debate lineupNow it's all over, what can be said?  Basically, we fought an intense and positive campaign, widely admired and respected across the parties, the media, and politically conscious parts of the electorate - and we gained a respectable result right across the West Midlands, after gaining a huge humber of sympathetic contacts. Arguably, the real work now begins! 

VOTES:

At just short of 6,000 first preference votes, or 1.2% of valid votes cast, the Communist take across the 28 constituencies in seven boroughs in the West Midlands Mayoral contest was three to four times the rate recorded by our Party's contests in the 2015 general election and almost five times the total national take then of 1,229.  As so many of you have told us, in these circumstances, it was a REAL achievement and inspiring stuff. Many thanks to our superb candidate, Graham Stevenson, for spearheading the whole thing. 

FINANCES:

We managed to raise our initial funding target, £10,000, which went on the deposit for standing our candidate (£5,000) and the election booklet (£5,000), which reached 2 million households - the largest distribution of Communist material anywhere, ever. But there is an additional £2,000 cost for leaflets and Morning Star adverts, which was incurred in the final part of the campaign, which we are still trying to clear.

We were overwhelmed by the response to our campaign, and money still continues to come in.  So please don’t stop - we are almost there! We have up to 35 days after the declaration of the result before we declare our Mayoral election expenses. So we can continue to accept Graham4Mayor donations for another couple of weeks, if you'd like to be part of that historic event. Beyond that, we will need to refill the coffers to continue electoral work when we widely contest borough elections next year - work around which will start almost immediately after the General Election (after some of us take a well-earned break!).  

We promised voters we would challenge council leaders who uncritically implement cuts, or who especially collaborate with the elected Tory Mayor, who will be held to account over the three years of his term in office. To that end, we have set up a 2018 Midlands Elections Fund. So, all late cheques will always find a home!

Thank you to all those who have already helped and those who will now help us to achieve what we were told was the impossible.  Thank you, to all those who campaigned, pounded the streets, knocked on doors, leafleted, worked on social media, attended meetings, collected signatures, signed the nomination form and kept us all going with support, tea and encouragement. Thank you also for the incredibly generous donations:

  • Over £1,700 from 10 individuals in Birmingham, Worcestershire, Herefordshire
  • £2,000 from 12 people in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, and Oxfordshire & Berkshire. 
  • £500 from a very generous comrade in Nottinghamshire
  • Nearly £500 from around half a dozen people in Coventry and Warwickshire 
  • £485 from London - although you were small in number, your donations warmed our hearts
  • £350 - many very welcome contributions from Northern England
  • Over £250 from Shropshire, workers' cash that was all hard fought for
  • £230 from generous donors from all over the South-West
  • £155 from the wonderful people of Dudley, Wolves and Sandwell who dug deep into the sofa
  • £200 a very welcome solidarity donation from the CPB in Scotland
  • Generous support from the Association of Indian Communists of £200 and the IWA of £100.
  • £125 raised from Yorkshire Communist Party branches, enthused at our campaign.
  • £100 contributed by a very generous former Party memebr in Norwich.

Also, not to be forgotten are the numerous donations (sometimes twice!) from all over, including Staffordshire, Runcorn, Wales, and from Southern England.  Keep sending cheques, with your address, Payable to Midlands CP, to Graham4Mayor, 22 Brecon Road, B20 3RN. Queries: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

For other details of how to pay:

http://communist-party.org.uk/britain/cp-in-your-area/england/west-midlands-mayor/2310-graham4mayor.html

CAMPAIGN DIARY

The following endeavours to capture the breadth of the campaign, and the many hours and days spent by comrades on street activity, stalls, leafleting and campaigning. We were joined by comrades and supporters from all over the wider Greater Midlands, with an especial mention to Shrewsbury comrades, who `twinned’ with Wolverhampton, and also Oxford comrades, who did the same with Coventry. Every weekend of the campaign (and a fair number of weekdays and evenings) was designated a specific area to work in, testing the temperature sub-regionally for receptive voters.

Alongside this, our candidate followed an extensive (some may say punishing) schedule of hustings, public meetings, interviews and appearances.

 

 February

 

 

4

Midlands CPB District Committee and Aggregate meeting of Midlands comrades

 

 Decision to stand candidate in WMCA Mayoral Election endorsed

7

Campaign Strategy agreed and 9-person Graham4Mayor team put in place

 

 Comrades stand by to be separated from loved-ones for the duration!

