Socialist Worker

Four weeks to shake London

Issue No. 1691

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Livingstone 
London Socialist Alliance

Four weeks to shake London

THERE ARE just four weeks to go for voters in London to deliver a huge blow to Tony Blair and his big business policies. The elections for the London mayor and Greater London Assembly take place on Thursday 4 May.

Londoners have the chance to vote Ken Livingstone for mayor and London Socialist Alliance candidates for the assembly. New Labour had hoped to use the elections as a stepping stone towards a general election early next year. Now it is panicking.

The latest polls put Livingstone on 50 percent and New Labour's Frank Dobson on just 20 percent. Labour Party members across the capital are refusing to campaign for Dobson. About 400 readers recently responded to a poll in London's Irish Post newspaper. Over 95 percent said they backed Livingstone for mayor compared to less than 3 percent for Dobson.

A New Labour spokesman asked the Irish Post, "Are your readers all Sinn Fein supporters?" That is just one sign of how staggeringly out of touch Blair and the narrow band that surround him are from the feelings of working class people. Dobson got a taste last week of how unpopular New Labour's pro-business policies are.

He attended the opening of the Paddington Green health centre in west London. It was a stunt designed to give the former health secretary good press. But local GP Sally Taylor slammed the Private Finance Initiative used to build the centre as an expensive failure. The health practice will have to pay �100,000 rent a year to a housing association, as well as maintenance costs, under the scheme.

"This money should be spent on the patients, not on rent," said Dr Taylor. This Labour government has reached the point its predecessors reached in the 1960s and 1970s.

Disillusionment has set in as it fails to deliver change for working class people. The Tories gained from that feeling of betrayal under those previous Labour governments. William Hague will be hoping to gain seats from Labour in council elections fought in many parts of Britain on 4 May. But a victory for Livingstone and a strong vote for socialist candidates on that day would overshadow any gains the Tories might make.

Unfortunately Livingstone is not campaigning on the socialist policies New Labour has abandoned. He says he wants to work with Blair. New Labour ministers now say privately they can work with him. The London Socialist Alliance campaign for the assembly seats is different. It is drawing together trade unionists, Labour Party members, community activists and others to campaign for socialist policies. The campaign is tapping deep support at local meetings, street stalls and in workplaces.

Socialist Alliance supporters are distributing over one million leaflets across the capital. Everywhere they are finding people who want to help. Everyone can do something over the next four weeks to register the largest possible socialist vote in London against New Labour. If you have had enough of Tory policies from New Labour, get involved with the LSA.


Five from New Labour

HELEN GORDON: gets �66,000 a year as director of personnel at UCLH hospitals. She has played a key role in victimising two leading trade unionists, Candy Udwin and Dave Carr. 

NICKY GAVRON: millionaire Haringey councillor in North London. 

MEG HILLIER: Islington councillor. Held on to her seat in 1998 by promising to save an old people's home. She got re-elected and voted to close it. Became mayor of Islington on the day the council sacked a dozen workers for fighting back against racism and sexism. 

KATE GREEN: City of London banker. Biggest "claim to fame" is that she helped set up the Victoria Street Business Watch to help the Metropolitan Police. 

LORD TOBY HARRIS: has ten paid and 13 unpaid appointments to quangos. The paid posts include: chairman of the Local Government Association Labour Group; non-executive director of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust; and consultant and adviser to Infolog Training Ltd.


Five from the LSA

CANDY UDWIN: active in defending the NHS for 25 years. She led a successful campaign to keep the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital for Women open in 1979. She is standing against her personnel manager, Helen Gordon.

GEORGE TAYLOR: Labour councillor in Havering from 1994 until 1998. Works as an electrician. Says, "The working class battle goes on. I'm ready to do battle."

CECILIA PROSPER: one of 12 workers sacked by Islington council for protesting against racist and sexist redundancy procedures.

SARBANI MAZUMDAR: recently led a successful strike against Wandsworth Tory council's attack on sick workers. Says, "Black Londoners continue to face intolerable discrimination while refugees are scapegoated."

GREG TUCKER: train driver and activist in the RMT rail union. He is currently leading a campaign against the sacking by South West Trains of Sarah Friday, a train driver and RMT health and safety rep.


Rally

Fight for a left alternative 
Thursday 13 April, 7.30pm Friends Meeting House (opposite Euston station), Euston Road, London 

Speakers include:
Tommy Sheridan, Member of the Scottish Parliament Paul Foot, London Socialist Alliance Alain Krivine, Member of the European Parliament


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News
Sat 8 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1691
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