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New Labour Turns Away Liverpool Voters
The lowest turnout In the general election was registered in Liverpool Riverside at a mere 34%. Not far behind was neighbouring Walton where 43% voted.
This seat was won by Labour candidate Peter Kilfoyle, who wails: "Britain was in danger of emulating the United States, where less than half the voters participated in the presidential elections" [The Independent, 9 June]. What an annihilating condemnation of the policies of Labour's right wing, nationally and in the city! Kilfoyle is one of the architects of the low turnout.
In the mid-1980s, Kilfoyle - who was then Labour leader Kinnock's 'hitman' - ruthlessly expelled socialists and Marxists from the Labour Party. Their crime? Marxists played a key role in implementing socialist policies which actually benefited the working class of the city, including the marvellous house building programme, the construction of sports centres and parks and the increased job opportunities for disadvantaged young people, particularly young black workers from the Liverpool 8 area.
The right wing claimed that Militant, now the Socialist Party, was an 'electoral albatross'. Yet, never before or since, has there been a greater involvement of the people of Liverpool as when socialist, Marxist and 'Militant' ideas held sway.
In the May 1983 council elections, Labour's vote increased by an astonishing 40% - 22,000 extra votes - laying the basis for the epic and successful struggle to return the city's resources stolen by Thatcher. The turnout - remember, in a council election! - in the Broad Green constituency was 44%. In the general election, one month later, there was a swing to the Tories nationally but in Liverpool there was a 2% swing to Labour.
The only 'Tory' seat that was won by Labour in the election was in Broad Green, where Terry Fields, a Marxist and supporter of Militant, was elected on a 72% turnout!
In the 1984 council elections the turnout was 50%, 10% higher than in 1983, and Labour's vote soared to over 90,000, compared to 54,000 in 1982 and 77,000 in 1983!
The events at council level were discussed in every home, pub and club. Even in 1986, when the witch-hunt against socialists and Marxists was at its height, the turnout and the number of votes for Labour were massively above what right wingers in the city now receive.
The Liverpool Echo declared at the time: "There is not a shadow of doubt that Liverpool's town hall election results were a success for Militant... Nowhere else were the local issues more sharply defined and more important than in Liverpool... No Scouser could have been under any illusion that a vote for Labour in the city yesterday was a vote for Militant".
Incapable of defeating socialist and Marxist ideas on the electoral plane the ruling class, with the connivance of Kinnock and Kilfoyle, resorted to mass purges, which ripped the heart out of the fighting socialist Liverpool Labour Party.
The pitiful turnouts in the general election in the city represent a rejection of the alternatives of the three major capitalist parties. Liverpool council is now in the firm grip of right-wing reactionary Liberals. This is the epitaph of right-wing New Labour in Liverpool.
They have converted the Labour Party into a capitalist party. The magnificent tradition laid down by the struggles of the Liverpool working class in the 1980s will be only renewed and taken further by creating a mass socialist alternative.
In The Socialist 15 June 2001: