While Leicester remains a Labour stronghold, candidates standing for socialist ideals — that is TUSC and the Green Party — still polled relatively well, which is certainly a positive sign for the future. Labour won all the three parliamentary seats (despite none of the three incumbents voting against the proposed £30 billion worth of cuts proposed in Parliament in January), and Labour hold all but two of the fifty-four local council positions.
As we already know, in Labour in Leicester have failed to differentiate themselves from the Coalition Government, and have passed on £85 million of cuts to local services. Their only evident resistance were their regular tears of frustration. But tears are not enough to save public services; we need a Council that is willing to stand up to the Government and fight for the money that we need to help lift Leicester out of poverty. How can it be that nearly 40% of our cities children grow up in poverty, with a quarter of worker in the city earning less than the already low living wage?
Thankfully, last year two long-standing local Labour councillors, Barbara Potter and Wayne Naylor, had the nerve to quit the Labour Party to launch Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts — which is affiliated to TUSC. They believed that working with TUSC was the only way they could actually do what they were elected to do, which was to fight the cuts, and propose an alternative to the Tories lies about austerity.
Unfortunately, as is often the case in elections, the majority of people end up voting for political parties that are privileged with having a constant presence in the national media — which did not include TUSC (although we did at least qualify for an election broadcast which can be viewed below). The systematic exclusion from the national media happened despite TUSC being the sixth largest political organization in England.
This media blackout shielded the public from our progressive policies, and even extended to progressive campaigning organizations like 38 Degrees; this occurring in spite of the support that our candidates lent to 38 Degrees’ national campaigns against NHS privatisation and secretive trade agreements like TTIP.
So in the face of such serious structural problems LICAC still did well and received, at the minimum, the votes of 4,440 people in Leicester in the local Council elections, which compares well to the Green Party who obtained the support of around 15,000 voters (around 11% of the people who voted). Of course, echoing the national trend, around a third of people in Leicester did not vote at all, many of whom did so because they see no point in voting when all the mainstream parties can offer them is more austerity. This opposition to voting was something that we have struggled to overcome on the doorsteps over the past months, especially given the fact that the people who tend not to vote, also tend to be the very people who would benefit the most from supporting TUSC.
Leicester’s voters it seemed supported Labour as the lesser-evil over the Lib-Dem’s or Tories. This bodes well for the future of TUSC, as many Labour supporters we spoke to on the doorstep also supported our policies but did not yet see us as a viable party to vote for. This is something that may change in the future, when TUSC becomes better know for campaigning against the cuts, especially if Labour continue to offer no meaningful opposition to the massive lie that is austerity.
The election results from Scotland demonstrate exactly what happens when voters feel they have a viable political option on the ballot paper standing clearly to the left of the Labour Party, they vote for it, hence the wipe-out of Labour and the electoral domination of the SNP.
Needless to say, nationally the Tories have not swept to victory at all – although this won’t stop them from claiming such a victory. In fact, the Tories have barely increased their support, merely picking up a few former right-wing Lib-Dem voters. The same can be largely said for Labour, as their support has barely changed, hence the maintenance of the Labour status quo in Leicester.
Given a different (working-class orientated) political approach however, Labour could have made electoral gains from the Coalition Government’s horrendous attacks on the working-class, but this has not been the case. This is precisely because of Labour’s refusal to abandon austerity, which somehow they managed to top off by their last minute attack on the SNP (saying they would not consider entering into a Coalition with them).
TUSC and LICAC on the other hand are totally committed to fighting to represent the needs of the working-class, and so were out earlier today continuing our campaign today for a £10 an hour living wage for all workers. And while our two LICAC councillors were not elected (despite receiving a good number of votes) they will still endeavour to work with all our other candidates and supporters to make good on the socialist commitments outlined in our recently launched manifesto (which can be downloaded here).
If you want to join TUSC and contribute to the fight-back against austerity here in Leicester, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org