IN ENGLAND the Socialist Alliance is providing an alternative for all those who can no longer stomach voting for Blair's Labour Party. Over 160 Socialist Alliance Against the War candidates are standing in the local council elections. They are also campaigning against privatisation, student tuition fees and the witch-hunt of asylum seekers.
The elections take place in many major towns and cities outside London. The number of Socialist Alliance candidates is much higher than stood in comparable elections a year ago.
Many Socialist Alliance candidates are winning support from anti-war campaigners who see the election campaign can be another strand of the movement. Sulma Mansuri is the treasurer of the Nottingham Stop the War Coalition. She is standing as a Socialist Alliance Against the War candidate for Nottingham council.
Sulma says, 'Given the present situation, I think it is vital that working people are offered an alternative to vote for. I have got a lot of support from anti-war activists.' Seven Socialist Alliance candidates are standing in Chesterfield. Jeannie Robinson is standing in St Helen's ward.
She says, 'Many local people are appalled at the war which has been launched by Bush and Blair in Iraq. As Gordon Brown pledges unlimited finances for the war, the money we need to fund our public services and deal with the real social problems in our communities is being held back.'
Lynne Hubbard is standing in the Bourneville ward in Birmingham. She has been backed by the local Stirchley Stop the War Group and Health Workers Against the War, a group in the Selly Oak Hospital where Lynne works.
She told Socialist Worker, 'The local councillor was anti-war and spoke at Stop the War Coalition meetings. He was deselected in a coup by the right wing. I am hoping everyone who opposes the war backs my campaign.'
Mark Henzel is standing in the Aigburth ward in Liverpool. Mark is chair of Liverpool Stop the War Coalition. He told Socialist Worker, 'People from the anti-war group nominated me to stand. 'Many seem really pleased to have some something to vote for positively.' As well as the big cities, there are Socialist Alliance candidates in many smaller places, including 16 in Wigan, 12 in Walsall, five in Bolton and four in Oldham.
Ameen from Oldham told Socialist Worker, 'When the list of candidates was printed in the local paper, Labour Party members tried to get one of our candidates, Shamin Ahmed, to withdraw. They are worried about losing their core support to us because of the war.'
Five Socialist Alliance Against the War candidates are among the wide range of anti-war candidates in South Wales. There are other activists standing as Stop the War candidates. In Broadstairs, Kent, a slate of Stop the War candidates are standing for the parish council. Anti-war campaigners in Dorset have announced that ten Stop the War candidates will stand.