The Socialist Party stood their Yarra Councillor, Stephen Jolly, in the seat of Richmond in Melbourne’s inner city suburbs of Richmond, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Abbotsford, Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy.
In the last election four years ago, we got 1.9% (629 votes) in this seat with the same candidate. Two years ago the SP won a Council position in a ward of Yarra Council (Langridge) that makes up about half of the State seat of Richmond.
For the last two years, therefore, a big number of people in this seat have had a taste of the Socialist Party in action on issues such as child care, public housing, fighting dodgy development, industrial relations and a host of others issues. Not a week goes by without the work of our Councillor or the party not being mentioned in one of the local papers. The area has erupted in small mobilizations and campaigns around issues as diverse as fighting neo-nazi gigs, defending public housing tenants rights, and organising on childcare or planning issues.
Therefore we are happy to report that with 31% of the vote still to be counted, our vote rose from 1.9% to 6.1% (more than trebling).
In the booths of the Richmond seat that were situated inside our Langridge ward are vote was even better. Outside the Langridge ward, our vote only doubled or so (eg from 1.6% at North Richmond in 2002 to 4.7% yesterday).
Inside Langridge, where people had a direct taste of our work, our vote rose much higher. For example at Spensley St Primary School in Clifton Hill we went from 1.8% in 2002 to 7% yesterday. In Gold St Primary School booth, in North Collingwood, we rose from 1.8% to 9.2%. At the Collingwood College booth next to the Collingwood high rise public housing estate we rose from 3.1% last time to 11.4% now.
The most amazing booth for us was on a new booth at the massive Fitzroy public housing estate (Atherton Gardens). We won 20.3% of the vote, coming second to the ALP (48.8%) and beating the Liberals (8.6%) and Greens (18.3%)!
The Atherton Gardens Residents Association believe that most ALP votes at this booth came from the richer houses outside Atherton Gardens, and that amongst public housing residents we got a majority of the vote.
With 69% of vote counted we are currently on 1575 votes (6.1%). This is well over the 4% needed to get your deposit back and qualify for state funding.
By the time all the votes are counted over the next few days, we should easily get over 2000 votes. A second article will give the final results for Richmond when they are ready.
The seat looks likely to be retained by the ALP’s Richard Wynne whose vote rose from 47.4% in 2002 to 48.5% so far in this count. If he wins it is expected he will be elevated to be Minister of Housing. He will then be the minister responsible for public housing, with three massive high rise estates in his seat.
In 2002 the vote for ‘left of ALP’ parties (Greens and SP) was 30.5% and now it is 28.9%. This is because the Green vote dropped from 28.6% last time to 22.8% now while, as outlined above, we went from 1.9% to 6.1%.
This shows a leftwing shift in the area. Of every 30 people voting left of ALP in 2002, 28 voted Green and 2 voted Socialist. Now out of every 30 people voting left of ALP, 23 or 24 vote Green and 6 or 7 vote Socialist.
Why did this happen? The Greens ran a bad campaign, but the drop in their vote is for more fundamental reasons than that. They have been increasingly compared unfavourably to the ‘real deal’ SP, in terms of carrying out of policies that benefit residents. This explains the significant realignment of the ‘left of ALP’ vote from Greens to Socialist Party.
This State election puts SP in a very strong position for the November 2008 Council elections where we aim, in alliance with progressive independents, to gain control of Yarra Council and have the first genuine socialist Council in Australia. A whole series of new and changed policies on planning, child care, service provision, internal organisational structures and more are being developed.
The DSP-dominated Socialist Alliance stood in Brunswick where they got 1.9% (544 votes) and in Footscray where they got 1.5% (379 votes). Independent socialist and ex-DSP member Jorge Jorquera stood in Derrimut and got 0.9% (238 votes).
A further report of the Victorian State election will follow soon. It will mainly analyse why the ALP won a third term.
By Socialist Party reporters