Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/391/4430
Socialist ideas adopted by a new generation
The ‘most boring election’ in history ended with a far-from boring election night. Two main factors drove the election process – a burning desire to punish New Labour and Tony Blair in particular – and a horror of Howard winning the election.
For Socialist Party members up and down the country this was the best election campaign we have ever been involved in.
In four weeks we raised over £11,000 for our fighting fund. This money was made up of tens of thousands small donations from workers and young people who wanted to assist our campaign.
We sold record numbers of The Socialist in many parts of the country. Most importantly of all our raised profile meant that more people found out about socialist ideas – our leaflets reached more than 700,000 households – and many people – especially young people – have joined us in the struggle for socialism as a result.
Electorally, we achieved some creditable results. In Coventry North East Councillor Dave Nellist received 1874 (5%). In Coventry South Rob Windsor received 1097 (2.7%).
In London's Lewisham Deptford Councillor Ian Page received 742 (2.4%).
In Newcastle East, standing for the first time, Bill Hopwood gained 582 votes (1.8%).
In London's Walthamstow constituency Nancy Taaffe received 727 (2.4%). But our vote in no way reflected the support we found for our ideas.
Anxious to give Blair a bloody nose, people who would have liked to vote for us instead looked for a party that they felt could inflict damage on New Labour nationally.
The Liberal Democrats – as one of the three mainstream parties (and in some areas the Greens) – were seen as the most viable means to do so by many.
Other workers voted Labour out of fear of a Tory victory, despite agreeing 100% with our description of New Labour as a party of the fat-cats.
Fear of Tory victory
However, where people felt free to vote on the basis of whose ideas they liked best, we came out extremely well.
In a Newsnight piece where candidates were interviewed be members of the public without their parties being known our candidate came second out of fifteen. And in a number of debates in schools, the Socialist Party came first or second in the vote.
But it wasn’t only amongst young people that we struck a chord. Pensioners also approached us inspired to see a new generation of young people take up the struggle for socialism.
For example, one woman, the wife of a Labour councillor, came up to us to say how happy she was to discover that socialism hadn’t died when Blairism destroyed it in the Labour Party – and that, in fact, socialist ideas were being adopted by a new generation.
This election marks a turning point in Britain. The next Labour government will be far weaker and more unstable than previous ones but this will not prevent them launching an onslaught of privatisation and cuts on the working class.
In seat after seat, as other candidates limited themselves to pleasantries, our candidates warned New Labour that workers are going to fight back against their Tory policies – and socialists will be at the fore of those struggles.
Details of Socialist Party results
Results for Socialist Alternative - the electoral name of the Socialist Party
Leicester West Steve Score: 552 (1.7%)
Lewisham Deptford Councillor Ian Page: 742 (2.4%)
Walthamstow Nancy Taaffe: 727 (2.1%)
Newcastle East and Wallsend William Hopwood: 582 (1.8%)
Wythenshawe and Sale East Lynn Worthington: 369 (1.0%)
Bootle Peter Glover: 655 (2.5%)
Brighton Kemptown Phil Clarke: 113 (0.3%)
Bristol North West Graeme Jones: 565 (1.2%)
Swansea West Robert Williams: 288 (0.87%)
Cardiff South and Penarth Dave Bartlett: 269 (0.7%)
Coventry South Rob Windsor: 1,097 (2.7%)
Coventry North East Councillor Dave Nellist: 1,874 (5.04%)
Coventry North West Nicola Downes: 615 (1.4%)
Birmingham Northfields Louise Houldey: 120 (0.38%)
Stoke-on-Trent Central Jim Cessford: 246 (0.9%)
Sheffield Heeley Mark Dunnell: 265 (0.77%)
Wakefield Mick Griffiths: 319 (0.7%)
In The Socialist 6 May 2005: