Workers, students and other activists in Tottenham, north London, met on Monday to select Jenny Sutton as their candidate in the upcoming election.
Jenny is a lecturer and branch secretary of the UCU union at the College of North East London (Conel).
She is central to the fight against cuts at the college and will be standing as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate against higher education minister David Lammy.
“David Lammy embodies the failure of New Labour to represent ordinary people,” she told the meeting. “Labour was elected promising, ‘education, education, education’. Now there are unprecedented cuts. This is not just about jobs—it’s about the destruction of hope and opportunities.”
Jenny described the disdain Lammy holds for ordinary people in Tottenham. “His surgery is in our college. We’ve lobbied him countless times and his answer is always the same—‘It’s beyond my remit’. He’s the minister for higher education. If he’s unable to do anything, what’s the point of the man?”
And it’s not just education that New Labour has in its sights.
“There’s no A&E department in Haringey,” Jenny pointed out. “People have to go to the one at Whittington hospital. But that is now threatened with closure.
“Some 50 percent of young black people are out of work,” said Jenny. “The only option for many working class young people is the army. It’s a disgrace.”
The meeting was filled with energy and enthusiasm.
Penny Charles, UCU branch chair at Conel, nominated Jenny as the TUSC candidate.
“After the economic crash, our government spent billions bailing out the banks,” she said.
“We’re in for a really rough time. We need representatives who will stand up for us.
Linda Bartle, a former Visteon worker who occupied her factory in Enfield, north London last year, was also at the meeting.
“We need a new kind of party,” she told Socialist Worker. “I’m glad we’ve got Jenny standing. I’d trust a worker over the present sort of MPs any day.”
Sue, a local activist, described the meeting as “fantastic”. “It might seem a bit daunting to stand against Labour,” she said. “But they can’t put together a meeting like this in Tottenham.”
The meeting ended in a flurry of activity.
People volunteered to organise fundraising, publicity, contacting community groups and workplaces to set up meetings with Jenny and responsibility was taken for each of the nine wards in the constituency.
On election day, Jenny could be on strike against cuts while challenging the minister responsible at the ballot box.
That’s the type of politics which explains the excitement at the heart of her campaign.
'I will be standing as a candidate of resistance'
Angela McCormick, a college lecturer and EIS union member, is to stand in Glasgow North in the general election.
She has campaigned on a range of issues—from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to school closures, housing sell-offs and attacks on refugees and asylum seekers.
Now she will be standing as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Solidarity candidate.
Angela spoke to Socialist Worker after the successful protest against the Scottish Defence League in Edinburgh last Saturday (see page 3).
“We totally outnumbered them—they weren’t able to set foot in the streets,” she said.
“It’s important to confront them and keep them out of our cities and towns. At the same time, we need to put a positive alternative to the Nazi BNP.”
Angela hopes to build a coalition involving local campaigning groups and trade unionists who want to fight cuts in services and back a socialist alternative at the ballot box.
“The cuts in Glasgow council are some of the worst ever,” she says. “They’ve got plans to close 12 community centres and halve the number of community workers.
“Swimming pools and libraries could be shut in some of the poorest areas.
“I’ve lived here all my life. It’s one of the most deprived areas in Europe. But there is a history of resistance too.
“Already there have been campaign meetings across the city to oppose the cuts and more are planned.”
Labour, Tories and the Lib Dems are united on the need for cuts in Scotland. The Scottish National Party (SNP) tries to pose as an alternative—but has a record of selling out.
“The SNP gets involved in anti-cuts campaigning when it is in opposition,” says Angela. “But once they get a majority— like in Edinburgh—they push through cuts. They don’t have any answers.”
Angela’s campaign will offer an alternative to the cuts consensus. “I am standing as a candidate of resistance,” she says. “I want to put across the message that we won’t pay for the bankers’ crisis.
“TUSC supporters are going to go all out to get a delegation to the EIS protest against education cuts on 6 March in Glasgow. The campaign is about building links, networks, publicity and support for workers.
“If you can do that in some way in an election campaign then it’s got to be worth it.”
TUSC election rally
Thursday 25 March, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
Speakers include Bob Crow, Dave Nellist, Michael Lavalette, Brian Caton
TUSC days of action
Socialist Worker urges its readers to join the following days of action:
- Sunday 14 March
- Sunday 18 April
- Sunday 14 March
- Saturday 24 April
- Tuesday 4 May Thursday 6 May
Trade union days of action
- Tuesday 27 April
- Tuesday 4 May