Scott Hunter, Swindon Socialist Party
Towards the end of our regular stall in Swindon town centre on Saturday 29 April, we were approached by a man who identified himself as a Labour councillor in Swindon. He bemoaned the fact that we are standing several candidates in the local elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC): “There’s probably only a wafer between what I believe and what you believe. Why can’t we work together?”
We replied that we would be expelled from the Labour Party if we tried to run on the TUSC platform! This Labour councillor did not see the irony when he refused to even touch one of our leaflets, saying, “I can’t get caught reading that!”
We went through some of the points of the TUSC platform: no cuts, no council tax rises, a mass council-house building programme. He claimed to agree with all these, but when we asked him point-blank whether he would vote against cuts in the council chambers, he admitted that he would follow the Labour Party line and pass on cuts from Westminster to working people in Swindon. In the next breath, he had the audacity to mourn the deprivation evident in Swindon’s poorest areas, “I’ve seen some real poverty while campaigning,” he said, seeming genuinely sad.
Unfortunately, feeling sad is the extent of Labour’s plan for Swindon. All across the country, Labour councillors and MPs may feel sad while they pass on Tory austerity, which has devastated communities and cost thousands of lives.
Talking face-to-face with this Labour councillor laid bare the political and moral emptiness of the Labour Party, and that a Labour-run council – or a Labour government in Westminster – would just be a continuation of Tory policies. Once we’d confronted him with these issues, the councillor had one last defence: he thought Starmer would become more left-wing once in government!
We’re not prepared to take a chance on Starmer, who has already committed to further austerity and privatisation. This man claimed to believe in the same things as us, but the difference is we’re in a party that reflects what we believe. We’re fighters, and we’re unapologetic about what we want: no one to be cold, hungry, or homeless. A society and economy run for and by the working class. In other words: socialism!