Low-key campaign

The Socialist Alliance campaign for the May 2 council elections in Greater Manchester has, to date, been an extremely low-key event. Eighteen seats are being contested - five in South Manchester, three in North Manchester, three in Bolton, two each in Oldham, Salford and Rochdale and one in Bury. The campaigns are being run from five of the six SA branches - North and South Manchester, Bolton, Oldham and Salford. There is no SA candidacy in Wigan. Although a coordinating committee of delegates from the six branches exists, convened by the Socialist Workers Party's John Baxter, there has been very little apparent in the way of the hoped-for results. No equivalent of the all-London activists meeting has taken place here and, although many former GMSA activists live in boroughs without an SA branch, no appeal has been sent to these comrades for help in the election work, either physical or financial. Incredibly, the April issue of Left Turn, the newsletter of the Socialist Alliance in Greater Manchester, edited by coordinating committee member Clive Searle, makes no mention whatsoever of any election campaign activities in the region. It contains no appeal and gives no contact details for agents or organisers. All of the SA branches in Greater Manchester are numerically dominated by and, as a consequence, led by the SWP and there can be no doubt that the lacklustre effort that has been put into the election action so far is primarily attributable to that organisation's attitude towards the Socialist Alliance. For instance, in the South Manchester ward of Levenshulme, on the last but one Saturday before polling day, no SWP members at all turned up to help with the campaign work, which was carried by a team of four - the candidate, Sabrina Nutter, and one comrade each from the CPGB, the International Socialist League and the Worker-communist Party of Iraq. The SWP's comrades, we were told, had prioritised Palestinian solidarity activities elsewhere in the city, together with a meeting of the Marxist Forum, an SWP proprietorial initiative to avoid political discussion and debate under the SA banner. John Pearson