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Andy Newman, North Swindon, Socialist Unity

link / contact details for potential supporters
01793 520903

what do you think is the most important issue in this election?
The failure of the left to set the terms of the debate. Despite the fact that the Tories are discredited they have managed to place immigration and crime at the forefront. The continued legal restriction on trade unions, privatisation and neo-liberalism, the assault on pensions, and  climate change are not on the radar for most people, even though these have huge effect on the lives of working class people. Even the war in Iraq is only an issue with a minority of people.

why did you make the decision to stand in this constituency and for this party (as an independent)?
We are standing in North Swindon as part of a local deal with the Greens who are standing in South Swindon. I would have preferred to stand for the Socialist Alliance, as we had used that name in previous elections, but that organisation was prematurely killed off. I have no desire to stand for Respect, as I believe that organisation is undemocratic, and no lasting progressive organisation can be built in that way- quite apart from that I want to put the word socialist on the ballot paper. I think the name Respect is 100% cringe making.

what kind of vote are you expecting on May 5th?
Anything over 1% would be a good result given the way minor parties are squeezed both by the media and the first past the post system.

aside from the vote what are you hoping to get out of this campaign?
We want to solidify the good results we have had in local council elections (average 10% in the wards we stand in) and I hope we will meet some new people. It also allows us to challenge the political priorities of New Labour. We know our leaflets have caused a stir among some local Labour activists, not least because they agree with everything we say!

in your view what is the greatest threat to our civil liberties at the moment?
House arrest without trial and the acceptance of evidence gained under torture. I have to pinch myself that these are the product of  a Labour government. However, I am also strongly opposed to the ban on smoking in public places which I regard as an illiberal interference on how we lead our lives. The health risks of passive smoking to bar staff can be adequately dealt with by enforcing ventilation standards on pub owners, and not allowing smoking at the bar itself.

Blair has taken us to war three times since coming to power (not including the occasional ad hoc bombing raid) in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Can war ever be justified?
War is a product of imperialism, the stage of capitalism where the world is dominated by huge corporations, and where the major powers will use military pressure to promote their trade interests. Imperial war leads to its asymmetrical opposite: resistance from the oppressed. I oppose imperialism and imperialist war, but I support the military struggle of those opposing imperialism. For example the Cuban involvement in the Angolan civil war was progressive, and their defeat of the South Africans at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 was a significant turning point in the international fight against Apartheid. So yes, wars of resistance can be justified.

There is very little left to privatise in this country, if you had your way
what would be brought into public hands?
Start with transport, and keep on going! I note that the Lib Dems have a policy of privatising the Royal Mint, they found the last publicly owned thing worth privatising. Given the success rate of previous privatisations, if this went ahead we would probably end up bartering chickens! Perhaps they should also consider privatising the Royal Family? The next head of state could be put out to tender - perhaps Mohammed Fayed would make the biggest offer, I am sure he would do as good a job as the Windsors.

Some environmental campaigners have started talking about nuclear power as a way to bring down CO2 emissions - what do you think of this?
CO2 emissions can be cut be promoting more energy efficient transport, state assistance for lagging roofs, etc. Nuclear energy is inherently unsafe and there is no safe way of disposing of the waste.

Asylum and immigration will be central issues in this election. What action on this issue would you like to see the next government push through?

I would like to see refugees eligible for the same level of benefit as everyone else, and allowed to work. But I would dearly love to see the government actively campaigning to explain the benefits of immigration to the economy and the cultural life of the country, and also defend the importance of us offering asylum to desperate people fleeing war, persecution or poverty. Often fleeing from the effects of the policies promoted by the US, UK and other western governments.

What question do you wish was on this list but doesn't appear?
I am very interested in peoples' views about Venezuela, which I think is very exciting. But more practically, what would candidates do about Rover? Personally I think it should be nationalised and subsidised as a centre for designing and producing very low emission cars, lorries and buses, and there should be tax incentives for people to switch to them.


April 2005



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