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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 May 2019

Bolsover elections: Labour's cuts councillors punished by voters

Socialist Party offers fighting alternative

Jeremy Corbyn did not get across a clear anti-austerity message to maintain past Labour votes, photo by Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn did not get across a clear anti-austerity message to maintain past Labour votes, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale Mansfield Socialist Party

Elections in Bolsover, Derbyshire, don't usually make national news. But on 2 May Labour lost 14 councillors and control of the council.

The district council has been Labour since it was formed in 1972 and MP Dennis Skinner used to have the biggest Labour majority in the East Midlands.

Neighbouring districts of North East Derbyshire and Ashfield also saw terrible results for Labour. This ex-mining area showed its anger at Labour and lack of a fightback after years of economic decline.

With few resources but a clear programme, Socialist Party candidates showed the potential to build a working-class alternative to Tory cuts passed on by right-wing Labour.

In Bolsover North and Shuttlewood ward, Socialist Party candidate Elaine Evans won 45% of the vote and came within a whisker of winning a seat.

Overall, there was a low turnout - down to 19% in one ward. Jeremy Corbyn has not got across a clear anti-austerity message to maintain voters' past loyalty to Labour, particularly with compromises to Blairite Remain MPs over Brexit.

The other big factor was many independent candidates standing on very local issues and promising to put 'community before politics'.

They will now be tested by the same cuts that Labour failed to fight. Differences between them will emerge.

Cuts

Over the past 20 years local cuts have included closure of the swimming bath, community hospital, council offices, Job Centre, public toilet, Sure Start centre and youth centre.

Huge warehouses with zero-hour contracts and low pay have replaced relatively well-paid and secure mining and factory jobs.

Most of these changes don't fall within district council responsibilities - it's government and county council cuts, and changes in the capitalist economy.

But Labour district councillors argued for years that their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do but try and minimise the damage.

Bolsover district didn't make as big cuts as some councils have. They merged top management with North East Derbyshire and sold council property instead.

But they failed to mount a campaign to win extra money from the government by implementing no-cuts budgets and mobilising mass support.

They have taken the blame for being in power all these years while the decline has taken place.

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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.

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In The Socialist 8 May 2019:


Socialist Party election analysis

Local elections: Tory meltdown but Labour loses ground

England council elections: socialist anti-cuts message chimes with voters

Leicester elections: "We planted a marker for the future"

Bolsover elections: Labour's cuts councillors punished by voters

Halton Brook election: support for our policies on doorstep


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish elections - new upheavals underline need for a revolutionary socialist alternative


Socialist Party news and analysis

Climate catastrophe looms: we need socialist change

Young and old, unite and fight!

Water bosses plan to undermine nationalisation: no compensation for fat cats!

Northern Ireland: Socialist wins council seat

Them & Us


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Doncaster NHS pay win shows: strikes can get results!

PCS union: listen to members, link the campaigns - we can win fight on pay

Usdaw union conference demands action on pay, jobs and the right

UCU general secretary election: fight for a left leadership!

Newham gas workers to strike

Hull dinner ladies protest against loss of week's pay

Asda workers protest against attacks on paid breaks and bank holiday working

Woolwich Ferry staff to strike over pay and safety

Radiographers' union slams professional costs


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Alternative housing awards shames bosses


Opinion

Sequel to 'A Very British Coup' - workers' struggle, not bosses' EU and media, is route to socialism

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