Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1165/33675
Dave Nellist standing for Birmingham Erdington
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing Dave Nellist in the Birmingham Erdington parliamentary by-election taking place on 3 March.
Dave was the MP for Coventry South East for nine years from 1983-1992, and was - alongside Jeremy Corbyn - a member of the left-wing Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
During his time in parliament, Dave and the two other Militant-supporting (now the Socialist Party) MPs were well-known for only taking an ordinary worker's wage, giving away over half of an MP's bloated salary - currently £82,000 a year - to trade unionists and working class campaigners fighting to defend their livelihoods and communities.
Labour expelled Dave, along with many other socialists, for helping to organise mass non-payment of Maggie Thatcher's hated poll tax.
Later, for 14 years, Dave was a Coventry city councillor for the Socialist Party from 1998 to 2012. While Labour started privatising our NHS, schools and services, Dave and the Socialist Party gave a fighting voice for working-class people.
Accepting the TUSC nomination for the Erdington contest, Dave said:
"With Sir Keir Starmer's Labour welcoming a Tory MP into the parliamentary party last week - while confirming Jeremy Corbyn's exclusion from the PLP at its national executive committee meeting on 25 January - it couldn't be clearer that the interests of Britain's wealthy establishment will be in safe hands if and when they decide to move on from Boris Johnson's disintegrating premiership. Starmer is so obviously not on our side.
"In contrast, I and the rest of the TUSC coalition wholeheartedly supported Jeremy's leadership of the Labour Party as an opportunity to put someone in Number Ten who would challenge what he called the 'rigged system' - in other words, capitalism - that works in the interests of a rich and powerful minority.
"So the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, co-founded in 2010 by the late transport workers' leader Bob Crow, adjusted its electoral activity in response, not standing candidates in either the 2017 or 2019 general elections.
"But we also warned that the followers of Tony Blair within Labour - like Keir Starmer - didn't support the socialist policies of taxing the rich and public ownership that are needed to overturn the 'rigged system' and that they would drop the Labour manifesto policies of 2017 and 2019 as soon as they had the chance.
"And so it has come to pass, with Starmer, for example, explicitly ruling out public ownership of the big oil and gas companies even as they boost shareholder dividends from our hiked up energy bills.
"That is why I am proud to represent TUSC in the Birmingham Erdington by-election and would urge other trade unionists, socialists and community campaigners to also consider standing for TUSC in the forthcoming local council elections in May.
"Red Tories, Blue Tories or Yellow Tories carrying out policies against the interests of the working class majority cannot expect to be unchallenged at the ballot box".
Labour candidate's long record... of cutting services, pay and jobs
Paulette Hamilton, Labour's candidate for Erdington, has been a Birmingham councillor since 2004, and the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care since 2015. Instead of using her position to fight for working-class people in Birmingham, she has presided over cuts to jobs and services.
For example, in 2017, under her leadership, the council set out to gut the vital Health and Social Care service.
Already low-paid, mainly women Homecare workers were faced with cuts to their contracted hours resulting in pay cuts of up to £11,000 a year.
It took 20 months of strike action to force Paulette Hamilton and the rest of the Labour council to retreat. Hamilton also played a leading role in attacking striking refuse workers.
In 2019 she wrote to council workers' trade unions, Unison and Unite, threatening "to seek an injunction which declares the actions of Unite and Unison in relation to the current industrial action unlawful."
Perhaps hoping to avoid discussing her anti-worker record, Hamilton has said that she intends to make fly-tipping a central issue in her by-election campaign, but the council's policies have led directly to its increase.
Back in 2011 it was the Labour Cabinet Member for Refuse Collection who scrapped free collection of bulky waste, saying he was confident it wouldn't lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
But a rise in illegally dumped rubbish is the inevitable result of residents now having to pay £33 per item for legal disposal.
Her message appears to be: 'Vote for me to clear up my own mess'!
Birmingham's unemployment rate, at 12.6%, is already the highest of any major city in Britain, with Erdington among the constituencies with the most out of work.
Now Erdington's GKN plant is set to close with the loss of 500-plus skilled jobs. Johnson's Tory government could have intervened, nationalised and saved GKN, but instead they let it go to the wall.
Johnson claimed the Tories wanted Brexit to 'level up' working-class communities, but their Brexit is about freedom for the bosses to exploit us. Johnson's new proposal for post-Brexit legislation, ripping up 'red tape' for businesses, means giving employers more liberty to attack their workers' rights, pay and conditions.
The Socialist Party, in complete contrast, supported a vote to leave the EU because we oppose the EU's pro-capitalist rules that attempt to limit workers' rights and the right of governments to defend working-class interests, for example by nationalising plants threatened with closure. We fight for the nationalisation of GKN under democratic workers' control and management.
Would you be interested in coming to help us leaflet and canvas?
People will travel from far and near to the campaign, possibly from your area. There will be campaigning taking place every day from now to polling day.
- To volunteer, fill in the form at bit.ly/TUSCErdingtonVolunteer and this way we can link you up with others who are coming to lend a hand.
- You can also make a donation towards the campaign here - nellistforerdington.com/donate.html
- For more info, phone/text 07530429441 or email [email protected]
- Promoted by Joe Foster, 11 Kerby Rd, Birmingham B23 7EX on behalf of Dave Nellist
In The Socialist 2 February 2022:
Workers fighting back