By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2911

Socialist Michael Lavalette lights up election in Preston

Independent socialist Michael Lavalette stands on a "Palestine plus" campaign
Issue 2911
Michael Lavalette (bottom right) is campaigning on a socialist platform in Preston

Independent socialist Michael Lavalette (bottom right) campaigning in Preston

“Election candidate refuses to condemn 7 October attack on Israel” was the headline in the Lancashire Post website this week targeting Michael Lavalette, independent socialist candidate in Preston, Lancashire.

At the paper’s hustings Michael was asked if he condemned Hamas. He replied “No”, going on to explain that the violence didn’t start on 7 October, the context of 76 years of oppression and the right of people to resist occupiers.

It was the latest example of how Michael is putting forward a powerful alternative to all the main parties. Michael spoke to Socialist Worker about his campaign.

“There are ten candidates in the constituency, including both Reform and Ukip, plus the Lib Dems, Tories and Labour. The Greens have put up a paper candidate despite the fact that we asked them not to.

“To try to secure a single independent candidate we consulted widely in advance and had a hustings that backed me almost unanimously. But then at the last minute a very wealthy businessman put himself forward as an independent. His whole campaign has been trying to put people off voting for me over LGBT+ education.

“My campaign is ‘Palestine plus’. The first thing is Palestine and Labour’s support for the genocide in Gaza, then we raise the NHS, education, combating climate change, the cost of living crisis, pensions, social care and so on,” he added.

“It cuts through when we say the political establishment don’t speak to us or support us. They ignore us, impose things on us, whether that is the rundown of the NHS or Gaza.

“I have very wide and deep support from all levels of the Muslim community for that programme. But there’s also backing from other parts of the working class.”

Michael spoke about the Labour’s campaign in Preston, saying, “There’s no enthusiasm for the Labour campaign. I’ve seen one Labour window poster across the whole of Preston. We have 20 to 25 people out campaigning every day. Labour can’t match that.

 “The overall feeling I get is huge levels of apathy. We meet a lot of traditional Labour voters, including some Labour members who are saying they don’t know who they will vote for.

“There are a few Labour councillors who have come to me and said that not only will they vote for me, but that they’re telling other people to vote for me.

“Some even thought about voting Reform, just because they seem “different”. When we talk to them, we’re able to put a case to vote for an independent socialist and not Nigel Farage. I’m not saying that they will come to us, but there’s no sense of inspiration around Labour,” he added.

Michael talked about the size of his campaign, saying, “We have 45,000 houses to get round. We’re the only campaign that has leafleted every house—and people notice that.

“Labour has a 12,000 majority in the constituency. At one time it was twice that but its ebbed away and the local MP is unpopular.”

Speaking about how the campaign has escalated, Michael said that, “Our first target was to save our deposit—5 percent of the vote. Can we beat the Lib Dems? That would be good. Can we beat the Tories? That would be even better. Can we be a really good second that would give all the main parties a bloody nose?

“And if it’s the great shock of all time, we would win. I do know this campaign has raised the issue of solidarity with Palestine, put the heat on Labour, and laid the basis for more action and political connections after the election.”

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