Coventry: strong socialist support

The 2010 elections and the Coventry socialist vote

Coventry: strong socialist support

Rob Windsor - won our best council vote yet.

Rob Windsor – won our best council vote yet.

On 6 May 2,653 Coventry people voted Socialist in the general election and over 4,400 in Coventry’s council elections.
Coming just before the three establishment parties plan to raise our taxes and assault our wages, pensions and services, this represents a solid platform from which socialist support can advance.
Dave Griffiths, West Midlands Socialist Party, analyses the election results in Coventry.

Many people in St Michaels were shocked to hear they had lost Rob Windsor as a councillor. Socialists fought a vigorous campaign but despite increasing our vote to our highest ever in St Michaels, our vote was drowned by the wave of Coventry voters wanting to keep out a Tory government.

They did so by voting Labour in the general election and carried that vote straight over into the council elections.

It has been clear for a long time that there was a determination in our city to keep out a Tory government.

We knew well in advance that especially if council elections were held on the same day, that we would be facing a hard fight to defend the votes we currently carried.


Margaret Thatcher’s Tories ripped the industrial heartland out of Coventry. Tens of thousands of jobs went and left a sense of decline. While many have become disillusioned with Labour, they dislike the Tories more, fearing the damage they might unleash again.

That’s why even when canvassing during the MPs’ expenses scandal, many told us: ‘I agree with you lot more and more, but I may not vote for you yet.’ We’d be happier to have their vote, but we are happy for now to have ear of the people of Coventry.

The whole media coverage was about the general election (we must forgive people if they didn’t even know there was a local election).

In a general election voters vote overwhelmingly only for parties they think can form a government.

Presidential nature

This was the more so with the presidential nature of election where any party outside of the big three received virtually no coverage. (Socialist Party members have reported five conversations with people complaining they went to their polling station and found they couldn’t vote for Brown or Clegg!)

So, in St Michaels despite increasing Rob Windsor’s vote by 600, we saw most people’s (especially less regular voters) general election choice carry straight over to the council election.

In Coventry, that was predominantly Labour. The Tory vote rose from 400 to 1400, Labour’s from 1,100 to 2,900. If people had had a third ballot paper and the Labour candidate had the description ‘Murder your mother’, most would still have put an ‘X’ by Labour if that meant keeping the Tory wolves from the door.

Labour is not popular, it’s just that the Tories are less popular in Coventry!

If the socialist vote currently represents a small atoll sticking out of a political ocean of the three establishment parties, the general election wave washed us off the rock.

But it will not remain that way.

A whole new situation is coming

Now the election is over the truth will out. To pay for the bankers’ crisis, be it a Lib/Lab or Tory/Lib government, they will make cuts, raise taxes and privatise services on a scale that will shock many.

Labour now runs Coventry council and will cut £10 million this year and announce more cuts at the end of this year.

When the scale of the attacks becomes clear, it will provoke a reaction from working people. Last Thursday many thought Labour wouldn’t be as bad as the Tories, – this is based on a memory of the past when Labour were seen to stand up more for working people- but the harsh new reality will show that to be wrong.

In that sense the 6 May vote will prove to be the rage of the past against the frightening future. That outlook will be changed by the impact of the attacks.

Any disappointment felt by socialists at losing such an excellent councillor as Rob Windsor will be nothing compared to the disappointment that will be felt by those in St Michael’s and elsewhere who see ‘potholes’ appearing across housing, transport, education, health, welfare and social services as the common cuts agenda of the big three parties is rolled out.

That’s what we mean when we say ‘Greece will come to Britain’. There, seven months ago, people voted similarly to stop the return of a Tory government and elected Papandreou.

Huge bills

Now, people even lie dead in the streets as they resist ‘a less worse’ government dumping huge bills for the speculators’ crisis onto ordinary people’s shoulders.

Socialists are content to have largely held our vote. We are even happier that more and more people listen to and many agree with what we are saying. We can turn this into stronger support and a stronger party in the future. Labour only has a St Michaels seat ‘on rent’ for a year and we can win it back and advance in other parts of the city.

We had the biggest election rally for many a year and it reflects a new wave of people moving to join the fight for change.

We also enjoyed more trade union support than ever before.

The Socialist Party will go forward with confidence. To keep votes, two of the big three parties had to claim to be parties of change. How farcical, and how people will be disappointed. As the truth becomes clear, many more will be attracted to, and support actively, the socialist alternative in this area.

The 2,653 and 4,414 will be joined by many more.

We urge that if you are one of those voters, don’t leave it at that, but get involved, do what you can or better still join us.