from the Labour Party and held the seat until the constituency was abolished in 1950.

Afzal Khan got in on a thumping 30,000 plus majority in Gorton, over 77% of the vote, so this is also a pretty rock-solid seat. He has played it safe with his constituents on Gaza, and made some fairly reasonable comments about Palestine, stopping short of actually doing anything to name it or oppose it as genocide. Despite this, he has the endorsement of “Muslimvote,” and so we need to make the most of a voice for opposition to Starmer, only a voice here. This is one of the few seats where the Liberal Democrats are not standing – incompetence in the candidate registration process, it seems – and another “independent” candidate who is running on a liberal meh programme hasn’t got anyone putting in money on his crowdfunder page to date.

Communist League

There is a Conservative candidate who stands no chance, and a Reform candidate who will probably be pleased enough to outpace the Tories. Then, a real outsider joke candidate, sadly because he was once a good comrade, is Pete Clifford standing for the Communist League. Pete’s task will be to warn the voters about what the Communist League like to call, in a practically trade-marked phrase, “Jew hatred,” aka, in their book, criticism of Israel.

Pete will no doubt be flogging copies of The Militant newspaper produced by their US masters, and describing how he stood with the Zionist right-wing display of solidarity with the Israeli state in their recent Manchester demonstration. Recent Zionist counter-demonstrations against Palestine solidarity marches here have, surprise surprise, flaunted Israeli flags, Union Jacks and Iranian monarchist regalia. To laud the Israeli state is really dangerous at a time when so many parts of the world are creeping towards fascism. There are forms of fascism in Israel that have their seedbed historically in Zionist settler-colonialism, and there are forms of fascism in Britain, of which the authoritarian populist “Workers Party” with its own red white and blue quasi-RAF symbol is one instance. They mirror each other.

A lesson of history is that fascism comes from disappointed and desperate reaction to the failure of the left to present an alternative, and it indulges, instead, in patriotic appeals to family and nation. The kind of appeals that George Galloway and his gang make in Britain steer ex-leftists to the right. The Communist League feeds that kind of reaction; it does not, with its weird attachment to Israel, challenge it. It is not an alternative, but part of the problem.

Green Party

Also sadly, there has not been a peep about Gaza from the Green Party candidate Thirza Asanga-Rae, who proclaims on her Twitter page “’I am that I am’, I can, because I am a woman of culture, strength [sic], integrity, love, peace & willing to speak for all, in the name of humanity & unity.” This is not good enough, even if this is just a paper candidate. For some on the left it will be the least worst option.

This poses a real problem for the left in Manchester Rusholme who want to register a public vote of protest both against the Tories and against Starmerite silence about genocide in Gaza. Perhaps a vote for the Greens is an option, that would be a symbolic vote for an alternative. Here in Manchester Rusholme, though, another option may be to keep away from the ballot box altogether in order to make clear disaffection with what is on offer. Or, better, you could make your thoughts clear in a cathartic venting of rage against parliamentary elections on what will then count as a spoilt ballot.

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

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