Well that is me, not the most flattering photo, but I think the photographer was going for the “rose between two thorns” effect. This was the launch of the campaign to re-elect Anne Snelgrove, Labour MP for South Swindon, and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown. Her Proposer and Seconder are myself, and former Tory mayor, Steve Wakefield, who resigned from the Conservative Party in January this year. Here is the story as reported in the Adver.

So that should dispel any lingering doubt whether I am serious that a primary concern for socialists in the coming election should be the defeat of the Tories, and the re-election of a Labour government. Of course, your priority in the election depends upon where you live; in Birmingham and East London, there is a fantastic opportunity to work to elect Respect MPs, who may even hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

But the general election will be fought, and lost or won, in Swindon, Stroud, Watford, Corby and Milton Keynes . It is very close and national polling in the marginals this week puts Labour one point ahead in these key seats on 37% and the Conservatives on 36%.

South Swindon is 33rd on the Tories target list, and North Swindon is 57th. If Labour can hold on here, then a Tory government with an overall majority can be stopped.

Swindon is a working class town. There is no posh part of the town, there are no rich people here. People work in factories, and offices, for Honda and BMW, for Nationwide, Zurich and Intel, for Motorola and WH Smiths. The laissez faire complacency with which the Tories greeted the start of the recession would have decimated the economy of the town; dependent as it is on the car manufacturing and finance industries.

The proposed extra £6 billion in cuts from the public sector that the Tories are committed to in order to offset their planned scrapping of the National Insurance rise would stall the economy; it would cause jobs to be lost.

The sabre rattling against the trade unions by the Tories, with facility time in the public sector under threat, and further tightening of the right to strike, would put the labour movement in a much more unfavourable context.

Of course if you are in a safe seat, where the election will not be decided, then it makes little difference how you vote, or who you campaign for. If you are lucky enough to live close to a constituency where Respect, or the Greens or Plaid might win, then you should join the campaign for a credible left of Labour alternative. But in the swing Tory/Labour marginals, there is only one choice, and that is to vote Labour, and join the mainstream of the trade union movement in campaigning for a Labour victory.labou


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