Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – 2021 election eve special

Our roundup of the progressive news you might have missed this week…

An election special of your weekly dose of under-reported news, in no particular order… 

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10. A former Labour candidate for Aberconwy’s Senedd seat has called on people in the constituency to vote for Plaid Cymru’s Aaron Wynne to stop the Tories.

Eifion Williams was Labour’s candidate in 2011 for the marginal seat that is a hotly contested two horse race between Plaid Cymru and the Conservative party.

Now he says Labour voters should back Aaron Wynne to kick the Tories out of Aberconwy.

In 2016 Plaid came within 754 votes of unseating the incumbent Janet Finch-Saunders, now Plaid’s Aaron Wynne hopes to better that performance by winning in Thursday’s vote.

Williams said: “People in the constituency have been let down for the last ten years by their Tory MS. And by the Tory run council… The only way to get rid of the Tories in Aberconwy is to vote for Aaron Wynne on Thursday. If you vote for Aaron the only thing you have to lose is a bad Tory MS.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Aaron Wynne said: “This is an incredibly tight race. And we really need something to change in Aberconwy. We need a representative who understands what people struggle with everyday.

“We need a proper and fair housing system that works for the people and not the landlords, we need fair wages for the people who keep our economy and vital services going and we need a strong voice who will stand up to the establishment. That’s why I’m grateful for Eifion’s support and the support of so many Labour voters across Aberconwy.”

9. Keir Starmer will campaign across England today joining Labour candidates in three key mayoral races: West Yorkshire, West Midlands and West of England.

On the eve of the largest set of elections ever held outside of a general election, Starmer urged voters across the UK to back Labour candidates who will be “strong voices for our towns and cities, our regions and nations” and will stand up to a Conservative Government in Westminster “more interested in providing favours to friends than backing Britain’s communities.”

Throughout the campaign, Labour’s focus has been on ‘creating jobs, tackling crime, protecting the NHS and exposing Tory sleaze’. Since restrictions have eased in March, Starmer has visited 65 events on the campaign trail ahead of Thursday’s elections, clocking up 7,500 miles.

Ahead of the final day of campaigning before polling day, Starmer praised all three candidates for running “energetic and ambitious campaigns.” Highlighting the Party’s ambition for each area, the candidates have committed to:

  • Bring buses back under public control and simplify fares for West Yorkshire under Tracy Brabin’s leadership.
  • Introduce an extra 450 community police officers to boost police numbers and make our streets safer for West Midlands under Liam Byrne’s leadership.
  • Create 23,000 new green jobs for the West of England under Dan Norris’s leadership.

Labour leader Keir Starmer  said: “Across the UK, if you want strong voices for our towns and cities, our regions and nations, then vote for Labour candidates. They will stand up against a Conservative Government in Westminster which is more interested in providing favours to friends than backing Britain’s communities.

“This is a different Labour Party, under new leadership…Let’s make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old, whoever you are and wherever you live.”

8. The Socialist Party-backed Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition have set out their stall for London’s most hipster council seat.

TUSC candidate Chris Newby is running against the Labour-dominated council, in Hackney’s Hoxton East and Shoreditch ward. He told LFF: “We oppose all public sector cuts and campaign for the necessary full funding for all our public services. We have taken this message out wherever we can from our campaign stalls in Hoxton market, to striking workers at [letting agency] Goodlord and striking National Education Union members at Leaways School. From workers and patients at Homerton hospital to participants on and passers by to last Saturdays May Day demo in Hackney. 

“We have received a very positive response to our demands of no to gentrification, yes to mass council house building, for a 15% pay rise for all health and care workers and no to sham consultations. Hackney residents must be democratically involved in the decision making of the council.

“People in Hackney support our demand that the council should be leading a campaign to demand the necessary funding from central government to fully fund our public services and are angry that Hackney’s Labour council are ignoring them.” The council refuses to set an illegal ‘no cuts’ budget.  

Naomi Byron, TUSC candidate for Hackney’s King’s Park ward, added: “We have had a great response from the general public, from bus workers, health workers and many others. The idea of candidates who have to pledge to oppose all cuts really strikes a chord with people.”

The far-left party are running around 270 candidates in England’s elections, similar to Reform UK’s 285.

7. A man dressed as a bean will be standing next to first minister Mark Drakeford at the count this Thursday.

Count Beany is hoping the First Minister will ‘get canned’. He told LFF: “Your half-baked and full blown candidate Captain Beany from Planet Beanus has ‘bean’ on his fartastic mission to spread as much hap-BEAN-ess in Cardiffopolis.”

The veteran comedy candidate is celebrating his 30th  anniversary of standing for office by running against the Welsh leader in his Cardiff West constituency.

The Western Mail reported that Count Beany (born Barry Kirk) is a charity fundraiser from Port Talbot, who changed his name by deed poll in 1991, when he stood against Peter Hain.

6. Women’s Equality Party candidate and leader Mandu Reid says she will ringfence 5% of housing for women fleeing violence in London.

Mandu Reid said: “London is the epicentre of the national housing crisis, and this crisis ends up forcing women who leave their abusers to move away from their support networks and their children’s schools and nurseries.

“Not only does this make it much harder, logistically, to leave unsafe relationships, but it pushes women and their families into extended periods of insecurity and poverty. I’m proud of our ambitious housing policies which prioritise London’s most vulnerable women,” she said.

Domestic abuse is the third biggest cause of homelessness in the UK, and WEP says that unless the next London mayor tackles the housing crisis women will continue to be trapped at home with their abusers.

For every rough sleeper you see there are at least 12 households who are homeless. Most of those households are headed by single parents and 90% of single parent households are headed by women. A significant number have been made homeless by domestic abuse. 

