60 people attended a rousing rally to mark the last few days of the Waltham Forest Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition local election campaign. A sample of our 33 candidates explained what had made them stand and what they want to see next.
Paula Mitchell, candidate for William Morris, chaired the meeting. She pointed to the huge success of getting a list of 33 working class candidates together in the first place. She explained that this is part of a wider picture including 190 candidates in London and 560 across the country – all standing firm against the cuts agenda of the big business parties.
Glenroy Watson from the RMT transport union and candidate in Chapel End explained his union’s official backing for TUSC. He argued that the attacks on the tube, which only amount to 6% of the cuts planned, and the strikes in response, show that a political voice willing to support workers in struggle is essential.
Senan, from Tamil Solidarity and candidate in High Street ward, explained the particular problems facing the black and Asian communities in the borough. He said that despite the racism and cuts of all the mainstream parties there is a tradition of voting Labour, which TUSC is offering a real alternative and challenge to.
Nic Fripp, cyclcing campaigner and candidate in Grove Green, said he was pleased to see so many young people at the meeting and involved in TUSC generally. He reported on recent victories for cycle safety, showing what an impact campaigning can have.
Joel Hirsch, from the Socialist Workers Party and candidate in Markhouse, spoke about the attempts of the mainstream politicians, particularly Ukip, to blame immigrants and turn working class people against each other.
Tim Roedel, branch secretary of the local Fire Brigades Union and candidate in Grove Green said he decided to stand because “enough is enough” – Waltham Forest has lost half of its fire cover due to cuts.
Aidan Taylor, Whipps Cross hospital worker and candidate in Leytonstone, said that all the cuts and privatisation in the NHS had been a bit factor in him deciding to stand. He had a clear message for Labour councillors: if you’re not going to stand up and fight, stand aside for those of us who will.
Nancy Taaffe, campaign coordinator and candidate in High Street, congratulated everyone on taking part in the campaign. She said that we have shown that standing in the elections is not just for the rich and powerful and have offered people an alternative to voting for the people who have attacked their jobs and services. Nancy called for TUSC to continue after the election, particular campaigning for trade unions to disaffiliate from Labour and form their own, new party.
£257 was raised during a collection and people pledged to raise more outside the meeting to help cover the costs of the tens of thousands of leaflets that have been produced. Everyone took away posters for their windows and to give to friends, and leaflets for their streets. It was clear that Thursday is not the end and that all candidates and supporters are keen to continue working together to provide an alternative to austerity after the election.