Manchester saw a tale of two cities on Thursday of last week.
In one part of the city centre the media and a handpicked audience—governed by more than 55 rules of conduct—gathered for the debate between the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem leaders.
On the other side of town over 100 activists attended the launch of health activist Karen Reissmann’s election campaign for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
They included students, pensioners, and campaigners for the NHS, the grassroots Hazel Must Go campaign and trade unionists from the RMT, UCU, CWU, Unison, FBU and Unite unions.
The meeting was sponsored by local branches of the RMT and FBU unions.
Michael Lavalette, an independent socialist councilor in Preston and an SWP member, said the debate between the main parties was “utterly bizarre.
“All three of them are saying more or less the same things about the real issues that affect people.
“Whether it’s cuts now, or after 6 May, they all agree that there is £167 billion worth of cuts that must be made. This means more attacks on our public services.
“How is it possible that toff-boy Cameron and his Eton pals in the shadow cabinet are ahead in the polls?
“Because for the last 13 years—despite being elected on a promise that things could only get better—things have not got better under Labour.”
David Henry, who is the TUSC candidate in Salford, where he is standing against Hazel Blears also spoke.
“If we don’t stand we open the door to the right,” he said.
“In Salford, the consequence of the expenses scandal was that people would not come out and vote Labour.
“The British National Party got a higher proportion of the vote.”
Karen Reissmann thanked everyone for their solidarity in her campaign against her victimisation after speaking out against attacks on the NHS.
“I’m back as a Unison steward in the health service,” she said. “That’s an important message. If we stand together we can stop them.
“When they say there is no alternative to the cuts we have to stand up and say there is.
“We can stop the building of Trident, stop ID cards, stop the war in Afghanistan, and we can tax the rich.
“Whoever wins the election, there are going to be massive cuts on a scale that is hard to contemplate.
“This campaign is to put forward an alternative, but also to begin to pull together all those people who don’t want cuts and want to fight back.”