David Henry - Salford
The grassroots campaign Hazel Must Go selected David as its candidate to stand against New Labour’s disgraced ex-minister Hazel Blears in Salford, Greater Manchester.
It also agreed that David would stand as a candidate for TUSC.
David is co-chair of Salford Youth Council and is a well known gay activist.
He won media attention when he attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on Blears last year after she was revealed as one of the ministers caught up in the expenses scandal.
David said, “There are so many crucial issues in Salford, and Hazel Blears has failed to address them. People feel betrayed.”
He is known for his environmental activism and has played an active role in Pride is a Protest, which opposes the commercialisation of Manchester’s annual gay pride event.
Salford is one of the ten poorest boroughs in Britain. Blears is increasingly unpopular.
“Her backing for war, hospital closures and spending on programmes like Trident, rather than taking up real issues in the community over housing and jobs has left people angry,” David told Socialist Worker.
Blears claimed a total of £153,380 in expenses and avoided paying £13,000 on the sale of her “second home”.
Ameen Hadi, Salford Unison union equalities officer, is backing David. “I believe he is the perfect antidote to a corrupt, privatising, warmongering politician like Blears,” he said.
David is supporting the Charter for Salford – initiated by the Hazel Must Go campaign and over 100 local people.
It calls for an end to privatisation, investment in public services, trade union rights and environmentally friendly policies.
“The charter was drawn up by ordinary people,” said David.
“It is based on their concerns. It shows how far Labour has shifted to the right that we have to put such basic policies forward.”
Alison Hitchcock, a Salford resident who is backing David, said, “Everybody is looking for change, not just in Salford but all over the country.
“The expenses scandal woke people up. We have got the power to change things, and backing David is part of fighting back.”
Maxine Bowler - Sheffield Brightside
Maxine has been selected as the TUSC candidate for the Brightside constituency.
Maxine is a community worker and member of the Unite trade union.
“Long gone are the days of the ‘red republic of South Yorkshire’ headed up by David Blunkett,” Maxine told Socialist Worker.
“Under New Labour the poor have got poorer. In places like Brightside the bitterness at Labour’s betrayal is huge.”
Mark Collett, a leading member of the fascist British National Party, is also standing in Brightside.
Maxine said, “The anger people feel can go in two directions. Either we blame other poor people and adopt the politics of hate, which Collett hopes to do. Or you can build the resistance and fight back – which is where we stand.”
Housing is a serious issue across Sheffield.
The waiting lists for social housing exceed the total stock, a position worsened by continuing housing demolitions.
Sheffield council says it is building new homes. But this turns out to be just 27 houses for the whole city.
“Such a meagre housebuilding plan is a slap in the face,” Maxine said. “It doesn’t even scratch the surface of the problem.”
Maxine has been active in local campaigns against cuts and a campaign to prevent the privatisation of a local school.
Mick Ibbotson, local anti-academies campaigner, is backing Maxine.
“Our local and national politicians are a disgrace – it’s all me, me, me,” he said. “Ordinary people don’t get a look in.
“Our local school was turned into a private academy.
“They promised parents a new school building, which they haven’t even got planning permission for.
“They also promised children who didn’t have computers a laptop each.
“But like everything else it was spin and lies.
“The computers are on short-term loan and students can’t even save on them. What good is that?”
Maxine stood during the last council elections in Burngreave and won 20 percent of the vote.
She is a committed anti-war activist who has stood side by side with local Asian people against the rise of Islamophobia.
“Maxine is a community leader and activist,” local Yemeni Abdo Naqeeb told Socialist Worker.
“People are worried about the ‘war on terror’ and how it affects them because the media is turning every Muslim into a suspect.
“Maxine fights against racism and the scapegoating of Asian people.
“And she also fights for everyone. She is our unity candidate.”
Her support for local people whose families were devastated by the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 has won her widespread backing.
Maxine says she is standing to offer the people of Brightside an alternative.
“Whatever happens in the election I believe we will have to fight the impositions of cuts on our services and attacks on our communities,” she said.
“I will be standing for the poor and oppressed.”
For more information about TUSC go to » www.tusc.org.uk