Millions of working class people are furious with the Tories. When given the option, they have taken that anger to picket lines and mass protests.
But what do they do with it at the election?
They could vote Labour. But it has pledged to stick to Tory spending plans and its leadership regularly joins the Tories in scapegoating migrants for an economic crisis that the rich caused.
Socialist Worker supporters hope to provide an alternative by standing as part of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in some of the hardest-hit areas in council elections on 22 May.
One such area is Haringey in north London. It has seen massive cuts and was one of the first places the Tories tested their welfare cap.
It is where the police shot Mark Duggan in 2011 and where riots first broke out in response.
UCU union branch chair Jenny Sutton has led strikes and protests at the College of North East London (Conel) in Tottenham. She is standing in the West Green Ward.
“At Conel we have just been told we are facing £5 million in cuts,” she told Socialist Worker. “That’s a further attack on education in a working class area like Tottenham.”
But Jenny isn’t just complaining about the cuts—she’s determined to fight them.
“This will mean a fight over job losses,” she said. “And we’ve already had the fight over the London Living Wage for our cleaners.
“Women are bearing the brunt of austerity, but were also at the forefront of the fightback. I bring my role as a woman trade unionist in the struggle.”
Jacek Szymanski is standing in the Wood Green ward. He hopes the TUSC campaign will challenge the scapegoating of Eastern European migrants.
“I am putting out a leaflet in Polish because it is very important we reach out to migrant groups,” he said.
“Haringey is a very diverse community and we have to raise our voices against the attacks on us.”
Haringey Trades Council chair Simon Hester, is standing in the St Ann’s ward. “Rapidly rising house prices will mean rising rents,” he said. “We have to fight to bring back rent controls.
“But we also have to make it clear that migrants are not to blame for the housing shortage we already have.”
Paul Burnham is secretary of Haringey Defend Council Housing and a candidate in the Northumberland Park ward.
He has uncovered the extent of council plans to sell off estates to property developers. Some 900 homes in Northumberland Park alone are under threat.
“These are our homes—it is cynical of the council to behave this way,” said Paul.
“I am a council tenant myself and have lived in Haringey for 12 years. We have to come out as a community against the property developers.”
‘People feel strongly about the police’
“Tottenham has a proud history of resisting racism,” candidate for Tottenham Green and local activist Gary McFarlane told Socialist Worker.
“I have been involved in the Justice for Mark Duggan campaign, after he was shot and killed by police in Tottenham in 2011.
“Young people I’ve spoken to feel very strongly about the police and police harassment—that’s something we have to campaign strongly around.
“We are also talking to young people who perhaps are going to be eligible to vote for the first time about the importance of choosing candidates that are offering an alternative.”
Basketball coach Hesketh Benoit is standing in the West Green ward which contains the Broadwater Farm estate (see page 4).
“Police harassment of young people in Haringey is an important issue for me.
“My own two boys have been stopped by police, and they are stopping younger and younger people,” he said.
“I work with young people coaching them basketball so a key area for me is stopping the cuts to youth centres and services.”
‘We need rent controls and council housing’
Fero Firat came to Britain as a refugee in 1994 and is an activist in the Kurdish and Turkish community in Hackney, east London.
He is standing for TUSC in the London Fields ward, in an area where 300 homes are owned through a firm run by super-rich Tory Richard Benyon MP.
He said, “There is a lot of racism around migrants that is coming from people like Ukip which we have to resist.
“The fight against the bedroom tax is also very important, as are the cuts people are facing throughout the borough.”
Diana Swingler is a local government worker and a member of the Unison union who is also standing in London Fields. She said, “We need change. Average weekly rents are more than half of average local wages.
“Where will young people live? We need rent controls and good-quality, affordable council housing.”
Joel Hirsch, a retired PCS member and local activist, is standing in the Markhouse ward in Waltham Forest, east London.
“We’re standing because we have one of the worst Labour councils,” he said. “It has privatised everything from street cleaning to roadworks along with rubbish and gardening.
“And like every council it has even more cuts to make.
Joel added, “We want to stop the tide of racism and stand as a beacon against the political careerists.”
Future issues will highlight Socialist Worker supporters and other TUSC candidates outside London. These include:
- Mark Krantz in Manchester
- Maxine Bowler in Sheffield
- Alistair Wingate in Birmingham
- Dave Gibson in Barnsley
- Adi Graham in Portsmouth
Get involved at tusc.org.uk