THE LAST fortnight has seen the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) contest two more council by-elections, taking to five the number fought by TUSC since the nation-wide local council elections in May.
In the Lincoln East by-election on 2 August, for a seat on Lincolnshire County Council, the TUSC candidate was Nick Parker, a PCS Assistant Branch Secretary and President of Lincoln Trades Council. Nick won a decent 6.8% share of the vote, polling one vote for every seven that went to the winning Labour candidate.
The Lincoln result follows the third place won by TUSC in Liverpool’s Riverside ward on 5 July with 115 votes (6.2%) – coming ahead of both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats – and the 7.8% won by TUSC in an earlier by-election in Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s Kidsgrove ward.
These results are encouragingly all on par with the 6.2% average vote achieved by TUSC candidates in the local elections in May. (For a full breakdown of TUSC’s May results see http://www.tusc.org.uk/pdfs/2012/TUSC_Results_Report.pdf)
More disappointing, however, was the score in Stoke’s Springfield and Trent Vale ward on 26 July where, in a field of nine candidates, the TUSC candidate, Matthew Wright, a local UNISON rep, came in with a squeezed 1.3% vote. Labour, which controls the city council, lost the seat to the City Independents’ group. With seven councillors already at least verbally opposing the council’s cuts, voting for the City Independents was seen on this occasion as the most effective way to protest at all the establishment parties.
In reality, not too much can be drawn from a handful of council by-elections, either ‘writing off’ TUSC or exaggerating the possibilities at this stage. The most important fact is still the absence of a vehicle for working class political representation, given Labour’s broad acceptance of the capitalists’ austerity agenda. Standing in elections is part of the struggle to build one.
Lincolnshire County Council, Lincoln East division (2 August):
Labour 565; Conservative 314; Lib Dems 95; TUSC 79 (6.8%); UKIP 79; English Democrats 24
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Springfields & Trent Vale ward (26 July):
City Independents 370; Labour 245; Lib Dems 152; Conservative 109; UKIP 105; Independent 36; BNP 27; TUSC 14 (1.3%); Democratic Nationalists 2
TUSC conference, Saturday 22 September
11am-5pm, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E. Includes an afternoon session, ‘For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems!’, which will discuss TUSC’s local election policy platform and preparations for the 2013 local elections. All welcome. Registration £5 waged/£2 unwaged.
Want to be a candidate?
If there is a by-election in your area and you wish to stand as a TUSC candidate, you need to get a Certificate of Authorisation from the TUSC National Nominating Officer to hand in with the nomination papers to the local council returning officer. An application form is available on the TUSC website at http://www.tusc.org.uk/candidates.php