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Monday 12 May 2014

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Socialist councillors can help boost resistance

"Can I take this opportunity to wish all candidates standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) best wishes for polling day on 22 May.

"Until a few months ago, when I retired due to family illness, I had been a socialist councillor in Preston for ten years.

"I believe it is important for working class people to have socialist representatives who are prepared to speak out against cuts, privatisation, racism and war.

"We have established a network of activists in Preston over the last ten years. They supported me as we tried to establish a way of working that is markedly different to that of most mainstream councillors.

"We were able to use the council position to act as good 'community shop stewards'. We took great pride in the fact that we would respond to every problem raised by constituents.

"We would visit people at home and take up their problems with local companies, housing providers, local authorities and privatised utilities. No problem was too small because working class people deserve proper representation.

"We also used the council chamber as a platform to address social movements and campaigns.

"We passed motions and raised debates about NHS privatisation, academy and free schools, racism, Palestinian rights, war in Iraq, the need for public transport investment and the threat from fracking.

"And we were also able to link the campaign for real working class political representation to industrial struggles. As a councillor I visited hundreds of picket lines over the last ten years supporting workers on strike.

"I hope that when we wake on 23 May there are more socialist councillors taking up positions in councils across Britain. There is no doubt that we need strong, active socialist councillors to represent our people in the months and years ahead".

Michael Lavalette, Preston

Reprinted from Socialist Worker, May 6, 2014