Socialist Alliance gets campaigning
The diary of a candidate
KAREN REISSMANN, a health worker, is standing in Manchester's Blackley constituency for the Socialist Alliance. Here is her diary for the week of 2-8 March.
Met Dudley strikers to take round local workplaces. Got fantastic response everywhere, not just to inspiring strike but to the idea of standing against New Labour in the election.
Joint shop stewards committee at North Manchester Hospital all took piles of election leaflets to distribute. They apologised for their last newsletter, which had reluctantly called for a vote for Labour because they did not know the Socialist Alliance was standing. Promised to correct this in the next one.
Bus garage stewards had heard that someone was standing against Graham Stringer (sitting Labour MP, who seems to provoke bitterness whenever his name is mentioned). Very pleased to meet me, and again took a big pile of leaflets to distribute.
Evening. Went round to the house of one of the ward organisers to sort out the lists of new people who have said they want to help.
Dudley hospitals anti-privatisation demo. The question of the Labour Party, which is now responsible for all the ongoing privatisation, dominated the demo, with Socialist Alliance placards, speakers and supporters everywhere. All the speakers at the rally talked about how they had expected things to get better when Labour was elected, not the worst attacks they'd ever seen on ordinary people's services.
This led to useful discussion on the train back with a union steward from south Manchester. He was pleased the Dudley workers are standing a candidate. That made it clear to him what the Socialist Alliance is all about.
Rang round for feedback on the Socialist Alliance stall yesterday. They had used the theme of anti-privatisation in the NHS to coincide with the Dudley demo. More new Socialist Alliance supporters had helped. They collected �40 for the Socialist Alliance and more names to add to the ever-growing list. Allocated our list into three zones for our constituency, as we are setting up local meetings and activities from this week. Mailed out again for the North West UNISON Left meeting next week.
Joined great protest for affordable drugs in South Africa in protest at the court action being taken by 42 drug companies. Brilliant giant pill representing Glaxo's profits and a tiny pill representing South Africa's healthcare spending. Socialist Alliance again went down very well. More names!
Evening. Went to local Labour club. Not a good night to go as it was the final of the darts and crib league. Initially the manager was very nervous, but as the night went on and we were talking to people at the bar he became more open. They are so angry at the betrayal and corruption of New Labour that they worked so hard for. They were worried about the Tories' ability to win a racist vote, and shared our frustration at Labour's pandering to this.
By the end, not only had I learnt some of the finer points of crib, but was quite merry and the manager offered to ask the committee if the Socialist Alliance could have a meeting there in the heart of the beast. He even suggested we go to the papers if they refused. Invited us to leave leaflets for everyone who came in.
Hellish day at work. Managed to squeeze in a call to a sympathetic local journalist who allowed me to comment on a number of attacks in the area. May be on the front page this week.
Contacted a tenants and residents rep who knew about my candidacy and was very pleased to speak to me in person (it's hard to grasp that since becoming a candidate I am viewed as a minor celebrity).
The venom with which people speak about Labour politicians still shocks me sometimes, and Stringer in particular, who was the leader of Manchester council before becoming an MP. This is definitely not an asset for him with the demise of so many services. Tenants rep invited me to their next meeting. Evening. Produced the leaflet for our forthcoming rally. Checked progress on leafleting in a couple of wards and went through what needs to happen at the local activities tomorrow.
Popped in to a sheltered housing project where one of the residents has organised a socialist discussion group. He is hated by all officialdom in the area. He wanted to make his flat the Socialist Alliance headquarters. Agreed to try and get big posters for his front door and windows. He has launched a campaign over their gas and appliance payments which seems to be paying dividends. Met our campaign manager there-so could kill two birds in one visit. Even got lunch.
Had union meeting for three wards which have chronic low staffing levels. So low not many could be spared to come to the meeting. Socialist Alliance went down incredibly well. Six nurses have agreed to take leaflets round their streets. Had to work until 7pm to make up the time.
Evening. Greater Manchester Socialist Alliance meeting to plan next few weeks activities. Wrote first draft of this diary. I am knackered but it is unbelievable fun.
Met journalist at lunchtime to discuss Socialist Alliance. Met someone at a clinic who offered to do a large chunk of postal addressing if needed. We are running out of leaflets. Early evening. Arrived late for women's day protest to close down the Gap. When I got there, there were over 60 people shouting anti-sweatshop slogans, leafleting and occupying the Gap shop in Manchester. Managed to shut it down. Socialist Alliance info went down really well. More names for Globalise Resistance and Socialist Allliance.
Clare Short (her support for the WTO and her opposition to minimum wages for the developing world) coming up frequently. Made speech. Evening. Rang round to see what had come out of ward meetings yesterday. Did final draft for rally leaflet. Got chatting to someone in the takeaway (it's all I seem to eat now) who gave me their details to get involved. You can never stop. Supporters of the Socialist Alliance are everywhere!
Socialist general election candidates are standing all over Britain
To help the campaign contact the National Network of Socialist Alliances on 020 7536 9696 or the Scottish Socialist Party on 0141 221 7714