LSA Campaign gathers strength
An eager audience for socialist ideas
"NO ONE will do a hand's turn to help get Frank Dobson elected." That is how Judy Atkinson describes the fury at New Labour's stitch-up over the London mayor. Judy is a member of Brentford and Isleworth Constituency Labour Party. "The constituency meeting last week passed a resolution by 19 votes to eight calling on Frank Dobson to stand down as the Labour Party candidate for mayor," she told Socialist Worker. "The proposer of that resolution voted for Glenda Jackson in the selection ballot. The seconder voted for Frank Dobson. That shows just how many people in the party feel the result was a stitch up." Labour supporters and trade unionists across London are also deeply opposed to Tony Blair's policies.
That is why the London Socialist Alliance (LSA) is gaining such support. It has united organisations and individuals on the left to mount an electoral challenge to Blair in the elections for the Greater London Assembly on 4 May. Anne, a retired teacher, was out leafleting for the LSA on Holloway Road, north London, on Saturday. She told Socialist Worker, "We need a change fast. We need an alternative to Labour in this election. The thing that excites me is that this is a broad-based alliance. It can attract people who do not yet want to join a particular political party. I am so glad to see all these trade unionists and campaigners coming together. The Labour Party simply isn't a voice for working people now. I know lots of people who were so pleased that Labour got in three years ago. Now they are depressed. The important thing is to try and draw these people into doing something. The London Socialist Alliance is crucial because it is showing all those people that there is an alternative to Tony Blair and it is based on socialist policies. We can start to make socialism an inspiring word again."
The LSA needs you
THE LSA needs to raise at least �40,000 to take part in the election. Socialist film director and LSA supporter Ken Loach will be speaking at a special showing of his film Land and Freedom in central London to raise money for the campaign. There is also a fundraiser on 23 March at Imperial Gardens in south London. The LSA is a platform for people to argue for socialist ideas and encourage other people to be active in opposing Blair.
There are many ways to get involved:
- Display the LSA window posters.
- Hand out leaflets and election material down your street or on your estate. Contact anyone you know who might want to help out.
- Ask workmates if they are interested in backing the LSA. Get your union to organise a hustings for the GLA candidates.
- Take collections and sell badges to raise money.
- The LSA double decker battle bus is about to hit the streets. It will be touring London and acting as a focus for street meetings over the election campaign.
Find out from the LSA office about street meetings and other activities in your area. Phone the LSA on 020 8981 9243
Active against cuts
EUGENE FRANCIS is a Labour Party mem ber in Haggerston ward, east London. He told Socialist Worker: "I have recently got involved in a campaign to save the Haggerston swimming pool from closure. Labour and Tory councillors are voting through the cuts in Hackney council. There is an enormous amount of disappointment inside the Labour Party in this area. We have not been able to drum up enough people to hold a ward meeting for months. A lot of people say they will stay in the Labour Party because they do not see an alternative. But at our recent constituency Labour Party meeting it was clear that scarcely anyone will lift a finger for Frank Dob son's campaign. I am working with the London Socialist Alliance over issues like the pool closure campaign. They are standing up for policies which working people need."
'Capitalism is failing to deliver'
MEETINGS AND campaigning initiatives are now taking place across the capital. Tom Davies from Wan stead, east London, told Socialist Worker, "We have called a local meeting to set up the election campaign in my area. "I contacted people on an informal level-people in the peace movement, trade unionists, disillusioned Labour Party members, environmental activists and anyone who has been involved in local campaigns over the years. This is a chance to create a space for left wing anti-capitalist ideas. There is a lot of unease at the way capitalism is failing to deliver for people. There are huge disparities between rich and poor. The capitalist economy can turn out useless goods and arms, but it cannot send enough aid to people in Mozambique. "This could be a real watershed. I sense a bit of an upsurge in interest in socialism at the minute."
A worker at the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London says, "We have set up an LSA group at the college. Over 40 people have signed up to get involved in the election campaign. Some 15 people came to an organising meeting last week." A BBC worker in west London reports, "Six people have signed up to the LSA in my section and I've only scratched the surface. I just went round with the campaigning material and there was enormous interest. One guy who signed up is part of a campaign to stop cuts to Uxbridge Hospital. He is now going to set up an LSA meeting in Uxbridge and wants to build the campaign there as well as at the BBC."
Moraene Roberts is helping to set up an LSA group on the Stamford Hill Estate in north London. Moraene says, "A few of us have got together and are contacting everyone we know, and also leafleting the estate to build a meeting. "Speed is of the essence. This is not just about holding meetings. They should be a springboard to getting people involved and making sure as many people as possible hear the socialist alternative." Clare is helping to set up a group on her street in Stamford Hill. She says, "Four of us got together and decided to leaflet the street for a meeting. A few of us did this ten years ago to build a group against the poll tax. We are using a similar approach today."
Backed by workers
DOZENS of LSA stalls and street meetings have been set up over the last two weeks. Alice Coy from south London told Socialist Worker, "My advice to anyone who wants to do something to back the socialist candidates is just go for it. We set up a stall at the Elephant and Castle. Loads of people chucked money into the buckets and about 30 gave their names to be contacted about doing something in the campaign. People do not feel represented. So many people want to register their opposition to Tony Blair and would like to see an alternative. We've organised a fundraiser for the LSA on 23 March. That is a great way to involve people."
Some 17 people signed up to support the LSA on a protest against private contractors outside the housing benefits office in Lambeth, south London. Brian Butterworth, LSA election agent for Brent and Harrow, says, "At a stall on Kilburn Square 37 people have signed up to support the LSA over the last two weeks. Even more people want to give money. They see the collection buckets and understand that a socialist election campaign needs funds from ordinary workers. We are holding a constituency-wide rally. We are also holding a series of local meetings so that people can be active in their own workplaces and localities."
Count us in!
"TO SEE this unity on the left in the LSA is inspiring after so many years in the wilderness. Count me in!"
- ANDY DE LA TOUR, writer and actor
"LONDON NEEDS socialism and I'll be voting for the LSA."
- RONAN BENNETT, writer