Monday, March 18, 2013

WA socialists say 'prepare for the fight'

In the WA election the Socialist Alliance ran in the seats of Perth, Fremantle and Willagee and won 0.9%, 1.2% and 2% of the vote respectively.

Willagee candidate Sam Wainwright said: "While small votes in absolute terms, for us they represent a modest increase and contain some important indicators."

Wainwright, a City of Fremantle councillor representing the Hilton ward, said that this was the first time the Socialist Alliance had run in Willagee, most of which has a more working-class character and more state housing tenants than Fremantle.

"While we're more well-known in Fremantle, Hilton ward is on the eastern edge of the city and falls in Willagee. In the Hilton Primary School booth we picked up 7% of the vote.

“Perhaps just as encouraging is that in the suburbs of Willagee, Coolbellup and Hamilton Hill we got between 1.8% and 2.4%, despite having little history in the area and just doing some letterboxing. It shows there is an audience out there for our message in favour of social housing, serious wealth redistribution and public ownership."

At the same time the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle and state housing tenant Sanna Andrew joined with others in the course of her campaign to form a network to defend the rights of tenants.

She said: "We're being attacked on a number of fronts. A long line of state governments, including the current one, have not sufficiently funded social housing. This has dramatically worsened the housing affordability crisis. We're the scapegoat in media discussion about crime in the community. We're sick of being talked about but not talked to."

In the face of doom and gloom among many progressive-minded people and jokes about seeking asylum in New Zealand, Wainwright encouraged people to put the result in perspective.

"Look there's no sugar coating the outcome,” he said. “In terms of the environment, human services, civil liberties and workers' rights it's a shit-house result. So we just have to organise to fight the good fight in our workplaces and communities, on the picket lines and in the streets."

"But let's face it, we'd have to do that even if Labor had won. They also support the mining billionaires. There's no easy way to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable future.

“We'll have to struggle like hell to win it from the billionaires, there's no other way. We in the West have to fight in the belly of the beast, that's our responsibility. So just get involved."

[Article written by Janet Parker for Green Left Weekly #958. Photo: Socialist Alliance candidate Sanna Andrew marching in the International Women's Day rally the day before the election.]