Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2011

Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election: A left-wing workers' alternative needed

THE OLDHAM East and Saddleworth parliamentary by-election on 13 January, a three-way marginal seat last year, was a muted affair in much of Oldham this time. The by-election had been called after an election court dismissed Labour's MP Phil Woolas, because he had falsely accused the Lib Dem candidate during the general election of 'supporting Islamist extremists'.

By an Oldham Socialist Party member

The result constitutes a massive rejection of the Con-Dem cuts across the constituency. Labour improved its majority from just over 100 to over 3,000 votes.

The numbers voting Lib Dem held up while the Tory vote fell sharply, suggesting either Tories voted tactically for the Lib Dems whose previous support among Asian and white working class voters returned to New Labour, or the Tory vote simply did not turn out.

The result is bad news for the Tory party. The party's right-wing is already demanding more influence. This is resisted by Cameron as something which could split the fragile Con-Dem alliance. Locally, Labour claimed that Tory activists told voters to vote Lib-Dem.

Most campaigning centred on relatively affluent Saddleworth, with Lib Dems and New Labour attempting to win so-called 'Middle England' swing voters by bombarding them daily.

The other, poorer, parts of the constituency were ignored. Those are where the public spending cuts will be felt hardest. None of the main parties offered anything other than cuts, no improvements to social and economic deprivation in an area where 7.2% of homes have no private bathroom or central heating. The council expects to make 800 redundancies, 600 of which are rumoured to be from frontline social services, affecting the most vulnerable.

The divisive and racist BNP lost its deposit, and with 4.5%, saw their percentage drop.

The New Labour victor, Debbie Abrahams, talked after the election about opposing the cuts but this was not matched by New Labour's campaign.

Abrahams resigned as chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust over the use of private companies in health care a few years ago and supported NHS anti-cuts protests at the time. However, this was not mentioned during the election.

Oldham desperately needs a clear campaign against the cuts, council redundancies, racism, sub-standard housing and social deprivation. None of these were addressed by New Labour, who focussed on implementing the cuts differently (no police cuts), rather than fighting the cuts.

While local voters have clearly rejected the Con-Dem cuts, any faith in New Labour and its brand of Thatcherism is misplaced. On the Socialist Party's public stalls, people say they want the bankers and rich to pay for the mess they created, not to lose public services and jobs.

A genuine left campaign would have been based on the experience of workers' lives, reaching out to the poorer parts of the constituency as well as the better-off.

On an anti-cuts basis, it would have resonated across all communities in Oldham and with workers nationally, giving impetus to the forthcoming period of intense class struggle. Workers will require a political voice as part of the fight against cuts.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 19 January 2011:

National Shop Stewards Network

Unite against all the cuts

Discussing an NSSN anti-cuts campaign

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Save our NHS!

International socialist news and analysis

Tunisia in revolt

Socialist Party news and analysis

MPs' expenses scam continues: for workers' MPs on a worker's wage

Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election: A left-wing workers' alternative needed

Wales referendum: Vote Yes on 3 March - Defend public services in Wales

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Fighting cuts in Somerset

Socialist Party youth and students

Student receives draconian sentence

Students demand - 'save our EMA'

Education Maintenance Allowance: 11 January day of action

Urgent action needed to end youth unemployment

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS members vote for battle against cuts

Strike at sweatshop DWP centres

Teachers strike against redundancies

Heinz strikes force improved offer

Cameron 'thanks' postal workers by axing their jobs and pensions

Workplace news in brief


Home   |   The Socialist 19 January 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleMajority of kids poor in some areas

triangleMoving, funny and inspiring tribute to working class heroism


triangleLabour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

triangleEnd of the Corbyn era - Organise to fight for socialist policies

triangleEnd of the Corbyn era

triangleCouncil cuts could cost Labour another general election


triangleNewham campaign set up against council cuts and tax hikes

triangleCouncils must break austerity rules

triangleBook: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey


triangleClass collaboration and worker militancy in World War Two Britain

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



A day in the life of a frontline worker


The Socialist

Getting the Socialist out safely under lockdown


May Day

May Day greetings: we need to fund independent workers' media now more than ever


Welsh Assembly

Where's the PPE Welsh Assembly?



Anger as London local authorities bulldoze through powers to discipline workers


Bin workers

Victory for Medway bin workers



Socialists in Unite meet via Zoom: Struggles continue in the workplaces



Coronavirus crisis finance appeal



Things will never be the same again



Usdaw - the Activist issue 84



The minimum wage must go up! Fund coronavirus workers, not bosses' profits!


Royal Mail

Collective action becoming necessary to ensure safety and vital deliveries



Bus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay



Fully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children



Help us continue to fight for workers and socialism

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020