The Socialist 16 April 2008 |
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Building a real alternative
SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE election canvassers are being well received on the doorsteps in Wythenshawe in Manchester. New Labour's policies, stolen from the Tories, have lost their disguise and increasingly many people see us as the alternative locally.
Lynn Worthington, Socialist Alternative candidate for Baguley ward, Manchester
My Labour opponent is sitting councillor Tony Burns. His election leaflet incredibly claims as successes all the failures which turn working-class people against New Labour!
Burns highlights his board position on the Community and Mental Health Trust, an organisation best known for provoking a strike last year. The same Trust tried to shut the mental health unit at Wythenshawe Hospital. We played a big part in saving the unit.
When cuts or closures were proposed to health and advisory services, Burns kept quiet or voted in favour. We consistently fought all the cuts and closures in the health service, launched the Save Our Baby Unit campaign (which gained huge support), and defended mental health workers taking action to defend democratic rights.
Lynn Worthington (left), on the anti-war protest in Manchester, photo Alison Hill
The housing transfer from Manchester council to Parkway Green Housing Trust has meant problems for many tenants. Burns sits on the Parkway Green board, and is proud of it! Tenants who had their homes wrecked by subcontractors and are now paying higher rents, are not impressed.
If elected, I will demand a meeting with the councillors and Parkway Green to represent tenants and demand the improvements are carried out swiftly and properly.
The council created a severe crisis by running down council housing for years. They blame the government for under-funding housing, which is true, but when it's a Labour council and a Labour government, what does that say about New Labour's priorities?
Transferring housing to private companies and associations made the situation worse, with properties standing empty for year on year. Privatisation and demolition of social housing around Manchester turned a shortage into chaos.
With the council's help, private developers grabbed public land for expensive private housing. Now only a minority can afford to buy, often with huge mortgages, while many young people are completely priced out of renting or buying.
Home-owners and tenants face a worsening future. That's why we need a socialist councillor, to demand high-quality affordable homes for all, together with accountable and effective maintenance and environmental works.
Burns' claims to have improved the notoriously unreliable bus service would be funny if it wasn't so bad. "Improvements" mean more services timetabled during the day, in return for a £multi-million council tax-payers' subsidy to Stagecoach which then hiked the fares anyway, by up to 10%! New Labour have no intention of reinstating bus routes cut in previous years, or running extra services later.
The only way to ensure frequent, reliable buses at affordable fares is for them to be under public ownership, democratically controlled by elected representatives of passengers and transport workers. We need a socialist councillor to demand a proper transport network, one run in the interests of the travelling public not the profits of transport companies.
A working-class candidate
Burns claims he's "the candidate for you" but that's not many people's impression! People are turning to us because New Labour have turned their backs on them. If you live in Manchester and think it's time we had a socialist voice on the council, ring 07747 332 854 or email firstname.lastname@example.org