David Henry is a 26-year-old Salford youth worker whose campaigning history represents everything that a career politician is not.
He has a track record of involvement in politics as a formidable gay rights activist. At 16 he set up the Queer Youth Network, which now has more than 18,000 members. He has also been co-chair of Salford’s Youth Council for the past four years. This independent advocacy and campaign group aims to give young people in Salford a voice. Henry stresses the group’s independence: ‘It is totally run by young activists. We have fought hard to resist interference from the council.’
What brought him to running for parliament, though, was the expenses scandal – and, more to the point, the behavior of Salford MP Hazel Blears. When Blears was thrust into the spotlight over her second home claims, a group of Salfordians, spearheaded by local radical rag the Salford Star, began the ‘Hazel Must Go’ campaign to oust her from office.
David Henry explains: ‘The campaign is run mostly by community organisers from Salford. There are trade unionists and left wing activists but it’s non-party political. I got involved as soon as the expenses scandal broke. We tried to perform a citizens’ arrest on Blears – we even had a mock charge sheet – but she escaped by the back door.’
The campaign is going from strength to strength. It receives more than 100 emails a day from sympathisers, supporters and the press.
Henry is philosophical about the expenses scandal. ‘There will always be scandal in politics. It shocked people more due to the financial crisis. It is the tip of the iceberg for the government – it shows how corrupt and greedy politicians have become. They seem to have a sense of entitlement once elected.’
Henry’s platform runs deeper than just ousting the incumbent. He is also backing the Charter for Salford, a document based around the People’s Charter, a national petition demanding a fairer Britain for working people. It includes pledges to protect the NHS, stop the closure of hospitals and schools, oppose privatisation and invest in sustainable social housing.
‘I want to restore the voice of the working class that Labour has failed to provide for us,’ says David Henry. ‘At times Blears was taking home £140,000 a year. I would take the average public sector wage and donate the rest to Salford through a community trust.’
Supporters range from young women in Langworthy to builders in central Salford. The BNP recently confronted him on a street stall, calling him a ‘communist’, which he says ‘isn’t really much of an insult’. He insists, ‘We’ll support minority groups and defend asylum seekers. The BNP is dropping a candidate in from Cockermouth but he has no real grass-roots support.’
David Henry and the Hazel Must Go campaign will soon find out how much support they can mobilise in what is turning into a lively and interesting campaign.
Among David’s supporters is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc), the general election coalition formed by supporters of the No2EU coalition that contested last year’s European election. No2EU marked the first time for a century that a major trade union – the RMT – had formally backed a slate of candidates against Labour.
This time Tusc doesn’t have the backing of the RMT, and the Communist Party of Britain has also departed. Nevertheless, RMT general secretary Bob Crow continues to support the coalition, as do other prominent trade unionists. It also brings together the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) and the Socialist Workers Party for the first time since the implosion of the Socialist Alliance.
Many candidates are backed by local RMT union branches, and the coalition’s ‘umbrella’ is wide enough to also include campaigns like Hazel Must Go.
Tusc probably won’t be winning too many seats in the election – but its supporters argue that it is important to raise the banner of socialist ideas in a climate where all the mainstream parties share an agenda of cuts to public services.
Power 2010 is a coalition of democracy, constitutional reform and civil liberties campaigns. Its five pledges have been established through broad public consultation and online voting, with more than 100,000 people having participated.
To get its backing, candidates are required to support at least three of the proposals voted for by its supporters. These are: proportional representation; no to ID cards/scrap the database state; a written constitution; English votes for English laws; and a democratically elected second chamber.
The PCS civil service workers’ union is identifying marginal seats where workers face closures, or where key government ministers are standing, and inviting all candidates to a ‘question time’. PCS will be asking candidates of all parties where they stand in respect of five key pledges on public services: cuts and privatisation, pensions, equality, national pay bargaining and the closure of tax loopholes for the rich.
The Equality Trust, set up by campaigners around the book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, is asking candidates to sign its ‘One Society’ pledge ‘for policies designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor’.
And the Electoral Reform Society will be visiting safe seats offering photo opportunities with its ‘candidate’ – a donkey wearing a rosette.
Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Amandla Thomas-Johnson over the phone from Brazil. Here is what he had to say on the War on Terror, Trump, and the 'special relationship'
Andrew Dolan on how the left must match the anti-establishment rhetoric of the right, but with a different politics
In the first of a series of interviews with migrants' rights and racial justice activists from the US, Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Peter Pedemonti, co-founder and director of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
In 1972 David Widgery wrote about the bitter intensity of love in capitalism
Emma Snaith speaks with directors Emer Mary Morris and Nina Scott about the power of theatre to encourage community resistance to estate demolitions.
Photos from The World Transformed festival in Liverpool, by David Walters
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform
Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out
Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History