Saturday was a good day for the Respect campaign in Manchester Central. We have a fantastic election team now and we exchanged the week’s news – some real highlights for us: not only the publication of my piece in The Guardian’s Northerner blog, setting out Respect’s aims and values. But also the great news that former Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon is backing my candidacy. I have worked with Alice closely in peace and anti-war campaigning over many years now, and have a high opinon of her commitment, both to the cause of peace and to the working class. We need more people to be open-minded about supporting Respect in the same way as Alice is. My great hope is that people will realise there is too much at stake – not least the assault on ordinary people via the cuts – to allow anything to stand in the way of a really strong campaign that fights for social justice.
Meeting up in Hilton House – the Respect Party rooms just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly station – is a perfect location right in the constituency. From there, our teams started to work through Bradford ward. I leafleted the streets by the Velodrome - the home patch of Bradley Wiggins who had just had such great Olympic success. Manchester City Council’s State of the Wards report makes disturbing reading. The Bradford area of Manchester Central is the most deprived ward in the city as a whole, not just in Central constituency. And walking round, it’s clear to see where the Council needs to prioritise spending and resources to improve the lives of the residents. Investement in housing is essential for the people in this area.
This is what the campaign is about. Britain is a wealthy country – there is no shortage of money, for investment, for meeting people’s needs. It’s a question of who chooses the spending priorities and in whose interests. The trend for decades now has been away from the redistribution of society’s wealth to working people - via spending on homes, jobs, education and health – and towards the wealthy in society. They are taking back everything that we have won since 1945 and the foundation of the welfare state. We have to stop this process and reverse it. It will be a struggle, not least because the Labour Party has lost its way and fails to defend its great achievements. But it is a struggle that must be won, because it is about the right for everyone to live decent lives and fulfil their potential.
On Friday I’m speaking at a BARAC meeting in Moss Side, the focus of which is one of the great injustices blighting our society – deaths in police custody.