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Campaigning To Change Society
I was always "Socialist minded" from my late teens. I took part in CND marches. I had worked with the homeless in London aged 19 so had seen the results of capitalism at the sharp end. I used to get mad every time I saw Maggie Thatcher on the telly but then kick myself for doing nothing!
Rob Windsor, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
The biggest push towards joining a party was when I saw the contrast between policing at a CND mass trespass at the Trident base in Scotland, then under construction, and that used at the Wapping dispute over the sacking of 5,000 printers.
The former was low key, the latter the most brutal I had ever seen. I remember a horse charge and saw this mounted police officer peel an old guy off some railings with a long riot shield. Then a "snatch squad" of about six with short truncheons beat him to within an inch of his life.
It was then that I realised that a class war was going on and the lengths that the privileged would go to defend their interests. I became a Militant supporter (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) in 1987 after the successful campaign to get Dave Nellist, then a Labour MP, re-elected to Parliament.
Of all the groups on the Left, Militant was the most serious and disciplined. When something was fully discussed and decided, it got done. Within two years, I was playing a leading role in building the anti-poll tax campaign that beat Thatcher and her tax.
I am now one of three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry. Whilst there are only three of us we strive to show an alternative way of organising society in everything we do.
We have played a full part in the mass anti-war movement and set up a special council meeting to discuss the war, one of the few councils in Western Europe to do so.
A lot of our work involves fighting for people who the anti-war movement hasn't touched - but the cost of the war certainly has! Every day we battle for funding for areas where local people are told that they can't have even a few thousand quid for improvements - yet the £6.5 billion cost of war is made to seem like small change!
Fighting for people
We have fought housing privatisation and the break up of working class communities so that developers can profit from land deals. We got the council to oppose top-up fees. We saved council jobs, and through our determination to oppose at all costs, forced the council to put an extra £1 million into adult social services.
We work on individual issues and community campaigns every day of the week. Even one of Blair's favourite think-tanks recognised us as good local representatives.
But we are not like this because we are nice individuals or specially gifted.
It is because we are members of a party with firm ideas about transforming society so that working people own and control the wealth created; a party that doesn't allow its representatives to have lavish lifestyles way above those that we represent. We're there to improve the lives of working people - not our bank balances.
The Socialist Party doesn't stop at just complaining about capitalist society but strives every day to change it. In trades unions, in local areas, in mass campaigns like the anti-war movement, amongst the workers and youth. It is well worth joining.
In The Socialist 20 March 2004:
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