The Tories have launched a series of attacks on jobs, services, pensions and rights at work.
They have done more to roll back the welfare state than Margaret Thatcher could have dreamed of. And so far we’ve only seen a fraction of the cuts that are planned.
Many people feel frustrated and let down by Labour who has pledged to continue Tory spending plans.
Socialist Worker supporters hope to provide an alternative by standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in some of the hardest-hit areas in council elections on 22 May.
Burngreave in Sheffield is one of the poorest areas in Britain. Some 41.8 percent of children live in poverty.
There have been cuts to children’s centres, recreational grounds and Sheffield council have axed 15 local libraries across the city. Now all essential services are suffering cuts.
So anti-cuts activist and trade unionist Maxine Bowler is standing for election there.
She told Socialist Worker, “I have 10,000 flyers ready to kick off the election campaign with pictures of David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg saying ‘Blame the real criminals—not the those on benefits, the elderly, disabled or immigrants.’”
The Tories try to distract us from their attacks by shifting the anger towards immigrants.
Unfortunately, Labour regularly joins them in blaming migrants for the crisis that the rich caused.
So Maxine is providing an alternative to the racism of the mainstream parties. She said, “Burngreave is a very diverse area. I am arranging to get material with the main campaign points translated into Arabic and Slovenian. “It’s important to stand up against the racism and divide and rule we are facing.
“Ukip leader Nigel Farage says he is coming to Sheffield, we are going to protest. We don’t want him spouting his racist filth here.”
Maxine has also been involved with voter registration at the Al Rahman Mosque in Burngreave.
“We made sure the mosque made an announcement that if you want to vote you have to register.” she said.
“A woman took a bundle of my election leaflets to deliver to everyone on her street.”
Dave Gibson is a prominent campaigner in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He is standing as a candidate in the Barnsley Central ward, and is also taking a stand against racism.
“More than five percent of the ward’s population are eastern Europeans,” said Dave.
“We are planning a leaflet specifically for migrants telling them why TUSC is the only party that welcomes them in Barnsley.”
Dave said that the TUSC campaign was helping to bring struggles together and could boost people’s confidence to fight back.
“A strong TUSC vote will show that resistance to the Tories and Labour is possible,” he said.
“But it can also help draw people into other activity. We are saying vote TUSC but be active in campaigns too.
“The bigger the TUSC vote, the more people will think it’s worth fighting back.”
Alistair Wingate, Lozells & Handsworth ward: ‘No services are safe from Tories’
The Tories want to push through at least £800 million in spending cuts onto Birmingham city council, and, despite protests, the Labour controlled council has voted repeatedly for these cuts.
But it throws millions at exorbitant contracts with firms such as Amey and Capita.
Alistair Wingate is a local activist who is standing in the Lozells & East Handsworth ward.
He said, “None of our services or jobs are safe from privatisation or closure.”
Alistair also shares the concerns of many about police behaviour in Birmingham.
He said, “I am worried about stop and search and harassment to their so-called counter-terror arrests.
“I am actively opposed to the arrest of Moazzam Begg and support calls to release him immediately.
“I will use the election as a platform to speak out on the need to build mass resistance to the Tories and to be a voice for the alternative.”
Adi Graham, Cosham ward: 'We need strong unions'
Adi Graham is a delivery driver in the RMT union and who is standing for election in the Cosham ward of Portsmouth.
The problems of poverty and unemployment loom large in the city.
“In Portsmouth we’ve seen devastating cuts in the dockyards and other industries,” said Adi. “People looking for decent jobs are offered zero hours contracts.”
He is kicking off his campaign with other activists.
“I’m going to be out knocking on doors and getting leaflets around about the TUSC campaign. I’ve got other RMT members who are going to help.”
Adi is angry about the racist agenda of politicians who go on about immigration as being a problem.
“I don’t think immigration is a problem. I think it’s brilliant to have different people living together here.
“The government is using immigration as a scapegoat so that people will blame migrants for their problems. The media do the same.
“We know that a TV company wants to follow up the terrible Benefits Street series with one called “Immigration Street” about a street in Southampton. It’s a total disgrace.”
Adi has experience of fighting back, “As a trade unionist I’ve been involved in different disputes.
“We need the trade unions to be strong to stick up for workers.
“If the bosses and politicians weren’t scared of us why do they go to so much trouble trying to keep us down?
“We need to be organised and get out and talk to everyone who wants to see real change.”
Mark Krantz, Manchester Chorlton ward: Candidate for class struggle
Mark Krantz is a key activist against the bedroom tax, and is standing in the Manchester Chorlton ward.
The fight against the bedroom tax has made it harder for the Labour council to implement the hated Tory policy.
Mark told Socialist Worker, “There is a class war going on, and we need councillors who know which side they are on.
“That means backing health workers if they strike over pay and to defend the NHS.
“It means supporting teachers when they strike against Michael Gove’s destructive education policies.”
Mark says that councils like Manchester must refuse to bring in Tory cuts under a Labour administration.
He said, “I’m standing as a class struggle candidate.”
“One tenant said to me she was so excited about my campaign.
“We’d marched in Chorlton against the bedroom tax together.
“It has brought out a demand that we should have councillors who will challenge the Labour council.”
TUSC has 554 candidates in May’s local elections.
These include councillor Keith Morrell who is standing in the Coxford ward in Southampton and Dave Nellist who is standing in the St Michael’s ward in Coventry.