Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/197/8135
Coventry needs socialist MPs
"THINGS CAN only get better," was the New Labour message four years ago. But things only got worse here.
I've lived in Wood End in the Coventry North-East constituency since the late 1970s. I was married there 15 years ago and have four children. I've been a voluntary community worker locally and was a Labour Party member until I was thrown out for my beliefs.
New Labour said they'd improve services to deal with education, unemployment, health and crime but they haven't done so. Where I live the estate has got worse. There were four parks in the area for children to play in, now there's only one for three areas.
Look at education. There are five primary schools at the moment but our New Labour council wants to knock one down and downsize the others. Though they are having 'consultation talks', they aren't listening to us. Yes we need new schools, but we want the same number of schools!
They talk of 'surplus places' in schools (a Tory figment of the imagination) but the real problem is the surplus places in our community.
Our area has 600 empty properties. When Labour came in we had 300. During the last election two Labour MPs and 16 councillors said they were disgusted and would do something about it.
Our pensioners haven't had it any better. Two residential homes have been closed for rebuild. We argued build first and rehouse second, but they didn't listen.
The 75p pension rise was an insult. While the free TV licence for the over-75s is good you become a pensioner at 60 or 65!
Then look at health. Reducing a city the size of Coventry to just one hospital - and a smaller hospital - is ridiculous. It could cause loss of life for people on the other side of the city.
A taxi takes at least 15 minutes from Wood End to the city centre - imagine how long it would take an ambulance to get to the other side of Coventry.
Nobody condones crime, but one reason why crime amongst our young people is at an all-time high was the Tories stopping benefits for 16- to 18-year olds. You need money to survive.
Unemployment is high here, maybe three generations in one family. What chance do our young people have of getting work?
A voice for workers
YOU CAN see why I won't support New Labour. They're no better than the Tories, because they've forgotten their roots. They came from a working- class background, through the unions. But they have forgotten which side of the picket line to stand.
I've now joined the Socialist Party because they're the working-class party of today. The other parties have put out propaganda to scare people about Dave Nellist.
I have fought for this community, and it's worth fighting for. At public meetings New Labour say: 'you voted us in, you can vote us out.' But we haven't because there's been nobody else to vote for.
We now have three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry and another local candidate Martha Young stood in the local elections against Labour and Tory for the Socialist Alliance and won 18% of the vote. So now we see we can have a voice for the community at long last.
If you want the community to change for our children, our mums, dads and grandparents, make a stand now. Think back to what's been done in the area since the 1970s - by the Tories and New Labour.
Getting a socialist elected won't change things overnight but at least we'll have a voice.
In The Socialist 16 March 2001: