Socialist Worker

Preston shows the potential for Respect to build strong roots

Issue No. 2077

Preston Respect offers a model of what the organisation could achieve across the country.

Councillor Michael Lavalette not only issues regular leaflets across his ward and holds weekly surgeries, but he goes out to where the people are – for example, to the local church and to the mosque.

Opposition to the war and justice for the Palestinians are central issues that Respect takes up, but they are combined with campaigns over local issues.

Michael is currently heading up a campaign opposing a programme for the city centre that he describes as “regeneration on neoliberal terms”.

An old mill is to be converted into luxury flats.

Michael explains, “We don’t need luxury flats. We need good quality social housing – council housing.

Meanwhile Stagecoach is attempting to muscle in on bus routes run by Preston Buses, a workers’ co-operative, by picking off the most profitable routes.

Michael got a motion against this through the council – although it was amended to take out the call for a passenger boycott.

Another success was in getting a motion passed opposing Lancashire County Council’s handover of two secondary schools to Carphone Warehouse, to be run as city academies.

Already the local Anti Academies Alliance group, which he helped launch, has succeeded in putting back the planned handover by a year.

Once a month Michael meets with left wing Labour councillors to plan joint motions and activities.

He is also active in Preston Fighting Unions which helped raise over £100 for victimised health trade unionist Karen Reissmann at a social attended by 70 local union reps.

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