UKIP surge continues, squeezing TUSC in Rotherham by-election
THE UKIP advance in May's local elections continued on Thursday as they took a seat from Labour in the Rawmarsh ward council by-election in Rotherham.
When this seat was contested in the 2012 borough council elections Labour won with 1,685 votes (66%) to the BNP's 531. The only other candidate was a Conservative, who polled 328 votes.
This time the UKIP candidate, who had some profile from contesting the Rotherham parliamentary seat in the 2010 general election, won with 46% of the vote, with Labour falling to 42% on only a slightly lower turnout. The BNP collapsed from 531 (21%) to 80 votes.
In this context congratulations are due to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate, Andrew Gray, a member of the Community (steelworkers) union, who polled 61 votes, still ahead of the Liberal Democrat candidate.
In the twelve council by-elections TUSC has contested this year some of the votes have been modest, although with an overall average of 8.2%.
But why shouldn't the pro-austerity consensus - promoted by the Tories, the Lib Dems, Labour and now UKIP too - be challenged at the ballot box when the opportunity comes?
Rawmarsh ward Rotherham council by-election:
UKIP 1,143; Labour 1,039; Conservative 107; BNP 80; TUSC 61 (2.5%); Liberal Democrats 28