9

VOICE OF ISLAM Radio

 

LISTEN

  Graham does an initial 10 minute interview, calling on Muslim youth to organise in a      union. 

15

 

Agent and Candidate spend all week obtaining 7 sets of electronic electoral registers with 1.95 million voters, to check nominations and support.

 

  Administrative nightmare overcome as we scour the data for contacts and leads

20

 

 GLOBAL RADIO INC

 

LISTEN

 

Graham had interviews all day for Global Radio, Britain’s largest commercial radio company.  He had separate interviews for multiple stations, which included:  Capital Coventry; Classic FM; LBC; Radio X; Heart; Smooth.  Some of these were broadcast nationwide, others just locally.

21

 

 BBC Radio 4 News

 

Comments by the canddiate on Today programme and PM

WEST MIDLANDS

PENSIONERS CONVENTION

Hustings

 

West Bromwich Central Library  

 

 G.S. refused a place on the platform, only allowed to speak from floor. Journalist mediator attempted to limit to only one contribution as not a “proper” candidate but the meeting rebelled and forced him to allow G.S.to speak on every point, (but still only from floor).

24

EXPRESS & STAR

 

READ

 

The main Black Country newspaper & online news source feature a report on the pensioners Hustings  

 

March

 

 

6

EXPRESS & STAR

 

 

Interview

14

BBC Radio WM

 

Adrian Goldberg  

Half hour interview -  Breakfast show

 

15

BBC TV

 

Midlands Today

Interview

 

16

BBC TV

 

Daily Politics Show

Interview

 

Birmingham Mail & Post-Trinity Mirror Group

 

Photos & written interview available for use for regional titles

 

19

BBC TV

 

 BBC Sunday Politics Show

Interview

 

29

Citizens UK West Midlands Mayoral Assembly

University of Birmingham

 

G.S was not invited as candidate and, with Unison involved, his personal audience ticket for the event was cancelled!

 

30

Combined Authority Returning Officer confirmed candidature for the West Midlands Mayor successful.

 

All 100 signed nominations from seven boroughs were declared valid

 

 

April

 

 

4

WEST MIDS DEBATES Hustings (Urban Communications)

Birmingham Hippodrome

 

 

 

COMMUNIST CANDIDATE not invited, CPB protest and leafleting outside

6

WEST MIDS RAIL FUTURE (Rail bosses’ organisation) and FRIENDS OF THE EARTH Hustings

 

Birmingham Council House

 

 COMMUNIST CANDIDATE not invited, but “could sit in audience” – refused and leafleted outside

“Where’s Graham?”

 

TWITTER

 

Twitter campaign of ridicule, “Where’s Graham?” begun, pinpointing the banning organisations, which now began to fade.

BIRMINGHAM TRADES COUNCIL MEETING

 

Leafleting

 

7

WILDLIFE TRUST (and other environmental groups) Hustings

 

Birmingham City University

 

All candidates invited.  COMMUNIST CANDIDATE spoke

 

8

UAF DEMO against EDL

 

Victoria Square, Birmingham

 

All candidates invited, only COMMUNIST CANDIDATE attended and spoke

 

11

FACEBOOK LIVE

 

WATCH

30 min interview with Graham. He has the highest number of people viewing of all the candidates, the next highest being Labour.

Free Radio (ITN national franchise) 

 

LISTEN

 

Interview

12

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio

 

 

Half hour interview with Trish Adudu Breakfast Show

WEST MIDS TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE Hustings

Birmingham City University

All candidates including Graham invited. 

WIKIPEDIA

 

Agreed to add our candidate to the WM Mayoral page.

13

ITV Central News

 

WATCH

 

News report

13

PRESS RELEASE

 

95 outlets supplied with comment on new education paper calling for radical rethink to local education systems

15

 

BLACK COUNTRY RADIO

 

Ian Marrey breakfast slot

 

One hour with leader of Tory council and local Tory MP (Labour and the Church of England refused to appear), followed by one hour one to one wide-ranging interview with Graham

NEW UNION ENTERPRISE RADIO

WATCH

 

Half hour radio (with video) interview with New Union (multimedia youth project):   youth media training initiative linked to local youth parliament.

