Wednesday, 30 April 2008

It's All Over!

That's it. The last door has been knocked on. The final leaflet folded and posted. The campaign is over. Between 0700 and 2200 hours tomorrow, in one small corner of Stoke-on-Trent, approximately a quarter to a third of the electorate in Burslem South ward will find their way to a polling booth and mark a cross against one of six names on their ballot paper.

For once I'm at a loss. I have no idea how the Socialist Party will poll in this ward. We could get anything between seven votes and 700. There's just no way of knowing. We were unable to canvass the whole ward even once - I would estimate we covered approximately one quarter of total households. I will say the response on the doorstep seemed more favourable than the last election campaign I seriously worked on (good old Abbey Green). But you can't extrapolate on the basis of the limited returns from this time round.

Andy on Socialist Unity has ventured that results below 4% are poor, and those above 10% are good. I would concur, but counsels wiser and more experienced than I have said they'd regard anything above 100 votes a decent outcome!

In this ward, we're not the only ones likely to benefit from the local disaffection toward the three party coalition who rubber stamps the mayor's decisions. Ted Owen is the sitting councillor for the Potteries Alliance group, a small scale split from the local Labour party. It is very localist and its leaflets are almost a politics-free zone. Owen's campaign strategy has been to trade heavily on his reputation as a "community councillor".

Then there is the independent, David Giltrap. Again no politics are to be seen in his leaflet, unless you count the rant he launches against the PA (who he brands as loony lefts). Very strange for an independent not to have a go at the mainstream parties too. Is something going on behind the scenes? However, despite a rubbish leaflet and nothing of a campaign to speak of he will probably get a respectable vote. In Stoke there are large numbers of voters prepared to give self-described independents a punt because of their perceived distance from party politics.

Stoke SP has had two advantages over these "alternatives". First is activists on the ground. We have managed to out out three different leaflets. There is no house in the ward to have gone without at least one. And second is their content: our material articulates a clear political alternative to mainstream business-as-usual politics and the localism of our other opponents.

Whether this translates into a decent vote remains to be seen. Sadly, to avoid paying workers over time, the city council will be holding the count on Friday morning so the party has to wait until lunch time to find out. I'll put them up as soon as I have them. Watch this space!


Darren said...

Can I ask an absolutely daft question about being on the doorstep?

Was there a feel good factor amongst the punters because of Stoke City possibly getting promoted to the Premiership?

Just curious, cos I canvassed parts of Long island last year - about health care cuts - during the American Football play-offs and I thought I was going to get battered back to Britain at one point, 'cos I was interfering with people's viewing habits. ;-)

Eddie Truman said...

Don't pay any attention to Andy Newman's absurd setting of vote percentages for 'good' and 'bad' results.
Revolutionary socialists shouldn't be standing in elections with the aim of getting certain percentages of the vote, you stand to use the election to promote the ideas of socialism and to use the heightened political climate, however slight that might be, to communicate with workers and others attracted to the ideas of socialism.
It's only when you have a chance of winning something and therefore of making real gains for working class representation that %ages of the vote matter in any meaningful way.
It appears to me that there is a very real swing to the right going on across Europe at the minute so I would set your expectations low but I'm sure the Socialist Party has conducted a thorough campaign to get your message across, as it always does.
All the best and don't pay any attention to arbitrary benchmarks set by people who have been sucked into electoralism.

ajohnstone said...

Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.
Karl Marx

Scott said...

Surely, you'll be out today getting throses last few votes?

Phil BC said...

Darren, if anything the football situation is likely to make most Burslem South voter miserable. I'm afraid the Satan that is Port Vale has an icy grip on the hearts of our class in this ward.

But we have talked among ourselves about the impact Stoke City's fortunes would have on ours. Certainly there's a lot more kids out and about kicking footballs around. And yes, promotion will give the city a lift after 24 years of hurt. But will it influence the local class struggle? Who knows?

I'd certainly agree with you Eddie about a swing to the right. As you and everyone knows, the far left tend not to poll well so we have set the bar low. We will see. I'll stick the ward results up as soon as I can.

Scott, unfortunately we couldn't get out today. If only we had a full timer or two ...

Steve Platt said...

The Satan that is Port Vale? Lucky you said that after the polls closed ...

Anyway, if Stoke can make the Premiership, there's no reason why the SP can't make the council!

Darren said...


that right? I've always had a soft spot for Port Vale. Your electorate has gone up in my estimation. ;-)