PAUL FOOT, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the mayor of Hackney in east London, is frightening New Labour. The Independent newspaper reported last week, 'Such was Millbank's consternation at the prospect of Paul Foot standing for election in east London that it turned to Mo Mowlam to become the Labour candidate. 'But the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland had little hesitation in declining.'
Paul Foot told Socialist Worker, 'The attempt to get Mo Mowlam involved is a massive vote of no confidence in New Labour's candidate from its own side. 'But I am not surprised that Mo Mowlam did not want to go down the same road as other candidates that the New Labour apparatus has imposed such as Frank Dobson and Alun Michael. New Labour do not think I am a marginal candidate - and they're right. This episode is a signal to redouble our efforts in this election.'
New Labour set up executive mayors to make local government even less accountable. The legislation also makes sure that a candidate from outside the traditional parties will be hedged around with restrictions. Paul Foot has spent his life as a campaigning and investigative journalist. He aims to be a campaigning and investigative mayor. Paul spoke to some of his supporters at a meeting last week and laid out the basic features of the campaign.
'Local, national and international issues will all matter in this election. For instance, the biggest political issue during the campaign is almost certain to be Bush's war on Iraq. I shall therefore be a mayoral candidate totally opposed to the war and prepared constantly to say so. By the same token I shall also be the candidate relentlessly opposed to the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers by the government.
'We will get the message across much more clearly if we set out relevant local policies to explain where we stand. For instance, we will show that the government is prepared to spend billions on bombing the already shattered people of Iraq while cutting funding to schools, nurseries, home helps for the elderly, services for disabled people, and libraries in Hackney.
'The local paper recently led on the terrible mess the council has got itself into on the issue of education. There will soon be only one co-educational non-religious secondary comprehensive school in Hackney. My most urgent commitment as mayor will be to set in motion plans for the immediate construction of two new co-educational, secular and comprehensive schools in the borough.'
Paul also spoke about issues such as housing, privatisation, racism and the legalisation of cannabis. His campaign is already winning wide support from people who are fed up with New Labour nationally and locally. The election will be carried out by postal ballot with the first voting papers delivered to houses on 7 October. Voting ends on 17 October.