Southamption byelection On the TUSC Against Cuts campaign trail

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

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It’s not every day a Labour council leader gets up, says he’s quitting and walks out of the council chamber, handing anti-cuts campaigners an unexpected byelection.

Yet in under five weeks the Woolston ward in Southampton has been leafleted twice and canvassed by an enthusiastic team of campaign stalwarts and welcome new faces in support of TUSC candidate Sue Atkins.

Nick Chaffey records a week of campaigning.

Monday… Boxes of our four-page colour leaflet arrive.

Mike, who we met canvassing, says he will take some. “I’ll do all the tower blocks.”

That’s 600 gone.

He came to our local meeting last week: “I resigned from the Labour Party yesterday, what’s the plan?”

Tuesday… Ex-Labour voters are dismayed at the council’s willingness to wield the Tory axe.

Story after story of benefit sanctions, bedroom tax, cuts to Sure Start and the youth centre closure: “I’ll camp outside if they try to shut it down, it’s all we have left on the estate.”

Anti-cuts councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas turn up to join the team for an evening’s leafleting. Someone has Sue’s poster in their window: “Thanks for standing, I’ll be voting TUSC.”

Wednesday… “My daughter’s been fighting the cuts to youth services, she’s lost her job. I always voted Labour, it’s hard to change but what choice have we got? I was shocked at how they bullied her for fighting back.”

Jane, a firm campaign stalwart, has been impressed at the response we are getting. “It’s always difficult to change what people think. But we’ve had amazing success.”

Thursday… New Socialist Party member Phil comes to the meeting. “I was going to give you my subs form tonight, I’d filled it in but decided I wanted to give more.

“There’s nothing else worth giving your money too, is there!” Phil left the Green Party recently and as a young council worker and Unison member has been out as often as anyone, leafleting and canvassing.

Friday… Jared is down from Aylesbury to see how it’s going. Three hours later another 300 leaflets out and more positive responses on the door. “People are angry and want an alternative.

Though there is a danger some of that vote will go to Ukip. Not because people are right wing or racist, it’s seen as the biggest stick to beat the establishment parties. People are willing to listen to what we have to say.”

Saturday… With the local shipyard closed, Woolston is a quieter place now but we have a steady stream of support coming to our stalls.

“I’ve put so much of my time into Labour. I thought Blair would reverse all Thatcher’s cuts. I want you to nationalise everything they took, and don’t give them a penny. You’ve got my vote.”

Sunday… And we have a magnificent dozen out canvassing. Candidate Sue comments: “I’ve been really impressed with all the help we have had.

“It’s given my confidence a real boost to see that people are taking an interest in what’s going on. People know about Keith and Don, can see Labour are carrying out the cuts and are keen to support what we are doing.”

Roll on election day – Thursday 13 June.


In our TUSC campaign to elect Terry Simmons as councillor for the Weaste and Seedley ward in Salford, we have received a great response from voters who are sick of the three cuts parties.

But it was a chance encounter with the Labour Party candidate, while out canvassing, that should convince readers of the desperate need to stand against them at every opportunity.

The Labour candidate is high up in a multinational pharmaceutical company and told us that, if elected, he would not vote against cuts.

You see the council, so he told us, “is a business that needs sustainable budget solutions”.

He seemed very confident that he will win the 20 June byelection. But we think that he will lose a good number of votes by featuring the reviled Blairite MP Hazel Blears on his leaflet.

The election campaign provides us with a springboard to launch a TUSC anti-cuts electoral challenge in every council ward in Salford in next year’s local elections.

Matt Kilsby, Salford TUSC


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, and socialists including the Socialist Party.