New Croydon and Sutton Socialist Party branch launches

by Deji Olayinka, Croydon and Sutton Socialist Party

The Croydon and Sutton Socialist Party branch was officially launched at the end of 2023 thanks to the combined efforts of party members across south London throughout the year. At the start of the year south London branches agreed to work towards building a new branch, but it wasn’t guaranteed to be based in Croydon.

Croydon protest
Croydon protest against 15% council tax rise.
Photo: Berkay Kartav

But when Croydon’s Tory mayor proposed a 15% council tax hike, we sprang into action. With support from members from around south London we organised stalls and a protest against the tax increase. The broad anger against it and the previous years of Labour rule were clear, our high street campaign stalls were swamped with people buying the Socialist.

While other left groups were at the community protests too, we were the only ones to not only criticise the Tory and Labour councillors, but to give people a concrete way to get rid of them and to vote for an alternative to austerity through the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

This meant we could bring many people to a bustling public meeting on how to fight the council tax hike and make gains. But it wasn’t a straightforward journey to create the branch. Despite our best efforts as a small but growing force, once the tax increase was voted through – due to labour councillors abstaining – the movement lost momentum. And over summer we struggled to keep to the plan of regular stalls and activity.

It could have felt like the opportunity to build the branch was slipping away but our efforts outside of Croydon became key. The work of building socialist students in London unis, and bringing our socialist politics to a Black LGBTQ+ event and the national Gaza demos got us in contact with the socialists that would eventually form the branch.

By explaining the role a fighting trade union leadership could play in the struggle for socialism, we were able to bring future members along to leafleting sessions for Marion Lloyd’s PCS leadership campaign at the government office hub in Croydon.

When the council threatened to close down nurseries we got members and non-members to join the protest that eventually succeeded in stopping the closures. Croydon council was declared ‘bankrupt’ for the third time in two years last March, and so there will inevitably be more battles for the branch to be involved in. We will continue to do that and develop the forces of socialism. Through our branch meetings, reading group and interventions, we will continue to do all we can to develop the forces of socialism in Croydon and Sutton.