“Congratulations to UKIP. Let’s hope you now hold the controlling Labour group to account. Remember something that they forgot – you work for us, not yourselves and your cronies. If you can do that, you’re already better.
What concerns me most is the collapse of the left. The two TUSC candidates standing were exceptional. Fair enough, I do know both of them, but both would have made excellent councillors. Sarah Kiran for Respect impressed me from her first appearance and I expected a better showing.
So why did the votes shift over to UKIP? At least now the ‘if you vote UKIP, you must be racist’ nonsense can be put to bed once and for all. 44% of the voting public in Rotherham chose UKIP (according to other posters on here) so goodbye generalised racism claims. Nor do I wholly agree with the ‘protest’ vote hypothesis; it’s too easy and leads to complacency.
Let’s face it, UKIP can claim that they focussed on local issues, but we all know it was immigration that clinched it for them. Talking to my neighbours on my council estate, the few who did vote, chose UKIP. Why? Immigration. And we DON’T have any new immigrant arrivals here! When pressed, they were essentially Socialist through and through but they’d rather vote for Thatcherites who talked the talk on immigration.
For anyone on the left of the political spectrum, Thursday/Friday was a tough night. If I had to choose a label, it would be centre left but Labour in Rotherham (and nationally) are a joke so I can’t vote for them. Something has to change so we have someone to represent us. In a time when ‘austerity’ (or genocide against the poor as I prefer to call it) is running rampant, and national and international policy is set by multinationals and banks, when most bureaucracy is ‘managed’ by Common Purpose, it makes me sad to see a good socialist candidate beaten by a Lib Dem.
This next year is crucial for the left. Whatever the reasons may be, the public are not listening to the message, even when that message would benefit far more Rotherhamites than UKIP could ever dream of. So to TUSC and Respect I say this; don’t be disheartened. This is an opportunity. This is a chance to really look at the electorate and engage with their hopes and fears. The last thing any of us need (including the not-quite-so-leftie like me) is a choice between a corrupt Labour party and several different varieties of Thatcher spawn, so you are crucial to have any semblance of real choice. And think on this – most people eligible didn’t vote. That’s your electorate right there… go get ‘em! Don’t let people believe that UKIP are their only option. If there was any justice in politics, then the three candidates mentioned above should now be in office. I hope next year they will be.”