Compass Youth helped Searchlight and Labour defeat the BNP in a crucial council by-election in Sandwell last night, in a ward in which it had won several seats over the past few years. A big delegation of Compass Youth members and London Young Labour headed up to join in the training and go out campaigning.
The election in Princes End was caused after BNP councillor James Lloyd was thrown out for non-attendance after he had not been to a meeting for over six months. Labour fought a model campaign and in Delia Edwards had an excellent candidate who now, as a councillor, will serve local people well.
The BNP distributed at least four leaflets across the ward, including two full-colour leaflets, but was never able to answer for Lloyd's awful record.
Searchlight played a significant role in the campaign, producing one colour leaflet before the election was formally called and another distributed over the final weekend. We focused heavily on Lloyd's poor record and it was gratifying to hear so many voters on polling day make reference to our material. We were supported by dozens of activists from around the country who came out in awful weather over the last weekend to campaign for us and the Labour Party. Compass Youth supported Searchlight throughout this weekend on the doorstep.
Samuel Tarry Chair of Compass Youth and Anti Racism Officer for London Young Labour who ran one of the training sessions commented: "It was great to meet other young people from across the country engaged in the battle against the fascist BNP, we shared ideas and learnt about some of the most up to date community campaigning techniques direct from the USA. Many of us came up from London where we have a grave threat from the BNP in the forthcoming GLA elections and where in East London we already have over a dozen BNP Councillors elected. We know that the lies they spread about migrant workers and immigrant community's can really damage community relations and lead to working people seeing the problems they face over the allocation of housing or the competition for jobs through the warped prism of race and immigration. Instead the analysis of the difficulties faced by working people should be made on the basis of the modern and radical social democratic analysis put forward by Compass. Make no mistake, the ultimate goal of the BNP is an all white Britain; a Britain in which the BNP deny the long term economic and social gains made by working class people moving here from across the empire to help to rebuild our country after the devastation of the Second World War. A war which would have seen the likes of the BNP marching alongside Oswald Mosley's fascist Blackshirts in support of Hitler and the Nazi movement in Germany. Working closely with Searchlight, Compass Youth will use this training to full effect to take forward the fight against the BNP in 2008, exposing the racism, corruption and criminal actions within the BNP itself and the failure to properly represent the needs of working people, we will pushing a message of hope over hate that we know from experience resonates with working people."
In the end the Labour Party won the seat comfortably with just under fifty per cent of the vote, with the BNP trailing in third place with less than 20% of the vote.
Labour 796 (48.1%)
Conservatives 517 (31.2%)
BNP 314 (19.0%)
Lib Dems 29 (1.6%)
We would like to thank Searchlight for its hard work over the weekend. It is clear from the result and the doorstep feedback that their intervention over that weekend played a major part in turning voters away from the BNP.