Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/323/9622
Lewisham By-election 4 December
Vote For Real Change: Vote Socialist
THE SOCIALIST Party is standing in the by-election in Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham on 4 December. The Socialist Alternative candidate is health worker Chris Flood - we aim to get another socialist councillor elected to work alongside Ian Page.
Local people have had enough of politicians who care more about big business and fat cats than public services or the interests of ordinary voters.
The biggest issue on the Honor Oak estate is the council's sheer gall in charging some leaseholders up to £11,000 to remove asbestos from their homes! As Chris told the socialist:
"Local people tell us that there's a report going back to the mid-1980s showing that they were well aware of this asbestos problem.
"Yet the council sold the leaseholders these properties without telling them - this is clearly the council's responsibility. They should fund the cost of removing the asbestos and not charge leaseholders or threaten to cut the refurbishment budget for tenants on the estate.
"Local people are determined that the council won't win this battle and have launched a campaign already that we will get involved with - local residents welcome our involvement."
Another big issue is the fight for a new non-selective secondary school in the north of Lewisham borough. Socialist Party councillors put forward a motion to the council calling for Telegraph Hill school to be reopened as a fully funded community comprehensive school.
Labour opposed this and demolished the building, so Socialist Party members have played a big part in the new school campaign during the last couple of years. Chris Flood will keep fighting for a new school to be opened in the north of the borough.
Chris said: "People on the doorsteps often tell us they don't know who their local councillors are. Labour, both nationally and locally, just take their voters for granted.
"Many people though have seen what Socialist Party councillor Ian Page has done, including leading the Save Lewisham Housing Campaign which stopped the council selling off 7,500 flats and houses."
Practically every area of the ward has gained from our campaigns alongside local people to win improvements. As Chris Flood said: "There's a lot of disillusionment amongst Labour's former voters, over the war with Iraq and the occupation that has followed it, and on subjects such as education and housing.
"We're starting to see people turning their backs on New Labour, and if we can show that we're a party that's different, we can win a second socialist councillor in Telegraph Hill to fight alongside Ian Page."
If you want to help Chris Flood and the Socialist Party win this vital seat, please ring the Socialist Party at 020 8988 8777.
"Fighting together we can win battles"
CHRIS FLOOD, Socialist Party candidate in the Telegraph Hill ward by-election in south London on 4 December (see above), spoke to the socialist.
I'M A psychiatric nurse and a health service researcher, born and brought up in Lewisham. I was a shop steward in the NUPE union (now part of Unison) from the late 1980s.
In the early 1990s I was involved in a campaign to keep Charing Cross hospital open. The Tomlinson report into hospital services in London had highlighted it as a hospital that might close.
The workers and the union led a campaign which threatened occupation if necessary to save the hospital.
It got a lot of support from NHS workers and the general public and successfully kept that hospital open - it's still open to this day.
I have never forgotten that campaign - through this fight, many people got to see the power of collective struggle.
If we fight together, we can win battles.
I was also very active in the movement against Thatcher's blatantly unfair and undemocratic poll tax.
Most of the nurses in our hospital didn't pay their poll tax and the national anti-poll tax campaign amongst nurses was largely led by Charing Cross workers.
In recent years I've been living in Deptford and been involved as a local resident in taking on developers who wanted to build huge luxury private tower blocks.
New Labour councillors have gone out of their way to encourage these developers and to ignore the concerns of local people, who are worried about the lack of social housing in what is still overwhelmingly a working-class and deprived area.
New luxury housing in the area has just made that worse. There's also the lack of planning and the impact that has on GP services and schools. All this has starkly shown up how far the local council was pro-developer and pro-rich.
I've also been involved in campaigns on bread-and-butter issues such as getting security at our local railway station and getting new traffic-calming measures.
I've worked with local community groups and raised the need for a new mass workers' party - New Labour is now clearly just another party of big business like the Liberals and the Tories.
The electorate aren't being offered any choice in most elections.
That's why it's so important that working-class people stand in local elections and that the Socialist Party stands under its own banner.
I think the time is right now for councillors to take the opposition you hear on the streets into the council chamber and fight for a socialist alternative.
Some people may feel demoralised that there isn't a Labour Party as there used to be but we've got to argue that people should come to our banner where we think the lessons of collective struggle, of collective bargaining can be relearned.
In The Socialist 15 November 2003: