The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) stood in the by-election for the Mayor of Hackney that was held on November 9th.
The TUSC candidate was the national trade union organiser Annoesjka Valent who, before taking up her current position, worked for nearly seven years for the council and represented Hackney workers as a local shop steward.
Labour retained the Mayor’s position with a 49.8% vote share but its actual vote fell by 17,575 from its score in the regular election in May 2022. By-election turnouts are generally lower, but Labour’s vote was still down – by 4,121 – from a previous Hackney mayoral by-election in 2016, when it also won a 68.9% vote share.
The Green Party was the main beneficiary of the discontent with Keir Starmer’s Labour that this result showed, coming in second. But local TUSC supporters were happy with Annoesjka’s very creditable 1,265 votes, a 3.4% share, in TUSC’s first showing in a mayoral election in Hackney and the first in the borough run under first-past-the-post – rather than the previous supplementary vote system of first and second preferences.
Below is a report of the campaign by Brian Debus, the Hackney and Islington TUSC convenor. ■
“We stood on a programme of building 100% council housing on land the council owns and rent controls in the private sector to reduce the current housing crisis. We said: take over empty properties and house the homeless”.
“Since the advent of mayoral elections, Labour has always won with ease in Hackney. On this occasion it succeeded in halving its vote from 36,049 in 2022 to 18,474. Apparently, half its vote was made up of postal voters”.
“With an electorate of over 180,000 this means only one in ten of the population voted Labour, in what is traditionally seen as a rock-solid Labour area. There’s no mandate there for the austerity policies the Labour mayor and council will try and push through”.
“Our campaign included attending two hustings meetings where our policies received widescale support, and organising a public meeting of 25, which raised close to £800 for the election campaign”.
“We displayed posters proclaiming: ‘Build council homes! Rent controls now! Restore youth services! Reverse all austerity cuts! Make government and the rich pay, not workers and young people!’ in over 150 local shops and cafes”.
“We leafleted parents at local primary schools, some facing closure, which we totally opposed. We called for reduced class sizes, and more funding from central government”.
“We distributed 5,000 leaflets via campaign stalls in local shopping areas, canvassing local estates and outside transport stations”.
“This was our first outing in a mayoral election and we are very pleased with our vote; and most importantly, the opportunity for our socialist ideas and programme to be delivered to every household in the borough”. ■
You can check out Annoesjka’s election address at https://www.tusc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Hackney-mayoral-address.pdf