Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/250/24774
Lewisham: Ian Page and Sam Dias Winning Benefits For Local People
DURING THE re-election campaign for Socialist Party Councillors Ian Page and Sam Dias in Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham, South London, we met someone who admitted to being a Tory voter.
"That's unusual, we don't meet many of you" said our campaigner, who was pleased when the reply came "That's because everyone round here is either Socialist or Labour." But that sums up who has a realistic chance of winning this campaign.
Who'd vote for Labour? They have privatised: school meal services; park maintenance; leisure centres; part of housing management; information technology support services; building repairs; and council housing.
They've also closed the last three council run old peoples' homes and plan PFI (private finance initiatives) for nine local schools and getting rid of Education Social Workers. Labour has also closed a local comprehensive school despite a huge shortage of secondary school places in the area.
Local campaigners who fought for that school to be re-opened - and are close to a victory - recognise who are the local councillors that stand up for local people.
The New School For New Cross campaign were so fed up with Labour they decided to stand candidates across the borough. Their candidate's leaflet in our ward said she was standing "alongside Ian Page and Sam Dias of the Socialist Party, who have supported the campaign from the start." We have plans for joint work and a leaflet.
Everywhere we go people say how they know Ian and Sam. Bob Gardiner, a pensioner activist who stood against Labour himself said: "Unlike Labour they're out on the streets campaigning for ordinary people and have won many benefits for the local community."
Even when two supporters went for a coffee after canvassing, a cafˇ worker said he wanted to help with the campaign because he knew what our councillors had done.
Ian and Sam have organised with local tenants to stop the sale of 7,500 council homes.
They fought to get £14 million to re-furbish local council housing and have had to rigorously monitor the work to ensure it was carried out properly. They were the only councillors to oppose huge increases in councillor's expenses. They have campaigned successfully for several road safety schemes.
A Socialist Council Would:
- End all privatisation of local services.
- Launch a programme of mass council house building alongside a programme to refurbish existing stock.
- Lead a campaign, alongside teachers, parents and school students, for an immediate significant increase in school funding and for all schools to become genuine comprehensives under democratic local control.
- Campaign for the council tax to be replaced by a progressive local income tax which, instead of taxing poor households more heavily than the rich as the council tax does, would tax the rich most heavily. Anyone earning under £10,000 a year would not have to pay any local income tax.
- Build and directly fund free, publicly owned nurseries, before and after-school and holiday schemes, with fully qualified, and decently paid staff.
The Party Of Justice
AT OUR meeting on justice, we heard how Oliver Campbell had been wrongly convicted of murder. It was explained how evidence clearly pointed to other suspects but this was ignored by the police. Witnesses described someone totally different to Oliver and there was no forensic evidence. Those at the meeting were moved by Oliver's struggle for justice.
Michael Davis, wrongly convicted in the M25 case was also there and is supporting our election. "For the years I was wrongly incarcerated the Socialist Party helped me through the struggle for justice and against the let downs the system did to me and Raphael (Raphael Rowe)." Michael then summed up many peoples' feelings, "vote Socialist Party the party of justice."
Our campaigns are much more than just getting votes, they're about being part of and leading the daily struggle of working class people and explaining the need for a socialist society.
In The Socialist 19 April 2002: