Exception to the trend
‘The worst result for Labour ever’ is how the newspapers are describing last night’s local election results in areas of England and Wales. At the time of writing, not all results have been announced but it is clear that New Labour have been punished at the polls, and that the Tory vote has increased significantly.
Against this background initial reports suggest that smaller parties have not had many major successes. St Michaels ward, Coventry, however, was one exception to the trend. Dave Nellist faced a major campaign by the Labour Party to try and unseat him but despite this he increased his vote, winning 1643 to 1336. As the Socialist Party election leaflets explained, “Dave exposes their planned cuts so Labour are desperate to get rid of him”.
St Michaels ward has many new residents who don’t know of the Socialist Party’s record in the area. Out of desperation New Labour tried to deceive them, stating that, “only Labour can beat the Tories in St Michaels” ‘ignoring’ the fact that two out of three councillors in the area representing the Socialist Party. New Labour also exerted huge pressure on Bangladeshi and Muslim voters to support the Bangladeshi Labour candidate.
However, none of their tactics worked. Working class voters in St Michaels, from all backgrounds, went out to vote for Dave Nellist. Many Bangladeshi voters were furious about New Labour’s tactics, saying, ‘We don’t agree with voting on the basis of religion’ and ‘Dave Nellist is principled, he really opposed the war in Iraq, not like Labour’ and ‘we always support the socialists’.
In the coming months, the Socialist Party will be capitalising on our success – not least talking to the more than 40 people we met during the campaign who said they were interested in joining our party.
Further analysis of the local councils and London Assembly and mayoral elections will be posted on socialistworld.net over the next few days