Star date: 5th March 2017


Last Thursday, Salford Labour Party lost its seat in the Kersal ward by-election, which it had held for decades. The Tory, Arnie Saunders, was elected with a 297 majority; and both national political sites and even local Labour councillors are citing a reaction against Jeremy Corbyn as the main factor in the loss. This is plainly not true.

Labour votes went to the Independent candidate, Jonny Wineberg, standing on behalf of the Kersal Moor Residents Association (KMRA), whose campaign centred on the lack of consultation and transparency at Salford City Council.

Full election analysis here...

Salford Kersal By-election Labour Councillor Heather Fletcher Accuses...
click image to enlarge

Last week, national political commentators mulled over the result of Salford's local Kersal by-election, concluding that Labour lost the seat it had held for decades due to some anti-Jeremy Corbyn factor.

Guido Fawkes decided that the loss to the Tory candidate, Arnie Saunders, was a 'Shocker for Labour' as "those on the ground are already saying anti-Semitism was a factor". What?

Labour List also reported that "Many have feared that Labour has lost credibility in the community as a result of the poor handling of anti-Semitism complaints in the party".

Even Swinton Labour councillor, Heather Fletcher, reported on Facebook that "All my neighbours and people I spoke to at the hairdressers today have all told me that they decided to vote Tory because they liked Rabbi Saunders and because they think Corbyn is an inept leader". People in the hairdressers?

While those with vested interests are using the result as a stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn, it is quite obvious to anyone that the Labour votes in Kersal were lost to Jonny Wineberg, standing on behalf of the Kersal Moor Residents Association (KMRA) as an Independent.

And during the campaign, Jonny Wineberg never even mentioned Corbyn. His electioneering centred on the lack of consultation and transparency at Salford City Council, kicked off by the inept democracy surrounding the planning application for the redevelopment of the Moor Lane stadium for Salford City FC (see previous Salford Star article for the background – click here)

In 2016, Labour held the Kersal seat with a 277 majority, polling 1,219 votes compared to 942 for the Tories on a turnout of 31%. In 2017, on a shocking turnout of just over 24%, the Tory vote was 850 and the Labour Party vote had slumped to 553. The Labour vote hadn't suddenly gone to the Conservatives. It had largely gone to Jonny Wineberg who polled 354 votes.

Kersal resident, Alice Searle, a Labour Party supporter, actually managed Jonny Wineberg's campaign - and it had nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn...

"As a Labour Party supporter, I decided, after much thought and reflection on the recent behaviour of the Labour controlled Council, that a local person with no affiliation to any party, would be a progressive move" she explained to the Salford Star

"The biased and undemocratic behaviour of the Council, in dismissing the well researched case of the residents on the development of the SCFC left me shocked" she added "I envisaged another Labour councillor being elected who would toe the line, irrespective of local opinion...My loyalty to the local Labour Party had been tested and I felt a personal drive for justice and honesty.

"Personally, I am not happy that we now have a Tory Councillor, but the KMRA and the Friends of Kersal Moor will hold him to his promises" she said "It will not be an easy seat for him to occupy."

Another resident who switched from voting for Labour to the Independent added: "I always vote for Labour so this has nothing to do with Corbyn; rather it has to do with the total lack of community engagement shown by our local Labour representatives and their dismissal of the Kersal residents' concerns around the Moor Lane stadium plans, as well as the shocking lack of transparency around the planning application."

David Mintz from Kersal Moor Residents Association underlined the sentiments... "From talking to local residents it is clear that we have taken a great percentage of votes from Labour on the basis that the people believe that the Salford Labour Council has failed them" he said

"A red-faced number of Labour activists have been taking to social media to quickly blame their embarrassing loss on Jeremy Corbyn: this, frankly, is absolute nonsense" he insisted "Corbyn's popularity amongst certain sections of the voting public isn't the factor here, it is a much more localised issue of residents feeling betrayed by the very councillors that they elected to represent them.

"With little notice, we mobilised 17.5% of the voters to send a clear message to local Labour" he added "It's disappointing but entirely characteristic of these same local Labour activists to sound the retreat whilst simultaneously firing a few shots at their boss in Whitehall. Once again they are guilty of not hearing the clear message being sent by their own voters.

"Looking at the swing, it appears that whilst Conservatives won, their actual gain in terms of percentages was negligible if at all, whereas Labour saw a massive drop of 21.5% in their vote. This was a local election fought and lost for Labour on local issues, not the popularity of their leader. The message to Labour? Ignore your local residents at your peril, and anyone looking for 354 lost votes should contact the KMRA lost property office."

Meanwhile, Swinton Councillor Heather Fletcher, who lives in the Kersal ward, went much further on a Facebook post, accusing Jonny Wineberg of being "economical with the truth", and, Donald Trump style, accusing the Salford Star of 'supporting the Independent candidate' (see screenshot).

When Salford Star editor, Stephen Kingston, responded that the Star never tells anyone how to vote, nor endorses any candidate, the Labour councillor responded "I heard that the Salford Star paid for the Independent candidate's leaflets"... (the Salford Star can't even afford to pay to get its own magazine out!).

KMRA's David Mintz concluded: "For what might be considered a small local election there has been a tremendous amount of sleaze and petty personal attacks by Labour councillors and activists across social media. Puerile and childish personal attacks which verge on slander should have no place in the 'kinder politics' that we have been promised from Labour.

"Jonny Wineberg will continue to work closely with local residents as a local resident" he added "As newcomers with little of the resources or manpower of the larger established political organisations, he made an absolutely applaudable and respectable third place and ultimately cost the Labour Party a victory. We will continue to hold the Council and councillors to account for any issue effecting our residents and local neighbourhood."

Whatever the spin of local Labour Party activists and national political pundits - who have probably never set foot in Salford - the Kersal by-election result was everything to do with how the Labour Party runs Salford Council and its absolute lack of accountability, transparency and, ultimately, democracy.*

It was nowt to do with Jeremy Corbyn's policies, and definitely nowt to do with any sudden upsurge of popularity for the Tories in Salford.

The full result of the Kersal by-election 2017...

Arnie Saunders - Conservative Party 850
Mike Pevitt - Labour Party 553
Jonny Wineberg - Independent 354
Christopher Barnes - UK Independence Party 182
Jason Reading - Green Party 48
Adam Slack - Liberal Democrats 39

