Michael Lavalette won an stunning victory in Preston’s council elections. He stood as an independent socialist candidate and took his Town Centre ward seat back from Labour.
Michael had been a councillor in the ward for seven years but lost last year to Labour by just over 100 votes. Yet his support in the area held strong.
“The reception we got throughout the campaign was astounding,” Michael told Socialist Worker.
“People are elated at the result. The reception at the mosque on Friday was absolutely brilliant. It’s the same across the ward.
“There’s a lot to do. We are determined to stick to our promises and properly represent people in the way other parties do not.
“We’ll be setting up stalls and surgeries across the ward and taking on people’s problems. We also pledge to use the council chamber, where appropriate, as a forum for discussing international questions.”
Preston’s ruling Labour Party has presided over millions in cuts. It threw everything it had at the election in a vain attempt to stop what it called “the Galloway-Lavalette effect”.
But people in the ward knew that Michael offered a real alternative. “People here are absolutely delighted that he has won,” Sufia Makkan told Socialist Worker.
“To win here was no small feat,” she added. “The Labour candidate knew a lot of people in the ward. But Michael’s pro-active approach on local, national and international issues has made him very popular.
Peter Agland works for Lancashire County Council. He told Socialist Worker, “Michael’s election is a testament to his work over the years. People know they can go to him.
“He’s worked with Labour councillors and encouraged them to show a bit of backbone. He’s made them better at representing people. I’m sure he’ll do the same again.”
Michael wants to be part of resistance to the government’s cuts. “Austerity is not inevitable—it is important we fight back,” he said.
“As a lecturer and member of the UCU union I’ll be on strike on Thursday against the government attacks on education, pensions and our services.
“We need to link the power of the working class to the anti-cuts fight. We want to engage people in a struggle—not just against the cuts, but for a better world.”