LONDON — Pamela Holmes, the Communist League candidate for mayor of the borough of Tower Hamlets, East London, took her communist campaign to an area where residents are demanding the borough council improve the safety of their homes. Their efforts follow the deaths of 71 people at a fire at Grenfell Tower in West London last June where authorities failed to take measures that could have prevented the rapid spread of the inferno.
The fire was fed by cladding on the building’s exterior that the council knew was a hazard, but did nothing about, creating a death trap. Tens of thousands of other workers around the country continue to live in similar housing. Tower Hamlets residents have presented petitions calling on the council to inspect the cladding on the blocks where they live and immediately install sprinklers.
Joined by campaign supporters, Holmes knocked on doors Feb. 10 to talk to workers in Tower Hamlets.
“Neither Conservative nor Labour parties have an answer to the political and moral crisis of the capitalist rulers,” Holmes told construction worker Segree Hall when he answered the door. “That’s why the Communist League explains that workers need to organize independently of them and build a movement of millions that can take power from the U.K.’s capitalist rulers.”
“There are plenty of construction workers around here who could do all the work that’s needed but the jobs go to workers at the big companies,” Hall said. With some 1.4 million people out of work according to government figures, workers are forced to compete with each other to try to make a living.
“Working people need to find ways to overcome the competition for jobs as we fight to meet the need for safe homes,” Holmes said. “The Communist League fights for a public works program to put millions back to work at union-scale wages to make the repairs and build the houses, hospitals and other facilities workers need.” Hall set an appointment for Holmes to come back to talk further and to take a look at the CL’s literature.
Supporters of the campaign also introduced the party’s revolutionary course as they joined thousands demonstrating here Feb. 3 against declining health care from the country’s National Health Service. The campaign table displayed placards, including two that read: “It’s not who you’re against it’s what you’re for! Workers must take political power!” and “Organize all workers — agency and permanent, native born and foreign born! Amnesty for undocumented workers!”
For lack of sufficient government funding thousands of people have had “nonurgent” surgeries canceled this winter, and there has been a shortage of beds with many patients kept waiting in ambulances outside hospitals. In January Accident and Emergency doctors wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May complaining that patients were dying in corridors while waiting for treatment.
The demonstration was called by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together under the banner: “NHS in crisis: Fix it now.” The People’s Assembly says the answer is to throw out the ruling Conservative Party and replace it with Labour.
“I travel a lot,” Angus Ford, a film location worker attending the protest, told Holmes. “And every time I come back there are new stories about how the NHS has got worse. Might it not be better with a Labour Party government?”
“No, Labour promises to protect the NHS and make capitalism ‘fairer.’ But it’s not just a matter of putting more funds into health care,” Holmes replied. “Under capitalism health care, like everything else, is a commodity that’s bought and sold for profit. In these conditions there will always be a class-divided crisis of health care for working people.
“Workers here must look to our own capacities like the toilers in Cuba who overthrew capitalist rule, ending its dog-eat-dog social relations, and set out to build a society based on human solidarity and the needs of the toiling majority,” Holmes said. She pointed to the decisive role played by Cuban doctors and medical staff in eliminating Ebola in West Africa. Ford picked up a subscription to the Militant to follow the campaign.
The Communist League is also running Hugo Wils for Tameside Council and Catharina Tirsén for Manchester City Council.