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Leeds woke up today to the soundtrack of Liberal Democrats been turfed out of several seats as local people showed what they thought of their decision to join the Tories in coalition nationally. The Lib Dems vote crumbled in many areas as they lost four seats to Labour and one to the Tories. Labour also gained two seats from the Tories and one from the Morley Borough Indepedents, giving them outright contol of the council (they have run the council with the unofficial support of two greens for the last year).

Iain Dalton, Leeds TUSC election agent

No doubt the huge Labour vote in many areas was motivated, as the Socialist Party explained in advance, by anger at the austerity measures being implemented by the coalition. Voters turned to Labour to protect their jobs and local services.

Despite New Labour councillor in Headingley ward, Neil Walshaw, claiming that “people had been won over by the way Labour had handled the cuts in Leeds and that the party would stand up for the city”, it was Labour who presided over the recent £90m cuts package that is leading to closures of leisure centres, day centres, libraries and the Leeds Crisis Centre as well as the introduction of a 50p charge for the Free City Bus and the slashing of up to 3,000 jobs. Rather than Walshaw’s claims to be defending the city this is much more like abject surrender to the whims of the Con-Dems.

The reality is that Labour have no real alternative to the Con-Dem cuts than making the cuts at a slightly slower pace, in effect a minimal difference like choosing between death by shooting or strangulation. They would rather let the Con-Dems face the anger of the electorate for the next few years over the cuts until they hope the economy will have recovered, than try to stop the Con-Dems by bringing down the government (or even local councils such as Sheffield where Labour have been in a position where they could have taken control with the support of some Greens) as due to their lack of an alternative they would end up implementing the same cuts and face the same anger from voters.

Whilst unlikely, at this stage, that anti-cuts candidates would win, it was important as a marker for the future that eight anti-cuts candidates, opposed to all public sector cuts and vowing to vote against them in the council chamber, contested the elections, gaining between 2 and 8% of the vote in the wards they contested. Particuarly impressive is the 502 votes cast for Mike Davies of the Alliance for Green Socialism (AGS) in Chapel Allerton pushing him ahead of the Lib Dems and the Greens into 3rd, with the AGS reporting increased votes for most of their candidates. As awareness increases as to the real role that Labour are playing in relation to pushing through cuts this support will no doubt increase, as workers look for a genuine alternative to the cuts.

The Socialist Party stood two candidates in Leeds as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Ian Pattison in Headingley and Andrew Smith in Horsforth. Whilst gaining a modest 88 (2.3%, doubling the percentage vote of the AGS candidate here last year) and 164 (2.1%) votes respectively, the campaign has allowed us to reach out to wider layers of the community to help build up anti-cuts communities in both areas.

During the Horsforth campaign we took to the streets with a petition against the Con-Dems attacks on the NHS which will be handed in when Horsforth Against the Cuts lobbies local Tory MP Stuart Andrew next month. In Headingley we have been collecting e-mail addresses of local residents to contact about the launch of Headingley Against the Cuts on Monday 9th May at the HEART centre. We have also supported strikers at Leeds Federated Housing as well as sold hundreds of copies of the Socialist and gained new members in both areas during the campaign, putting us in a stronger position to help build the anti-cuts movement across Leeds.

Anti-Cuts candidates results (in bold)

Lab – 1536 – 39.6% (gain from Lib Dem)
Lib Dem – 1098 – 28.3%
Green – 682 – 17.6%
Con – 370 – 9.5%
TUSC – 88 – 2.3%
Ind – 69 – 1.8%
UKIP – 39 – 1%
total – 3882
Con – 2680 – 33.7% (gain from Lib Dem)
Lib Dem – 2466 – 31%
Lab – 2213 – 27.9%
UKIP – 421 – 5.3%
TUSC – 164 – 2.1%
total – 7944
Con – 4254 – 53.3% (hold)
Lab – 2827 – 35.4%
UKIP – 547 – 6.9%
AGS – 351 – 4.4%
total – 7979
Chapel Allerton
Lab – 4121 – 63.6% (hold)
Con – 868 – 13.4%
AGS – 502 – 7.8%
Lib Dem – 501 – 7.7%
Green – 484 – 7.5%
total – 6476

Gipton & Harehills
Lab – 4805 – 80.2% (hold)
Lib Dem – 506 – 8.4%
Tory – 462 – 7.7%
AGS – 220 – 3.7%
total – 5993
Lab – 3634 – 64.5% (hold)
Con – 680 – 12.1%
Lib Dem – 636 – 11.3%
Green – 526 – 9.3%
Ind (Stuart Long) – 157 – 2.8%
total – 5633
Lab – 3688 – 44.5% (Lab gain from Lib Dem)
Lib Dem – 2834 – 34.2%
Con – 1380 – 16.7%
AGS – 381 – 4.6%
total – 8283
Lab – 4307 – 50.3% (Lab gain from Con)
Con – 2850 – 33.3%
Lib Dem – 578 – 6.7%
Green – 559 – 6.5%
AGS – 273 – 3.2%
total – 8567