Penyrheol by election - another step forward for TUSC

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition wins 10% of the vote

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has taken another step forward in Penyrheol ward in Caerphilly borough securing nearly 10% of the vote in a by election.

Lloyd James took a big step forward last year winning the vote of 5.9% of voters with 175 votes in the council elections in the ward. This time another young worker, Jaime Davies, took it another step winning 9.6% of the vote. We knew we were up against it this time with the election being called with so many away on their summer holidays and we were having to compete for every vote rather than ONE vote from FOUR. So our target was to try and hold onto our vote. We more or less succeeded despite a lower turnout and in doing so nearly doubled our share of the vote.

The main plank of our campaign was to for a doctor-led A&E at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, the new local hospital that replaced Caerphilly Miners' and other hospitals. We are demanding that the council supports our campaign to restore a doctor-led A&E to the area by calling a referendum to allow the people of Caerphilly to decide what services they want the new hospital to provide. Labour has claimed there is no problem at the new hospital and rejected all calls for the return of the A&E. Plaid Cymru was in power at the council when the new plans were signed off and let them go through without objection.

We also campaigned against the way the main parties are running the council. While council workers have suffered three years of a pay freeze, Labour and Plaid councillors voted in a secret meeting to increase the wages of top managers by as much as 30% taking the chief executive's pay to 156,000. It was only a walkout by council workers that stopped the pay rise being awarded. The chief executive has since been arrested for his part in arranging his own pay rise. On the day of the election it also transpired that council managers had been spying on the workforce in a very extensive and intrusive way. As the article elsewhere on this site says, "This is a council rapidly acquiring a dirty reputation".

We canvassed the whole of Penyrheol itself plus a few parts of the rest of the ward in bright sunshine in temperatures reaching 30. On the doorstep we got an excellent response. Everyone agreed with the campaign for the A&E. This ward has a stronghold for Plaid Cymru for a number of years, but a number of people took down Plaid Cymru window posters and put up our posters instead.

But the big question was "would our support be reflected in votes?". It was easier last year, a number of Labour voters with four votes each voted three times for Labour and once for us. We knew Labour is not popular, but TUSC is still relatively unknown. The big parties have a high profile and big electoral machines. Would Labour and Plaid voters switch their votes completely this time? Would people remember to vote for us?

As it turns out they did. We came third, beat the Tories and nearly doubled our share of the vote. We are beginning to build solid support for TUSC in Penyrheol. Next time we aim to overtake Labour and maybe win a seat.

Mariam Kamish

Penyrheol by election result

  • Jaime Davies (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 173 (9.6%)
  • Cameron Muir-Jones (Conservative) 135 (7.5%)
  • Gareth Pratt (Labour) 554 (30.8%)
  • Steve Scrivens (Plaid Cymru) 929 (51.7%)
  • Turnout 1798 (20.6%)

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