Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/745/15799

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 December 2012

November by-elections: Building an anti-cuts alternative

Dave Nellist, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition chair, speaks to the Socialist

November was an unusual month. You can wait a long time for a byelection and then six come along in one month.

TUSC Against Cuts

TUSC Against Cuts

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coaltion (TUSC) contested three of the parliamentary byelections, getting 220 votes (1.3%) in Manchester Central, 277 (1.6%) in Middlesbrough and 281 (1.3%) in Rotherham. 1,412 (1.6%) votes were also obtained in the Bristol mayoral election, in which TUSC received some local media coverage.

Where there are many byelection candidates, with little serious media coverage for TUSC, and, as in Manchester, historic low turnouts, then TUSC votes at this stage are certainly not large enough to be challenging for seats. But that is not the only reason we are standing in elections.

A petition, even of tens of thousands of signatures, doesn't automatically lead to a government body or a council changing its mind.

Its real value is that it represents tens of thousands of conversations with people on why that issue was important.

In the same way, during the November election campaigns, thousands of conversations were held with people who, even if they didn't vote TUSC at this stage, at least now know that we exist and are trying to build an anti-austerity, anti-cuts electoral platform for working people

Respect

Respect did not materialise as a serious alternative, getting a lower vote than TUSC in Manchester, albeit with a higher vote than TUSC in Rotherham.

I was asked during November why TUSC and Respect were competing against each other. I made the point that we have written, over the summer, to Respect, but unfortunately were unable to get a reply to have a proper dialogue.

In any event, TUSC and Respect are not the same. TUSC aims to create a new independent voice rooted in the organisations and communities of the working class.

Respect has had breakthroughs, but only in certain selective areas, and does not pursue the work in the trade unions that TUSC does.

Building TUSC

The job is still to discuss with union and anti-austerity activists, the importance of building a genuine, independent political voice for people faced with three parties singing the same tune, albeit in slightly different keys.

TUSC's steering committee will be meeting mid-December to discuss the broader issues arising out of the November elections.

A TUSC trade union forum will be held in the New Year, at which the work done so far in discussing with activists in the RMT transport union, PCS civil service union, the Fire Brigades Union, the Prison Officers Association, the National Union of Teachers, the University and College Union and other unions not affiliated to Labour, can develop.

We will also continue to work with activists in Labour-affiliated unions such as Unite and Unison who are trying to break the link.

TUSC is looking to stand 400 candidates in the council elections of May 2013, which should enable it to get more serious media coverage, in particular from the BBC.


Ukip protest vote

The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) saw an increase in its share of the votes as a layer saw it as a means to protest against the three main parties.

Millionaire-backed Ukip can sound different to the Lib-Lab-Con-sensus but in truth it shares the same central aim: make the working and middle classes pay for capitalism's crisis.

Ukip was part of a small pro-cuts rally in May 2011. Its website states "the coalition's cuts do not scratch the surface of Labour's deficit" and calls for reduced tax for big business and the rich.

Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, puts on a Boris-esque, likable buffoon character to attract voters and mask the anti-working class, pro-big business and xenophobic policies of his organisation.

To the establishment, while problematic, Ukip is nonetheless a more palatable, right-populist, protest vote to the fascist-led British National Party.

For sure, they would also rather promote Ukip than the real, anti-cuts, socialist alternative that TUSC offers.

That is why in the past four years Farage has made 12 appearances on the BBC's Question Time, only second to Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable.

In the May local elections, the BBC headlined "growing support" for Ukip. This followed an average vote - in the seats it contested - of 13%, compared to 6.2% for TUSC. In the Liverpool Mayoral election, TUSC got over twice Ukip's vote.

Voters are increasingly rejecting the establishment parties. But if a credible, anti-cuts alternative is not built, right wing groups such as Ukip can be undeserved beneficiaries of people's anger.


TUSC

TUSC on the 28 March 2012 NUT London strike and demonstration , photo  Socialist Party

TUSC on the 28 March 2012 NUT London strike and demonstration , photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation.

It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party.

Read the latest TUSC bulletin at www.tusc.org.uk


Ballot box reports

Rotherham

Alistair Tice, Rotherham TUSC election agent
Rotherham TUSC candidate Ralph Dyson, second left, on the Rawmarsh school picket line, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party

Rotherham TUSC candidate Ralph Dyson, second left, on the Rawmarsh school picket line, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

After the TV cameras and chauffeured-in politicians had left the Rotherham byelection count, TUSC campaigners were out the next day alongside Unison members opposing NHS cuts.

TUSC's Ralph Dyson became known as the candidate against the 50 million hospital cuts, with over 3,000 petition signatures collected in the three week election campaign.

Wherever TUSC went - the town centre, bus station, hospital, council offices, mosques, schools, estates - we received a friendly response and seemed to be everyone's second preference. But, under first past the post, that doesn't get many votes!

281 voted for TUSC - 1.3% - about what we expected, but only 170 votes behind the Lib Dems.

Before the election, the far-right targeted the town with two demonstrations, supposedly protesting against the alleged "Asian grooming cover-up", but in reality trying to sow racism and division.

Labour's electoral machine excluded a local Asian councillor and imposed an external candidate, leading to over half the selection meeting delegates walking out.

At the count, Labour members were mightily relieved to keep the seat they've held for 80 years. While their majority almost halved due to the low turnout, their vote share increased slightly to 46%.

Disgust with the resigned MP Denis MacShane's expenses fraud did not break traditional Labour loyalties, especially among older voters with an undying class hatred of the Conservatives.

With eleven candidates, protest votes were divided among many parties.

Ukip received its highest parliamentary vote - 21% - after cynically exploiting the removal of East European foster children from Ukip-member foster parents to gain huge publicity and sympathy.

While handled clumsily, it has emerged there were multiple reasons - not merely the foster parents' political affiliation - for why the children were removed.

Also, the placement was always intended to be temporary, with the aim of placing the children with carers who could speak their first language.

The racist British National Party came third with 1,804 votes - 8%, down from 10% in May 2010.

Yvonne Ridley, the former Express journalist and Taliban-hostage who converted to Islam, came fourth with 1,778 votes.

Despite Respect nationally not responding to TUSC, locally their new supporters in Rotherham, especially Asian women and youth, are very open to joint campaigning with TUSC against the cuts and against the far-right.

The English Defence League candidate, masquerading as an independent, got 29 votes and was beaten by spoilt ballot papers!

The real winner though was "fed up of all of them" with two-thirds not voting. This shows the opportunity for TUSC to build an electoral alternative, rooted in the trade unions, which can appeal to all working-class communities, especially those most exploited and disenfranchised under the corrupt capitalist system.

Middlesborough

Alan Docherty, Teesside Socialist Party
John Malcolm

John Malcolm

John Malcolm, TUSC candidate and Socialist Party member, polled 277 votes in the Middlesbrough byelection on 29 November.

This was the first time that TUSC stood in Middlesbrough. People on the streets were supportive of our anti-cuts and pro-public service message. As a candidate, John was known by trade union activists and health workers.

Labour expected to win this, one of their safest seats, with little effort. Their candidate promised to have a constituency office and hold regular surgeries.

This was to counter criticism that Stuart Bell, the deceased MP, refused to hold surgeries and spent a lot of time in France.

Labour also promised a 'jobs fair'. But there aren't many vacant jobs here!

Labour gained 60% of the vote. UKIP came second, but with only 1,990 votes, not far ahead of the Lib Dems and Tories, both decimated compared to previous elections as a punishment for their austerity policies.

The maverick Peace Party candidate, with a lot of money spent on its campaign, gained over 1,000 votes with sizeable support from the Asian community.

The BNP vote was slashed from 2,000 to just over 300. This was despite the BNP getting media coverage that was denied to TUSC.

Labour claimed after the election they had the overwhelming support of the people of Middlesbrough. The reality was a 25% turnout; 3 out of 4 people did not vote! Just 15% voted Labour; and if Labour does not seriously oppose austerity their vote will decline even further.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 5 December 2012:


 

Home   |   The Socialist 5 December 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  




Related links:

Elections:

triangleTUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

triangleCorbyn must challenge pro-gentrification council leader or others will

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: What attitude should socialists take to the 2018 local elections?

Anti-cuts:

triangleBristol libraries safe - for now - as council caves to pressure

triangleDemand for no-cuts budget grows

triangleThousands march - mayor needs real anti-cuts strategy

UKIP:

triangleProtest outside Ukip conference against German far-right speaker

triangleMay and Tories must go!

TUSC:

triangle TUSC conference

Respect:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Rotherham:

triangleRacist smears won't stop child sex abuse

Middlesbrough:

triangleSchool sexism

Manchester:

triangleNorth West: drivers and housing workers escalate strike wave

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

13/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

6/12/17

Transport

Arriva bus strikers stand firm

6/12/17

Pensions

BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

6/12/17

PCS

Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

6/12/17

Newham

School staff strike against privatisation

6/12/17

Rail

Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

6/12/17

PCS

PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

6/12/17

North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters

6/12/17

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest

6/12/17

Coventry

Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000

6/12/17

TUSC

TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

6/12/17

Liverpool

Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2