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Rotherham TUSC election challenge - No snouts in the trough!
After Rotherham MP, Dennis 'MacShame' was caught with his fingers in the till, a byelection has been called for 29 November.
New Labour shot themselves in the foot by imposing a shortlist of two external candidates, to the exclusion of a local councillor.
This resulted in at least half the selection meeting walking out and the eventual candidate, who has only been a party member two years, being selected with the level of mandate you'd expect for a police commissioner!
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which is standing local National Union of Teachers (NUT) rep Ralph Dyson, immediately issued an 'Open letter to angry Rotherham Labour Party members' appealing for their support (see below).
Ralph's daughter has a pet pig called Kez. A photo of Kez features on the TUSC election leaflet with the caption: "Sick of the Fat Cats with their snouts in the trough?"
TUSC is also campaigning against the £50 million of health service cuts being proposed by Rotherham NHS trust's chief executive that will result in a smaller hospital, fewer beds and 750 job losses. These cuts would turn our district general hospital into nothing more than a glorified cottage hospital.
Crossing the red line
We organised a protest against these cuts outside the hospital. First the security came and, pointing to a line that had been tarmaced over, said: "You've crossed the red line" which we took as a compliment but refused to move. Then 'Communications' came to ask us to respect that it is a "working hospital". "Not for much longer," we replied, "if these cuts go through".
By coincidence, a Guardian newspaper reporter was in town that day so we managed to get them to the hospital protest and interview Ralph.
The day before, the Guardian had carried a pro-Labour piece about the Manchester Central byelection. This reporter commented on how impressed she had been with TUSC candidate Alex at the hustings. I asked: "But who wrote that cringing article in yesterday's paper?"
She replied: "It was me!" How to win friends and influence people! Needless to say, TUSC didn't get any coverage the next day.
Our first week's campaigning, of town centre stalls, leafleting the hospital, 500 council workers and two mosques, plus Sunday canvasses, has already had an impact and won new supporters.
Open letter from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
To angry Rotherham Labour Party members,
We in TUSC, including many ex-Labour Party members, welcome your angry reaction to the New Labour apparatus imposing another external candidate and possible MP on the town.
After the experience of Denis MacShane, who was also imposed on the local party from outside, you are justified in expressing your opposition to national party leadership diktat by walking out of the selection process.
This experience only further confirms the complete lack of democracy now in New Labour, and the inability for ordinary local party members to hold any real say in decision making and accountability.
In the view of TUSC, this lack of democracy is part of the process undertaken by Blair, Brown and now Miliband to shift the Labour Party away from its working-class roots and to make the party acceptable to the rich, big business and the millionaires.
That is why TUSC is standing a candidate in the forthcoming byelection, Ralph Dyson, a local teacher and trade union representative who led the strike last year at Rawmarsh community school against compulsory redundancies.
We believe it is vital to counter the inevitable disillusionment and alienation of Rotherham working-class people with a left wing and socialist alternative. Ralph is standing against corruption, against cuts and against racism and fascism, and to be a workers' MP on a worker's wage.
We appeal to you to come a help us in our campaign, to support a local, working class, trade union fighter and socialist, the very things that the Labour Party was founded for and most of you will have joined because of.
For more information about Ralph's and TUSC's campaign, look at: ralphdyson.blogspot.com
Yours in solidarity,
Alistair Tice, Rotherham TUSC election agent
In The Socialist 21 November 2012: