Around 120 Socialist Alliance candidates, election agents and supporters met in Birmingham last Saturday to plan the general election challenge. 'There is a real urgency. There are just 47 days to go if the election is on 5 April and 75 days if the election is on 3 May,' said the chair of the National Network of Socialist Alliances in England, Dave Nellist, who introduced the day. The day was very productive, with sessions on campaigning, raising finance, the role of candidates and using the press.
Malcolm Jones from Wigan said, 'We have had a very successful press campaign. We get at least two items in the local press every week. 'Every Socialist Alliance needs to have someone obsessed with the local press.' Introducing a session on campaigning, John Rees stressed that the Socialist Alliance should not be on the defensive. He said, 'The Socialist Alliance stands for ideas which the vast majority of working class people believe in.'
John also stressed the need to maximise the numbers of people actively involved in campaigning. 'In Camden in London the local Socialist Alliance signed up 50 people when they were campaigning against tube privatisation,' he reported. And Kirstie Paton, a teacher from Greenwich in south London, summed up the mood of the day when she said, 'We have one big thing in our favour-we don't have to put spin on what we say.
'We have nothing to hide, we are not corrupt, and we can connect with the thousands of people who feel so disillusioned with New Labour.'
There will be a national policy conference for the Socialist Alliance on Saturday 10 March in Birmingham open to all members of the National Network of Socialist Alliances. This will discuss the Socialist Alliance manifesto.
The NATFHE lecturers' union branch at MANCAT further education college in Manchester has passed a motion backing the Socialist Alliance. The motion 'resolves to recommend support in the general election for Socialist Alliance and other candidates to the left of New Labour'.
In Leeds Central constituency we have selected Steve Johnson, a teacher at the local Cockburn High School, to be our prospective parliamentary candidate to fight against New Labour MP Hillary Benn. We are now holding weekly meetings to organise the election campaign and are planning a public meeting on 23 March. We meet at the Adelphi pub, Hunslett Road, at 7pm every Tuesday.
Leeds Central Socialist Alliance
Bradford Socialist Alliance are holding a public rally to launch our election campaign. We will be selecting a candidate to challenge the Bradford South seat at 7.30pm on Monday 26 February at Bradford Central Library.
We had our second Socialist Alliance public meeting in Salford last Thursday and decided to field a candidate at the general election. Over 35 people attended, and there were a number of community campaign activists, students, some ex Labour Party members and public sector workers there. We decided that Salford was crying out for a socialist alternative, and that our political message would strike a chord with many local people. We will now have a selection meeting on Thursday 1 March.
Telford Socialist Alliance held a selection meeting on Monday of last week to select our prospective parliamentary candidate for the Telford constituency. It was unanimously decided that it should be Mike Jeffries, a UNISON officer currently suspended from his job with the local council for campaigning against cuts in services. This new organisation has enthused all of us involved, and we are looking forward to the election campaign and beyond.
Wigan Socialist Alliance has voted to fight both the general election and council elections. Dave Lowe, a shop steward in Wigan UNISON and a social services worker for the METRO, has been selected to fight as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the forthcoming general election. Dave told the selection meeting, 'The only privilege I have is the privilege to be the means by which thousands of workers around Wigan can express their disgust at the betrayals of this New Labour government.'
Around 100 people attended the Tyneside Socialist Alliance rally in Newcastle last week. Terry Rodgers, the Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Tynebridge, said, 'Labour now openly embraces the capitalist system, from the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund to Tory policies of privatisation.' Pete Burnet, secretary of Newcastle Trades Council, is standing against Stephen Byers in North Tyneside. Tommy Sheridan, the Scottish Socialist Party MSP, also spoke. Over £800 was collected on the night to fund the campaign, and 15 people joined the Alliance.