What we think
Be part of the left's challenge
LABOUR SUPPORTERS in London have voted against Tony Blair's handpicked candidate by a margin of over three to one. Yet the rigged electoral system imposed by Blair translated those figures into a "victory" for Dobson. No wonder this has produced a furious reaction. The fury is not just a response to the "control freakery" by Blair and those at the heart of New Labour.
The 1997 general election expressed a desire for change among millions of working class people. That mood has grown and hardened since in reaction to New Labour's continuation of Tory policies. Blair and those around him are terrified of that mood. That is why they clamp down on Labour members and supporters speaking out, and trample on party democracy. The result is the biggest Labour Party crisis for over 20 years.
The feeling is not confined to London. Labour support in Scotland has slumped by 16 percent among "traditional working class supporters" since the general election, according to a survey in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper last week. We did not know as we went to press on Tuesday what Ken Livingstone planned to do. Many people were urging him to break from New Labour and stand for London mayor. That would be good news if he stood on a socialist platform and aimed to rally all those bitter with the record of this government. Labour Party figures who say that it is wrong to stand independently are effectively saying they will always bow to blackmail by Blair.
It is accepting that you have to get behind Blair in all circumstances, no matter how much his policies are indistinguishable from even right wing Tories like Ann Widdecombe. But it is crucial what sort of alternative to Blair is put forward. The Guardian suggests Livingstone could stand on an election list made up of "business people and even Tories". That would be a homage to Blair and New Labour, not a break. Livingstone would be turning his back on the mood of ordinary people.
We need a socialist challenge to New Labour. That is why the initiative of the London Socialist Alliance (LSA) to contest the Greater London Assembly elections planned for 4 May is so welcome. It is standing for an end to the jobs massacre, for a halt to privatisation, to tax the rich to fund public services, and for a fight against police racism.
We urge all our readers to be active in the fight to build a socialist alternative. In London you can back the LSA. You can be part of the pressure to see Livingstone run as a socialist. Elsewhere you can also be part of the battle to build the biggest and broadest socialist challenge to Blair. Labour is in crisis. It is time to make sure the fallout massively strengthens the left.
900 meet in central London
Launch rally success
ALMOST 1,000 people gathered on Tuesday to hear speakers from the London Socialist Alliance. Among those who addressed the rally were Ken Loach, Paul Foot, Kate Ford, Mark Steel and Greg Tucker. "This is a brilliant start to the campaign and shows that there is a very big audience for a clear socialist alternative to New Labour," said an LSA spokesperson.
London Socialist Alliance 020 7928 4213
GREG TUCKER, a candidate for the London Socialist Alliance and RMT union branch secretary, is leading a campaign to defend a union rep. Privatised rail company South West Trains has sacked RMT health and safety rep Sarah Friday. Greg is calling on all trade unionists and London Socialist Alliance supporters to join the protest picket (full story on page 14).
Your vote for change
BEFORE LAST week ten LSA candidates had already been selected at hustings meetings: Paul Foot, Mark Steel, Anne Murphy, Greg Tucker, Kate Ford, Ian Page, Janine Booth, Jim Stanley, Weyman Bennett and Candy Udwin. This week saw three new LSA candidates selected: Sarbani Mazumdar, Christine Blower and Theresa Bennett. Contact the office at the number above to get involved in the campaign.
"NEW LABOUR wants to turn London into a playground for the rich. Tony Blair sees black people, single parents and asylum seekers as the problem. In south London, New Labour councils are giving away council homes to fat cat landlords, schools have been turned into yuppie flats, and services have been privatised. This election is an opportunity for a London-wide fightback."
- THERESA BENNETT (LSA candidate for Lambeth and Southwark)
"THE LONDON Socialist Alliance is the natural home for London voters who believe in high quality, properly funded public services. I am pleased to be standing for the LSA in order to campaign for policies for which Labour used to stand. Access to lifelong learning, healthcare, decent housing and safe, cheap public transport should be rights not dictated by wealth."
- CHRISTINE BLOWER (leading National Union of Teachers activist and LSA candidate for West Central)
"I'VE BEEN the branch secretary of Wandsworth UNISON for the past five years. I have voted Labour all my life. But not any more. The manoeuvres over Ken Livingstone have shown that the Labour Party leaders have trampled on democracy. The LSA is fighting for everyone. We are against tube privatisation, racism and cuts in council services.
- SARBANI MAZUMDAR (LSA candidate for Wandsworth and Merton)