Wigan Borough Green Socialists are pleased to announce they will be contesting the local elections on Thursday 3rd May for the Atherton Ward of Wigan MBC.
Their candidate will be Leigh UNITE the Union Branch Chair, and GMATUCs President, Stephen Hall who has fought the elections for Atherton Ward Councillor on three previous occasions. His highest vote so far is 655 and a respectable 10.8% of the poll in 2010. On a much reduced turnout in 2011 he won 322 votes and a 9% share.
He hopes to do better this time against a Tory, Labour and ‘Independent’ candidate. The Council seat up for grabs in May, is currently held by former Wigan Lib-Dem Group leader Bob Splaine, who following his ousting from that job, became an ‘Independent’ and re-won the seat with 976 votes in 2008 on a 31.4% turnout. He is not standing again, and will be supporting a novice ‘Independent’ candidate who won 852 votes in 2010 on a 57% turnout. The total Ward electorate is one of the largest in Wigan Borough with close to 11,000 voters.
With Labour on the back foot, in what was once one of the safest Labour seats in the Borough, and a strong campaign on our part, a good result is potentially on the cards. If we witness anything like happened in Bradford West, then who knows we may even have our own ‘Atherton Spring’. We’ll know soon enough on the 4th May.
The overall policies he will be fighting on are documented throughout this Blog, as well as on the Stephen Hall for Atherton Facebook page. You might also want to check out his promo video, for last year, which he is using again this time. The only thing that needs changing on it is the date on the final caption. He will be making others during the election campaign, as well as statements on this Blog.
In terms of the key local and national issues, he will be focusing on opposition to the cuts in public spending, which Labour promise us more of the same of only ‘less deep’ and over a longer period.
Also, fighting for massive public investment into the Wigan area to create new sustainable ‘Green’ jobs as proposed by the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign, as well as via building thousands of new high spec zero carbon Council houses, which will also tackle the problem of increasing homelessness amongst local people.
He will also be critical of Labour’s general betrayal of the ordinary people of Atherton over decades and the mess they have created, in terms of secondary education provision, which has seen the closure of Hesketh Fletcher High School without its replacement by a better, joint community and local authority run school as called for by the Atherton Demands Its Own High School campaign. The resulting added pressure on places at nearby Fred Longworth High School, has resulted in its conversion into an Academy, and the potential opening of one of the first Tory Free Schools in Greater Manchester, at the unsuitable site of Atherton Town Hall, this September.
The ‘Free School’ project now being ‘sold’ as a ‘Community School’ is wholeheartedly supported by Bolton West Tory hopeful, and ex-Trafford Council leader Susan Williams and Atherton’s so-called ‘Independent’ Councillors. They ironically welcomed Fred Longworth’s conversion to Academy, only to see this result in the exclusion of children from Atherton, due to the number wanting places at living in Tyldesley, which is where it is actually situated. So much for them assisting local parental choice of schools.
On a practical level, inspired by Wigan’s Gerrard Winstanley at the 17th Century ‘Diggers‘, and because we believe only a collective community response, can meet the challenges of potentially several decades of main party austerity (each of them wanting to manage an unjust and unmanageable, crises ridden and rotten Capitalist system) we have also put forward a number of community co-operative proposals, including setting up a co-operative ‘community farm’, which might utilise unused Council, ‘waste’ and other land we might be able to obtain via ‘landshare’ agreements to grow our own food. From tiny acorns, don’t they say?
Also a renewable energy generation co-op, and Direct Labour Agency co-op. We are also suggesting greater use of credit unions as a better alternative to door step loan sharks and the likes of Wonga.com.
While perhaps only a partial ‘stop gap’, until such times as a fundamental change in the national political situation is forthcoming, which seems some way off right now, these ideas might at least help our community better address rising food prices, energy bills and the increasing cost of credit, than any left-wing newspaper article. They are also surely better ideas than our simply doing nothing, and/or just moaning about the economic and financial mess, we unfortunately find ourselves as a country, as a community, as families and as individuals, and which is also not of our own making.
We also think such practical proposals, along with seeking to defend what we still have, will more likely engage local people in changing their own conditions of existence, and the way we live under Capitalism, and will more likely raise their confidence, and consciousness of what needs doing, than any amount of propagandising for Socialism, and a fairer, more equal, democratic and socially just society BY ITSELF ever will. THAT’S EITHER BY US, OR ANYONE ELSE on the political Left.
Our efforts in Atherton will also be part of the national effort of the Trades Unionist & Socialist Coalition, which Wigan Green Socialists are affiliated to, which seeks to provide a national and local political alternative to the main parties in the elections, prepared to stand up and fight for the vast majority of the population, rather than a tiny privileged few.
You can help support our campaign, by helping to distribute leaflets, door-to-door canvassing, putting a poster up in your window or by making a financial contribution of £5, £10 or even £20. Whatever amount it is, it will all help. PLEASE SEND CHEQUES MADE PAYABLE TO STEPHEN HALL to 39 SPA ROAD, ATHERTON, MANCHESTER M46 9NR. Stephen is acting as his own agent and has already paid out £300 for the leaflets and is now skint. Tel: 07724 139 278 for any further info you might require.
THANKING YOU IN ANTICIPATION OF YOUR SUPPORT!