Result in council by-election - Preston ward in North Tyneside
Conservative - 1141 (elected)
Public Service not Private Profit 174
Liberal Democrats 152
Peter Burnett, standing on a 'Public Service not Private Profit' ticket, picked up 8.5% of the vote here. In such a rock solid safe Tory seat that's a very impressive result for a left-of-Labour candidate, especially as it was the first time the left has stood for election in the area. There was little time to campaign, so no opportunity to build an electoral base, and only a small number of activists were actively involved.
This electoral challenge grew out of two things: the Keep Metro Public campaign and the current eforts to develop co-operation and unity on the Tyneside left. It is an extremely good omen for anyone wanting to see further electoral work by the left in Tyneside. There will shortly be discussions about where to stand candidates in next spring's local elections (and the general election likely to co-incide with them).
Next Thursday's 'Uniting the Left' meeting will hear about Peter Burnett's campaign and start planning future initiatives. One of the lessons is surely that electoral projects are helped enormously by a close connection with existing campaigns or movements. The campaign in North Tyneside has both lifted the profile of a vital anti-privatisation campaign and raised a banner for broader left-wing political challenges at the ballot box.