WHEN Dave Nellist was expelled from the Labour Party and deselected prior to the 1992 General Election, he never lost hope that socialism could win hearts and minds in Britain.
A supporter of the Militant tendency throughout his time in Parliament, Nellist went on to set up the Socialist Party – and later the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), of which is is chair.
TUSC, which stood down during the Jeremy Corbyn years, have made a political return under Sir Keir Starmer, contesting the London Assembly elections and a string of council by-elections.
Nellist’s candidacy for the seat of Birmingham Erdington, however, represents the first time they have contested a parliamentary seat since the 2015 General Election – and they’re looking to win.
“This is a serious campaign to win the seat,” Nellist told Redaction Report.
“Just at the time there’s the widest gap for years between the rich and the rest of us, we have the narrowest gap between the major political parties.”
It’s fair to say that Labour have failed to inspire leftist voters since Corbyn stood down in 2020.
Sir Keir has actively opposed the left wing of the Labour Party, creating a black hole in membership numbers and siphoning off potential voters to the Green Party.
The question remains as to where socialists and progressives in Britain go, at least when it comes to the ballot box. Is the Green Party – imperfect as it is – the only option?
That’s where TUSC steps in, according to Nellist.
As a former Labour MP in the Midlands – and a radical one at that – Nellist presents a socialist alternative that is not only welcome for a despondent Left, but seemingly healthy for democracy.
Birmingham Erdington has voted Labour in every election since 1945 – but that doesn’t mean voters in the constituency are necessarily inspired by the red rosette.
Nellist said: “In the General Election of 2019, barely half the people in Erdington were inspired to vote for any candidate, one of the lowest turnouts across the country.
“We think we understand why, and we hope to give some of those in the constituency who were turned off by all politicians in the past a reason to vote on March 3 by the socialist alternative we offer.”
It won’t be easy, of course – but standing on a platform which includes a £15 an hour minimum wage, wage rises on pace with inflation and the renationalise of rail, mail and utilities may inspire voters disillusioned with Starmer’s leadership to make their way over.
Relatively disappointing performances for the likes of the Northern Independence Party and the Breakthrough Party in recent parliamentary by-elections haven’t inspired huge confidence that an insurgent can immediately break through.
But in TUSC’s case, with a former Labour MP from the region running as part of an established party, there’s more than a sliver of hope that he can make an impact.
A satisfactory result for Nellist, though, would only be “winning it” outright. But even if he doesn’t come close, TUSC are still placing themselves in the national picture ahead of the upcoming 2022 local elections.
“It’s not easy when we don’t have the same resources, or will get the same media coverage, as the Establishment parties,” Nellist said.
“But if we’re not successful in winning we aim to be at least the major, minor party in this election, to build people’s confidence that a fightback is possible.
“And in the council elections to follow in May stand across the constituency and as wide as possible in Birmingham as a step to building a new party for working people.”
In 2015, TUSC said they were the sixth-biggest party on the ballot paper, standing 135 parliamentary candidates and 619 local ones. After a few years out of the public eye, they’re hoping to steal Starmer’s thunder and make a socialist impact on the big stage.
You can find out more about Dave Nellist’s campaign at http://www.nellistforerdington.com/.
Featured Image: Courtesy of campaign
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