Message from inspiring London rally
Campaign to turn out socialist vote
ABOUT 1,200 people attended an exciting London Socialist Alliance rally last week. LSA campaigners are stepping up their campaign to get the maximum socialist vote in the elections for the Greater London Assembly on 4 May. Every day between now and 4 May counts. There is an enthusiastic response to the LSA. The task is to make sure everyone gets to hear its message.
"I DON'T have to introduce myself-you all read the Economist. No class conscious worker can be without it! The current issue devotes a whole page to an article I wrote about Rover: "Mr Foot would like the government to take Rover back into public ownership, to secure its employees' 'right to work'. Mr Foot, thank heavens, is an eccentric." I was so surprised by this definition that I looked it up in a dictionary: odd, whimsical. I couldn't understand it. What they meant to say was, "Mr Foot, no thanks to heaven, is a socialist. This man is in favour of public ownership."
From their point of view that is eccentric. It went on, "Not even the thousands of distraught car workers who marched in protest through Birmingham see nationalisation as a realistic solution to their plight." Of course, that march was full of Economist journalists! When they heard the chant "Rover, Rover, take it over," they must have assumed the workers were calling for their dogs!
The fact is that vast numbers of workers at Longbridge and everywhere else are wondering why they elected a Labour government when, faced with job losses and factory closures, the Labour government has nothing to say about it. We are told not to worry as we have a thriving, booming service industry. If you can't get a job in manufacturing you can get a job in a service industry-like a bank.
Only it had better not be Barclays, as it is closing 171 branches with grave effects for everybody except those at the top, like the boss of Barclays who is pocketing tens of millions of pounds. The major banks make 12 billion a year in profits. There is no reason why they shouldn't be taken into public ownership and the 12 billion put into companies like Rover to make things that people need and want. Everywhere you have private concerns run for profit. That's what's wrong with society and why we've got to change it.
I went to a London Socialist Alliance hustings meeting in the hospital where I was looked after for most of last year, the Homerton. The Labour candidate was Meg Hillier. I felt sorry for her. She started off saying she's in the Labour Party because of the awful inequalities which exist in society. But she said not one word about how her party is going to put those inequalities right, or was in fact making them worse.
Meg Hillier was mayor of Islington when the council sacked 12 black workers in what an industrial tribunal called one of the worst ever cases of discrimination. In the next few days we have a city to win. We all need to go out from here and win it."
- PAUL FOOT
Proud to support LSA
"I HAVE been a Labour activist for 20 years. I delivered the leaflets, collected the subs, took minutes at innumerable meetings. I look at New Labour, at Home Office minister Barbara Roche who I helped to elect when she was an anti-racist and a defender of civil liberties. Now she is the hammer of refugees.
That experience makes me proud to support the LSA. Labour has been hijacked by the establishment. It now listens much more to business than it does to trade unions. I didn't leave Labour lightly. But I believe that it is unacceptable for the evils of global capitalism to go unchallenged.
New Labour has stitched up the mayor selection. It has also stitched up the assembly candidates as well. The screening process has removed everyone with the slightest independence of mind or link with the working class. Our candidates have a record of involvement in struggle. They are the opposite of the robotic clones of New Labour. We have three weeks left and it is a huge workload ahead of us.|
- MIKE MARQUSEE
Beginning of new struggle
"IN ALL countries across Europe, led by both Labour or Tory parties, we have flexibility, privatisation, deregulation. It is exactly the same in Germany, Italy and Belgium. A month ago there was an intergovernmental conference in Portugal where the majority of the countries headed by socialist parties totally capitulated. They were there to discuss social problems, but there was a total adoption of economic liberalism.
France is no exception. The Socialist government is forced to speak about social issues but its fundamental politics are the same. The one difference between Britain and France is the relation of forces. We did not have the experience of Mrs Thatcher. The working class is more healthy.
There were big strikes in 1995, and some weeks ago strikes and demonstrations of teachers forced the government to expel the education minister. We are at the beginning of a new resistance. There was a fantastic demonstration recently in Britain, and in Europe there is a new wave of strikes. There was also the fantastic experience of the counter-demonstration against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle. A new internationalist consciousness is beginning to appear in Europe and across the world.
We have a responsibility to fight for a socialist alternative. We need coordination between the new and radical anti-capitalist left. I hope you have a big success in the election. This would be a success for all anti-capitalists in Europe, especially in France."
- ALAIN KRIVINE, French revolutionary socialist and member of the European Parliament
We need public ownership
"I WANT to offer the fullest solidarity of the Scottish Socialist Party to the London Socialist Alliance. In Scotland, in London, everywhere, we need to bring the left and the working class together, united around socialist demands. We need to put basic questions back on the agenda, such as redistribution of the massive wealth and resources that exist in this country from the rich to the poor.
We need to work together, to build respect and trust. Our audience is the people everywhere who want to change the system, who want a challenge to the horrible inequality of wealth and power that exists at the moment. After three years of New Labour the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. It's about time for change-for pensioners, for children, for the low paid, for the unemployed and the disabled. They need the socialist alternative arguing for decent wages, for a shorter working week, for public control of our industries. We need the argument for public control and against privatisation."
- TOMMY SHERIDAN, socialist member of the Scottish Parliament
"IN 1997 people voted Labour, some with a heavy heart, because they wanted to see a difference. Now officially we've got rich people getting richer and the poor getting poorer-this is not the difference we thought we were going to get. Let's make sure we bring the vote out for the LSA on 4 May."
- CHRISTINE BLOWER, teacher and LSA candidate
"THIS MEETING has taken 20 years off my life. I used to be a member of the Labour Party, a branch secretary. I got totally disillusioned with politics. I was disgusted with this government as a pensioner, as a nurse, as a single parent. But the final straw was when they started to sell council homes. This Labour Party is not remotely connected with anything I've been involved with, and that is driving me back to politics. The London Socialist Alliance is the only thing I can believe in."
- JEAN KYSOW, LSA candidate, tenants' activist and pensioner
"I WAS at a meeting of a cyclists' forum and a Tory tried to whip up hatred against "aggressive beggars". I was not sure what the reaction would be, but I said I was against the witch-hunt. I argued that the causes of begging were poverty and the lack of benefits and the lack of jobs. I got a round of applause. There is everything to play for. Everyone has been betrayed by New Labour. We need to get them out to vote for us."
- THERESA BENNETT, LSA candidate