Socialist election campaign
Buzzing in Birmingham
CAMPAIGNERS have been out building the socialist election campaign. Constituency groups are holding meetings. In some areas union branches are organising hustings.
SOME 110 people defied foul weather to turn up to the Birmingham Socialist Alliance's election campaign launch meeting last Sunday. Caroline Johnson, Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Perry Barr, spoke about how ordinary people can fight back against New Labour cuts. The same message was put across by Dudley hospitals striker Winnifred Whitehouse.
Steve Godward, FBU West Midlands regional officer and Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Erdington, spoke about the Socialist Alliance "putting emotion back into politics". The meeting was a great success, and there was a real mood of unity and enthusiasm. With Salman Mirza having been just selected as Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Sparkbrook and Small Health, and over �2,000 raised in the last week, there's a real buzz in Birmingham!
ABOUT 90 people came to a debate on the future of the NHS between prospective parliamentary candidates in Hackney in east London last week. The event was organised by the local UNISON health workers' union branch and other organisations.
With the exception of the Tory, there was agreement from all other candidates that the rich should be taxed more to pay for the health service. Hackney North MP Diane Abbott presented an agenda unrecognisable from that of Blair.
The Liberal candidate was outraged at the suggestion that she might not support striking health workers in Dudley, and the Green candidate condemned capitalist competition that causes ill health. But as the Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Hackney South, Cecilia Prosper, put it, "Whatever anyone says here, it's not actually their party's policy! With the Socialist Alliance you can guarantee that up and down the country the same message will be going out, and you can be proud of fighting for that message alongside people who agree with you 100 percent."
- MIKE ARROWSMITH
AROUND 600 people came to the election launch rally of the Socialist Alliance in London on Tuesday of last week. "The Socialist Alliance is the most important thing the left has done in a long time," said Christine Blower, former president of the National Union of Teachers, who chaired the meeting. All the speakers conveyed a sense of excitement at the prospects of building a left alternative to New Labour.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary elect of the PCS civil servants' union, argued, "It is essential to link the Socialist Alliance to the trade unions, and to build support in the unions for a new political voice separate from the Labour Party."
Paul Foot spoke against the attacks on civil liberties by "Police Constable Straw" and the corruption of those in New Labour who suck up to the rich and powerful.
Louise Christian, human rights lawyer and Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, addressed the meeting passionately against New Labour's shameful stance on asylum seekers. And there was an enthusiastic reception for Liz Davies, a former member of Labour's NEC who recently left the party, and who said she was now proud to back the Socialist Alliance.
Socialist Alliance constituency groups from across London were in the audience, along with trade unionists, pensioners, housing activists and other campaigners. Socialist Alliance candidates who addressed the meeting included a rail woker, a tube worker, council worker and a teacher. Ford Dagenham worker and Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate for Dagenham Berlyne Hamilton said:
"My union, the TGWU, and others give the Labour Party huge sums. Workers fought hard to retain the political fund when it was under attack in the 1980s. Then I wanted to give money to Labour, but now my choice is a different choice. We should fight in the unions to be able to give money to the socialist movement."
AROUND 30 people turned up to hear prospective parliamentary candidates for Watford debate the future of the railways last Wednesday night. The meeting was sponsored by local rail unions as part of their Take Back The Track campaign.
Michael McManus, the Tory candidate, sought to disown all previous Tory leaders and policies from Winston Churchill onwards. The Liberal candidate, Duncan Ames, thought that it would cost too much money to renationalise the railways.
It was left for Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate Jon Berry to argue for renationalisation as a matter of urgency. He also pledged his full support for future campaigning activity on the streets of Watford. Unfortunately sitting Labour MP Claire Ward could not attend.
WE HELD a Socialist Alliance ballot in Edmonton, north London, on renationalisation of the railways last weekend. People voted 93 to three in favour of renationalisation. We are now planning to organise a street protest against Bush and Blair's "Son of Star Wars" next week, with a 12 foot high model rocket.
- PETE GEE
A CAVALCADE made an impact as it wound through the streets of Hackney last weekend, winning support for the Socialist Alliance.
AT THE launch meeting of the Hull and East Yorkshire Socialist Alliance last week we heard from striking caravan worker Kevin Smith, who spoke of his experiences in the recent Willerby Caravans dispute.
Plymouth Socialist Alliance is having a benefit gig at 8pm on Friday 20 April, at Tramps near Brettonside bus station. Price is �3.50/�2.50.