Socialist Worker

Civil service worker to stand for SSP against Gordon Brown

by Steve West
Issue No. 1938

Gordon Brown wants to get rid of my job. I would dearly love to take his job away after what he’s done to me and my colleagues. That’s why I’m standing against him as a Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) candidate in the general election.

When I saw Brown stand up in front of New Labour MPs last year and cut 104,000 civil service jobs it made me and my colleagues absolutely sick. I wanted to do something about that and not let him get away with it. A lot of the people I work and socialise with say that somebody has to take him on. Nobody believes he represents local people.

Then I heard that Brown wants to attack our pensions. People put up with working on low pay because in the past we were unlikely to be sacked — that has now changed — and we’ve been able to retire at 60 on a fairly decent pension — that is about to change.

People now feel that they’ve been betrayed. They are up for striking with the other unions in March. The attacks on pensions have united people and the plan for co-ordinated action is great.

I want to highlight the fact that Brown isn’t just attacking jobs, he’s attacking services too. The social security office in Kirkcaldy is being closed down. Benefit claimants will then have to ring a call centre for help and won’t be able to talk to people face to face in a local office. This will make it more difficult for people to claim benefits, and push more people into poverty. There are also the attacks on incapacity benefit, cutting the long term rate and pushing people into low paid jobs. This is another thing to fight against.

I want to use my election campaign to challenge New Labour on every front. I want to campaign against privatisation, which Brown has pushed in public services. In Kirkcaldy, a local school is supposed to be built under the Private Finance Initiative scheme.

But the company building it has gone into financial crisis and the students are being bussed to another school a long way off. This is the reality of the New Labour agenda.

There is a myth that Gordon Brown is a socialist. But his only conflict with Tony Blair is over personalities and who should lead the Labour Party. There is no difference between them politically.

Brown says that his attacks on pensions and public services are necessary because there isn’t enough money — but he found the money to fund the war on Iraq. He agreed with Blair 100 percent over the war and the occupation.

People in the area are really keen for me to stand. When my partner confronted Brown over what he is doing in December it really shook him up. It was reported in the Scottish press. People at work were so pleased they pinned up the picture of Brown with his hands in the air. I have got a very good chance of winning a lot of support and punishing Brown.

Steve West is a civil service worker in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. He was selected last week to stand for the SSP against Gordon Brown in the general election

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Sat 12 Feb 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1938
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