Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/483/2305
Leicester: A principled stand against opportunists
Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party
A Mercedes pulls up outside the Leicester Royal Infirmary; out jumps a group of Liberal Democrats holding placards saying "Liberals against NHS cuts". At that moment a photographer shows up to take a picture. Within a minute they have all gone!
Steve Score, Socialist Alternative candidate, Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields ward
This incident, witnessed by Socialist Party members holding one of our regular 'defend the NHS' campaign stalls outside the hospital, shows the unabashed opportunism of the main parties in the run-up to the 3 May local elections. These parties have not been seen on any of the protests against health service cuts and privatisation held in Leicester. On the other hand, the Socialist Party has been very much involved in building the anti-cuts demonstrations.
It illustrates that even the other political parties have realised that the latest round of cuts in the Leicester hospitals, involving 900 job losses and 200 bed cuts, is generating a lot of anger among local people.
Unfortunately one of the parties jumping on this bandwagon is the BNP, who issued a leaflet across the ward attacking Labour for NHS cuts and opposing privatisation. The Socialist Party has been out countering their lies, pointing out that not only have they done nothing in the campaign, but also that their approach would divide working class people in the struggle to save the NHS.
Because of disillusionment with all the main parties, there is the danger that the BNP will get support unless we can show that there is a genuine working class alternative.
In Leicester we have seen a seesawing of power on the council between Labour and a Lib Dem-Tory coalition. All have been responsible for cuts in services.
One of the biggest local campaigns in recent years was the campaign against the closure of Wycliffe school on Braunstone estate, in which the Socialist Party played a leading role.
To add to the complication, the local councillors in the ward have split from the Lib Dems to join the tiny "Liberal Party". This has nothing to do with principles and everything to do with them being left out of the spoils of office - ie not being given cabinet posts in the council.
There are 17 candidates from eight parties standing in this three-seat ward! This not only includes the BNP, but also the English Democrats. The Green Party is also standing a candidate.
We have been canvassing and running campaign stalls with good results; selling about 250 copies of the socialist in the last three weeks and raising hundreds of pounds for our party's fighting fund. There are a number of new people interested in joining the Socialist Party who are offering to help in the campaign.
In The Socialist 19 April 2007:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party editorial
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis