Respect is standing candidates in target seats across England in the council elections on 3 May to provide an alternative to the policies of war and privatisation followed by mainstream parties.
Les Marsh is a pensioner activist in York who is standing for Respect in Clifton ward. “It was a very easy decision to stand,” Les told Socialist Worker. “I am appalled at the direction that politics in Britain has gone in.
“We have three right wing parties that have gone for power over principles. I hope that our campaign can start people thinking.
“We need a left of centre organisation that brings back into place the values of conscience that British society had before Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979.
“Working people are losing out. Many have no employment security. They work for agencies which can bring people in at a moment’s notice, but might not have any work the day after. This is not good for society.
“Pensioners are treated very badly. The value of the pension has declined, while MPs vote themselves massive pay rises. Pensioners have to face means testing, which should not exist.
“I was a member of the Labour Party until the early 1990s, when I left over its move to the right. The party’s ideas and core values were changing.
“But I wasn’t settled as I am a doer – I can’t help being a socialist. I have children and grandchildren and want them to live in a better world.
“I came across Respect when I was campaigning for pensioners’ rights with the T&G union retired members’ association. I looked into its policies and found it was what I was looking for – so I’m back in the harness again.”
Over in Sunderland Tafazzal Hussain is the vice chair of the city’s Bangladeshi community centre.
He recently left the Liberal Democrats to join Respect. Tafazzal has stood in the past for the Liberal Democrats in Sunderland’s Hendon ward, but he is now putting himself forward as a Respect candidate.
“I joined Respect because it took a principled stand against the Iraq war and privatisation,” said Tafazzal. “People have been let down by politicians. I want to stand for working people in our communities.
“I didn’t agree with the Liberal Democrats over many issues. I’ve found that Respect supports a lot of things that I support myself, such as rights for young people. It’s a disgrace that graduates leave university thousands of pounds in debt.
“It is time for a change. I’ve lived in Hendon for 15 years and I’ve been involved in a lot of things.
“I represent the youth project of young Asian voices, which brings white and black kids together in the area. I’m standing for all residents of Hendon regardless of race – the people need a voice.”