A Lancashire man who had planned to stand as a candidate in the general election has been forced to withdraw in favour of Labour after trade union pressure. Ray Smith had been formally adopted as the official candidate to contest the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) when he was forced to pull out.
He had already attended two public debates as the TUSC candidate and thought he would be on the ballot paper. Union fat cats had different ideas. Smith was one of two candidates withdrawn from marginal seats after unnamed “senior union officials” demanded they quit.
The union bosses feared TUSC would split the Left’s votes and leave the way clear for the Conservatives to take key marginal seats. Smith had hoped to run in Lancaster and Fleetwood where the Conservatives have a majority of just 333. It is seen as a key battleground in the race for Number 10.
Mr Smith was also set to stand as a TUSC candidates at Fleetwood Town Council and Wyre Borough level in Rossall. He will now contest these council seats as an independent.
He said “It is disappointing, but they have their reasons and I will now be standing as an independent candidate on an anti-cuts ticket. I will still be opposing the cuts, and in some ways this will give me more freedom.”
He added that his manifesto remained the same as when he was a TUSC candidate – opposing the cuts and the Bedroom Tax and calling for the banks, the NHS and transport to be put back under public control. He had previous complained about a political party candidates running as independents.
As the time he said: “Since Fleetwood Town Council was set up, councillors have been ‘independent’. Political parties have hidden their real identity at election time.” He went on to refer to the practice as an “anti-democratic disgrace”.