Electorate: 8,427
Votes cast: 2,033
Turnout: 24.12%
Majority: 297
Void votes: 7

* See also previous Salford Mayor Joe Stalin Award Article - click here

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 8:22:57 AM on Thursday, March 9, 2017
Part time Socialist Retired, trust you are well? To answer your questions; am I Jew? No, I'm a not very good Catholic! However, I do have immense ŕèspect foŕ Jewish Culture; hard work, learning and world weary humor! As a child I lived in West Didsbury where my family had many Jewish friends! Am I a supporter/member of Labour? Obviously, yes! However, my partisanship doesn't blind me to certain failings of the Left. A naieve tendency to condemn everything Israeli and praise/whitewash everything Palestinian. This blinkered approach fails to grasp that the main enemy of the Palestinians is their so-called political leadership; Hamas or Fatah.
The End wrote
at 12:36:25 PM on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
yep, keep Corbyn as leader and watch labour die a slow death. Labour may have 500k members, but that wont win you an election
Part time socalist wrote
at 3:39:49 AM on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Ray of sunshine would it be rude of me to ask are you Jewish? do you have a tendency to support Labour? only you seem bitter over the result. Mr Saunders although I don't support his politics is a decent man he won purely and simply because Labour failed to listen to the residents, the Councillors in place at present are never seen so why vote for more. You attack all political parties except Labour which lead me to think you have some connection. You attack UKIP but any one with common sense and some political acumen would not offer odds on them gaining any form of result in an area which is 49% Jewish perhaps if they had a Jewish candidate the result would have been better for them. You rant and offer criticism perhaps you should try the role of Councillor unless you are already one.
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 12:34:54 AM on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Thursday's by election result in Kersal provides a fascinating insight into the current state of British Politics. I) For all their appeal to popular legitimately, Independent/Local Resident Candidates objectively play the role of Tory Fifth Columnists! II) The electoral irrelevance of Ukip in the spheres of Local and National Politics. III) Tory hypocrisy over anti semitism. Why is it that Rabbi Saunders appears to exhibit only selective outrage over anti semitism in Britain today? He sees fit to highlight concerns about alleged incidents in Labour whilst remaining stum about the cancer of anti jewish animus that infects whole swathes of the Tory Party. From the 1930's where Chamberlain Tories resolutely opposed Britain offering sanctuary to Jews fleeing Nazi Persecution to John Mayor's Government, where prominent figures such as Leon Britain and Edwina Curry were ridiculed and attacked purely because of their semitic origins, the Tory Party has been a Carnival of anti Jewish hatred. Is Rabbi Saunders prepared to condemn the rotten record of the Tories on this matter or is he comfortable with putting political expediency above moral courage?
Fuming Kersal wrote
at 11:41:14 AM on Tuesday, March 7, 2017
In reply Voters apathy Yes I live in Kersal Yes myself and wife work - FullTime We pay full rent and council tax And yes we both voted and have since we were 18 Let's go like Australia, mo vote ...fine or prison Rant over
Voters apathy wrote
at 1:02:44 AM on Tuesday, March 7, 2017
turnout 24.1%. Yes I knew its probably the average but for gawd sake if your so fed up in the area get out and vote. People are quick enough to complain about their councillor but 75.9% cant be arsed. Im sure they are quick enough to the front of the queue to get their benefits. PEOPLE DIED SO YOU CAN GET A VOTE.
Kenneth Mckelvey wrote
at 6:58:41 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
Salford lost Langley because of their Tory Labour attitude inherited off T Blair , Labour has got to get back to its roots not Implementing Tory rubbish •
Slurp wrote
at 12:27:02 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
For Salford this is nothing less than an earthquake! A supposedly calcified Labour seat has gone Tory again after 25 years. The stagnant black morass that is Salford politics has just belched and proved there is life beneath its seemingly dull and lifeless exterior.
We have just had enough wrote
at 12:26:54 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
Well, you never see Councilliors Ann Marie Humpheys and Peter Connor, Labour need to grow up and except defeat, i've been to councillor Humpheys surgery at least 10 times and she never turns up, and Peter Connor, well enough said about him I am sick to death of these two councilliors who you only see when their seat is up, I do feel there will be a few more shocks for Salford Labour Party simply don't listen to the people, I wonder now if Ann Marie has surgery and Connor stop hiding from the people and stand up to what you should be doing listening and caring for the local community, congratulations to the Conservatives well done .
John Catterall wrote
at 12:26:18 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
Labour lost in Kersal because they backed business over the community...perhaps they will learn a lesson from that and amend their ways,,,,,,,the people have decided to take control ,,,,,,shame it had to be a tory ,,,,
Matt Abbott wrote
at 12:25:19 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
It seems to me that Councillor Fletcher is spending far too much time involving herself in petty & childish narcissism, making baseless and supportable allegations and too much time getting into arguments with Salford residents on Facebook. Her time would be better spent representing and helping her constituents in Swinton South
Alice Searle wrote
at 12:24:41 AM on Monday, March 6, 2017
So many untruths! Firstly, the rumour, put out by a Swindon Councillor, that the Independent Candidate's election literature was paid for by Salford Star is ridiculous! Salford Star has no money to even pay its journalist! Secondly, to attribute the Labour loss to Jeremy Corby's unpopularity, is also a fabricated untruth. The loss was due to a good campaign,run by local people, who saw the trashing of democracy in the SCFClub planning decision. Residents, both Jewish and non Jewish, worked together to get their message out. The Campaign was not funded by any external party funds but by the Candidate himself. All literature was created by the Candidate and it did not contain any exaggerations and certainly no untruths. I would not have managed this campaign had it been different.
Debbie Prince wrote
at 3:24:36 PM on Sunday, March 5, 2017
Those words written by Heather Fletcher will be the subject of a complaint made by me to the Salford mayor Paul Dennett. As a non paid director on the Salford star, her remarks regarding "payments" to anybody is completely untrue, and I will not have my good name dragged down due to this.
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