Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/611/8816
Hazel Blears must go
Around 80 people packed into a Hazel Must Go campaign meeting in Salford on Thursday 4 February to decide who would stand as a candidate to rival disgraced local Labour party MP and former cabinet minister Hazel Blears in the general election. For the first time in living memory Salford has been declared a marginal seat for Labour.
Alex McElroy and Paul Gerrard, Salford Socialist Party
Blears has been vilified for claiming huge amounts in expenses and for voting for the war in Iraq. Also, she has shown hypocrisy in campaigning in Salford against closures to post offices and the maternity ward, yet following the party line in Westminster where she has voted for cuts in post services and the NHS.
The Hazel Must Go campaign was launched last year in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal, uniting many who have campaigned against the disastrous effects of New Labour's policies on working-class people in Salford. It is a community campaign of socialists, trade unionists and community activists.
A packed meeting of 100 people last autumn adopted a ten-point 'Charter for Salford' that reflects the needs of working-class people. Policies include opposing cuts to public services and privatisation, calling for investment into the city and specifically into public transport and housing, opposing closure of hospital facilities and schools, and defending jobs and the environment.
Importantly the campaign also opposes racism and "divisive politics", which together with the other Charter demands can give a real alternative to the far right as well as the three main parties.
The 4 February Hazel Must Go public meeting was called to democratically debate and select a candidate for the campaign, and to discuss possible affiliation to the recently formed Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
The meeting was chaired by Socialist Party member Steve North and featured a well received opening speech from Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist. Dave drew attention to the "common, overlapping agenda of the mainstream capitalist parties" and condemned the fact that working class people will be made to pay for the economic crisis.
Having been a Militant MP in the 1980s, he recalled being shouted down by Labour MPs when he spoke then against wage rises for MPs, and declared: "people need an MP who shares the experiences of the people they represent".
On the issue of joining TUSC, Dave and others pointed out that because of TUSC's federal structure, the campaign's independence would not be lost, and it will open doors within the trade union movement. This discussion led to a vote that was overwhelmingly in favour of joining TUSC.
No to cuts and corruption
Two prospective candidates then gave speeches and answered questions from the floor. A vote followed that selected David Henry as candidate, a young local activist on youth and environmental issues who has been involved with the campaign from the beginning.
A considerable amount of money was raised for the election fund and the night was deemed a great success by those present.
The third meeting of the campaign, it provides the groundwork for a genuine community and working class voice in Salford, laying down the gauntlet to the political establishment, and making it clear that ordinary people will not tolerate corruption and cuts to public services to pay for the recession.
In The Socialist 10 February 2010:
Unison general secretary election
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
PCS young members
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
War and occupation