JOHN BLOOM has just been selected as the Respect candidate in the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election which is expected this autumn.
The election was sparked by the appointment of Labour MP Peter Mandelson as a European commissioner. John Bloom spoke to Socialist Worker:
I WAS in the Labour Party for 12 years. I left Labour soon after Blair became leader. I could see the writing on the wall. Three years ago the government planned to build a second nuclear power station in Hartlepool. We set up a campaign, Nuclear Free Future.
It was very successful, with hundreds of people involved. An ICM poll found that over three quarters of people in Hartlepool opposed nuclear power—that’s in a town where the nuclear power station is the major employer.
Next time they try to build a nuclear power station, does Hartlepool want an MP who declares himself a “friend of nuclear power”, as Mandelson did, or one like me who will campaign against it?
Myself and other people who now support Respect were central to setting up the Save Our Hospital campaign.
The hospital trust runs two hospitals, one in Hartlepool. It wanted to shut them both and open a new PFI hospital in Tony Blair’s constituency.
It would mean people in the ex-mining villages having to travel nearly 20 miles to hospital, and the buses are rubbish.
Some 30,000 local people signed our hospital petition—only 90,000 live in Hartlepool. Public feeling is now so strong that they daren’t apply for foundation status because they would need a survey of local opinion.
We held a really big anti-war rally just before the Iraq war broke out. We want to organise not just against what is happening in Iraq today, but against any future wars.
We want a committed MP who isn’t using the seat for his own career, like Mandelson. His name is dirt in Hartlepool.
We are very enthusiastic about standing. Campaigning and talking to people is great fun. We can find a role for anyone who can help us. And we need money. I would rather have £10 from a hard-up supermarket worker than all the millionaire donations in the world.