Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/157/7803
Socialist success panics Labour in Coventry
ONE IMMEDIATE consequence of the Socialist Party's success in Coventry was a split in the Labour Group. Labour lost nine of the 18 seats being contested in the council elections - one to the Socialist Party, one to the Lib Dems and seven to the Tories.
The Labour vote plummeted everywhere. In St Michael's, the Labour Party spent a lot of time trying to stop the Socialist 'threat' and seemed less concerned that the Tories would be taking seats elsewhere in the city. The Labour Party drove round St Michael's, saying: "vote Labour your working-class candidate" perhaps the first time the phrase has ever been heard under New Labour.
Now the new Labour group leadership which has been elected argues that Labour spent too much on grand projects and more money should be spent on basic services and helping the underprivileged. This change in Labour's image is clearly because of the pressure that's been put on them from the Socialist Party.
We had a number of council workers who voted for us for the first time, cheesed off with the conditions being imposed upon them by the council, just like any Tory or other employer would.
This result is undoubtedly a recognition of the work already done by Socialist Party councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. Now we have consolidated this, showing that we're about more than being just a protest vote.
Immediately, newly elected councillor Rob Windsor will be taking up the issue of student tuition fees, demanding a meeting with the vice-chancellor of the university about the threat made by the university to many students who are having difficulty paying their fees.
In The Socialist 12 May 2000: