Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/18127
TUSC smiling in Sheffield
The only people smiling at the Sheffield Arbourthorne byelection count last night were the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaigners. We came from nowhere (TUSC has not stood in this ward before) to get 204 votes, 7.6%, coming fourth out of seven candidates, a very respectable result.
Though Labour held the seat with just over half the vote, they have lost 10% of the vote since the last council election two years ago. Ukip, coming second, only increased its share by 3% despite two more years of media hype. TUSC was only nine votes behind the Tories and we would have beaten them if it hadn't rained all night, and we did beat the Lib-Dems, Greens and English Democrats.
Despite dark nights and persistent rain limiting canvassing and stalls, a team of 30 TUSC supporters ran an energetic and highly visible campaign meaning our candidate's name, Alan Munro, was the most known in the ward. We leafleted 8,000 houses twice, held two Sunday canvasses and campaigned and flyered outside local shops, schools and the job centre. TUSC had window posters displayed, while we didn't see a single one from all the other parties!
Hard work alone doesn't always get results though. It was TUSC's anti-cuts message linked to the idea of standing up to the Tory government (which Sheffield's Labour council doesn't do) and saying it's time to elect a real socialist, that got a response. Over 70% of the votes cast were postal votes which shows that what we wrote in our leaflets, and getting them out early, resonated with many disillusioned Labour supporters.
Indeed, a Unite trade union activist and Labour Party member in Arbourthorne said: "I'm seriously considering stepping down and chucking my membership! ... I'm seriously thinking of voting for the TUSC candidate as his manifesto had everything in it I agree with, whilst the Labour candidate's was bland and 'cuts apologist' in its tone ... I was one of the biggest advocates for fighting for the party from within but every time we looked like making progress the party leadership shifts the goal posts (see Falkirk). Maybe it is time to walk away and create a true socialist party for our class".
TUSC will aim to build on this vote in May as well as standing in over half the council seats in Sheffield, to give working class people a real alternative to the pro-austerity and far-right parties.
Sheffield Arbourthorne byelection result 6th February:
Labour 1398 (52.6%)
Ukip 482 (18.1%)
Tory 213 (8%)
TUSC (Alan Munro) 204 (7.6%)
Lib-Dem 161 (6.1%)
Green 143 (5.4%)
English Democrat 75 (2.8%)
Postal votes 71%.
- TUSC aims to stand 625 anti-cuts candidates in the 22 May local elections. Can you be one of them? www.tusc.org.uk
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 7 February 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.