In the recent council elections, TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) stood an historic 561 candidates nationwide – this represents the biggest left-of-Labour challenge for 70 years. Despite this, we were largely ignored by the media, with only two interviews on the Daily Politics. Our candidates achieved some very good results, in spite of this lack of coverage, getting around 1000 votes in St Michaels ward in Coventry, and electing a councillor in Southampton. We also achieved excellent results in Doncaster, Sheffield and London. In total, TUSC’s candidates received over 65,000 votes.
In Ireland, there were elections at the same time, but with a completely different system of proportional representation, which tends to give smaller parties a fighting chance. We also faced, in the European Elections, a challenge to get our MEP, Paul Murphy re-elected for the Dublin constituency. With the Irish section of the SWP (as People Before Profit) standing against us in his seat, this meant that it was going to be even more of a difficult battle. With the resulting split in the Socialist vote, this meant that despite him getting nearly 30,000 first preference votes, it wasn’t quite enough. However, this is still a strong showing for us and we should be well-placed to regain the seat in the future. Elsewhere in Ireland, anger against austerity meant that it was a great night for the Anti Austerity Alliance, which the Socialist Party took part in – we won 14 councillors and Ruth Coppinger was elected as a TD in Dublin West (the Irish equivalent of an MP).
In the European elections in the UK, UKIP were the recipient of an anti-EU protest vote, winning votes from both Tories and Labour, while the Lib Dem vote collapsed. However, UKIP, a right-wing split from the Tories, will be exposed in the future, as their anti-working-class policies offer people no real alternative. Of course, the vast majority of the electorate simply stayed at home, seeing little point in voting in the European elections, reflecting a generalised anger at establishment politicians in general.
While in some countries, the far-right have made gains, this is not the case across Europe as a whole. In Greece, Syriza were the largest party, with a programme opposing austerity, and in Spain the United Left gained 10% of the vote, along with Podemos, a party which rose from the Indignados movement. Podemos gained five MEPs and 1.5million votes in the European elections. From The Guardian: “Podemos’ lofty list of election promises includes doing away with tax havens, establishing a guaranteed minimum income and lowering the retirement age to 60. “Voted in by Spaniards tired with persistent unemployment, austerity measures and corruption scandals, Iglesias said Podemos MEPs would act accordingly. Rather than the standard salary of more than €8,000 (£6,500) a month, “not one of our MEPs will earn more than €1,930, an amount that’s three times the minimum wage in Spain. The remainder would either go to the party or a chosen cause.” This is similar to what TUSC is putting forward in Britain. The need for an alternative is clear, as Milliband’s Labour has made clear that it “cannot afford” to roll back Con-Dem cuts.
While some countries looked for alternatives on the left, others, like voters in France, expressed their disappointment with the soft-left Francois Hollande, who is continuing with austerity measures, by voting for the far-right Front National. I think the most effective way to defeat the divisive and racist ideology of the far-right is to build a political alternative for ordinary people. UKIP has benefited from a protest vote against all the main parties, who are carrying out vicious cuts to public services. We say these cuts are not necessary – the resources are there in society to fund decent services for all, but the problem is the money is in the hands of bankers and speculators. To fight back, join the Socialist Party (which is part of TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) — http://www.tusc.org.uk
The TUSC video the media wouldn’t show... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyG1KPeCAT0