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May 2012 local and mayoral election reports
Dave Nellist, Socialist campaigner, narrowly lost in Coventry
For the fourteen hours of election day in Coventry rain fell almost without ceasing. Yet despite the terrible weather conditions Socialist Party supporters in St Michael's ward campaigned relentlessly in a hard fought battle to re-elect Dave Nellist, the sitting Socialist Party councillor.
In a hotly contested contest, Dave Nellist narrowly lost the seat by 204 votes. Standing under the name of Socialist Alternative and part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, TUSC, Dave received 1,469 votes to Labour's 1,673.
This was nonetheless a dramatic cutting of Labour's majority of nearly 1,200 last year.
Socialist Alternative's supporters included far more young people than any other election team in the city.
But it also included many older workers and community activists who understood how important it was to keep Dave Nellist, as a fighter on their behalf, on the council.
Dave has spearheaded countless campaigns to defend local services - currently including a fight to stop the Labour council's closures of Foleshill Leisure Centre and Sure Start nurseries.
Labour also has a very large team out in St Michael's. As Dave explained in his speech at the count, it was more important to the Labour Party to remove a socialist from the council than to spend their energies defeating the Tories elsewhere in Coventry.
Labour relied on the strong national mood to punish the Tory government to secure themselves enough votes to win.
They made use of the changed and transient nature of the population in St Michael's, which meant that many voters new to the area did not know that they had a different option to the cuts parties on offer nationally. 'Leaders' of some communities also exerted enormous pressure for a Labour vote.
Taxis with Labour posters ferried voters to the polling stations all day. A significant minority of voters from those communities defied the pressure and voted for Dave.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, St Michael's saw a different trend from most of the country. Voters wanted to punish the government but in St Michael's it was clear that they wanted an option a damn sight better than Labour's pale Tory policies.
Speaking following the count at 3.30am, Dave explained that only 20% of the cuts planned by the council have yet been implemented and that the battle to stop the cuts has also only just begun.
In or out of the council chamber, Dave and the Socialist Party would be playing a leading role in fighting to defend jobs and public services, starting by being on the public sector picket lines on 10 May.
Many St Michael's voters will be upset when they learn they have lost Dave, widely recognised as the only opposition councillor in the City.
The Socialist Party in Coventry will be appealing to all those people to get active in a renewed campaign.
The Socialist Party has growing support in the trade union movement and among young people in Coventry.
It will be using this increased strength to fight for socialist policies in all the campaigns we are involved in, including fighting for Dave and other socialist fighters, to be elected to the council chamber.
Naeem Akhtar, Labour Party: 1673
Christian Michael Cliffe, Conservative Party: 243
Dave Nellist, Socialist Alternative: 1469
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool Mayor election
In the Liverpool mayoral election, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Tony Mulhearn received 4,792 votes, 4.73%, beating the Tory candidate and just narrowly behind the Greens and Liberal Democrats. He came 5th out of 12 candidates.
This is a good result after what was a short campaign - just one month - and with much less media attention than that received by the poll leader - Labour's Joe Anderson.
Voters supporting Tony went to the polling stations with particular enthusiasm, eager to express opposition to all cuts and privatisation.
Many of the working class people who are at the sharp end of council cuts were at the forefront of this backing.
Joe Anderson has had blanket coverage in the local media for the last two years. The Liverpool Echo is described locally as a "Joe Anderson fanzine" and he has a constant platform on local radio to justify his cuts policy, with the anti-cuts alternative virtually silenced.
In addition there were lies and distortion by other candidates during the campaign about the 1980s' record of Tony Mulhearn and the other Militant Liverpool councillors who stood up to the Tory Thatcher government at that time.
The high vote for Anderson, 57.7%, reflected the desire of the electorate to hit back at the Con-Dem government.
Also, although Liverpool's Labour council has carried out £141 million of cuts, it has only been in office for two years after 14 years of Liberal Democrat control, so there are still hopes by a section of voters that Labour will be different.
However, Anderson's mayoralty and council will be making further rounds of cuts and will not stop the decline in services and living standards that Liverpool people are suffering.
Merseyside Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Socialist Party will continue to work with anti-cuts activists and trade unionists in the city to provide a fighting alternative to the cuts-makers.
This election campaign is an important step on the way to that goal and to offering a democratic socialist alternative in future elections.
Liverpool Independent Party
Additional points added (5.5.12):
- The Lib Dems have gone from running the council in 2010 to now receiving only 6,238 votes in the whole of Liverpool for mayor!
- The Labour Party received 63% of the vote across the city last year so the 57% for Joe Anderson in this mayoral election is a reduction in comparison.
- The Green Party candidate received a large part of his vote in one single ward - St Michael's - where the party had a councillor re-elected.
Salford: nearly one in five vote TUSC
In Salford's Ordsall ward TUSC again came second to Labour, with an improved share of the vote at 18.7% - nearly one in five electors voted for TUSC.
Ordsall is the former dockland of Salford, now gentrified and prettified by appartment blocks and trendy cafes.
It also contains the glittering palace of Media City UK housing the BBC. But at its heart is a solidly working class community where our candidate George Tapp has lived all his life.
George is an electrician by trade and has actively backed the sparks' successful protests. He also campaigned vigorously against the Labour council's despicable attempt to close the Humphrey Booth Day Centre in the ward.
Our success in winning a reprieve for the centre stood us in good stead in this campaign.
Labour had promised that the advent of the BBC would create a jobs bonanza for Salford residents but notwithstanding the millions that the Labour council threw at the BBC and the developers Peel Holdings it turned out that only 24 people with Salford post codes had got jobs at Media City.
Meanwhile the council continue to demolish perfectly good council houses in other parts of Salford to release land for private housing, and many residents are wondering when they will do the same in Ordsall.
Paul Gerrard, Salford Socialist Party
TUSC against Cuts
Swansea TUSC - let's build on this start!
In yesterday's elections, around 550 people in Swansea voted for the four Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in the three wards where we stood, Castle, Sketty and Gowerton.
Even though Labour had not been in power in Swansea for eight years before last night, leaving it able to portray itself as the anti-cuts party, already trade unionists and campaigners are drawing the conclusion that in order to fight the cuts they need an alternative.
These hundreds of votes are the music of the future; Labour now has a dominant majority in Swansea and in councils across Wales; they have nowhere to hide from the key question: will they fight for their working class and trade unionist voters or will they pass on Tory cuts?
You only have to look at the two councils that were under Labour control in Wales before last night to see the likely answer to that question.
Neath Port Talbot (NPT) and Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) were the pioneers of the threat and, in RCT's case, use of the 188 notice to tear up national agreements on terms and conditions for local authority workers.
Neighbouring NPT implemented a pay cut for its staff, scrapped a raft of allowances, in some case leading to cuts to takehome pay for some of the lowest paid of up to 40% and, despite these savings from their own workforce, outsourced and cut services.
With Labour in power and implementing the cuts it will be TUSC supporters that will be organising the fight back at a workplace, union branch and community level.
TUSC is sinking deep roots in the trade union movement, across the UK and here in Wales; amongst the 14 TUSC candidates in Cardiff, Swansea and RCT that contested these elections, were elected representatives and activists from GMB, Unison, Unite and PCS, including the national Remploy trade union convenor, an organiser of the 'sparks' rank and file movement that defeated the employers' plans to do away with national agreement on wages and conditions and the secretary of Swansea Trades Council.
RMT branches in Wales voted to officially back TUSC in this election and. TUSC was backed in a personal capacity by three trade union general secretaries.
Trade unionists need a new mass party to represent us, the working class needs a new mass party to fight with us; the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is helping to bring that about.
The near 1,500 votes our candidates achieved in South Wales show there is a potential waiting to be tapped.
Before the next elections in Wales there will be major trade union struggles against the cuts, beginning with the strike action in defence of public sector pensions on 10 May.
TUSC supporters will be playing our part in organising for victory in those struggles and all the time we will be pointing to the need for a political party to fight alongside us.
