In every year since 2011 that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has contested elections it has always published the detailed results of every candidate that appeared on the ballot paper under its umbrella. And this year is no different.
A complete report of the TUSC campaign in the council elections, with the full ward results for where there was a TUSC candidate, was approved by the first post-election meeting of the TUSC all-Britain steering committee on Wednesday May 11th and is published here (https://www.tusc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/472.pdf). Just under 30,000 people cast a vote for TUSC on May 5th.
TUSC stood candidates in the English council elections across 53 local authorities, plus three mayoral candidates, and there were candidates in nine councils in Scotland and five authorities in Wales.
The last time the seats in the English councils were contested was in 2018. The previous local elections in Scotland and Wales were in 2017. In both those years, with Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour Party, TUSC was not contesting general elections and only stood in council seats against right-wing Labour candidates who were openly acting in opposition to Jeremy as they carried out austerity policies in the council chamber.
This time, with Tony Blair-style New Labour politics fully restored within the Labour Party, there was a potentially far wider field. The TUSC core policy platform for the May 2022 elections, the minimum anti-austerity pledges that every TUSC candidate was committed to, can be seen at https://www.tusc.org.uk/17627/22-02-2022/tuscs-core-policy-platform-for-the-may-2022-local-elections
Summary points from the results include:
- The total vote for all TUSC candidates on May 5th was 29,169, comprised of 23,991 votes for the council candidates, and 5,178 votes for the three mayoral candidates.
- While the results were still modest, in all three of the directly-elected mayoral polls it contested TUSC increased both its absolute vote and percentage share compared to when it had previously stood.
- Leading the ‘league table’ of all the TUSC results of five percent or more was the 18.3% polled in the Seven Kings ward in the London Borough of Redbridge – which secured a second place finish – followed by the 18.2% won in Knowsley council’s Northwood ward.
- In 40 wards the TUSC candidate polled over five percent, including in eight of the twenty wards contested by TUSC in the North East London borough of Waltham Forest.
- In Waltham Forest the TUSC candidates polled a combined total of 3,490 votes. The other councils where the TUSC candidates polled over a thousand votes were Coventry, Cardiff, Ealing, Lewisham, Newham, Sheffield and Tower Hamlets.
Once again TUSC played its role in providing a banner for trade unionists to take on the austerity politicians at the ballot box. Those standing as TUSC candidates included national executive members from UNISON, the National Education Union and NAPO; section executive members from the PCS and UNISON; and over 30 branch secretaries and other local officers from the RMT, Unite, NEU, PCS, UNISON, GMB and CWU trade unions.
TUSC also provided an inclusive space for the widest spectrum of socialists from different socialist organisations or none to stand under a common banner. This included over a dozen candidates who were previously Labour councillors or Labour Party council candidates from the time of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership who decided to carry on the fight for anti-austerity, socialist policies by standing, this time, under the TUSC umbrella.
Overall, the scale and impact of the TUSC election challenge this May was modest compared to what could have been achieved, with the potential for thousands of anti-austerity fighters standing, if the unions had organised a national drive for candidates or if Jeremy Corbyn himself had taken the initiative to organise an electoral challenge to the new New Labour party.
But it will have added to the pressure on them to do so for next year’s council elections and the general election to come.
Preparing for future elections
The TUSC steering committee meeting also discussed a process for how core policies for a general election challenge could be drawn up – with the goal of bringing together the widest range of trade unionists, socialists and working class community and social movement candidates on a common minimum platform.
TUSC strongly hopes that, before the election, steps towards a new vehicle for working class political representation will have been taken by more authoritative forces than those currently involved in our coalition – primarily from the trade unions or potentially around Jeremy Corbyn himself standing independently of Labour in the general election.
But it is also possible that such steps might not have been taken in time and it is on that basis that the all-Britain steering committee is beginning its preparations for a general election challenge – starting with a letter inviting trade union national executive committee members to help formulate the core policies that could encourage left-wing candidates who may consider standing to do so on a common platform.
The meeting also agreed to shortly publish a directory of the elections taking place in May 2023, an annual TUSC production. Next year will see over 7,900 councillors being elected, a bigger battleground in terms of seats to be contested even than in May this year.