Socialist Ralph Dyson walked out of the BBC’s Rotherham by-election hustings on Monday of this week as he refused to share a platform with fascists.
Ralph, a member of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), was the only candidate to back a Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protest outside against the British National Party, English Defence League and English Democrats.
The election has been dominated by cuts, corruption and racism after Denis MacShane MP resigned for fiddling his expenses. It is one of the safest Labour seats in the country. But Labour leader Ed Miliband should expect a reduced majority.
Brutal Tory cuts, including 750 jobs axed at the hospital and 1,000 at the council, echoes the 1980s. The last remaining pit is set to shut and more than 110 steel jobs were chopped last week.
Racists and fascists have tried to exploit a child abuse scandal in the town. UAF organised two big mobilisations against them in as many weeks.
And Labour showed contempt for its activists as it imposed a shortlist which excluded a local Asian councillor as candidate. More than 80 Labour members walked out of the selection meeting in protest.
This week Ukip tried to exploit the issue of council social workers rightly putting the needs of children first.
Labour is running scared after failing to lead a fight in an area where the South Yorkshire Police’s cover-ups of the Hillsborough and Orgreave scandals still run deep. People vote Labour to keep the Tories out, but Miliband is not inspiring workers.
Respect’s Yvonne Ridley hopes to “do a Bradford” and Respect’s campaign has clearly opened up debate about voting Labour. But workers need a political alternative willing to stand and fight the government on a daily basis.
TUSC campaigning has related to a deep dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties and a desire to see an end to austerity.
Ralph Dyson, who led a successful teachers’ strike last year, represents such a fightback. As Ralph says, he is “the bosses’ worst nightmare”—standing up for all those who want to see a fighting alternative to Labour.
By-elections round up
Socialist Worker is calling on supporters to vote for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in the upcoming Middlesbrough and Rotherham by-elections on Thursday of this week.
John Malcolm, Middlesbrough TUSC candidate, stands against the £50 million cuts the council are planning to make. In Rotherham, Ralph Dyson has run a lively campaign.
Respect’s Lee Jasper has tapped into anger around police racism and other issues in the Croydon by-election. But Socialist Worker cannot campaign for him, following Respect leader George Galloway’s disgraceful and well-publicised comments on rape.
[Note: An earlier version of this article called for a vote for Labour in the Croydon North by-election. This was an editorial error. Socialist Worker is not endorsing any of the candidates in the Croydon North by-election.]