Greater Manchester

Salford twin challenge

The Socialist Alliance?s general election campaign in Salford, where Peter Grant of the CPGB is our candidate, is to be bolstered by a simultaneous challenge in a Salford city council by-election. Gary Duke of the Socialist Workers Party has been selected to fight the seat in Ordsall ward, made vacant by the death of a Labour councillor.

Ordsall and neighbouring Pendleton are two inner city wards, whose working class populations have been hammered since the end of capitalism?s post-war long boom. High unemployment and consequent depopulation has brought forward a twin strategy from the bourgeoisie, which has been enthusiastically implemented by the leadership of the Labour Party-controlled council. Alongside an attempt to repopulate, notably in Ordsall?s former docks area, with middle class professionals - the so called ?yuppies? - there has been an almost total clear-out of public service provision.

Despite the city having some of the worst health statistics in Europe, a subject that was recently the focus of a television documentary, an early victim of the cuts was the Salford Royal hospital. The building is now under redevelopment as luxury flats, with selling prices of up to ?250,000. Nearby, a site is being cleared for the construction of an artificial ski slope. Meanwhile, the council has earmarked Pendleton?s Clarendon leisure centre and swimming pool for closure. Ordsall ward already has no community leisure facilities left and its library is threatened with the axe.

The death of the Ordsall councillor precipitated a candidate selection process which provided a wonderful example of the political role played by the Labour Party in areas like Salford. Parents, staff and pupils have campaigned vigorously against closure of Windsor High. They received the formal support of the chair of the school governors, Sue Slater. But, lo and behold, no sooner does Ms Slater become the Labour candidate for Ordsall than she announces her conversion. Windsor High must close, she now advocates, for ?humanitarian? reasons: since the uncertainty is producing too much stress in all concerned, it must be brought to an end. One is left hoping that, in the event she survives the Socialist Alliance challenge, Slater does not become chair of social services, where she might start thinking about ?humanitarian? solutions for the city?s elderly care home residents, equally worried by the uncertainties associated with their pending privatisation.

John Pearson

Back the SA

Public meeting, Thursday May 31, 7pm, Broadwalk library (opposite Salford precinct). Speakers: Peter Grant (Salford parliamentary candidate) and Gary Duke (Ordsall council by-election candidate)