Saturday, 1 March 2014

Defection Watch: Socialist Labour Get First Councillor

Cllr Jim McDermott
Cllr Jim McDermott (Barking and Dagenham LBC, Eastbury ward) has quit the Labour Party and joined Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party, giving the SLP what is, as far as I can tell, their first ever councillor.  McDermott has been a councillor since 2006, and was described as a "long-serving left-wing councillor".  He criticised Ed Miliband for what he saw as a continuing trend by Labour to the right, saying Miliband wanted to “take the party on a different political path”.

The Socialist Labour Party have been in existence since 1996, and generally have limited impact in any elections they contest, although they did manage a fairly impressive 14.2% in Glasgow North East in 2005 in the absence of a Labour candidate (the formerly Labour MP Michael Martin was standing as Speaker Seeking Re-Election).  Although their honestly rather poor website doesn't record their electoral history, looking at other sources I have not been able to find any evidence of the SLP ever having had a councillor before, so McDermott may well be their first.

Barking and Dagenham is an ultra-safe Labour borough - they won every single seat here in the 2010 elections, recouping all their previous losses after the BNP had made a significant breakthrough in 2006.  There have been a number of defections since 2010 however, mostly to right-wing parties though with three Labour councillors joining UKIP, one joining the Conservatives, and another going Independent.

Eastbury ward itself had one BNP councillor and two Labour councillors elected in 2006, before Labour won all three in 2010 with 44.3% of the vote to the second-placed BNP's 19.8%.  If McDermott chooses to contest his seat under his new colours in May, his performance will depend largely on his own personal vote, since the SLP doesn't have any real history of electoral success in its own right.

New council composition:
Labour - 45 (-1)
UKIP - 3
Conservative - 1
Independent - 1
Socialist Labour - 1 (+1)

1 comment:

  1. A second councillor in Barking, Barry Poulton, who represents Thames ward has also defected to Socialist Labour.
    In 2010 a former Labour councillor in Ellesmere Port, Kenny Spain, polled 37% for the SLP.
    The power of the Labour Party, illustrated by the examples mentioned, is a major obstacle to the growth of a mass workers party.
    It's a problem exacerbated in my view by the tendency to express 'safe' anger in protest or tactical voting, encouraged all too often by the electoral left which converges around coalitions (often with 'left' Labour) or single issues.
    That we do not have access to big money or big space has nothing to do with the quality of our principles or the skills of our members.
    Kim Singleton
    General Secretary
    Socialist Labour Party