Friday, 6 December 2013

Shettleston by-election

Well, the votes have been counted in the Shettleston by-election and the results declared. 

It doesn't feel like a month ago that I was unexpectedly asked to represent the Socialist Party as our candidate to fill the vacancy at George Square: it has been all systems go since then, with almost daily campaign activity. 

We were under no illusions at the start of the campaign: I had no chance of winning the seat in what was billed as a straight fight between the National Party and the incumbent Labour Party. The fight got even harder with the decision of a smaller Left party to enter the race, splitting the progressive vote, as well as an embittered former Labour councillor who shamelessly hijacked the anti-Bedroom Tax movement spearheaded by the Socialist Party to try and get back into the City Chambers, further splitting the vote. 

With next to no chance of victory, we had a twin aim in this election: continue our work in re-establishing our presence in the East End of Glasgow whilst building our membership; and to ensure that our vote held up. 

Both aims were achieved - we scored an identical share of the vote as last time, despite this election being essentially a first-past-the-post race. We held several street stalls each week of the campaign, being the most active street campaigning party by some distance, held a successful public meeting, established links with local community campaign groups and even found time not only to humiliate the deputy leader of the Labour Party in Scotland by calling a demonstration outside his office in protest at his decision to keep the Bedroom Tax, but also to participate in the hugely-successful Radical Independence Conference. 

The Socialist Party obviously doesn't have the resources of the main parties - we don't get donations from big business like the National Party and the Labour Party do, or benefit from the proceeds of fraud like the Liberal Democrats - but despite that, we still managed to put different leaflets out during the campaign, with our small but committed group of activists managing to leaflet thousands of homes and speak with thousands of voters. 

Ukip, despite their wall-to-wall media coverage and weekly invitations to Question Time not afforded us, yet again failed to make any sort of impact in a Scottish election and lost their deposit (they've never retained one in Scotland). The exposure of their candidate as an active and committed Nazi did not help in that regard - they continue to never have had a single elected representative in Scotland. 

Despite all of the obstacles in our path, we came within eighteen votes of defeating the Liberal Democrats - the party of government in the Westminster parliament. 

So our vote is holding up, we have recruited new members, and we have made huge inroads into rebuilding our profile in the local community. 

It's been a successful election for the Scottish Socialist Party. We are back.