Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/324/9613
Why We Need More Socialist Councillors
Ian Page speaks to the socialist
IAN PAGE, Socialist Party councillor for Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham explains why he is fighting to get Chris Flood elected to Lewisham council in the 4 December by-election.
LEWISHAM COUNCIL has a massive Labour majority and cuts services regularly against the wishes of local people. The council are under such great pressure because every year the government cuts the money it gives to local authorities.
The council doesn't campaign to get more money to keep these vital services going so they're forced to cut services. You can see that in the big cuts such as trying to sell off council housing and closing schools but on smaller issues as well.
Across the ward the council are cutting and 'economising' and it's difficult on my own to fight back that effectively. Once Chris gets elected we can put more pressure on the council.
So in a practical sense, a victory for Chris Flood would help enormously because tenants and residents know it's no good approaching Labour. It's me and the Socialist Party that they always approach to help them get these things done. A victory would double the number of people we've got to do that.
At the town hall the three main parties don't argue about whether there should be cuts, they just split hairs about where they should happen. I sometimes work with the Green Party councillor but even he won't go against the idea that we have to stay within budgets.
Of course those budgets are not enough to provide the services we want. If Chris wins this election, it gives us a basis within the council to really challenge Labour, Liberals and Tories and hold them to account.
We can put motions forward and force New Labour to say why they're not providing services and explain why they're not challenging the government. If Chris wins, we will have a political base on the council.
Of course both as a political party and a group on the council it gives the message that there's a socialist alternative to Labour; there's a socialist alternative to services being run down and money being spent on wars rather than on schools.
Chris Flood has proved that he's a fighter - in his trade union he was active in fighting the threat to close Charing Cross hospital. Locally he's shown that he'll battle for people in his area.
The people of Telegraph Hill ward need Chris on the council. The Socialist Party needs Chris there to start providing a real political alternative and building our party and its socialist alternative in and out of the town hall.
In The Socialist 22 November 2003: