Protest vote in Sheffield

Submitted by Anon on 12 August, 2004 - 1:26

Following the SWP's wrecking of the Socialist Alliance, a number of comrades stood as 'Democratic Socialist Alliance' candidates in the 10 June local government elections. One of the most successful of these campaigns was run by AWL member Alison Brown, whose campaigned in the Burngreave ward of Sheffield.
Alison had stood in the same ward twice before as a Socialist Alliance candidate; in a clear indication that patient, systematic work pays off in a way that SWP-style leaflet-bombing never can, she more than tripled her vote this time, with 13% of those who voted casting a vote for her (since Burngreave is a three-councillor ward, it is difficult to reduce this to a headline figure, though one Sheffield electoral anorak has calculated 11%).

Analysis at the count revealed that, of those who voted for Alison, approximately one third voted only for her; one third voted for her and the Green candidates (an anti-war vote); and one third voted for two of the Labour candidates. The last is particularly interesting since the third Labour candidates in the ward, ultra-Blairite deputy council leader Steve Jones, did noticeably worse than the other two, suggesting a significant working-class protest vote for Alison.

AWL and independent Socialist Alliance members, managed to canvass about 20% of the ward; we therefore have a good idea where most of Alison's votes came from, and are well placed to follow up the election campaign with an attempt to draw local supporters into working-class activity and campaigning.

In the European elections, the Respect Coalition received a similar percentage of the ward's vote to Alison In a heavily working-class, ethnic minority, Muslim area like Burngreave, you can win votes by principled, consistent, ongoing socialist activity, or you can win them through cheap demagogy. The choice the left faces is clear.

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