 

18

 

BBC Coventry & Warks Radio

 

LISTEN

Evening political debate all 6 candidate 1hr with audience participation (Ends 18.5.170

19

 

BBC WM radio

 

Danny Kelly – the hot seat interview

 

Listener participation, which was supportive!

 

20

 

  BBC Midlands

 

WATCH

 

Televised debate – broadcast at 10.45pm.  (Available until 20th May)

 

21

 

BBC Radio 4

 

PM programme

 

Interview

 

“I Am Birmingham”

WATCH

 

30 minute interview

 

25

 

MOSELEY FORUM, allied to other South Side Neighbourhood Forums, Hustings

 

Kings Heath New Baptist Church

 

250 attended - all candidates including Graham invited.

 

Made In Birmingham (cable channel)

WATCH

 

 

26

 

Warwick University student radio

 

LISTEN

30-minute recording

27

 

BBC WM RADIO Hustings

 

LISTEN

 

All candidates including Graham invited. 7pm - 6 way debate hosted by Paul Franks

 

28

 

WRITERS GUILD & EQUITY Hustings

 

WATCH

Birmingham Rep - all candidates invited; part of Graham’s introduction speech available on social media; enthusiastic audience reception.

28

PRESS RELEASE

 

97 media outlets emailed with statement on the Bus Services Act, which received Royal Assent, after the ‘English votes for English laws’ procedure was applied.

29

 

Sky News interview

 

 

 

30

 

WALSALL SHREE RAM MANDIR Hindu Temple Hustings

 

All candidates including Graham invited.

 

 

May

 

 

1

 

WOLVERHAMPTON TUC MAY DAY event

 

Graham was guest speaker

Also spoke on The Daily Politics Show

 

BBC Radio 4

 

LISTEN

Today programme; 4-way debate -minor parties (ends 31.5.17); go to 2 hours 45 minutes.

2

 

UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM GUILD OF STUDENTS

 

Graham was the guest speaker

 

WEST MIDLANDS RADIO INTERVIEW

WATCH

 

video on social media

 

BBC2 NEWSNIGHT

 

Interview recorded

New Style Radio

 

 

Half hour interview with Rev Desmond Jaddoo

ITN

 

 

Interview

3

 

Sky News

 

 

Interview broadcast

 

Newsnight

 

 

Interview broadcast

 

 

Around 250 emails were received during the campaign, covering a range of issues. Some of these were part of a campaign, while others were specific queries from voters, who had our mail address from the posted brochure.  Every single one of these queries were answered in full by the campaign team, and recorded as key information on some of the issues which concern the local electorate. The candidate [ersonally rangor emailed some voters with complicated queries. Many told us how impressed they were that, unlike other parties, we took the time to respond.

NOMINATION

Once the formal deadline opened, the campaign was fully occupied during March tackling the big task of obtaining 100 nominations.

1. Making contact with all the election offices in the seven boroughs to gain access to the electoral rolls. This was completed by the close of business on 17th March. We were hindered by the fact that the Party’s National Elections Officer details had not been changed with the Electoral Commission. Even when we thought it had been dealt with, some election offices were still difficult to communicate with, but we thank Martin Levy, who was a great help.

2. From Wednesday 15th March, we began getting signatures on the actual nomination paper, contacting key comrades in each borough to assist us in the collection of these. We needed a minimum of ten nominations in each of the 7 boroughs but a total of 100 valid names, effectively by March 30th. Many car miles were clocked up as teams criss-crossed the West Midlands. One thousand contacts and friends, not members of the Party, were emailed by the campaign, whilst almost 50 long-standing former members of the Party and current veteran members received a personalised appeal from the candidate by post.

We mapped all comrades and contacts we could think of. We were constrained by not being able to call on Labour Party members, as they were at risk of being expelled by their CLP if seen to endorse our candidate. Even in Dudley, where we only had one current party member, by finding non-Labour sympathisers and former members of the old CPGB, we got the full ten nominations needed. In Coventry, Wolverhampton, Sandwell our contacts were extensive and supportive. In Birmingham, many contacts had joined the Labour Party in the last leadership election and we were clearly short in Walsall and Solihull. In these two boroughs, comrades took to knocking on doors to seek the assistance of members of the public. With two days to go, our local contacts in the Birmingham Asian community came up trumps by winning the last nominations needed to clinch the full one hundred.

The system required everything to be on one set of forms, which made things a little awkward!  The main political parties and various groups on the Left were clearly astonished that such a feat was achieved by us. But official endorsement that we were to be on the ballot changed everything. 

