Pete McLaren, independent socialist representative on the TUSC National Steering Committee and 2012 candidate in Rugby, says TUSC has made modest gains.
TUSC’s election results were a modest improvement on last year.
Standing mostly as Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts, TUSC stood a total of 133 candidates in England and Wales on 3 May, standing in 132 wards in 40 councils, proportionally a higher number of candidates than last year. In addition TUSC stood in the Liverpool Mayoral contest and for the GLA. In total these candidates polled 43,671 votes.
In the council elections TUSC averaged 6.2%, up on last year’s 5.2%. The increase was even greater in the 74 wards where there had also been a TUSC candidate in 2011 — an average of 6.8% compared to 5.4%. The overall average of 6.2% is the best performance in local elections for a long time for a far left/ socialist party/coalition.
TUSC gained two councilors — Michael Lavalette in Preston and Pete Smith in Walsall. Sadly Dave Nellist lost his Coventry St Michael’s seat by just 204 votes, nearly wiping out a Labour majority of 1,200 two years ago. St Michael’s is a very transient ward with an annual population turnover of up to 30%. The Socialist Party had done well to have held on to it for so long.
TUSC averaged 0.8% in the GLA elections, comparable to past regional and national results — the Socialist Alliance averaged 0.98% at its highpoint when it stood 98 candidates in the 2001 General Election.
Tony Mulhearn did well in Liverpool, coming fifth out of 12 with 4.86%, beating the Tories, UKIP and the BNP, and finishing less than 4% off 2nd place.
Another measure for our supporters is the ratio of TUSC votes to Labour. Last year it was 1:10, this year 1:9. A modest improvement, but much more marked in areas TUSC had developed a local campaigning branch.
In my own town of Rugby, for example, the ratio was 1:3 — one TUSC vote for every three Labour votes. In fact, Rugby TUSC doubled its votes, averaging 10% over 8 wards, an increase of 2.8%.
Building campaigning TUSC branches is the way forward, along with making TUSC accountable and acceptable to the left who don’t believe Labour is, or can be, a workers' party.
We need to start building TUSC into a party, uniting the left in the process, campaigning under that name on every issue affecting the working class to build its profile and develop deeper roots within communities.
Standing in elections is just part of that process.