Waltham Forest: ‘A taste of a future working-class political challenge’
by Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
Waltham Forest’s May 2022 elections gave a little taste of what an independent working-class political challenge would look like. Tube strikers, hospital strikers, Socialist Party members, community campaigners and anti-austerity activists of all descriptions stood under the banner of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
The working class in our area, like everywhere, was furious at the cost-of-living crisis. But it was hard to enthuse people about elections. There was a feeling like elections are for other classes, that all the parties are the same.
But those who did stop to engage with us found out we really are different. Our policies for building council homes, rent controls, nationalising energy to slash the bills — these struck a chord. And our candidate line-up was different too.
Waltham Forest Socialist Party was heavily involved in supporting the Unite union strike at our local hospital, and the RMT union’s tube strikes. Four hospital strikers stood in wards round the hospital, and three striking tube drivers stood too. We had housing campaigners, community campaigners Save Our Square, and other trade unionists – 24 candidates in 20 wards.
Building the Socialist Party
We distributed thousands of leaflets at transport hubs, workplaces, schools and doorsteps. We sold over 380 copies of the Socialist newspaper, convinced new people to join the Socialist Party, and raised over £1,300 in street donations and pledges at our Socialist Party public meeting.
We organised candidates into teams based on local areas. Many candidates and supporters were inspired by our campaign. They just grabbed bunches of leaflets and set off, sometimes by themselves, to spread the word.
We campaigned at labour movement meetings. We pushed for hustings to open up the debate when no one else would. At Waltham Forest Trades Council’s hustings, all the main parties felt compelled to attend alongside TUSC.
Labour even felt pushed to produce a leaflet claiming their latest austerity measures constitute a ‘no-cuts budget’! But only TUSC argued for a real end to austerity and a mass working-class campaign to win the funding for our borough.
Around 3,500 people voted for us. We believe our constituency was like many working-class people around the country: feeling let down and despondent after Corbyn, they simply don’t believe that voting alone will change their lives.
We agree with them. That’s why we were out on the streets the very next Saturday inviting people to get active in the fight against the cost-of-living hikes.
We actually got an even better response. There was a sense during the elections that politicians campaign because they want something but never fight for the working class in return.
Elections are important, and if you don’t stand you don’t have a voice in them. But they are just one way to fight – and the Socialist Party offers working-class and young people a way to fight all year round.
Ealing: Giving a voice to those fighting the cutting Labour council
by Bill Reed, West London Socialist Party
On the doorsteps in Ealing, people had no good words for Labour. When we explained TUSC’s policies of fighting cuts, using reserves and building a campaign to restore government funding, most people were enthusiastic. One person told us that the council had left her for years without hot water. Another showed us the way the council had left her flat between repairs.
In the campaign, we made contact with campaigners trying to save a youth centre, more trying to prevent green spaces being built on, others fighting polluted air in Southall, and a host of campaigners against tall buildings.
Eight TUSC candidates in Ealing amassed over 1,000 votes between them. In North Hanwell Ward, Tony Gill more than quadrupled the vote he had secured in a by-election in September.
- Read full National article here.