Socialists against New Labour

Submitted by Anon on 13 June, 2009 - 9:35 Author: Dan Katz

On 6-7 June members of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty were on the streets of south east London campaigning for our candidate in the next general election. Jill Mountford will be standing against New Labour’s Harriet Harman in Camberwell and Peckham.

Comrades and supporters ran stalls, leafleted, sold our paper, and canvassed the area around Camberwell. Like many inner London neighbourhoods, Camberwell has some well-off residents, but the big majority are working class. Canvassing and discussing on street corners is a very useful, interesting experience.

Many people walk past without paying enough attention to distinguish us from the man giving out a free magazine or the women working for the Church of Our Lord. Others shrug: all politicians are rubbish, they think. Nevertheless there is now a significant minority who are interested in discussing politics. Having sold our socialist paper in south London for many years, I found the shift in response significant.

One young man stayed in discussion for over an hour. A young woman who has just been sacked from her job as a security guard signed up to help the campaign. One local activist took a pile of Feminist Fightback flyers advertising a action outside Harriet Harman’s surgery. One man donated £5, another bought two copies of our paper, lots gave us donations above the cover cost of our paper.

Very few people expressed support for Harman – and when they did, it was grudging backhanded support. One pensioner told me, “She’s better than a Tory”.

Almost all who were willing to discuss were at least open to our argument that New Labour had betrayed the working class and that the Tories would be even worse. Many could see the sense in socialists standing against New Labour to allow workers a real political choice.

• Feminist Fightback action: What the Other Feminists Look Like.... On Tuesday 30 June, 5pm paying a visit to Harriet Harman, Southwark Town Hall, Peckham Road, followed by film showing (6.30pm) at Studio 96, The Galleria, Pennack Road, SE15 6PW. All genders welcome!