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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2006

An open letter to Respect councillors: A strategy to take on New Labour

TOWER HAMLETS Socialist Party sent the letter below to each of the 12 Respect councillors elected to the local council.

"Congratulations. The election of 12 Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets was a blow to New Labour - who are likely to lose control of the council - and the other parties of big business. It also opens up important opportunities to build the fight against the policies of New Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories; particularly the cuts and privatisation that are destroying public services.

The Socialist Party are campaigning for Respect to follow the road of Liverpool city council in the mid-1980s, who led a mass campaign for the government to return the millions they had stolen from Liverpool City Council, in order to provide the local services people needed and avoid cutting jobs.

Last year, the Socialist Party initiated the Campaign for a New Workers' Party ( to argue the case for a new mass party for working people. We have six Socialist Party councillors - two in Lewisham, three in Coventry and one in Stoke-on-Trent - and another Socialist Party member who has just been elected as a councillor in Huddersfield as part of the 'Save Huddersfield NHS' campaign.

We have helped to lead many campaigns including the mass movement of civil disobedience against the poll tax which brought down Thatcher, the campaign against the BNP in Tower Hamlets in 1993-5 and initiating the school student strikes against the war.

The Socialist Party believes that there is a very urgent need to build a political alternative to the main three parties based on an active struggle against their attacks on public services and workers' rights as well as their neo-colonial policies abroad, like the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Such an alternative will only succeed in building broad support in the long-term if it consciously adopts a policy of building working-class unity, and a programme and strategy that can mobilise mass support and win concessions from the government. This will also be necessary to cut across the growth of racist and far right groups, such as the British National Party.

As a councillor you will face many attempts to suck you into a cosy life of expenses, committees, backroom deals and not really changing anything. You will be under enormous pressure to work within the rules that the government has laid down for local government.

But down this road there are only two alternatives: support cuts in services, or increases in council tax (that is, follow the same policies that have made the main three parties so unpopular).

We would like to discuss with you about the best strategy for taking on New Labour, both inside the council and outside, and what will be necessary to build a mass movement for change based on working people and the youth from all communities, all races, all religions and none."

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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In The Socialist 1 June 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

'Stop the NHS cuts, end low pay'

"We're seeing the Americanisation of the NHS"

Environment: Nuclear power

Blair goes nuclear

Socialist Party campaigns

Can the Tories win the next election?

A strategy to take on New Labour

International socialist news and analysis

Iraq - lame duck leaders have no solution

Brazil: Hundreds killed by brutal military police


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'Correction' or crash?

Crisis in the Scottish Socialist Party

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference: The record of a campaigning union

Drivers strike over tax bills

Tesco goes west - with non-union job ads


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