We've taken a big step forward in the last few weeks - let's build on that in the fight to oppose all cuts!
Posted on SwanseaTUSC blogspot on 4.5.12 by Ronnie Job
Lincoln City Council elections
Voters in Lincoln sent a resounding message to reject the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government's austerity agenda.
Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were punished for their record in government, with the Tories also overseeing brutal cuts and privatisation of Lincolnshire County Council's public services.
During the election campaign, a corruption scandal erupted after a report was published alleging widespread corruption in one of the Tories' flagship academy trusts.
Some voters on the doorstep who usually voted Tory said they would "never again" support the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrats decisively lost their only seat, with their share of the vote slumping in all 11 wards.
Since they formed a coalition with the Tories nationally, their real pro-capitalist character has emerged in the full view of the working class in Britain.
The Labour Party was the main beneficiary for this anti-government mood, with Labour candidates being elected in 10 out of the 11 wards.
Labour has consolidated its control of Lincoln City Council despite its record, with a 15 seat majority with 24 councillors. Labour has a big majority now.
Will they let their voters down and make cuts? We think so. Labour hasn't even given its low paid council workers the £250 pay rise to those under £21,000 a year that it could have done.
Over 3,000 people are on the housing waiting list, and over 3,500 people are on JSA in Lincoln. Lincoln City Council has been run by Labour for 20 years, has built five council homes and sold off thousands.
Labour leader Ric Metcalfe promised the construction of 50 more council homes over the next four or five years.
By this calculation, it would take up to 300 years to provide enough homes for those in need of accommodation.
In five wards, voters had the opportunity to vote for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates who put forward a clear anti-cuts message.
TUSC candidates were very pleased with the results. Support in Abbey ward has gone up each year since TUSC was set up and first started standing candidates two years ago, rising from 71 votes (1.8%) in 2010, to 120 votes (5.5%) in 2011, to 139 votes (8.9%) in 2012.
Abbey candidate and local trade unionist Gavyn Graham received the highest number of votes (and vote share) for TUSC in the city, coming two votes behind the Liberal Democrats.
TUSC also polled over 100 votes in Carholme ward, where I [Nick Parker] scored 106 votes (5.7%). This was up from 62 votes (2.4%) last year.
TUSC candidate for Park ward, Lucy Bland, received 59 votes and over 5% of the vote share. This was up from 55 votes (3.5%) last year.
Karen Williams, for Moorland, beat the Lib Dems into third place with 78 votes (4.8%). This was up from the 37 votes (1.8%) last year.
Emma Woodhall, for Minster ward, received 41 votes (2.4%). This was marginally lower than the 41 votes (2.2%) received last year.
We knocked on the doors of thousands of potential voters across Lincoln. There was a deep disillusionment with politics, which helps to explain the drop in voter turnout from 36.4% in 2011 to 26.8% this year.
The three main capitalist parties are all responsible for this, thanks to their expenses fiddles and broken promises.
TUSC will continue to offer the voters of Lincoln a socialist alternative that stands up for working people, like the ASLEF East Midlands Trains drivers who we gave support to during the election campaign.
We heard hundreds, if not thousands, of human stories. The NHS worker made redundant. The woman who works for a mental health charity which has had its funding cut by a third.
The girl who was sleeping on a floor while eight months pregnant. The man who saw the rich getting richer while his pay was frozen.
All of these people have been punished by the capitalist system for an economic crisis that they did not cause.
TUSC gives them an alternative - a socialist vision of society in which our council builds enough homes and provides enough jobs to make unemployment and homelessness a distant memory.
From the TUSC website:
Victories in Preston and Walsall; solid votes in many councils
Two TUSC-backed candidates have won council seats in Thursday's elections! Michael Lavalette, who narrowly lost his Town Centre ward seat on Preston council last year, claimed it back this time, beating the Labour candidate by nearly a hundred votes with 48.5% of the poll.
In Walsall, Peter Smith, who had also lost his seat in 2011, shot up from 34% of the vote in 2011 to 45.8% this year to win back the Blakenall ward.
Peter is a member of the Walsall Democratic Labour Party, which co-operates with other socialist organisations under the TUSC coalition umbrella.
Other results saw TUSC candidate Brendan Tyrrell score 18.3% in Halewood South ward in Knowsley, and Elaine Brunskill 13.3% in Gateshead's High Fell ward.
Cainscross ward in Stroud District elections, Gloucestershire
Labour heckle TUSC candidate Chris Moore's speech at the count as he says the mood inside the hall in no way reflects the mood outside, where most people feel angry at all the main parties.
Stroud council is now a hung council, swinging away from Tory control. But he warns the Labour ranks that not one Labour controlled council has voted against cuts.
He talked about the scandal of low pay in Stroud where one constituent told him that she had visited the Job Centre and printed off the offer of the post of 'Sandwich Artist Apprentice', a job at Subway for £2.60 an hour.
He also goes on to explain that Stroud District Council paid a local Gloucestershire businessman £140,000 to write a report about the future of Stroud's health service.
This man a week ago was trying to organise a conference promoting the privatisation of the NHS, with the slogan 'don't miss out on your slice of the cake'.
This conference was cancelled after Stroud Against the Cuts, where Chris is a co-coordinator, organised a protest outside the venue, a posh hotel in rural Gloucestershire. Labour's pitiful heckling had stopped by the end of the speech.
TUSC (Chris Moore) 152 (8.1%)
Total vote 1865
Over 17,000 votes in London, but as yet 'scratching the surface'
"I hadn't heard of you before, but I saw Trade Unionist on the ballot paper and I voted for it - I had to, I'm a worker".
These words of a porter at University College Hospital in central London on election day summed up the response TUSC campaigners had experienced on a daily basis since the start of the London campaign.
The TUSC vote for the London Assembly (17,686 votes, 0.8%) undoubtedly will disappoint many TUSC supporters who hoped for better.
But it in no way reflects the response campaigners received from workplaces all over London during the campaign.
Socialist Party members visited hospitals, council workplaces, job centres, fire stations, tube stations, talking to workers about TUSC and the need for political representation for working class people.
Overwhelmingly we received a positive response: "They're all the same, we can't trust Labour anymore, it's about time trade unionists stood in elections".
Everywhere we went, workers took piles of the TUSC postcards to distribute themselves.
Unlike the Labour Party which turns its back on workers in struggle, we ensured the TUSC banner was present on every protest to bring our support. When there were strikes we visited picket lines - indeed, our candidates were among the organisers of the action!
The achievement of the London campaign was the backing and involvement of serious trade union forces.
This was the result of months of discussion, initiated by TUSC supporters in the RMT in London. The election list in London was backed by the transport union RMT, London Fire Brigades Union, and the general secretaries of both these unions and the Prison Officers Association (Bob Crow, Matt Wrack and Steve Gillan). These three unions all distributed the TUSC material themselves.
RMT president Alex Gordon headed the list, which included the Assistant General Secretary of the POA Joe Simpson, London organiser of the RMT Steve Hedley, and national executive members of the FBU (Ian Leahair), teachers union NUT (Martin Powell-Davies) and Unison (April Ashley).
The impressive list included firefighters, teachers, health workers, anti-cuts campaigners, construction activists, unemployed, and anti-racist and disability campaigners.
This underlines how scandalous it was that there was a complete blackout of the campaign in the mainstream press. We received a derisory two second flash on BBC London news.
In our view, this was quite deliberate. Bob Crow is one of the most well known political figures in London after Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.
It is not a mistake to overlook a political initiative promoted by him. It is a conscious decision by big business representatives and their media cronies to squash the voice of working class people.
They want to eliminate the voice that clearly and persistently says 'There is an alternative, ordinary working class people should not have to pay for this crisis'.
What it did mean, however, was that we were likely to get a low vote. All the work we did could only scratch the surface in a city the size of London.
Additionally we were squeezed in the polarisation between Johnson and Livingstone for mayor, with trade unions campaigning and many workers voting for Livingstone through gritted teeth to try to oust Johnson.
TUSC did not stand for mayor, and many people, disappointed by Livingstone, seized on the Greens for an alternative mayoral candidate.
There was also the desire to punish the Tories by unseating their constituency assembly members, such as the hated Brian Coleman in Barnet, the architect of attacks on the fire service, where both the FBU and RMT backed the Labour candidate against him. Inevitably, this led to a focus on voting Labour.
TUSC only stood for the list part of the election, which was a form of proportional representation so that only 5% of the vote was needed to win an assembly seat.
This means that the argument commonly used by our opponents about a 'wasted vote' did not apply. But in the absence of publicity, many people would not have realised this.
Wally Kennedy, who organised the TUSC campaign in Hillingdon, including a meeting of nearly 70 local workers and anti-cuts campaigners, said to local TUSC supporters after the results:
"Nearly 70% of the electorate did not vote on Thursday. The reality is that the vast majority of working class people have not yet spoken.
"The TUSC campaign, ignored by the media, hasn't yet managed to reach millions of working people. Those who didn't vote are our potential supporters.
We must campaign and build for the battles against austerity ahead... not least our council elections in May 2014. Down with the posh boys!".
Taking second position in High Fell, Gateshead
In Gateshead we handed out thousands of leaflets, spoke to hundreds of people on their doorsteps and held numerous stalls in the TUSC election campaign.
In High Fell we came second, achieving 248 votes (13%). In this ward we won more votes than the Tory and Lib Dems' combined effort, making us the main opposition to Labour! It is also worth noting that for every six Labour votes, we achieved one vote for TUSC.
It is clear there is simmering hostility towards the major parties, including Labour. One woman (an ex Labour Party member) told us that when she received the Labour councillor's election manifesto she felt like cutting it up into tiny pieces and posting it back through the councillor's letterbox.
No wonder anger is beginning to surface against Gateshead's Labour controlled council. This year they made £22 million cuts in services, including 275 job losses (140 of them compulsory redundancies) and this is on top of the 1,000 posts cut last year.
Prior to the council setting its budget one of High Fell's councillors commented to us about how terrible the Con-Dem cuts were.
We asked if he was going to vote against the cuts - he wasn't. He argued that Gateshead council was acting as a shield against the worst of the Con-Dem cuts. We retorted that it's not even a dented shield, more like a plastic toy shield!
In our election leaflet we highlighted that: "Hypocritically, some Labour councillors hold anti-cuts placards on demonstrations, then within hours, vote for more cuts in Gateshead jobs and services".s
We've been informed that next year, when there is no local election, Gateshead's Labour council intends to either close all local libraries or have them run by volunteers.
Also all leisure centres in Gateshead are reportedly to be run by arms-length management (a step towards privatisation).
Our campaign during the election was defending the children's inpatient services at the local QE hospital.
The local PCT is threatening to end this service in cases where over 23 hours' care is needed. In total we handed in almost 1,200 of the PCT's own questionnaire (the overwhelming majority against the plans).
In this campaign we worked alongside the local Public Services Alliance (PSA). The PSA handed
Ian Mearns (Gateshead's Labour MP) petitions against the proposal. His response was reported as: "What do you expect me to do with them?".
Furthermore, he is alleged to have commented that he had met with the local PCT and couldn't see anything wrong with its proposals.
During our campaign we were approached by the campaign group Action Against the Destruction of Wrekenton.
This campaign is fighting proposals from the French multinational SITA to increase the Campground Waste Reclamation Centre.
This campaign group is furious that their local councillors have refused to meet up with them. In a campaign alert on their Facebook site, a vote for TUSC in High Fell was advocated.
On the doorstep in High Fell it was clear we appealed to a layer who are totally disillusioned with New Labour and have either not voted for years, or have never voted in their life.
As the turnout for the ward was only 28% our challenge in future elections is to convince the 72% of non voters that there is a credible fighting alternative.
Elaine Brunskill, High Fell TUSC candidate
See also the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition website www.tusc.org.uk