LSA stands up for socialism
'It's great to see an alternative'
KEN LIVINGSTONE'S decision to stand against New Labour for mayor of London is creating shockwaves in the labour movement across Britain. The London Socialist Alliance (LSA) campaign, which is backing Livingstone for mayor and standing a full slate of candidates for the Greater London Assembly (GLA) elections, is also winning support. Labour leaders are already worried. According to the Observer, Labour officials have privately admitted that socialist candidate Paul Foot could get elected to the GLA.
Labour members in London are refusing to lift a finger to help Frank Dobson's election campaign. Many of them are campaigning for Livingstone. Two Labour councillors came out in support of Livingstone last week. Socialist Worker has received many reports of Labour Party members saying they will back the LSA. A 40 - strong meeting, called by Labour's Fabian Society, in Romford last week backed Livingstone overwhelmingly. About half the audience took campaign material for the LSA, including a worker at Ford Dagenham who has distributed them at work. Striking lecturers in Scotland gave money to back Livingstone.
A lecturer in Manchester was approached by a colleague who wanted the union branch to organise a coach to London to canvass in the elections. Mark New, secretary of the Dudley Group of Hospitals UNISON union branch in the West Midlands, told Socialist Worker, "People just came up to me last week asking what we are going to do to support Livingstone in London." The East Finchley branch of the ASLEF rail union last week threw its support behind Livingstone and the LSA.
Finn Brennan, the branch secretary, told Socialist Worker, "We donated �500 to Livingstone's campaign and �100 to the LSA." The North/North West London postal workers CWU branch reps heard LSA candidate Paul Foot this week. They voted overwhelmingly to donate �200 to the Livingstone campaign and �200 to the LSA. One GMB union national executive member and Labour Party member says they are campaigning for Livingstone, and "of course" backing the LSA.
"LONDONERS should get off their arses and back the London Socialist Alliance!"
- RICKY TOMLINSON, a star in the hit BBC comedy The Royle Family and one of the Shrewsbury pickets jailed by the Tories in the 1970s
We don't want to fund Dobson
MEMBERS OF Britain's largest union, UNISON, are furious that their national leaders are giving �500 to each UNISON - sponsored New Labour constituency candidate for the Greater London Authority. The London region of UNISON is drawing up a manifesto which will outline its opposition to privatisation and other Blairite policies. It is asking all candidates to endorse it.
The region will then publicise those candidates who will stand up for trade union policies. The convenor of UNISON in London, Geoff Martin, is writing to those who run the union's political fund asking them not to give a penny to Frank Dobson's campaign. Branches of the Fire Brigades Union in London are discussing backing Livingstone. The London region of the FBU will vote on the question a week on Monday.
Get on board the campaign
SOME 40 people attended an LSA organising meeting in Leyton, east London, last week. About half had not been involved in socialist campaigning before. Mel Hepworth, chair of Waltham Forest Trades Council and a health worker, told Socialist Worker, "There was a tremendous positive feeling at the meeting. Of course I want to see Livingstone beat New Labour. But I am disappointed that he is only talking about tube privatisation and is seeking business backing. I want to see him put forward the kind of socialist policies the LSA is campaigning for."
Ben Dickenson said, "We have two dozen LSA supporters in one ward, and we have held a number of meetings on estates and down people's roads. At each meeting there is a short discussion, then detailed work about how to build forthcoming activities." About 70 similar meetings took place across London last week.
- THE LSA is organising an election bus to tour London. To sponsor the battle bus, send donations and get petition sheets from the LSA.
EVERYWHERE LSA supporters are finding workmates and neighbours who want to back the campaign. One north London teacher collected �100 at work last week. A teacher in Westminster collected �90 from three colleagues. Some �30 was collected at the main BT office in Islington, north London. Council workers in Westminster collected �97 on two stalls set up in Strutton Ground Market during their lunch break. The shop stewards committee of the Westminster UNISON union is backing the LSA. A series of meetings are now taking place in offices and workplaces across the council.
"The atmosphere is incredible," says one council worker. "People are getting active. Some Labour Party members are putting together a video exposing New Labour's lies over the Greater London Council, which Ken Livingstone led in the 1980s." Two LSA cavalcades got a great response in north London on Saturday. Bucket collections around pubs in Hackney, east London, the night before raised �166. A group of post office workers backed the LSA, and told some smartly dressed Blairites that they would not feel at home having a drink because "this is a pro - Livingstone pub". LSA candidate Mark Steel spoke to an 1,100 - strong meeting of Crystal Palace supporters at the weekend. He won warm applause as he outlined the LSA's policies against privatisation and against fat cats such as Rupert Murdoch.
Pass this motion
1) This trade union branch/trades council/shop stewards committee/tenants association/etc welcomes Ken Livingstone's decision to run for the mayor of London. We welcome his decision, following the stitch - up of Labour's selection procedure, believing it is vital that socialist policies are presented at this key election. We also welcome the decision of the London Socialist Alliance to contest every seat and to present a full slate in the elections for the Greater London Assembly which coincide with the poll for mayor.
2) We declare our support for both Ken Livingstone and the London Socialist Alliance campaigns in these elections and will donate (state amount) to Ken's campaign and (state amount) to the LSA campaign. Send donations to:
- Livingstone for London, PO Box 20052, London NW2 5ZH.
- London Socialist Alliance, PO Box 20492, London SE11 5WL.
Can you vote?
THE DEADLINE for registering to vote in the London elections is Monday 20 March. The LSA is offering a voice for working people in London. Every vote it gets will show there is a socialist opposition to Blair. That is why it is important that everyone who is disgusted with New Labour's policies is in a position to vote for the LSA on 4 May.
To register to vote you need to contact your local town hall. You can get the number from a London - wide telephone hotline: 08456 04 05 20. For more information ring 020 8981 9243