Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/202/8475
Socialist Party fight right-wing smear campaign
SOCIALIST PARTY general election candidate Wally Kennedy has become the victim of a disgraceful smear campaign.
It is led by right-wing members of the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU).
Wally is himself a member of the TGWU and, since he has announced he is standing against local Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell, a small unrepresentative group in the union have been attempting to sling mud on Wally's record in the union.
Wally and Socialist Party members in the area immediately sent out a full response to the local paper demanding that they print it and give it the same prominence as the original article.
In the same issue of the local paper that carried the attack there was an extensive selection of letters supporting Wally and defending him from previous attacks that had been made by New Labour members.
We carry below the text of the reply sent by Socialist Party members and Wally Kennedy to the Hayes and Harlington Gazette.
Wally's reply to the Hayes and Harlington Gazette
THE REPORT alleging that I am to face a union cash probe will have been met with astonishment by local people who know my record in the Labour and trade union movement. Indeed the crude attempts to play fast and loose with the facts of what happened and smear myself, and by implication the Socialist Party, will backfire on those who instigated them.
Certainly, Socialist Party members have encountered many people who were disgusted at the publication of these smears and at the people in New Labour who were behind them.
Many have also said that they will not be voting for John McDonnell and will instead be voting for the Socialist Party in Hayes and Harlington.
It is disappointing also that some of John McDonnell's leading supporters should stoop to such desperate levels and that our MP does not disassociate himself from such disgraceful attacks.
This unrepresentative group who have made these attacks have known my political history for many years and have worked with me on many occasions throughout this time. They never once raised their 'new' allegations with me from 1983 when the events that are alleged took place to the present time - a period of 18 years!
During this time I was elected as a Labour councillor in 1990 and again in 1994 when they did not dredge up these smears. When I worked alongside John McDonnell, Peter McDonald and others during the general election in 1992 - not a word.
What has changed? Could it be that when I stood as a Socialist Party candidate in the Botwell by-election in March 2000 we gained over 17% of the vote. Is it because I am now standing as a Socialist candidate against New Labour's John McDonnell and as a workers' MP on a worker's wage?
Why do this group of mudslingers feel so threatened? Perhaps it is because for years they have presided over the worsening of conditions for working-class people in Hayes, who now know their true record.
In desperation these people are now resorting to smears and innuendoes which they have not substantiated because they know they would face legal action if they did so.
I have nothing to hide. The events of 18 years ago implicitly referred to in these smears are in fact a matter of record inside the Transport and General Workers' Union. There was never any suggestion of impropriety and the matters involved were resolved to everyone's satisfaction at the time.
Following this episode I had the full support of my union members who elected me Branch Minute secretary, then shop steward and subsequently the region trained me as a union organiser. Then, in October 1993 after a detailed examination of my record and character, and after my involvement in the anti-poll tax campaign which brought down Thatcher, I was appointed by the national union as a parliamentary A-list candidate.
It was only after I was expelled from Labour in 1994, because of my involvement in fighting Thatcher's hated poll tax, that there was an unsuccessful political attempt to bar me from holding union office - unbelievably on the grounds that I had joined the Socialist Party.
Indeed, it was the same group of people who are behind the current allegations that attempted this authoritarian measure against me at that time. Their banning attempt was never carried out, however, because regional union officials did not back their undemocratic action.
I am sure that the people of Hayes and Harlington will not be swayed by this attempted character assassination. They will also be disgusted that supporters of John McDonnell MP have stooped to such tactics and will wonder why the MP has not disassociated himself from this disgraceful behaviour.
John McDonnell should immediately repudiate these attacks on another candidate. Also, I would challenge him to publicly debate with me and other candidates where he can try to defend the record of Blair's New Labour, which has resulted in a million more people now living in poverty than in 1997.
Wally Kennedy, 12 April 2001
Wally gets their votes
"Last Saturday my family and I were in Hayes town and we stopped to listen to the Socialist Party, which was campaigning against low pay, low pensions and poverty wages.
They talked a lot of sense and obviously live in the real world. If Labour and all the other parties agree the minimum wage will be £4.10 an hour, why don't these MPs try living on it themselves?...
After listening to Mr Wally Kennedy, we have decided to vote for him and his party as they are the only ones speaking up for ordinary people like us."
M.Clark, Hayes, writing to the Hayes and Harlington Gazette
In The Socialist 20 April 2001: