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Salford: The growth of 'Hazel Must Go!'
LAST MONTH, an 80-strong public meeting of the Hazel Must Go campaign voted to affiliate to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). We also selected local trade unionist and community campaigner David Henry, as our prospective candidate for this year's general election in Salford.
Steven North, Hazel Must Go Secretary
In nine months Hazel Must Go has transformed from a small campaign born out of the MPs' expenses scandal, to a body involved with every aspect of Salford's labour movement. Democracy has been the watchword.
When the expenses scandal broke around local MP Hazel Blears, the mood in Salford was that something has to be done. Her suspect expenses record and her infamous late payment of capital gains tax (remember the cheque-waving!) were not the only reasons we were angry.
Hazel misled us about our local maternity ward - she claimed to fight its proposed closure, but voted for maternity ward closures when in Westminster. She did the same over post offices. Frequent broken promises left constituents aggrieved, as did her pride at her slavishly loyal New Labour voting record supporting cuts, closures, wars and privatisation. We had had enough!
What began with a demo outside her reselection is now a consolidated community campaign with a prospective electoral candidate. We held demos, hosted public meetings of over 100 people, appeared on Panorama and met thousands of Salfordians who are demanding better. The campaign has been open, transparent and democratic throughout.
Our candidate David Henry will, if elected, only take the average public sector worker's wage and his expenses details will be open to any constituent. He was selected at a public meeting following a full opportunity for debate. Salford people rightly see how differently it marks us out compared to the mainstream parties' shadowy networking.
Since his selection David has visited community groups, picket lines and community demos. Salford people know that David would do this whether elected or not and respect him for that. He is standing on the basis of the 'Charter for Salford' - agreed as the campaign's programme at a previous public meeting.
The Charter pledges us to fight cuts in services and job losses and for a much needed programme of council house building. It also sends a clear message that we oppose racism and other forms of discrimination that divide working-class people.
New Labour betrayal
David says: "New Labour no longer represents the people who laid the foundations of the modern working class movement. People in Salford don't want a right-wing or neoliberal MP, they want an ordinary local person with grassroots socialist principles, whose actions speak louder than their words.
"Hazel Blears was once chair of Salford CND, today she supports nuclear weapons and the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and favours dirty nuclear power over clean renewable energy. There's nothing clean or renewable about Hazel either. I am proud to offer a genuine challenge to a right-wing corporate New Labour party which has left us all behind".
Our affiliation to TUSC was passed by a public vote - people in Salford can see the need for a political voice for working class people across the country. TUSC is a primary step in working towards this. As a Socialist Party member I want to see a new workers' party that can truly provide that voice.
Our campaign will do all we can to show that politics can be done differently - that a candidate's role is not to make deals and let others do the legwork, but to get actively involved in supporting local struggles for jobs, homes and services. Beyond the election we will keep building and fighting for the people of Salford.
Salford deserves better. We aim to provide a decent alternative - one that will represent working class and young people instead of one who only represents herself.
In The Socialist 24 March 2010:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news