 

MEDIA SCOOP – Communists exist!   

Despite an attempt by the right-wing media to freeze us out of the public eye, we have been overwhelmed by the attention we have received during the campaign.  After contacting national and local media organisations, it was community and specialist radio that responded at first in a fair and impartial manner, even before we were on the ballot paper. Then mainstream regional radio, starting in Coventry, began running pieces with Graham, prompting regional radio and then regional television to treat us equally. In the last week, National TV began filming our candidate and broadcasting interviews. 

Our short version manifesto of two A5 pages went out to just short of 2 million individual voters by post.  You can read it here:

Election booklet

A larger pamphlet-style manifesto came out in mid-April and is available here:

Manifesto

Much local material has appeared. Birmingham Post and Mail, have done several features that have been available to be franchised to all Trinity Mirror titles:

Communist West Midlands Mayor candidate Graham Stevenson: All you need to know

Communists join the West Midlands Mayor race

Communist Party's West Midlands Mayor policies

Can you name these West Midlands mayor candidates?

The BBC has run multiple pieces both written, radio and television on Graham, just a few of which can still be seen or heard: 

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire: Why you should love our city

BBC News: Metro Mayor – what is it all about?

Six candidates to bid to be West Midlands metro mayor

Election 2017: English mayoral candidates

West Midlands: Three things you wanted to know

Knife-edge battle for West Midlands metro mayor?

A mayor for the Midlands: Updates from TV debate

 

A media database of around one hundred contact names was researched by the team and used to issue regular press releases on key issues: for example, when it was confirmed that we were on the ballot paper, issuing our manifesto, comment on a new production line in Coventry for electric taxis, the Tory Bus Services Act, etc.  It is impossible to collect individual instances of the use of the releases, given their extensive reach, but the candidate was inundated with calls for further detail and recordings as a result.

SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU TUBE, INTERNET

The social media work, carried out by a co-ordinated team, proved to be critical and was a key factor in prompting the mainstream media break through.

FACEBOOK:

@ Communist Party of Britain: Midlands Communists page increased followers by over 25% during the campaign, and increased post engagement significantly. There were several contributions from comrades of design graphics for the campaign and the direct links with Communist Party of Britain Page were very successful

@ Andy Chaffer page first set up for the 2015 General Election enabled a continued Party presence online, connected with elections, circulating and sharing campaign messages

@ Graham Stevenson – a much increased traffic to timeline can be noted and this was an important reference point to the candidate in the media

TWITTER:  

@MidlandsCPB - new account set up at start of campaign – started #graham4mayor trending, 142 followers. Direct dialogue with media, lobby groups, individuals, including use of Direct Messaging

@GrahamStevenso1 –direct contact point for candidate and campaign

@WheresGraham – light-hearted campaign to highlight attempts to ban CPB from corporate-led Hustings and media.

The MIDLANDS CPTV channel on YouTube is also working well, with five high quality interviews and promotions already uploaded and others we ran out of time to complete. This exercise in producing our own videos has stimulated interest in developing more regularity to the channel in the future, perhaps with a focus on podcasts disseminated via social media.

The page on the Party’s national website was key in attracting views to the site, and directly receiving donations to the campaign through a range of methods:

Graham4Mayor

THE OPINION POLL AND THE COUNT

Before the general election was announced, we were predicted to get over 5% of the vote of first preferences in this Supplementary Voting system by a Trinity Mirror poll. This would have allowed us to retain our deposit, a feat not accomplished since 1950. Disappointingly, this wasn’t to be.

Of course, the general election being called part way through the campaign shouldn't have affected anything, but there is no doubt that it played into current mainstream media narratives about June 8th.  Voting patterns across the two votes permitted by the supplementary vote system were inconsistent.   Some voters used the ability to first preference us and then gave their second preference vote to Labour, as we had suggested, but many more others showed they simply did not understand the voting system.

At the Birmingham count (separate ones were held for the other six boroughs) we observed a high rate of second preferences for us, indeed there were individuals who proudly told us they had given their 2nd vote to us, but second preferences were not counted for eliminated candidates. The elimination round was generally not understood by an electorate so used to first past the post. Obvious confusion existed, with many voters from a range of other parties offering us their second preference, and indeed being encouraged to do so by ill-informed advice from their party machines.

