TUSC hails best campaign since 2020 after local election results

  • Post last modified:May 9, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

A draft report of the performance of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the May local elections shows the best performance by the group in several years – with some candidates getting around one third of the vote.

TUSC: analysing the vote

Prepared by the National Election Agent, Clive Heemskerk, the report is available here. It will be debated at the next meeting of the TUSC all-Britain Steering Committee, taking place on Wednesday 15 May before a final version is published.

This is continuing the tradition established by TUSC since 2011 of printing the detailed results of every candidate that appeared on the ballot paper under the coalition’s name – on the basis that no serious political advance can be made without an honest accounting of strengths and weaknesses.

The report does not aim to provide an analysis of the TUSC election campaign in the wider context of the fight for a broader vehicle of working class political representation, as the consolidation of the Labour Party as the political representatives of big business under Keir Starmer continues apace.

But what report does show, argues Clive, is that the TUSC 2024 election campaign has been the best since the relaunch of the coalition in September 2020, after the hopes raised by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party had led TUSC to suspend its electoral activity.

Campaign highlights

The highlights of the local elections campaign were the results in Southampton council’s Bevois ward and the Deepdale ward in Preston, with the TUSC candidates’ scores of 32.2% and 31.3% respectively rattling the local Labour Party as our ‘No to cuts! No to war on Gaza!’ message struck home. Bevois was the safest ward for Labour in Southampton before 2 May – but not now.

And there were, more modest, gains elsewhere. The particular seats fought this time were last contested in May 2021. Then just ten TUSC candidates reached the 5% or more vote share figure compared to 46 this time. That is the highest since the relaunch of TUSC and spread more evenly than before; across more than half the councils with TUSC candidates this year (28 out of 54).

As the report shows, there were seven councils with multiple TUSC candidates where the average vote achieved across all the wards contested by TUSC was greater than 5%, including Basildon (7.8%), Nuneaton & Bedworth (7.8%) and North Tyneside (6.2%). Only one council with multiple TUSC candidates achieved that in 2021.

Another comparison with 2021 is the increase in the TUSC vote in the GLA Assembly constituency seats. In the London North East constituency, covering the boroughs of Hackney, Islington, and Waltham Forest, while turnout fell by nearly 15,000 overall, the TUSC candidate, Nancy Taaffe, put on 2,359 votes compared to 2021.

Overall then, the May local elections were an advance for TUSC, achieved even before the advent of a Starmer-led government, the experience of which will pose even more clearly the need for an alternative mass vehicle for working-class political representation.

The total vote for all TUSC candidates on 2 May was a still modest but very creditable 41,328, broken down into 23,431 votes for the council candidates, 15,216 in the GLA elections, and 2,681 – 5.4% of the vote – for the Salford mayor contest.

TUSC: still issues to discuss

Nevertheless, there are still important issues to consider going forward, which the facts in the report also reveal.

TUSC once again played its role in providing a banner for trade unionists to take on the austerity politicians at the ballot box, with national executive members from UNITE, UNISON, UCU, and NAPO among the candidates this year – alongside branch officers, Trades Council organisers, and workplace reps.

It also provided an inclusive space for socialists from different socialist organisations or none to stand under a common banner, with nearly a fifth of the candidates not members of any political party or group within the coalition.

As the strike wave of 2022-23 encouraged many to come forward as TUSC candidates to take their struggle against the cost-of-living crisis to the ballot box, so many became candidates this time in opposition to Labour’s stance on the war on the Palestinians.

The report also qualifies that, posing the question what else needs to be done to maintain TUSC as an umbrella coalition. There was a rise in the number of people coming forward as candidates in protest at the Gaza slaughter who, having been offered the chance to appear on the ballot paper under the TUSC umbrella – with full control over their own campaign as is the TUSC method – decided not to do so but to use the electoral description of ‘Independent’ instead. Their results, and other anti-cuts and anti-war candidates, are also included in the report.

But what is clear overall from the May local elections is that the political tectonic plates are shifting. And that TUSC will be a factor in the debates underway about the way forward for working class political representation in the events ahead.

Featured image via TUSC

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