The victory of George Galloway in the Bradford West by-election has spurred on local election campaigns that were already on the way—and inspired some new ones.
Michael Lavalette served the people of Preston for years as a councillor after winning a huge vote on a socialist and anti-war platform in 2003.
He stood and won in 2007, but narrowly lost in 2011.
Now Michael will stand again in his Preston Town Centre ward.
He told Socialist Worker, “The Bradford result is a big opportunity for the left.
“George Galloway did not win just because of his stance on the war—the campaign was about cuts, austerity, and for honest representation that stands against the lies and deceit of the three main parties.
“The scale of the victory opens up a space. There are people standing for Respect, TUSC and other independents [see right and below].
“If we do well, we can be in a position to talk about realignment and coming together on the left.”
He added that strikes are very important, but “don’t automatically bring a left of Labour result”.
“After the huge strikes on 30 November, some union leaders said we need to turn them into Labour voters,” he said. “But we say different.”
Michael believes that socialists in elections “have to be able to engage and respond on three levels”.
He said, “We need to fight on local issues and show we are the best community shop stewards and take up the issues of everyday life.
“In Preston this often means problems with poor housing, rats and bin collections.
“If you’re good at that then you can take people with you on national issues, like cuts to the NHS and unemployment.
“And we have to talk about international issues too—the war in Afghanistan, freedom for Palestine and so on.”
Michael has won huge support in Preston already, and many people are pleased to hear he is standing again.
Michael added that local cuts are playing a role.
“The privatisation of services people rely on is an important issue here,” he said. “There is a reduction of housing grants being pushed through. People use the grants to make improvements to their homes.
“Housing conditions are very poor in some parts of Preston and unemployment. is high, like elsewhere. There are more shops closed on the high street now than I’ve seen in 22 years living in Preston.”
Grassroots campaigns for local candidates can help to bring people together, he said.
Michael continued, “We want to get our message to every voter. That’s our aim in the few weeks between now and the elections.”
Help Michael win in Preston
- Make a donation to help the campaign. Please send your cheques to Preston Independent Socialists, c/o 10 Yewlands Crescent, Fulwood, Preston PR2 9QS.
- Join the leafleting every Sunday at 1pm and evenings at 6pm. Phone Michael on 07739 729214