Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/368/6039
Socialist Party Stands To Stop Privatisers
Louise Thompson, housing campaigner, is our candidate
THE SOCIALIST Party in Walthamstow, east London, is standing in a council by-election in Hoe Street ward on 18 November. We had 12 members out canvassing on Sunday - our first two canvasses sold 34 papers and we met three people interested in joining the Socialist Party.
We've never stood in this area before but our party is well-known amongst local tenant and union activists. The party has fought every sell-off attempted by Waltham Forest council, and we have leading members in the council and hospital Unison branches and in the TGWU and NUT.
Our candidate Louise Thompson, chair of the tenants' council, has been a leading housing campaigner in the borough since the 1980s. Our campaign calls for an end to privatisation in Waltham Forest where the council is privatisation-mad.
Apart from selling a school to a millionaire for £2 million (See below), other schools are being rebuilt through PFI (private finance initiative). So private companies like Kier will make millions from public money, by scrimping on space and materials, then sucking payments from the council for 30 years. But private companies can't even be trusted to finish the job.
The council demolished the post office to build a new library and redevelop the old library as an arts centre. But the plans are collapsing - though profiteers will still make money from the land.
Full-scale privatisation of council housing is threatened. Over a year ago tenants voted for an 'arms-length' ALMO scheme because they believed it was the only way to get the money needed for refurbishment while homes would stay with the council. But now the government has changed the rules so homes can be transferred to the ALMO as well, if not to a housing association.
We say there's no place for profit in our schools, homes and services! They should be fully-funded and democratically controlled. If Louise were elected she would fight to stop private companies making a killing out of public money.
All this is good preparation for next year's general election. Our party will have done extensive door-to-door work in at least three areas in Walthamstow constituency.
No to Conran's Academy
AROUND 50 parents, teachers and support staff turned out for a meeting at McEntee School called by Waltham Forest NUT, UNISON and T&GWU unions. They were there to hear the case against the proposal to close McEntee and establish an academy run by Jasper Conran, multi-millionaire designer of clothes, jewellery and household goods!
Linda Taaffe, (Waltham Forest NUT and NUT national executive, personal capacity)
Since the beginning of term, rumours had been rife that some profiteering venture capitalist was eying up one of our secondary schools with a view to buying it at a knock down price of £2 million. It finally came out.
A millionaire "presented a unique opportunity" (the usual sales pitch you hear down the market) to get a bright new school. Clothing, garden design and cookery would be on the curriculum! There would be galleries and exhibition centres - but - no places for McEntee students! They would be farmed out to other overcrowded local schools, and many families split.
Speakers from all the unions and a local parent outlined how an academy could completely block the current students from ever being enrolled in a bright new school. Admissions would be in the hands of a new governing body, totally controlled by business interests, who could select the intake. It could end up with the school choosing the children, not the other way round.
Many parents praised the work that McEntee teachers had done for their children. One parent brought a petition with 230 names. Teachers described improvements in behaviour and test results, and how some pupils were critical of an academy. They all called for the school to stay.
And if there was £24 million (more than twice the amount needed to build a school) in a Treasury pot ready to hand over to a millionaire, why couldn't that money be given to McEntee so governors, staff, parents and students could decide how best to use it?
Rich kid Conran says he wants to give something back to the poor kids of McEntee school. He maintains he had a hard time being rich at school! Well, if he really wants to do good, let him give the £2 million in a straight donation to the school - with no strings. That should salve his conscience.
The next campaign meeting was fixed and many parents lingered after the meeting to discuss what we could do. It looks like it could get quite lively!
Drop Out Conran!
McEntee needs £24 million now!
In The Socialist 30 October 2004:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and events