Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/196/8129
The Socialist Challenge to Labour
THE SOCIALIST Party will play a crucial part in what is potentially the biggest Left challenge to Labour at a general election for over 50 years.
The Socialist Alliance, of which the Socialist Party is one of the largest and most prominent parts, could stand candidates in 92 seats in England. This may include standing against up to 20 government ministers.
Additionally, the Scottish Socialist Party is planning to stand in all 72 seats in Scotland and the Welsh Socialist Alliance is considering standing in up to ten seats in Wales. In all up to 170 seats could be contested by socialist candidates against Labour.
Last week the Socialist Alliance launched its national general election campaign at a London press 'conference. Socialist Party member and national chair of the Socialist Alliance Dave Nellist said at the launch that the aim of the Socialist Alliance was to plant a flag for socialism and build a substantial Left alternative to New Labour.
Quoting from a Guardian article Dave said the Alliance may be "fresh and new" but he added "we're certainly not wet behind the ears".
Dave outlined how there was massive potential for such a challenge, pointing to the success of the Socialist Party in gaining six elected councillors. Additionally a few ex-Labour councillors had joined the Alliance. He said there was increasing dissatisfaction with Labour, especially at the growing wealth gap.
Dave gave the example of how in 1997, the last year of the Tory government, 4,800 people living in dire poverty on benefits had been rejected. for a social fund loan. Last year under New Labour the number of rejections had risen to 360,000!
The Socialist Alliance has a programme of massively increasing the minimum wage, of immediately increasing pensions by 50%, scrapping tuition fees and loans and restoring student grants, bringing the NHS, education and utilities back under public control and fighting for a socialist programme of wealth redistribution from rich to poor.
The Socialist Party will stand ten of its members as Socialist Alliance candidates and another two candidates will stand as Socialist Alternative (the Socialist Party's electoral name) in the general election.
In The Socialist 9 March 2001: