Socialist Worker

'Blair's Labour makes me sick'

Issue No. 1692

Vote London Socialist Alliance on 4 May

'Blair's Labour makes me sick'

London Socialist Alliance candidates are getting a great response wherever they are invited to speak at election hustings. Mark Steel, LSA candidate in Croydon, south London, took part in a hustings last week at Croydon College. Over 70 students and about a dozen lecturers came to hear the local candidates for the Greater London Assembly. One student said she was forced to work part time to pay her way through college. She asked the candidates what they thought of the appallingly low level of the minimum wage. New Labour candidate Maggie Mansell managed to alienate even the slender support she had in the meeting. She told the low paid worker, "If you think you are not being paid enough, my advice is to value yourself more highly and get a higher paid job." The audience was stunned by her response. There was unanimous support for Mark Steel's attack on the government for caving in to fat cats while setting a poverty level for the minimum wage.

At the end of the meeting a longstanding Labour Party voter was one of about a dozen people who pledged to get involved in the LSA campaign. She had been a primary school teacher for many years and told Mark Steel, "I will spend the next three weeks doing what I can to build support for the LSA." Then, turning to the New Labour candidate, she continued, "I am backing him because what you said made me feel physically sick." A 40-strong meeting of the National Union of Teachers in Croydon also endorsed the LSA.

  • LSA candidate Theresa Bennett spoke at a 90-strong hustings organised by the pressure group Transport 2000. She won near unanimous support when she responded to a question from a Tory about "aggressive beggars on the tube" by saying the real transport problems were caused by underfunding and privatisation. Theresa also spoke to 60 students at Lambeth College.

She was featured in the South London Press as the only GLA candidate to turn up to the opening of a new resource centre for refugees. $ Tower Hamlets

AROUND 70 people heard LSA candidate Kambiz Boomla and New Labour's John Biggs debate at a meeting of Tower Hamlets healthcare UNISON. The discussion took place in the context of health cuts in the local area, despite Gordon Brown's promise of extra NHS funding in the budget. A chiropodist said that she was outraged that crucial services were still being reduced. Chiropody might not be seen as "life and death" but it played an important role in stopping diabetes patients losing toes and limbs. Another woman UNISON member, whose husband works at Ford, said that she had always voted Labour in the past but would never do so again and would instead back the LSA. $ New Labour's posh meal protest

LSA SUPPORTERS visited a �600 per head New Labour dinner this week and offered diners-including Peter Hain (above)-soup for 6p


Homerton Hospital

WORKERS FROM Homerton Hospital in east London listened to candidates for the London elections at a hustings meeting last week. There were representatives from New Labour, the London Socialist Alliance, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. The opening comments from the candidates of the main parties stunned many of us-they seemed to bear no relation to the parties they were supposed to represent! All of them spoke about racism and how out of touch the police were with the people they were supposed to serve. All stressed their total commitment to public services.

But nobody was fooled. The audience of doctors, porters, nurses, secretaries, social workers and others did not give any applause to any of these candidates. In contrast they loudly applauded Paul Foot when he spoke for the London Socialist Alliance. During question time and discussion UNISON members wanted clear commitments to keeping the tube in public hands and an end to privatisation. They also spoke about how the candidates had to recognise that tackling racism required much more than simply having more black police. Another person said that more police on the streets would simply mean more harassment of black people.

When the debate turned to asylum seekers, Meg Hillier from New Labour blamed all the scapegoating on the right wing press. But speakers pointed out that both Tory and New Labour were whipping up hatred. "It's not what you say-it's what your party does that matters," said one UNISON member. This lively hustings showed very little enthusiasm for Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems and a lot of support for the London Socialist Alliance.


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Fri 14 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1692
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