Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/299/13863
Elections 1 May 2003: Build The Socialist Alternative
NEW LABOUR suffered their worst result for 24 years in the local elections of 1 May. Most people just didn't bother to vote, fed up with all the main political parties.
In Coventry, Socialist Party councillor Karen McKay was re-elected with an increased majority over New Labour.
Her victory, like those from the Scottish Socialist Party in elections to the Scottish Parliament, shows that it is possible to offer a fighting socialist alternative to the pro-big business policies of the establishment parties - and win.
Karen told the socialist:
"People in St Michael's had no faith in the Labour council, named fourth worst in the country by the government's own audit team. Millions are spent on projects such as lighting up the council house or for a 'millennium clock' (still nowhere near completion), yet vital social services, road repairs, and investment in local areas are all underfunded and inadequate.
There is a strong anti-Labour mood as many now see it as a second Tory party. But that doesn't mean people automatically come to us. The whole party works hard to win our support - we knock every door at least twice, as well as leafleting, stalls and public meetings.
Among those most active in the community, those who are politically aware, we have built up a loyal base of support over the years as we have proved we will fight for people locally, as well as on the big issues against privatisation and cuts in services.
We want to build on the support we have across the city. We need to work in other areas to develop groups in these communities. We intend to build the party and draw in the wider layers of support we have.
The council is no longer a majority Labour council and the role that the three socialist councillors will play there will be more interesting. We will continue to fight Labour's moves towards two-tier public services and privatisation and we aim to build on our links with the trade unions."
If you've had enough of New Labour's anti-working class policies, join us in the Socialist Party and help build a fighting socialist alternative - locally, nationally and internationally.
Socialist Sees Off The Two Tory Parties
In addition to Karen McKay's excellent victory in Coventry St Michaels reported below, we scored some very good votes elsewhere.
Socialist Party results in England and Wales
Thirty-one Socialist Party candidates received 7,814 votes in the local elections in England and Wales.
Socialist Party councillor Karen McKay, one of three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry, retained her seat with 1,185 votes, doubling her majority and winning 48.4% of the vote.
Pete Glover in Netherton and Orrell (Sefton) got 672 votes, 34% of the vote.
A number of the other candidates improved their percentage results compared to the previous occasions they had stood. Seven candidates got over 10% of the vote.
357 votes (15.5%)
Newcastle West City
78 votes (5%)
Stockton on Tees
87 votes (5.5% )
165 votes (5%)
241 votes (8.2%)
149 votes (6%)
234 votes (8.7%)
73 votes (4%)
Netherton and Orrell
672 votes (34%)
113 votes (2.01%)
Worcester All Saints
220 votes (16%)
Malvern Link, Worcester
141 votes (8.7%)
Councillor Karen Mackay
1,185 votes (48.4%)
348 votes (12.2%)
253 votes (7.6%)
253 votes (7.6%)
218 votes (7.6%)
230 votes (6.8%)
262 votes (10.2%)
345 votes (11.7%)
125 votes (5%)
112 votes (4.8%)
60 votes (1.89%)
98 votes (6.5%)
Wales Assembly Aberafan
608 votes (3.2%)
Wales Assembly: Cardiff South and Penarth
585 votes (2.9%)
Wales: for constituency election votes see www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/299/13864/10-05-2003/bootle-and-wales-new-labours-lies-and-dirty-tricks
Pete Glover increased his percentage of the vote in Netherton and Orrell despite a scurrilous Labour Party campaign (see article below). Rob Menzies secured 16% standing for the first time in Worcester All Saints.
COVENTRY SOCIALISTS are celebrating another great win with Karen McKay being re-elected as a councillor in St Michaels Ward with her majority doubled! We also managed to maintain an overall support of 14% in the seven wards we contested.
Dave Griffiths, Coventry
Holding St Michaels and increasing the majority, was no mean achievement. Every year there is a significant population turnover and therefore changing electorate. There is also a significant electoral 'depopulation', with the expansion of Coventry university's student population and an influx of asylum seekers.
The latter two factors, when added to the background of council cuts and declining services, has led to a layer of cynicism.
New Labour tried to exploit this cynicism in a dirty fashion. They blamed local ("Militant Socialist") councillors for the council's failure to provide services. Leaflets included pictures of burning cars attacked by rioters with the clear implication that this was approved by socialists who were more interested in Iraq and 'others'.
Before the invasion of Iraq, and in the course of the firefighters' dispute, a strong mood had developed in Coventry of New Labour being Tories.
The war blunted, or confused this picture and, certainly in Coventry, an anti-war position - as we expected - was no electoral advantage, rather broadly neutral. However, as a party we have made advances around this issue.
It is clear whose criticism hits Labour hardest. While they lost five seats elsewhere in Coventry, they still had big teams out in St Michaels. (Not that Suits with mobiles is the best advert!)
But the result shows the trust Karen and the Socialist Party have built up in the area. We are an itch Labour still cannot scratch! Against New Labour's cynicism, enough people care enough, and hope to improve their local area and city, that they increased the Socialist majority.
Coventry Socialists are proud of this and we intend to redouble our efforts to spread support city-wide. Over 70 people worked in our campaign, many people look likely to join us, (some already have) and many others have asked us to stand in their area, with an offer to put our leaflets out for us.
Coventry council is now under "No overall Control", with the three Socialists (still called "others" by the BBC/Press!) holding the balance. The Tories explained to the Coventry Evening Telegraph, they did not believe they could do a long term deal with the Socialists (!) and of course the New Labour leadership would find it anathema. But the two Tory parties won't find it so easy to get their way in the next year.
Finally, the night presented a warning with a big vote for the BNP in the ward they contested. This stressed the urgency of establishing a socialist alternative across the city - and nationally - in the face of worsening conditions for working-class people.
In The Socialist 10 May 2003: