Respect’s campaign for the May local elections in England received a big boost last week when Wayne Muldoon, a Labour councillor in Loughborough, announced he was joining the party.
Wayne is the councillor for the Lemyngton ward in Loughborough, which is part of Charnwood borough council. He has been a councillor for 12 years. Wayne will stand for Respect in the upcoming election in the ward.
Wayne Muldoon told Socialist Worker, “I was a Labour Party member for the best part of 20 years. I’ve taken this decision because of a number of issues that have been building up since Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994.
“One of these is the Iraq war. The real reasons for the whole ‘war on terror’ are imperial and economic.
“And New Labour is going to spend billions on replacing nuclear power stations rather than putting the money into alternatives such as wind, wave and solar. There’s also the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
“New Labour is obsessed with anti-social behaviour orders as a solution to crime, rather than tackling the social reasons behind why people commit crime.
“The government has attacked single parent benefits. And it has made the problems in housing worse with its privatisation of council housing.
“It is blackmailing tenants to accept schemes like arms length management organisations rather than releasing finances to improve existing homes and build new council homes.
“This is creating a housing crisis by forcing people into the private sector. The government has a general thrust of meeting corporate interests rather than serving the public.
“With the new Gambling Act it is saying that the best hope for people in socially deprived areas is to land a super casino on them.
“I am a democratic socialist, and the present leadership is no longer democratic or socialist. They have filtered out candidates who are committed to the original values of the Labour Party.
“That has happened to me. New Labour is looking to recruit business people and Liberal Democrats to be Labour candidates. These are people who are not committed labour or trade union movement activists.
“Respect is the logical alternative and way forward for people like me. It is the natural home for Labour Party supporters who’ve grown tired of the policies of this government.
“I respect those in the Labour Party who are fighting to change it, but it is a losing battle.
“Inside the Labour Party you are operating in a straitjacket. In the past you used to be able to pass resolutions in your constituency Labour Party, debate it in your branch and then see it discussed at conference.
“You felt that you could have an impact inside the party. You can’t do that anymore.
“The belief that Gordon Brown will make any substantial difference if he is Labour leader is misplaced. People will become alienated very quickly from a Gordon Brown leadership because there will be no great change.
“I am busy trying to improve the lives of the people that I represent, and they need that help. Lemyngton ward is a mainly working class area.
“We will also be trying to build a Respect branch in the area in the run-up to the May elections. With the government unravelling in crisis, and the growing disillusionment among Labour supporters, there is a pretty good chance that people will come over to Respect in the election.”
Long time Labour member Nan Agnew has joined Solidiarty in Scotland and will be throwing herself into the party’s campaign in the Scottish parliamentary elections.
Nan said, “I have always been a socialist. For a while I was working in London – and was chair of the Labour Party in the Barbican. I was organising with others in the party to challenge the power of the City of London.
“Over the last few years I have become more and more disillusioned with Labour. When I first came back to Glasgow around 1999, I voted for the Scottish National Party, but I wasn’t convinced that they were socialists – in fact they seem to be full of Tories.
“I went along to the inaugural meeting of Solidarity in Glasgow last year. I shook hands with Tommy Sheridan at the front of the meeting and when I went to the local bingo, people said that they had seen me on TV.
“It got people talking. Tommy is the one man we know is fighting for the people – unlike Tony Blair.
“I live in Easterhouse – a huge estate in the East End of Glasgow. I decided that Easterhouse should have its own Solidarity group so
I organised a meeting.
“We had to start totally from scratch. Myself and a friend distributed hundreds of leaflets. We put posters in pubs and on phone boxes.
“I found out that word of mouth is the best way to get the information out. And you can’t just rely on getting information out by computer if you want to communicate with older people or poor people who don’t have access to computers.
“Around 20 people came to the meeting – some people I know and some new local people. People raised some of the important issues they face – like poverty and housing.
“The meeting was very anti-war too. People were very angry about that.
“When Tony Blair first started out I was thrilled. I thought he was young and dynamic, with a new vision. But gradually, year after year, those hopes have faded.
“The thing that makes me the most angry about Blair and the Labour Party is the hypocrisy and the lack of democracy – taking the country into a war against the will of the people.
“There must be millions of disappointed Labour people. Easterhouse will be interesting in the elections because it has always been solidly Labour. We will see how many people come out to vote for Labour this time.
“I am 77 next month. I have a voice and so I am prepared to use it to support Sheridan as far as I can.”