Over 100 people packed in to a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) rally in Tottenham, north London, on Tuesday evening.
Jenny Sutton, a local lecturer at the College for Haringey, Enfield and North East London, is the TUSC candidate in the area. She is winning widespread support for her campaign.
Frank Murray from the RMT transport union spoke at the meeting. The RMT has done a lot to support Jenny—including making donations and sending a mailing to all its members in Tottenham encouraging them to vote for her.
“We support Jenny because of her left wing stance,” said Frank. “I was a staunch supporter of Bernie Grant [previous left wing Labour MP in Tottenham]. He was someone you could trust and debate with—I can’t do that with the current incumbent MP.”
David Lammy, New Labour education minister, is the sitting MP for Tottenham. For many ordinary people, he is almost impossible to contact and out of touch with their concerns.
Haji from the Refugee Workers Cultural Association spoke to the meeting. Jenny has worked with many refugees and immigrants teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol).
“When we heard that Jenny was standing we all became enthusiastic about the election,” he told the meeting. “There’s been a lot of discussion about immigrants and we’ve been scapegoated by the media and politicians.
“They blame the economic crisis on the immigrants. The Lib Dems say they’d allow immigrants to come here but only in certain areas! They would treat us like sheep, with no freedom of movement.
“Jenny has been teaching us Esol. Meanwhile the policies of the mainstream parties are to close all opportunities for immigrants. They talk about integration and then close off English to them.
“We support Jenny because she represents our ideas. We feel she is one of us.
“We can achieve something not only for this election but for the future. We can build a movement that one day can win.”
Hesketh Benoit, a teacher at Conel and head coach of Haringey Basketball team, is also backing Jenny. Conel lecturers are in dispute with their college over planned job cuts and are preparing for a strike against the cuts on 5 May—just a day before the general election.
“Our management are trying to run education as a business,” he said. “How ridiculous! They look at students in terms of how much money they will bring in. It’s saddening.
“Our man Lammy is meant to be there for us as an education minister. This is his borough. What’s happening is crazy—we need to get back to real education.”
Children's author Michael Rosen also spoke. 'The representatives of capitalism say we can't afford the services we fought for,' he said.
Yet they are responsible for the crisis. They want to turn the clock back. We have to fight for every public sector job – not a single job must go.'
Jenny was the final speaker at the rally. “I’m often asked why I decided to stand,” she said. “In February we found out about the cuts at Conel and how they would focus on Esol and basic literacy and numeracy.
“We went to Lammy. He said, ‘there’s nothing I can do’. If our local MP, who is an education minister, can’t fight for our local college then we need another MP.
“Education is a ladder for people to try and get out of poverty and this government is taking away the bottom rungs of it. It is saying that some people are worth educating and others aren’t.
“We’ve got more billionaires and more millionaires than ever before. It’s a reverse Robin Hood. The banks have been funded by public money and they are in public hands—yet the only thing that seems to be public is the debt! The profits are still private.
“If you want to make cuts, don’t spend billions on illegal wars. Cut the billions given to the rich. They try to say that talk like that is crude class war.
“If it’s class war to fight for basic public services then that’s what we need.”
Help leaflet Tottenham ward for TUSC: meet Monday 12 noon, Seven Sisters tube station, Tottenham, N17.