Local prospective parliamentary candidate Nancy Taaffe was interviewed by the Socialist paper
Why are you standing?
I’m a socialist and a Socialist Party member who has fought every cut and privatisation in my home borough of Waltham Forest for nearly 30 years. I’m proud that we stood our ground when privatisation was put forward by all politicians as the answer to every problem.
I stood for parliament in 2005 against then Labour MP Neil Gerrard who debated with me and said that PFI at our local hospital was “the only show in town”. That ‘show’ has led to our stroke unit being closed and moved miles away. When the devastation caused by privatisation wasn’t immediately apparent, we made it clear that future generations would be damaged and disadvantaged by it. Sadly, I believe we were right.
I had my two children in the local hospital Whipps Cross and they went to local schools. I worked for Waltham Forest libraries for 12 years before my job was deleted in 2012 due to cuts. So I have been both a user of public services and a provider of them.
I loved my job in the library – serving local school children and the elderly who were housebound made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile. I shall never forgive those who elevated their salaries and expenses and gladly cut jobs and services for the Tories and their mates in the city.
This is part of the reason why I am standing, I want to whistleblow in the most public arena, an election. I want to tell the truth about the crime of austerity being perpetrated against working class communities and their families.
What are your plans for the campaign?
We are outsiders who are fighting to be noticed so we’ll be as lively and imaginative as we can. We think it’s important to have a campaigning routine so we have decided to make Monday morning ‘TUSC morning’. We have our trusty TUSC trolley and our banner (erected with some bungee ropes and hiking sticks!) and we set up in key sites around the borough and hand out our bright pink leaflets. These activities are designed to make a splash, make some noise and raise some cash.
We have had four TUSC mornings so far and have been very well received – at transport hubs and the Town Hall were most local government workers are based. People have been particularly open since the election victory of Syriza in Greece.
Our TUSC committee meets once a month and is open to everybody. We have made sure to have a clear TUSC presence on local picket lines, including the bus workers and NHS workers.
We produce a regular e-newsletter called Nancy Newsflash Newsletter – a weekly diary of where we have been and what happened. Since I’ve started doing it even I’m amazed at just how much we cover in a week. We have an email list of around 200 people who receive our newsletter. Then it goes on our blog and round social media as well. I’m on Twitter and Facebook. I have nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter and regularly get retweeted by various groups from within the borough.
I have started to be invited to hustings and union meetings. I’m speaking at the London region of the FBU and I intend to speak at a trades council and college hustings.
We want to revisit as many primary schools in the constituency as possible. We feel that young families are particularly open to bold socialist ideas and we think that many of our 5,500 votes in the local elections last May came from this section of people. This was particularly because we focussed our campaign on the demand for rent control, which we will still be talking about loudly this time round.
Why is housing such a key issue for TUSC?
On the surface we are told that London has bucked the trend during this recession – that there are jobs here and life is sweet. But many (particularly young) people feel that the basic right to housing is being denied. Council homes are almost impossible to get into, buying is out of the question for most and in January this year the average rent in London was £1,418 a month – and it’s rising all the time.
TUSC picked up on this many months before the establishment politicians (who sold off council homes and deregulated rents) realised what a ‘live issue’ housing is. We held various meetings and started to raise the demand of rent control. We noticed many people stopped to sign our petition and chat to us. We’ve initiated a rent control petition, hoping to force a council discussion on the issue and we have been campaigning on the streets and outside the colleges.
I participated in the organising committee of the March for Homes in January and spoke at the start of the east London leg. In the capital many groups have been leading really inspiring campaigns for decent housing – the New Era estate and E15 mums are probably the most well-known. TUSC has supported all of these and thinks that they need to be linked up and to have a political voice – that’s why we’re raising housing as part of our campaign.
The Labour Party could make huge strides to end the housing crisis immediately. Local councils could implement rent control now. They could start mass programmes to build and renovate enough council homes to meet demand. They could write off all bedroom tax arrears. Ed Miliband could promise that a Labour government would back these councils up after the election – he’s probably guarantee a Labour victory if he did! But he won’t. Only TUSC is fighting for those types of policies.