Social Justice Party councillor elected in Eastfield – a Hardy Left Report

  • Post last modified:June 5, 2023
  • Reading time:5 mins read

During the campaign, false reports of the idea that Tony intended to caucus with the Labour group on the council were being published by various news outlets. As Tony has outlined previously, it was the leader of the Labour group on NYC who invited Tony to caucus with their group before he resigned, something to which Tony never agreed. I asked Tony what his relationship with other parties and groups on NYC be:

“With regard to “caucus”, I am reluctant to form any kind of alignment to the Labour Group due to the way they conducted their campaign. Alignment with any party or group would be with the understanding and agreement of Social Justice Party members. As always, if good, solid policies that I could see benefitting the people I serve are forthcoming I would be keen to support them. It is not in the best interests of those I serve to do anything but give due consideration to such policies, irrespective of party politics.”

Beyond the immediate relevance for the SJP, I also asked Tony about the wider effect of his victory and those of other socialists this May on the future of the left. There are hundreds of socialist Labour councillors and even Labour MPs who see Keir Starmer’s leadership for the pro-status quo, racist, big business and out of touch coup for what it is, and yet remain as representatives of that party. There may be some who think they couldn’t win independently from the Labour Party, or those who can’t leave for personal reasons or even those who believe they can still make Labour better from within. I asked Tony, as someone who had made that jump, what he would say to people in this position.

“If those current sitting councillors or even MPs are feeling the way I did when I resigned then it is incumbent upon them and those they represent to likewise resign and join the masses of socialists across the country – north, south, east and west – in ultimately forming a new socialist party to challenge the Tories and Starmer’s Blue Labour. There are no practical reasons not to do this. If your principles are being put to that ultimate test, look to your hearts, comrades! If it is screaming at you to abandon Starmer’s Party then do so, and worry about the consequences later. Going against our principles will simply put into power the best of a bad bunch for ever and a day, and achieve zero for all those we care about in our society.”

Despite the clear evidence that the left’s strength currently resides in its committed, community representatives, it has to be admitted that it also produces a problem for us. The problem revolves around how we create the next generation of socialist representatives when success seems to be limited to those with a history of public service. I asked Tony how he thought budding young councillors and MPs could best prepare themselves for election time and public service:

“Get out into the community, not weeks, but months and years before they are due to stand. Take part in community events, have that visual presence, show that they care and genuinely like people. A visual continued presence is so vitally important, gain that degree of trust from day one. If they can attain that they are half way already in becoming a councillor or MP.”

Perhaps what displays this philosophy best, is when Tony simply takes walks around Eastfield. Not leafleting or knocking on doors, simply walking and speaking to people as they go about their day. The left will win very few votes by simply standing under a party logo or identity. The heart of our success will be years of hard work and commitment and I know for a fact that Tony’s guidance in this will be crucial for the Social Justice Party.

Tony also reflected on the campaign successes from the Eastfield by-election which could help socialists elsewhere:

“I asked – well, demanded – a positive honest, open and transparent campaign because I was sure that would pay dividends in Eastfield. People are sick of bundles of promises from candidates that can probably be never delivered, people are tired of candidates criticising opponents in order to win a few votes, people are fed up with smear campaigns and endless leaflets pouring through their letter boxes. Most people are not stupid and can make their own minds up. People like to be able to question the candidate on the door step and not one of his or her team, if at all possible. So, in summary, I strongly suggest this transparent, open and honest route for any Independent socialist candidate in the future.”

Conservative control at North Yorkshire Council current rests on a knife edge. If they lose a single councillor – for any reason – they will lose their majority. It this scenario, which seems increasingly inevitable, even as a lone socialist, Tony will wield significant power.

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