Socialist Worker

After 5 May elections: Organise to bring down the coalition

Issue No. 2250

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The unpopularity of the coalition was shown in this week’s elections where the Liberal Democrats suffered their worst performance at the polls in 30 years.

Nick Clegg’s yellow Tories took a battering as they were punished for having presented themselves as an alternative before enthusiastically going back on their election promises on student fees and pushing through cuts with the Tories.

And the defeat of the AV referendum will bring a desperate week to a painful end for the Lib Dems.

They have lost almost half their councillors in results declared so far and face wipeout across northern England and Scotland.

The Tories didn’t have the same level of collapse, but if they received the same share of a vote (around 35 percent) at a general election they still wouldn’t be able to form a majority government.

The Labour Party had a resurgence in English local elections. It retook cities it lost after the Iraq war, during the most unpopular days of the last Labour government.

Part of the election was people looking for what they perceived to be bulwarks against the government’s cuts.

So in Wales that meant Labour gaining. But in Scotland people looked to the Scottish National Party (SNP). This was in part due to the weakness of Labour’s campaign there.

Across Britain people looked to the strongest mainstream alternative, meaning there were disappointments for left of Labour candidates.

So George Galloway didn’t get elected in Glasgow. Socialist councillors in England such as Michael Lavalette lost their seats. Michael who has been a councillor for 8 years fought a good campaign and won 40 percent of the vote.

Bolsover councillor Ray Holmes lost his seat too. And Respect lost a councillor in Birmingham.

Some votes held up however, with Maxine Bowler standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition winning 14 percent of the vote and coming second as the Lib Dems were wiped out in Sheffield.

In positive news, the Nazis of the British National Party (BNP) took a drubbing.

They were wiped out the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Stoke-on-Trent, known as the BNP’s “jewel in the crown”. Yet after impressive grassroots anti-fascist campaigning, the Nazis now have no councillors in the city.

The BNP fielded some 250 candidates in the local elections – compared to approximately 700 in the equivalent poll in 2007. It’s only victory so far has come in Queensbury, in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

It had lost seven of the 11 council seats it was defending, with three still to declare.

As the results came out, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats immediately collapsed into in-fighting.

The low votes for left of Labour candidates do not mean there isn’t opposition to the cuts. Labour’s gains came on back of its opposition to the cuts.

That means the pressure needs to be keep up to stop Labour implementing all cuts. Mass action can force the coalition further onto the back foot.

That’s why it’s so important that the momentum for strikes in defence of pensions across the unions is growing.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers in the NUT and ATL unions, civil service workers in the PCS and lecturers in the UCU are set to strike on 30 June.

Pressure from below increases demands on other union leaders to join the fightback.

There is a mood to resist the cuts that has strengthened after the magnificent TUC demonstration in March.

People are clearly sick of the government. The task is now to build the resistance to stop it.

Download article as leaflet [123kb PDF]


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Fri 6 May 2011, 16:57 BST
Issue No. 2250
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