Archive article from The Socialist Issue 439
Third socialist councillor elected in Coventry
After a hard fought battle and nail-biting count, the Socialist Party regained a third councillor in St Michaels ward, Coventry. The Labour Party, which had narrowly won the seat two years ago by 16 votes, was defeated by Rob Windsor - 1191 votes to 1106 - with the Tories and Lib Dems trailing in the low hundreds.
Lindsey Currie, Coventry
Rob’s record of taking up issues affecting local people – like the council’s proposal to demolish disabled flats at Swanswell, opposing plans for a city academy and campaigning against deep cuts in the NHS – which he continued to fight on even after he lost the seat, has been recognised. The Socialist Party message of standing for all working-class people has hit home.
This was in stark contrast to the Labour Party councillor who had only spoken once at a council meeting in his two years of office. People were fed up with a do-nothing councillor in a ward that contains areas of deep social deprivation.
After many weeks going door-to-door, leafleting and street campaigning, more than 40 local party members were joined by socialists from the East Midlands and Wales on election day to maximise the vote.
While the establishment parties sent out a couple of cars equipped with loudspeakers to get their vote out, they could not match the hands-on, face-to-face approach of the Socialist Party. No other party had campaign stalls on the streets or monitored voter numbers at the polling stations.
Throughout the election campaign, in fact, this contrast in styles was a feature - Labour talking down to people, echoing the government’s arrogance and complacency.
We had delivered a series of leaflets to the 12,000 voters in the ward, raising the Labour government’s anti-working class policies and the war in Iraq, as well as the record of the Tory dominated council, including one aimed at students.
We also had candidates in four other Coventry seats. And in Exhall, near Nuneaton, Eileen Hunter stood for the first time, beating the Lib Dem to third place. The limited resources available were more than matched by the energy of her campaign, stirring up young and old alike in this former mining village.
One woman at an election meeting summed up what many felt when she thanked Eileen for standing - finally, after years of voting Labour, there was someone offering genuine representation for working-class people. More than 50 bright pink window posters were on display in the ward.
Meanwhile, Socialist Party members continue our participation in the NHS SOS campaign, helping to organise a lobby of a health trust meeting, visiting and leafleting the Walsgrave and Coventry and Warwickshire hospitals.
We have taken up the issue of the threat to close the Peugeot Ryton plant, trying to build on the community support for the workers in the factory.
Both of these have provoked the anger and outrage of working-class people in and around the city and will be raised at the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party (CNWP) public meeting on 20 May.
The addition of the third socialist councillor will strengthen the voice of the working class in Coventry and add impetus to the growing support for the CNWP in Coventry.
Rob Windsor Socialist Party 1,191
Lib Dem 248