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Tories win West Midlands mayor - the complete failure of the Labour right
Philip Taylor, Coventry Socialist Party
The Tories have won the inaugural election for the position of mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. In a tight race, the Conservative candidate Andy Street received 238,628 to 234,862 for Sion Simon of the Labour Party.
It is important to understand what happened and the lessons that can be learnt in order to ensure this victory for the Tories is not built upon in June.
The loss for Labour is fuelling the narrative from the capitalist establishment, including the Labour right, that Jeremy Corbyn is a problem. The 'blame Corbyn' script had already been written.
But the campaign was wholly a creature of the right wing. Sion Simon is a careerist politician par excellence. A former minister in the Gordon Brown government and current member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, he is the personification of everything ordinary people mistrust in politicians.
As an MP for Birmingham Erdington he was caught in the MPs' expenses scandal, breaching parliamentary rules by renting his 'second home' in London from his sister, and was forced to repay about £20,000.
His election leaflets patronised working class voters with talk of building Spitfire aircraft and pictures of the cross of St George. There was little or no talk of Tory austerity or how to fight it. There was little or no mention of the sorts of policies that won Jeremy the leadership of the Labour Party.
Indeed, there was not even a mention of Jeremy Corbyn. Simon preferred to pose with numerous local councillors, most who have carried out massive cuts to local jobs, services and facilities. The right wing say Corbyn is a turn off for voters, but they say nothing about the effects of their councils in places like Coventry and Birmingham implementing Tory cuts!
The turnout for this election was 26.3%. There was a great deal of cynicism towards the combined authority and the position of mayor. The creation of the combined authority was promoted by then Tory chancellor George Osborne and supported by right-wing Labour councils in the region.
It was never about genuine devolution, more it is about devolving austerity. Unfortunately Labour in the West Midlands, rather than pointing this out for what it is, have gone along with the whole sham.
It is clear from this result that the Labour right have nothing to offer in terms of winning elections.
In The Socialist 10 May 2017:
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