Elections 2003: A working-class voice in politics!

Submitted by Anon on 22 April, 2003 - 6:05

On Thursday 1 May, 160 Socialist Alliance candidates will be standing in council wards around England, and a Scottish Socialist Party slate in the Scottish Parliament elections.

They - and a few rebel-Labour, Socialist Party, and independent working-class candidates - will give voters a chance to speak out against privatisations, sell-offs, contracting-out, cuts, and the Iraq war.
The Scottish Socialist Party stands to win six seats in the Scottish Parliament - up from its present one seat - if its opinion-poll scores hold up.

Alison Brown is one of the Socialist Alliance candidates, standing for the third time in Burngreave ward, Sheffield. She explains what the campaign is like there.

"Sheffield Socialist Alliance is standing three candidates, in Heeley and Sharrow as well as Burngreave.

After much discussion we are standing under the slogan 'Welfare not Warfare', making our opposition to Blair's war not just an abstract issue in itself but one linked with the day-to-day issues that working class people face in their communities.

"In my ward, we are clear that the election campaign is part of building a broader campaigning presence and arguing socialist politics with people on the doorstep. We have made the need for democracy and a working-class voice in politics central to our propaganda.

"We want to bring campaigns initiated and built in the labour movement in the city out into our local communities. We will be using the election campaign to defend council housing, to support the FBU and to oppose attacks on asylum seekers. We are also raising issues of drugs and crime, facilities for young people. We are making demands on the local 'New Deal' regeneration programme.

"We have organised collective leafleting sessions, stalls and canvassing during the election period. We will be campaigning using petitions and building for action, aiming to involve trade unionists and other local supporters in activity, rather than just putting leaflets through doors.

"The BNP are standing two candidates in Sheffield for the first time, in Handsworth and Brightside wards. Previously the city, with its strong labour movement tradition, has never been a centre for the activity of the fascists.

"Any gains they make will be a result of the attacks on working-class people by the Labour government and the Labour council, and the failure of the labour movement to build an adequate response. They will be whipping up foul racism in largely white areas bordering multi-cultural areas.

"Brightside ward is at the centre of David Blunkett's constituency and the BNP's campaign there is a legacy of his policies on asylum seekers and his pronouncements on asylum seekers burdening local health services. The campaign against them is being led by the Sheffield Trades Union Council.

"Activists are working hard alongside Searchlight and others to minimise the BNP vote, but for the fascists to be driven from the city, pure 'anti-fascism' is not enough. A long-term approach is needed to fighting for working-class politics and rebuilding solidarity amongst local communities."

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