We had a very successful meeting of Brighton and Hove Socialist Alliance last week.
There were over 50 people including students and staff from Sussex and Brighton universities, ex Labour councillors, trade union branch officials, local environmental activists and a handful of Labour Party members.
Bill North, secretary of the trades council, proposed that the Alliance stand a candidate in the Hove constituency, which was voted for unanimously. We have arranged a selection meeting, and students from the universities pledged to organise stalls and meetings at the colleges.
A worker at the local interpreting service offered to organise translations of publicity into Arabic, Farsi and Cantonese. Petitioning over rail renationalisation was organised. A local DJ offered to organise a fundraiser.
One Labour Party member said, 'I'm sure there are many people who canvassed for Caplin [the current Hove Labour MP] in 1997 who will happily canvass for real socialist policies this year.'
Alliance member and chair of the local lecturers' NATFHE union Tom Hickey reported that his union branch passed a resolution welcoming the Socialist Alliance.
Mark Tebbutt has been selected as the Lancashire Socialist Alliance (LSA) prospective parliamentary candidate for Blackburn. Mark works in the NHS with children with learning difficulties, and is a UNISON shop steward.
He says, 'It is an honour to stand against one of New Labour's leading representatives, Jack Straw, and to be able to give people in Blackburn the opportunity to vote for a positive alternative to Blairism. Jack Straw is not only Tony Blair's lieutenant. He is also responsible for attacks on asylum seekers, and for clamping down on civil rights like the right to jury trials. Last year's 5.6 percent vote for a Socialist Alliance candidate in the nearby Preston by-election was a great boost for the LSA and we want to build on that success.'
We held a lively selection meeting for the Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford East last week.
Speakers included Mark Ladbroke from Oxford health UNISON and the Oxfordshire Campaign against Privatisation, and Sylvia Baker, who reported on the local campaign to stop privatisation of elderly people's homes.
We unanimously selected John Lister as our Socialist Alliance candidate. He is chair of the Oxford National Union of Journalists, and is a campaigner for the pressure group London Health Emergency.
John supports the post workers' strike in Oxford. He said, 'I am fully behind the postal workers in their stand against unreasonable working conditions, and especially proud that two leading members of their union, the CWU, have already endorsed the Socialist Alliance campaign.'
Social Worker and branch secretary of Plymouth UNISON Tony Staunton was selected as the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Plymouth Devonport constituency last week.
'We are currently balloting the entire council workforce for strike action against savage cuts in Plymouth and plans to privatise care homes for older people,' reports Tony.
'The Socialist Alliance is the only organisation campaigning against privatisation and for more money for services. We are also campaigning against the nuclear dump in the Devonport private dockyard which is in the constituency. Plymouth has the highest concentration of nuclear waste in the world. Nuclear waste is stored in the dockyard in the middle of a city with a quarter of a million people, and with the nearest primary school just 400 feet away.'
Nearly 50 people came to a Socialist Alliance public meeting in Ipswich last week. The audience included trade unionists from the local NUT and TGWU union branches. Students came from the local further education college after Socialist Alliance members had set up a stall there.
We were inspired by a delegation from the Dudley hospitals strike who had been raising solidarity at Ipswich General Hospital.
We voted to run a candidate for Ipswich in the general election and have organised a selection meeting for 12 February.
Around 50 people attended a meeting organised by the Socialist Alliance at Crymlyn Burrows near Neath in South Wales to form a campaign against a municipal incinerator.
The incinerator will be built under a PFI deal with Portuguese consortium HLC. Two Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidates attended as well as Friends of the Earth members.
There will also be a protest at the incinerator site in Crymlyn Burrows on Saturday 17 February at 10.30am.
Socialist Alliance members, students, and workers in the NATFHE and UNISON unions held a 40-strong lobby of education secretary David Blunkett when he opened a new education building at Nottingham Trent University last week.
A protester wearing a Grim Reaper outfit and Tony Blair mask walked in front of Blunkett's car and led him to the building.
Blunkett was challenged over the introduction of tuition fees, the abolition of the grant, and university workers' pay and conditions.
The National Network of Socialist Alliances in England has launched a national appeal to raise £100,000 to help fight the general election campaign.
Raise money in your local trade union, trades council and community groups, and from individuals.
Rush donations to Declan O'Neill, National Network of Socialist Alliances, PO Box 121, Coventry CV1 5DA. Cheques payable to Socialist Alliance.
Selection meetings for prospective Socialist Alliance candidates are taking place in Hornsey and Wood Green, Islington South, Plymouth and Southampton Test this week.
Other selection meetings include:
IPSWICH: Monday 12 February, 7.30pm, Lecture Theatre, County Library, Old Foundry Road.
BRIGHTON: Tuesday 20 February, 8pm, St Peter's Church Hall, York Place.
Discuss the new book Imagine with authors
Tommy Sheridan, Alan McCombes and solicitor Louise Christian
Friday 23 February 6.30pm, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2
Hosted by Bookmarks Tickets £1 Phone 020 7637 1848
A Council by-election in the Marlowe ward of the London borough of Lewisham, which takes place this Thursday 7 February, has clearly rattled the Labour Party.
Bob Gardiner, a pensioner, tenants' activist and former bus driver, is standing for the Socialist Alliance in the by-election.
The Deptford Labour Party issued a news release accusing the Socialist Alliance of being 'enviro-criminals' for putting posters on lamp-posts, even though official permission had been granted for the posters.
Last week the Labour Party picketed a Socialist Alliance public meeting at Monson School but refused to come in and debate.