Hartlepool - no surprises
There were no surprises in Hartlepool this
week as Labour held on to the seat in the by-election. With an
expectedly reduced majority Labour was able to fight off the Lib-Dem
candidate using extremely vicious dirty tactics - attempting to
emphasise among other things that the Lib-Dems were soft on criminals.
The Tories were absolutely humiliated and
came fourth after UKIP - a result that will have them tearing their hari
out with frustration.
For the left there was no breakthrough.
John Bloom the RESPECT candidate did not achieve the percentage vote
that the SLP got at the last General Election, and gained the equivalent
vote to the Socialist Alliance Brent by-election result.
(For those with short
memories; 18th September 2003: Brent East - Socialist Alliance 1.7%
(5th place) 30th September 2004:
Hartlepool - Respect 1.8% (5th Place) )
RESPECT did beat the Greens and the
National Front which is some consolation, but without even gaining 2% it
is difficult to see this as any kind of breakthrough.
none of this is to say that
nationally the picture is as poor - only in this particular
by-election RESPECt's result was disappointing.
Iain Wright (Labour): 12752 votes
Jody Dunn (Liberal Democrat): 10719 votes
Stephen Allison (UK
Independence Party): 3193 votes (+10.2%).
Jeremy Middleton (Conservative): 3044
John Bloom (Respect - The Unity
Coalition): 572 votes.
Iris Ryder (Green Party): 255 votes.
James Starkey (National Front): 246 votes.
Paul Watson Fathers-4-Justice (Independent
Candidate): 139 votes.
Christopher Herriot (Socialist Labour
Party): 95 votes (-2.1%).
Richard Rodgers (Common Good): 91 votes.
Phillip Berriman (Independent Candidate):
Alan Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party): 80
Ronnie Carroll (Independent Candidate): 45
Edward Abrams (English Democrats Party):
right to try to stand here. Up until now it had predominantly only done
well in areas with high percentages of Muslims - it must break out of
this if it is to gain any real success electorally. This means
Hartlepool was not tactically wrong for RESPECT to stand in - only that
it was difficult terrain in which RESPECT was heavily squeezed.
Jim Jackson, who had
campaigned in this election had these observations to make of the
seemed well organised, there seemed to be good numbers of helpers. I
understand that there was no established Respect group or proto-group in
Hartlepool - local campaigners seemed few on the ground but very active.
"Very Many Hartlepool residents were heartily sick of the election -
with a "not more bloody election stuff" quite common when canvassing
(can't win - in many elections people moan that nobody ever called).
people on the door step said they'd heard of him, his campaigning had
made his name locally."
RESPECT has issued a rather upbeat press release to this disappointing
result which you can
Some have drawn the parallels with the
Brent result and compared what a press release would have looked like
had the same notions been applied.
What they could have said:
Based on Respect press release:
Labour humiliation, Tory disaster, Lib
Dems stole it
From a standing start in a crowded field
of 16 candidates and massive and unprecedented resources poured into the
constituency by the major parties, the Socialist Alliance and its
candidate Brian Butterworth did exceptionally well. We gained a clear
fifth place and established the Socialist Alliance as the largest and
best organised left challenge to the establishment, gaining only
slightly less votes than the Green candidate.
We have established a platform in
Brent on which the Socialist Alliance will build over the coming
The well known election specialist s have
remarked that the Socialist Alliance played a decisive role in the
Preston and Tottenham by-elections, and the Brent East by-election shows
we are well-placed to grow in the forthcoming weeks and months.
they actually said:
"The Socialist Alliance is not linked in
people's minds with the opposition to the war and is not distinguishable
on the ballot paper, except to a small minority, from any sect that can
afford a deposit." John Molyneux
- Socialist Review
If RESPECT is
the only game in town - unfortunately the town is not Hartlepool. It's
clear there is still much work to be done uniting Greens, Socialists and
Respect members for a united progressive challenge against
neo-liberalism. It's important in the light of this result for RESPECT
members to keep pushing for unity and not to believe some of the more
exaggerated hype that comes out of the central press office.