Victorian Socialists’ campaign gearing up

“It’s the left that have been the backbone of the same sex marriage debate; we were the backbone of stopping the East-West tunnel; we’re the backbone of fighting for workers’ rights and for public housing tenants. 

“We’re fed up with being political suckers. We’re fed up with doing all this community work, all this mass campaigning, and then come election time, the Greens and the Labor Party get the progressive vote in Victoria. That’s got to change. We need to shake up the system and get a socialist into parliament.”

That was Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly speaking to ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine a day after the Victorian Socialists submitted our party registration papers to the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The new party, which is an alliance of socialist organisations (including Socialist Alternative, publisher of Red Flag), community activists and left wingers, aims to win a spot in the five-member upper house electorate of Northern Metropolitan, which stretches from the CBD out to the outer northern fringe of Melbourne.

More than 800 people have signed up as members, and we hope that many more will sign up to the campaign in the coming months. Setting up the structures of the party and establishing an office, organising our registration application and putting basic infrastructure in place is now largely complete.

We have now moved into the next phase of the campaign, which is mobilising our supporters to get out there and win support.

Victorian Socialists campaigners have been out and about handing out leaflets and talking to people at community festivals and events across the Northern Metropolitan electorate and at political rallies and meetings.

Our message is that a socialist in parliament would be a voice for all those ignored by the established political parties. 

The north of the electorate is Labor heartland, but the ALP has let it rot for decades. Labor politicians in places such as Broadmeadows, Thomastown, Pascoe Vale and Craigieburn treat the people who elected them with contempt, and are interested only in hobnobbing with corporate lobbyists in Spring Street, climbing the greasy pole in the ALP or pork-barrelling in marginal bayside seats. 

They have done nothing to deal with crumbling infrastructure or out of control unemployment – a scandalous 25 percent in Broadmeadows – that plagues the north.

In the inner city parts of the electorate – places such as Brunswick, Northcote and Richmond – the rise of the Greens has challenged Labor. But the Greens are increasingly seen – and rightly so – as simply another part of the political establishment.

A Victorian Socialist parliamentarian would take a strong stand on progressive social issues such refugees, racist policing and drug reform. But, unlike the Greens, socialists see those issues in a broader framework of class inequality and class struggle. That’s why we were at the Trades Hall mass delegates meeting at Melbourne Town Hall on 17 April, with a leaflet titled “A socialist in parliament would be a voice for every union struggle”.

“Every time the Herald Sun does a hatchet job on the CFMEU or the firefighters, Stephen will be there to tell the truth and expose the lies”, the leaflet said.

“If a Labor government is selling workers short, or playing hard ball in negotiations with public sector unions, Stephen will be there demanding that Labor act like the pro-union party it claims to be.

“When industrial disputes break out, Stephen will be down on the picket lines and building support.”

The next major event for the Victorian Socialists is our campaign launch on Saturday 12 May, 7pm at the Grace Darling Hotel on Smith Street, Collingwood.

This will be an opportunity to meet our candidates, discover more about the campaign, and get involved. At the launch you can sign up for volunteer training, get involved in a local group (there are 11 across the electorate), or join a policy or other campaign committee. 

Whatever aspect of campaigning you are interested in – whether it’s letterboxing, staffing campaign stalls, being involved in policy development or helping reach out to other community organisations – there is a role for you to play. And if you have no idea what kind of campaigning you are interested in but want to help, the launch is the place to talk to one of our campaign coordinators about what you can do!