The election victory arose out the solid support the Socialist Party has built up in the local community particularly through the work of councillor Ian Page. This has involved campaigning for and winning grants for the upgrading of local estates worth £14 million, successfully mobilising support in the local community and defeating cuts imposed by the New Labour council and most recently playing a leading role in a campaign to reopen a local secondary school closed by the New Labour council.
Not an easy victory
This was not an easy seat for the Socialist Party to win. It was the first time Chris had stood as a candidate in the local area. Unfortunately, a local campaign (Leap – Local Education Action by Parents) which was also campaigning to reopen the local secondary school, refused to come to an agreement with the Socialist Party to stand a joint candidate in the by-election. The Socialist Party and its local councillor Ian Page has campaigned alongside Leap on this campaign. In the May 2002 council elections, Ian Page and the Socialist Party campaigned for support for one of their candidates in the local area. This was a major factor resulting in the election of a Leap councillor.
The Socialist Party proposed to stand Chris Flood as a joint SP-Leap candidate and made a commitment he would attend all meetings of the Leap campaign and represent their interest in the community. However, this approach was refused and Leap went ahead with their plans to stand their own candidate. There could have been a danger that New Labour’s candidate could have won the by-election as a result.
However, as a result of the hard campaigning work conducted during the election and the record of the Socialist Party over the years in the local area, Chris Flood won the seat. One young woman spoke to a Socialist Party member at the polling station and explained she was the first member of her family ever not to vote Labour, “I always vote Socialist”. This was a feature of many peoples’ comments – “We’ve voted Socialist” was a commonly repeated phrase on election night. During his election speech Chris Flood directed his comments to Joan Ruddock, New Labour MP in the audience saying: “The election results show that people in the local community want a new school and you should go back to your party and convince them of the necessity for this”. He also went on to make the point that the result also proved that the Socialist Party could partially fill the vacuum on the left brought about by New Labour’s move to the right.
The Socialist Party will continue to work with all campaigns in the community that are fighting to preserve local jobs and services.
|Party||Number of Votes||Percentage|
|Socialist Party ELECTED||590||32.7|
|UK Independence Party||9||0.5|