Jasper Chaplin, West London Socialist Party

On Monday 29 April, the Socialist Party West London branch held a public meeting at the Globe pub in Brentford. Our member John Viner ran as a candidate in the Brentford West by-election in Hounslow, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. This election was held to replace former Labour councillor Lara Parizotto, who stepped down earlier in April citing disagreement with Labour’s support for attacks on Gaza.

John’s speech cited the many failures of the current Labour council to protect residents from cuts affecting public services, including the sad closure of the Watermans Arts Centre. The council has also passed on budget cuts imposed by the Tory government to residents, and agreed to raise council tax by 4.99%, the maximum without a referendum, in 2024-25, on top of the 9% increase in London Mayor’s precept.

Stalls and canvassing during John’s short campaign received positive responses from people looking for an alternative to the two biggest parties. Although public opinion for the Tories has diminished, this does not mean that people trust Labour to fight the Tory government’s cuts to public services.

Through the campaign we demanded an immediate end to the Israeli state’s war on Gaza, and raised the potential power of the working class to disrupt and stop arms destined for Israel to be used on Palestinians. We raised a socialist programme to defend the national rights of the Palestinian people.

Other policies put forward by TUSC council candidates include fighting to bring down rent by introducing rent controls; freezing council tax; the mass building of eco-friendly, affordable council homes to tackle the housing crisis; opposing the privatisation of council jobs and services; and calling for the council to use their reserves and borrowing power to avoid cuts.

Turnout for the by-election was higher than expected at 45.1%. Standing with TUSC, John received 33 votes. Where possible, TUSC will continue to stand candidates who will oppose war and austerity, and stand up for the working class.