By-elections spell out depth of the coalition crisis

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LABOUR has won three by-elections, holding Croydon North, Middlesbrough and Rotherham, while the coalition governing parties were wiped out.

The Tories came behind UKIP, their more insular first cousin, in two of the seats, while their Liberal Democrat coalition partners lost their deposits in two out of three seats.

The turn-out in the three seats was very small – 24% in Croydon North, 26% in Middlesbrough, and 33% in Rotherham.

However, the UK Independence Party came second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, and finished third in Croydon North.

In Rotherham, the LibDems fell from third place to eighth, behind the BNP, Respect and the English Democrats.

Labour candidate Sarah Champion won in Rotherham with 9,866 votes to UKIP candidate Jane Collins’ 4,648. The BNP and the Respect Party pushed the Conservatives into fifth place, while the LibDems lost their deposit, trailing in eighth.

In Middlesbrough, Labour’s Andy McDonald won with 10,201 votes to UKIP candidate Richard Elvin’s 1,990.

In Croydon North, Labour’s Steve Reed won 15,898 votes, beating the Conservatives’ Andy Stranack by 11,761. Again polling under 5%, the Liberal Democrats lost their second deposit of the night.

However, in Middlesbrough the LibDem candidate George Selmer did succeed in beating the Tory, coming third with 1,672 votes, or nearly 10% of the vote. Ben Houchen of the Conservative Party was in fourth place on 1,063, just three votes ahead of the Peace Party’s Imdad Hussain.

The by-elections revealed with their very low turn-outs that there is no massive enthusiasm for Labour and no feeling that it will put things right for the working class and the middle class.

For the government parties the result could not have been worse. They show that the Conservatives do not even have the support of the majority of Tories for their policies.

For the rest, Respect was not able to repeat its Bradford success, since workers know that the issue cannot be resolved by a protest vote.

The working class and the majority of the middle class are now expected to wait another two years for a general election, by which time this most unpopular government will have created a million more unemployed, levelled the Welfare State and reduced the majority of the people to pauperism.

The message from these three by-elections is clear. It is that the trade unions must stand up for the rights of the majority of the people, and act for the people by calling a general strike to bring the coalition down, before any more damage can be done, and in its place bring in a workers government to carry out socialist policies.

The trade union leaders who resist this approach to resolving the crisis must be removed and replaced by leaders who will lead and call the necessary action.

Meanwhile, while this issue is being fought out, not a single hospital, fire station, factory or office must be allowed to be closed.

The way to do this is to form Councils of Action in every area to organise the defence of the NHS, the public sector, the fire service, and all jobs, by stopping all attempts at closures with occupations.

In this way, millions can be mobilised and they will see to it, in record time, that a general strike is called and the government brought down.

What we need is a workers government, not a Labour government that will carry on from where Cameron left off.

A workers government will nationalise the banks and the major industries and put them under workers control, organising a planned socialist economy to provide jobs for all. This is the only way forward.