Looking at votes as they were being counted, it was also evident that, in inner city wards, the Labour machine had set the panic button alight ("Vote Labour and ONLY Labour", they were told) and that voters were scared of an even tighter grip by the Tories. (Things like first AND second preference votes for Labour seen here!) It was especially evident that Labour had focused heavily on the wards in the constituency we had stood Andy Chaffer in during the 2015 general election. Despite having attained 0.4%, the highest CPB vote then, we gained only around a quarter of the votes that we won in other quite comparable inner city wards.    

Yet, not only did we record votes of around 2% in inner city wards with mixed ethnic profiles, our vote surpisingly also went up significantly in outer Birmingham wards, where the CP 30 or 40 years ago had a base in prosperous working class wards (when the class was doing well!).

In Coventry, we were at 1.5% across the whole city (no ward counting there). But there were a lot of spoilt votes and abstentions in a conurbation hostile to the very idea of a Mayor, resulting in an overall turnout of 26.8%.  

It's clear that fear of the Tories on one side, and a high turnout in Tory areas such as Solihull, Dudley and Walsall (where we did badly) on the other, were key factors inhibiting the Communist vote, albeit it being very much stronger than in recent times and more like what we were getting in the late 1970s. The Green candidate also lost his deposit (despite having a big local base in Solihull, where we are very weak). Most UKIP voters decamped to Tory, massively diminishing their share-take. (UKIP's only real base is Dudley.)

THE OUTCOME AND FUTURE CAMPAIGNS

The actual votes won were never really the key point. Our intervention genuinely informed the drift of public debate and we reached out to many thousands of people we had never before connected with. We also turned the mood more left. Issues such as public ownership of bus services would not otherwise have been aired - and, to some extent, all candidates were genuinely following our agenda by the end, instad of ignoring us as they should have been (!) from their point of view. Our social media presence was formidable and the level and quality of positive local mainstream media coverage astonishing. Despite some of the public debates and hustings refusing to engage with our candidate, we even got national coverage in the final days of the campaign.  

The next step is to translate this campaign into some substance, in association with the many contacts, friends, and potential allies we have acquired. We will be reviewing the whole campaign and starting to plan for the 2018 local elections in the light of that, as soon as we have exhausted ourselves in getting out there campaigning for Labour in the general election! 

Let no-one say that our intervention damaged Labour. Rather, our observation was that we saw more people engaged because they liked what we were saying. After the second round Andy Street (Con) secured 238,628 votes and Sion Simon (Lab) 234,862, a majority of only 3,766. 

We asked our voters (5,696) to second preference Sion Simon. Our figures suggest 85% followed that advice, which trnaslates as a theoretical figure of 4,842. Without our support, Mr Simon would have lost by even more - almost 9,000 votes. If Labour had been less focused on what we were doing, less marked by old-fashioned `fix-it politics, they could have won. All they had to do was say, however you vote in the firtst round, make sure you vote for Sion Simon as the only chance to beat the Tories in the second. They couldn't even bring themselves to do that. 

Our analysis of this detailed poll shows that our vote is highest amongst 30 to 45 year olds to the level of some five or six times the rate recorded for over 60-year olds!  Clearly, this is a challenge to our branches in the seven boroughs, and interactions with younger voters clearly show we need to find new ways of connecting and organising, which to some extent we pioneered first in 2015 and now even more vigourously in 2017.

We have publicly promised that Communist candidates will stand in local election next year across the Midlands.  In the meantime, we intend to hold the Mayor and his council leaders to account and target those who implement cuts using what funds remain and those which can be garnered next year to aid many more contests than we have previously done. In this, the second stage of our local Renewal Campaign we were able to arrange the purchase of a high-quality car-roof mounted loud-speaking system. A very generous donor offered to provide for this if it is used in election and public campaigns and is available on loan to other Party groups.

In the meantime, in accordance with the national CPB statement on the general election, we have been offering our services to Labour in the 28 constituencies in the West Midlands.

Any councillor who speaks for the people and is honest probably has nothing to fear. But Communists will continue to speak up and act fearlessly as we did during this campaign, one of our best for decades. In the years to come local campaigning activity will hopefully be as creative and powerful as some of our interventions in the past three months in the West Midlands.

Thanks to all those who helped and donated. Most of all, thanks to all who voted for us. 

The Graham4Mayor Team

PS: Donations still gratefully received!