Stephen Jolly (politician)

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Template:Infobox politician Template:Distinguish Stephen Jolly (born 1962) is an Australian politician, author and construction worker.[1] He is a councillor with a seat in the Yarra City Council and leader of the Victorian Socialists electoral alliance.

His socialist political stances have led to hostile reactions from far-right groups such as the United Patriots Front, which has promoted rallies and death threats against him.[2][3][4] In 2015, a man was charged over death and rape threats towards Jolly.[5]


Jolly was born in London, England to an Irish mother who had left Ireland due to their dissaproval of the Catholic Church.[6] He moved to study at the University of Cape Town in 1977. In the early 1980s, he moved to Ireland and became involved in the Militant faction of the Irish Labour Party.[6] In 1983 he supported underground opposition to Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.[6]

He later moved to Australia and became involved in the Militant Socialist Organisation (later renamed to the Socialist Party), serving as Editor of its newspaper The Militant and as National Secretary until 2000.[7] While working in construction, he has served as a shop steward with the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union.[8] In 1989, at the age of 27, Jolly was a first-hand witness of the Tiananmen Square Massacre while he was speaking to protestors and helped them organise.[9][10] He noted in a 1990 news article that the protestors "never believed the People's Army would turn against them" and has since been involved in pro-democracy in China rallies.[11]

In 1993, he was involved in the protests against the Victorian government's closing of Richmond High School.[12] In 2000, he supported and was involved in the S11 anti-globalisation protests in Melbourne.[13] In 2011 and 2012, he was involved in the Occupy Melbourne movement against corporate influence in politics.[14][15]

In 2016, Jolly led a mass resignation from the Socialist Party due to the cover-up of allegations of sexual abuse within the party, forming the The Socialists.[16] In 2018 he formed the Victorian Socialists, an electoral alliance combining the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, as well as non-party affiliated socialists.

Political Career

Local Government (2004–Present)

In 2004 he was elected as a Councillor for The City of Yarra in the Landgridge Ward, representing the suburbs of Abbotsford, Alphington, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Fairfield, Fitzroy and Richmond.[17] As of 2018, Jolly is one of only three elected socialists in Australia. The others being Sam Wainright of Fremantle City Council and Sue Bolton of Moreland City Council.

In 2017, Jolly voted in favour of the controversial decision to cancel its Australia Day ceremony as a part of the Change the Date campaign.[18] This resulted in backlash from the federal government whereby the council was stripped of it's citizenship powers and the council being protested by nationalist groups.[19][20]

Yarra City Council, Landgrige Ward
Election year Total votes % ±% Seats
2004 1,162 12.34 Template:Increase 12.34% Template:Composition bar
2008 2,830 26.29 Template:Increase 13.95% Template:Composition bar
2012 3,515 34.24 Template:Increase 7.95% Template:Composition bar
2016 3,884 31.06 Template:Decrease 3.18% Template:Composition bar

State Government Campaigns

Independent (1999–2018)

Template:See Jolly has attempted to contest the Victorian electoral district of Richmond as an independent several times. In the 1999 Victorian state election he gained 12.0% of the vote, in the absence of a Greens candidate.[21] He re-contested the seat in the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 state elections, with lesser success. During these elections Jolly campaigned for policies such as free public transport, promoting the local arts scene, and anti-capitalism.[22] His 2010 campaign was supported by the CFMEU, ETU, and UFU, who raised $25,000 for the campaign.[23]

Electoral district of Richmond
Election year Total votes % ±% Overall vote rank
1999 4,213 12.0 Template:Increase 12.0% 3/3
2002 629 2.0 Template:Decrease 9.8% 5/5
2006 1,805 5.6 Template:Increase 3.6% 4/7
2010 3,097 8.7 Template:Increase 3.0% 4/5
2014 3,407 8.5 Template:Decrease 0.2% 4/7

Victorian Socialists (2018–Present)

In February 2018, Jolly announced that he will be contesting a seat in the Senate in the 2018 Victorian state elections as a leading candidate of the Victorian Socialists ticket.[24][8] Jolly stated this campaign attempted to fight for the programs promoted by international left-wing politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, and Jean-Luc Melenchon.[25] The decision to run in the Northern Metropolitan Region has been considered controversial by Reason Party's Fiona Patten, due to the possibility of splitting the non-conservative vote in the count for the last seat.[26] This ticket was supported by a wide variety of trade union groups, including the ETU, NUW, CFMMEU, UFU, AMIEU, and VAHPA.[27][28][29] The ETU secretary Troy Gray justified this support over parties such as the Australian Labor Party, a traditional unionist party, by stating that Jolly was the only candidate representing "blue collar values".[27] The campaign was also endorsed by several public figures such as Noam Chomsky, Gary Foley, and Tariq Ali.

Northern Metropolitan Region
Election year Total votes % ±% Seats
2018[30] 18,899 4.19 Template:Increase 4.39% Template:Composition bar



  • Eyewitness in China (Melbourne: Socialist Party, 1989)

Template:Refend Template:Refbegin

  • Behind the Lines - Richmond Secondary College: a school that dared to fight (Melbourne: Global Books, 1996)

Template:Refend Template:Refbegin

  • That Which Surrounds Us: Refugees, Racism and Capitalism in Australia (Melbourne: Socialist Party, 2002)



  1. "Councillor Stephen Jolly | Yarra City Council" (in en). Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  2. Hall, Bianca (2015-08-02). "Police investigate kill threats against Councillor Stephen Jolly". Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  3. "Tensions flare at Reclaim Australia splinter group protest" (in en-AU). 31 May 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2018. 
  4. Prime, Toby (2015-08-06). "Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly won't give in to anti-Islam death threats". Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  5. Booker, Chloe (2015-08-06). "'Nazi' charged over death, rape threats to Socialist Party Councillor Stephen Jolly". Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Lewis, Ed. "A Jolly socialist in Yarra Council". Retrieved 9 November 2018. 
  7. "Militant Archives". Retrieved 17 October 2018. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mitchell, Ivan; Lopez, Daniel. "The Immodest Victorian Socialists". Retrieved 12 October 2018. 
  9. Jolly, Stephen (2008-07-23). "Eyewitness in China" (in English) (Web Page). pp. 46. Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  10. Walker, Frank (2 July 1989). "Sydney Man saw Beijing's Horror Night". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  11. Bishop, Karren (4 June 1990). "Massacre Outrage Is Still Strong". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  12. Small, Jerome. "Taking it to the next level against Kennett: a chat with Stephen Jolly | Red Flag" (in en). Retrieved 9 November 2018. 
  13. Rosas, Lucas (7 February 2018). "Cllr Stephen Jolly and the new “socialist alliance”". 
  14. "Yarra Socialist Party councillors pledge support to Occupy Melbourne" (in en). 6 September 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2018. 
  15. "Friday Breakfast". 21 October 2011. 
  16. Preiss, Benjamin (23 February 2016). "Stephen Jolly leads mass resignation from Socialist Party over allegations of abuse cover-up" (in en). Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  17. "Yarra City Council election results 2004 - Victorian Electoral Commission" (in en). Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  18. Clure, Ellis (15 August 2017). "Melbourne council moves to put an end to Australia Day" (in en-AU). Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  19. "'We warned them': Council's Australia Day stance draws federal sanction" (in en-AU). 16 August 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2018. 
  20. "Far-right group disrupts council meeting to protest against Australia Day changes" (in en-AU). 6 September 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2018. 
  21. "Richmond District profile - Victorian Electoral Commission". Retrieved 9 December 2018. 
  22. Fredman, Nick (14 November 2014). "Stephen Jolly: A fighter stands for parliament" (in en). Retrieved 9 November 2018. 
  23. Crook, Andrew (4 October 2010). "Socialist sets up Vic election battle for Richmond". Retrieved 9 November 2018. 
  24. Armstrong, Liam (8 February 2018). "Could Steve Jolly Be Victoria's Jeremy Corbyn?" (in en-au). Retrieved 5 October 2018. 
  25. Pearce, Gary (19 October 2018). "The Victorian Socialists’ fight for an alternative". Retrieved 20 October 2018. 
  26. Henriques-Gomes, Luke (10 November 2018). "Reason v socialism in Victorian election: Fiona Patten gears up for a fight" (in en). Retrieved 10 November 2018. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Hutchinson, Samantha (15 October 2018). "Unions back Victorian Socialists’ campaign" (in en). Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  28. Carey, Adam (3 May 2018). "Socialists hope union donation will secure jolly good election result" (in en). Retrieved 22 October 2018. 
  29. "Electrical Trade Union backs fledgling Victorian Socialists with 50k donation" (in en). 
  30. "State Election 2018 - Summary - Victorian Electoral Commission" (in en). Retrieved 28 November 2018. 

External Links