8 March 2013
It might only be Maltby Town CouncilÖ
IT MIGHT ONLY be Maltby Town Council. It was only a by-election. Thereís only 3,000 electors. Only a 16.5% turn-out. And only two candidates.
But you can only beat the opposition put in front of you, and last night Joe Robinson did just that. Standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), young Socialist Party member Joe was elected by 303 votes to 201, taking 60% of votes cast.
His opposition was an Ďindependentí without description on the ballot paper, but in reality the Labour candidate whom the ruling group on Maltby town council had tried to co-opt when a vacancy arose.
But Joe collected the ten signatures necessary to force a by-election, and TUSC ran an enthusiastic and visible campaign with two ward-wide leaflets, posters and several high street stalls.
Local issues such as the bowling greens, tennis courts, parks and the High Street were linked to the need to make a stand against Con-Dem cuts including those passed on by Rotherham borough Labour council.
Our main issue was TUSCís ongoing campaign against the draconian cuts being proposed at Rotherham hospital. TUSC had lobbied the January Trust board meeting with 3,000 signatures gaining much media publicity and making links with the hospital trade unions.
This issue had been a feature of TUSCís campaign in the Rotherham parliamentary by-election last November and, while Maltby is outside the parliamentary constituency, the work done then played a role in building TUSCís profile.
Maltby is now an ex-mining town as the pit is just shutting with the loss of 550 jobs. A quarter of its population has left in the last decade. A small Labour clique has run Maltby town council for decades and the BNP temporarily won a borough council seat four years ago.
Joe, only 21, was like a breath of fresh air to the tired old local politicians and TUSCís appeal to trade unionists and socialists went down well in a strong working class community. Interestingly, postal votes accounted for nearly 80% of the votes cast with nearly half registered postal voters actually voting. This shows that TUSCís first leaflet struck a real chord with disillusioned Labour supporters.
This year is the 40th anniversary of Clay Cross councilís defiance of the Tory Housing Finance Act in 1973. Clay Cross was only an Urban District Council of 10,000 yet made an historic stand. Maltby is bigger than Clay Cross, and who knows this by-election victory could be the start of something much bigger for TUSC.