WEP’s policy includes:

  • No woman turned away from safe refuge
  • 5% of new and existing housing ringfenced for women fleeing violence
  • 20% of the rough sleepers budget ringfenced for women
  • A strong social rent policy to put housing within reach of women
  • Negotiate an increase in housing allowance from central government

5. Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater will today underline the stakes at this election as they make the final pitch for votes.

The Scottish Greens say they have conducted a positive campaign for a green recovery from the pandemic and urgent action on the climate emergency.

Patrick Harvie said: “The stakes are high at this election. We’ve shown in our campaign that green voters made a real difference to the last five years, and can have a huge impact in the next five years as we face up to the bold decisions needed to tackle the climate emergency.

“We have a positive vision for Scotland. This is the time to take matters into our own hands, to build a Scotland that can lead Europe in tackling the climate emergency. But there is no time to lose. That’s why the time to vote green is now. It’s time to vote like our future depends on it.”

Lorna Slater said: “At this election, our future is at stake. Only the Scottish Greens have produced detailed plans to invest in a new deal for renewable energy, a new deal for workers and a new deal for nature. We can build a new Scotland together, but only if we vote for it.”

Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie will join local candidates in Edinburgh on the final day of the election campaign.

The Scottish Greens current hold sway in a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the SNP, and are expecting to increase their share of seats this Thursday.

4.  The Liberal Democrats have pledged to end fuel poverty in the Scottish Highlands.

Junior doctor David Gregg, Scottish Liberal Democrat Candidate for Inverness and Nairn, said both the Scottish and UK governments should ‘hang their heads in shame’ when they look at Highland fuel poverty figures.

One in three Highlanders are in fuel poverty, with one in five in extreme poverty. “In one of the coldest parts of the UK, people are having to choose between heating and eating. This is not right,” Dr Gregg wrote.

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats would double fuel poverty budgets. We would create 34,000 new jobs by offering full insulation to every home. We would cut 75% of energy usage in new homes by adopting the Passivhaus standard. Combined with our housing plans, this would mean a supply of cheap, green homes for the next generation of Highlanders.

“We would develop a low carbon heating programme, aiming to improve 80,000 homes a year. We would switch a million homes from mains gas to heat pumps by 2030. Both would save Highlanders’ money and save the planet by reducing carbon.

“The SNP’s current fuel poverty strategy is so unambitious it would take until 2040 and leave 1 in 20 households in fuel poverty. In Holyrood, they have delayed bringing in energy efficiency regulations for landlords. This means many tenants have spent the Covid pandemic living in homes with higher fuel costs than they need to. We would bring these regulations in, putting money back in renters’ pockets as should have happened already.”

3. The SNP – perhaps unsurprisingly – declared victory in the final leaders’ debate on the BBC last night.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “[This] final Leaders’ Debate showed that Nicola Sturgeon is the only credible candidate for First Minister at this election – with Labour and the Tories dodging important questions and setting out no clear vision for Scotland’s recovery.

“To ensure a strong recovery from Covid we need an experienced hand at the wheel, and bold, ambitious policies like a new National Care Service, more affordable homes, and action to tackle climate change and child poverty.

“These are serious times which require serious leadership – not opposition parties fighting amongst themselves for second place and dodging the serious questions voters want answered.

“Giving both votes to the SNP on Thursday will guarantee the strong, experienced leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, and a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic which works for every single person who lives here.”

2. Kim Long, a lead candidate for the Scottish Greens, says parties need to commit to welcoming refugees after this election, following dawn raids by the Home Office in Glasgow.

In a statement on Thursday, she said: “This Thursday’s Scottish Parliament will be a significant moment for many, including myself. But for too many people in Glasgow, and across Scotland, Thursday is just another day when they will have to live in fear of a hostile Home Office and the possibility of being ripped from the city they call home with the restarting of dawn raids 

“While politicians have travelled across Scotland, activists and charities in Glasgow are doing their best to protect some of our communities’ most vulnerable citizens from the inhumane treatment of the Home Office. 

“We need to be very clear that this is Tory politics in action – terrorising our friends and neighbours who call this city home. The UK Government must accept more asylum seekers, not attempt to remove them from their homes. 

“But in Scotland we must also do more to ensure our country is one which is a welcoming place for all. Dawn raids have no place here and Glasgow will stand up to this abhorrent behaviour, as it has in the past. This practice cannot go on, and a vote for the Scottish Greens on Thursday is a vote for the rights and protection of all people seeking safety and to rebuild their lives here.” 

1. Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has called for voters to rally behind a “transformational programme for government” on Thursday.

The pro-independence party leader said ‘ambition’ is needed to rebuild Wales’s economy and public services after the Covid pandemic.

Speaking on the eve of the Senedd Election, Adam Price said: “At this election more than any other, a vote for Plaid Cymru is a vote for hope. We refuse to believe that there is anything inferior about Wales that means we can’t thrive like other independent nations around the world.

“In contrast to Labour and the Tories’ “can’t do” attitude and their determination to put Westminster before Wales every time, we believe in our nation’s ability to solve its own problems.

“The Covid pandemic has demanded more of us in so many ways. More kindness, more patience, more strength, and more innovation. Now is the time to show more ambition than ever before to ensure that we meet the challenge of rebuilding our economy and public services.

“That is why Plaid Cymru is putting forward such a transformational programme for government to reflect the scale of change and ambition required to succeed.

“From creating up to 60,000 jobs and delivering 50,000 public homes, from offering free school meals to all primary pupils and free childcare from 24 months, and from training and recruiting 6,000 frontline NHS staff and cutting council tax for the average household, Plaid Cymru’s vision gives hope.”

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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