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Anti-Tory mood dominated in Stoke
"Tonight I thought I was coming to an academic debate about the miners' strike. I didn't realise the burning hatred that is still felt in this area for what Thatcher and the Tories did". These were the words of film director Ken Loach, speaking at a recent public debate in Stoke-on-Trent.
Andy Bentley, Stoke Socialist Party
This 'burning hatred' led to the re-election of all three Labour MPs across the city, albeit with reduced majorities. Labour also regained 17 seats on the city council and is the largest party once again. This was even after a Blairite New Labour parliamentary candidate was effectively imposed, causing an even further fracturing of the Labour Party.
The far-right racist British National Party (BNP) stood candidates in all three parliamentary seats. However, the mobilisation of the anti-Tory vote (benefitting Labour), supplemented by anti-BNP votes going to Labour, was sufficient on this occasion to see off the challenge of their deputy leader Simon Darby and others.
The BNP also lost two council seats. However, they received significant votes where they stood (a total of 4,770 in just six seats), showing that, unless an effective political alternative is built, there is the possibility of the far right regaining lost ground in the future.
Despite our modest result of 133 votes for TUSC, where we had the opportunity to explain our ideas, on campaigning stalls, at a series of public events and on the doorstep, we had a very good response.
Axiom Rail workers, civil servants, postal workers, staff at Regent College and others gave out our leaflets in their workplaces. More than 3,500 people signed our "workers' MPs on a worker's wage" petition.
One comment on a local website said: "He [TUSC candidate Matt Wright] would have my support if I lived there. The fact is that he has established himself as by far the most pro-worker candidate in the seat... all my friends and family in the area will be voting for you. You should get someone to stand against Whalley [Joan Whalley, Stoke North] so the workers can have a choice at this end."
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