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Saturday 15 May 2021

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TUSC is back - the 2021 elections results report

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) stood over 300 candidates in the 'Super-Thursday' elections on May 6th. The TUSC 2021 Results Report is now available at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/446.pdf

TUSC contested three regional lists and three constituencies in the Scottish parliament elections; all five regional lists for the Welsh Senedd contest; the all-London list for the Greater London Authority assembly and three GLA constituencies; the city Mayoral contests in Bristol and Liverpool; and 272 council seats (in 268 wards or county council divisions) in 89 local authorities.

This was the first TUSC election campaign since 2018.

The coalition had been established in 2010 to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists from different parties and none, to stand against pro-austerity establishment politicians under a common banner and an agreed platform of core policies. Within that framework hundreds of TUSC-authorised candidates had stood in elections, polling over 375,000 votes between them - until 2018.

TUSC had already re-calibrated its electoral activity after the unexpected but warmly welcomed victory of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in September 2015.

It did not contest the general elections fought under his leadership - in 2017 and 2019 - and, for other contests, pursued a rigorously selective approach so that TUSC candidates could only stand against so-called 'Labour' candidates who opposed Jeremy and were continuing to implement austerity policies locally.

In 2018 the TUSC All-Britain Steering Committee decided to suspend all electoral activity until further notice. But at a relaunch meeting in September 2020, recognising that the changed situation required a changed response, it agreed to resume standing candidates in elections, starting in the May 2021 contests.

Representatives from the biggest component organisation of TUSC, the RMT transport workers' union, reported to the September steering committee that the union's national executive committee had debated the matter over the summer.

They had agreed a resolution that, "in the new conditions of a Starmer leadership and the continued implementation of austerity cuts by many Labour-led authorities, we believe it is correct for TUSC to lift its suspension of electoral activity". And that is what the TUSC steering committee agreed too.

Against the background of the deep economic and social crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic it was time to ensure that politicians from whatever party who tried to pass the costs of the crisis onto the working class faced the possibility of a challenge at the ballot box.

The TUSC results

This year's election campaign saw the biggest number of TUSC candidates since the elections in 2016. Overall TUSC candidates won a total of 46,622 votes, the largest number won in a single year's elections since those that took place in May 2015 - in the era before Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Amongst the highlights was the TUSC candidate for the mayor of Bristol, Tom Baldwin, polling 3,194 votes, more than double the score achieved when TUSC first contested this post in 2012. In Liverpool however, the vote of anger at austerity policies - and the allegations of corruption against the previous Labour mayor - was consciously deflected by the media towards the safe protest candidacy of Stephen Yip, a charity campaigner and former Labour Party member who stood as an independent. Nevertheless the TUSC candidate Roger Bannister polled a creditable 2,912 votes on a clear socialist platform.

Overall, in one tenth of the wards or county council divisions contested the TUSC candidate polled five percent or more. The mean average vote for TUSC council candidates was 2.5%.

Putting this into proportion the BBC, discussing whether the Green Party was now the third or fourth biggest electoral force, estimated that they polled eleven percent on average in the seats that they contested (just over four times the TUSC score). But what is clear is that TUSC didn't get remotely near a quarter of the coverage the Greens got from the BBC or the other established media!

Or, indeed, other alleged 'alternative voices' given airtime by the media, such as UKIP and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, contesting these elections as the rebranded Reform UK. Interestingly, across all of the council seats where a UKIP or Reform candidate was up against a TUSC candidate, the difference in votes was marginal. And these were parties that between them scored 33% in the all-UK 2019 European elections - with the Brexit Party topping the poll - just 23 months ago. There are no stable voting patterns any more.

Of course the TUSC results are still modest - the only victory achieved was a candidate elected unopposed to a local town council! But to have organised a campaign on this scale in just over a matter of seven months from the decision made back in September is an achievement in itself. TUSC is definitely back and up for the battles ahead.