Standing up for socialism in Camberwell and Peckham

Submitted by Matthew on 5 February, 2010 - 3:00 Author: Daniel Randall

Although in most constituencies, working-class socialists will vote for the Labour Party because of its structural and
historic links to the trade unions, Workers’ Liberty’s election campaign in Camberwell and Peckham — where we are standing Jill Mountford — shows what might be possible at election time with a healthier left.

The rotten core of nearly 15 years of New Labour government is exposed in the constituency, where people face abject poverty, lack of housing and poor services. Those lucky enough to have jobs frequently work in precarious industries for
long hours and low wages. And all of this in the constituency of Harriet Harman, the minister for “women and equality”.

We are not standing because we expect to unseat a government minister or return Jill as an MP; we are standing because we
believe that—in the politicised climate of an election, when workers think and talk about big, governmental politics perhaps more than at any other time, — it would be a dereliction of duty if we did not do what we could with the resources we have to raise the banner of working-class politics, of class struggle, of socialism.

But Jill’s campaign is not just about making propaganda for socialist ideas. It’s about helping to revive and develop a
culture of working-class political selfassertion in the area and build potential pockets of resistance to the assaults that will inevitably follow the election, whoever wins.

Much of our work so far has focused on the constituency’s giant housing estates, such as the Aylesbury. Proudly boasted of by Southwark Council as “one of the most well-known estates in Europe”, the Aylesbury is a sprawling complex covering
over 70 acres and housing nearly 8,000 people.

After years of stalled development and regeneration plans, the Aylesbury was lined up for demolition (which is scheduled
to begin this year). Workers’ Liberty activists have leafleted the estate, made links with tenants and residents groups
active there and plan to hold a meeting on the estate in the near future.

With the decline of the trade union movement and the shutting down of the Labour Party as a space for working-class
political self-assertion, political confidence and belief in the possibility of change is at a low ebb on an estate like the Aylesbury. But organised, working-class socialist activists with a clear set of politics and experience of fighting for them can help change that. If our campaign helps some working-class people become better equipped to organise and fight against the attacks that will follow the election, it will have been a success.

How you can help

• Come leafleting with us: we leaflet and canvas in the constituency every weekend. Ring Sacha on 07796690874 for info.
• Invite Jill to speak: does your union branch, TRA or campaign group have a meeting that Jill could come to speak
at? Email us at
• Send a donation to the campaign: cheques payable to “AWL”, to AWL, PO Box 823, London SE15 4NA. Please write “election fund” on the back.

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