If we don’t stand, we can’t win. A Labour candidate in every ward.

By John Spellar

There have been some significant omens heralding the implosion of the Lib Dems. Barnsley, where they slumped from second to sixth, is the most dramatic, leading to the bizarre outburst by Lib Dem president, Tim Farron MP, in which he compared Barnsley to North Korea.

Nor should we ignore the surge of UKIP as a new oppositionalist channel. A few weeks ago down in Cornwall, Labour went from fifth to first to win a county council seat.

The pattern isn’t universal. The Lib Dems are holding out in some areas. But there is clearly a rumbling in the land. There are also strong rumours that polling shows that Clegg’s position has slumped disastrously in his Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Which leads us to the elections in May. The public will only be able to register their disgust with this Tory-led coalition if they have Labour candidates to vote for. It is not only bad for Labour, but bad for democracy if we let the case go by default in some areas by not running candidates.

The NEC and Victoria Street should instruct all regions to ensure that everyone going to the polls has the chance to vote Labour. There must be no hiding place for the Tories and the Lib Dems.

We will win a lot more votes, build the party across the country and – as in Cornwall – make some surprising gains.

Closing date for nominations is Monday 4 April.

John Spellar is Labour MP for Warley.

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6 Responses to “If we don’t stand, we can’t win. A Labour candidate in every ward.”

  1. Tacitus says:

    Just a question really to anyone who may care to answer. I live in a largely Tory ward. I’m happy enough to stand as a candidate, but really the ward is pretty much unwinnable.

    On the other hand I can see a number of wards in my constituency that are really quite winnable. So, wouldn’t my time be better spent campaigning for candidates who defeat a sitting Tory and win seats on our Tory-led council, rather than slogging for a the next few weeks, only to be trounced at the polls?

  2. Edward Carlsson Browne says:

    Cornwall as an unexpected gain, but not that surprising – Camborne is historically a strong Labour area.

    In contrast, there are many areas where it’s not a matter of “if we don’t stand, we can’t win”, it’s just a matter of “we can’t win.” Nice as it would be to get 10-15% of the vote in a seat in rural Bedfordshire, we won’t get to the 30%+ we need to win in rural areas with no history of Labour strength, years of uncontested seats and weak local parties.

    That’s even more the case when this call to arms is being made less than two months before election day. If you haven’t started campaigning yet, then in most parts of the country you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

    If we have members willing to stand, we should encourage that. Regions should try to help this come to pass. But where filing a full slate requires 25%+ of members in a district standing, we won’t have the candidates and even if we did then you’d have to waste time gathering signatures when you could be canvassing more winnable wards in the district.

    Get as many candidates as you can, but don’t worry too much about filing everywhere. Concentrate on running campaigns to win in at least one seat in every district – we show the presence of Labour a lot more effectively by electing a councillor to campaign, put forward our policies and get his or her name in the local paper than we do by making sure there’s a name on the ballot paper and doing no more to make ourselves noticed.

    Don’t believe me? The Tories stand in metropolitan elections all over the place. Does that mean they have a real presence in Haringey or Liverpool?

    By 2013 we should be standing everywhere – especially as it’s easier to run full slates for county elections than district ones. But it’s too early and we’re not organised enough to do that this year, so let’s just concentrate on getting some footholds.

  3. Stuart King says:

    I very much agree with John. The challenge though, is probably greater than many of us have anticipated. Analysis on http://www.southernfront.org.uk shows that the last time the councils with elections in May were up (in 2007), Labour failed to put up a candidate in 42% of wards.

    We are starting from a low base and must do better this time round, but nominations close on 4th April, so time is running out.


  4. Tim Prest says:

    As Chair\sec of my local party, I am trying to find candidates for district elections. I have 30 wards to fill in a rural Tory area, only had 1 Labour councillor, 10 years ago. From a membership of 94 ranging from 16 to 90 yrs old this is an almighty task.
    If anyone has any ideas how to persuade people to stand , even as paper candidates, please let me know. I have 3 paper and 2 serious candidates, trouble is the 2 serious ones have only just joined and were preivious LibDem candidates, Can I trust them ?
    Ryedale needs help !!!

  5. Andrew says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the idea that every ward needs a Labour candidate, and especially now that the Torys are stepping up thier game locally, its definitely time for Labour to stand candidates across Northern Ireland.

  6. Delighted to read that John Spellar believes the Labour Party must run candidates in Northern Ireland. Long overdue

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