Socialists in Peterborough

08:20 Thursday 26th April 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridge

PAUL STAINTON: The local elections just a week away, and we’ve been talking to the various parties who have people standing in Peterborough. We’ve already heard from the Conservatives, the LibDems, Labour, UKIP. Earlier we had Fiona Radic of the Green Party on, suggesting a 20mph speed limit across the city. And there are also two socialist party candidates standing this time around.Stephen Woodbridge is one of them, and I spoke to him earlier. (TAPE)
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: We are the British Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
PAUL STAINTON: What does that mean?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: It was an organisation founded by Leon Trotsky, who was the co-leader of the Russian revolution. And he founded this organisation against the monstrous bureaucracy that had grown up in the USSR under Stalin.
PAUL STAINTON: So you see parallels now, do you?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: We’ve met many, very many. Yes. Everywhere there’s economic crisis within the capitalist system.
PAUL STAINTON: I thought socialism was a spent force, a dead idea, a dead ideal.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Well a lot of people in the press and the media try to equate socialism with the Soviet Union, which had been distorted by the Stalinist bureaucracy.
PAUL STAINTON: Is there anywhere that socialism’s working?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Well is there anywhere that capitalism’s working?
PAUL STAINTON: Good answer.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Socialism hasn’t been completely integrated into any society throughout the world yet.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So let’s just get it clear what you stand for.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: We stand for the nationalisation of the banks in particular, for the use of these huge resources that they’ve accumulated through reaping a profit from workers’ labour over the years, and use those resources to reinvest in things like education, health service, housing. We would institute a huge public works programme that would benefit everybody, instead of the multi-billionaires sitting on this huge payoff that governments have given to them.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re also anti-war. Is that right?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Definitely anti-war.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Definitely all war.
PAUL STAINTON: How can you say that though? Sometimes wars are justified, aren’t they?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Not really. They’ve arisen ..
PAUL STAINTON: What, Hitler .. the war against Hitler’s not justified?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Where did Hitler arise from? He arose out of the necessity for German capitalism to break out of its borders. It was because it was becoming a very productive force and a rival to France, Britain, and ..
PAUL STAINTON: But you wouldn’t have gone to war against them.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: To be quite honest, we wouldn’t have allowed the US banks .. I think it was Morgan Stanley that gave the Hitler party a million and a half loan for their purposes of building their party.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re standing in Bretton, are you, Bretton North? The people of Bretton North, if they vote for you, are they voting for something bigger? Could there be a hope that you would one day influence national policy?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: International policy. We’re an international movement. We’ve sections of our party through most of the industrialised countries of the world.
PAUL STAINTON: What could you do in Peterborough though? How could you make a diffeerence at Peterborough Town Hall?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Obviously if we take the finances that the banks have stolen from us ..
PAUL STAINTON: well you can’t do that in local politics, can you? What I’m trying to get at is how do you influence what happens inside Peterborough City Council?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Well you say you can’t do that in local politics, look at what the Government are doing.
PAUL STAINTON: Well you can’t take money from banks, can you? It’s not possible.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Not immediately, we couldn’t do that. But certainly that’s our perspective, and that’s what workers are very much taking heed of, and very much appreciating and supporting. There’s a great recognition that they have had this huge turnaround by the governments that have given money to the banks to finance their illegal gambling basically.
PAUL STAINTON: What I’m trying to get to is if you were elected by the people of Bretton North, what would be the first thing you would do? What would be top of your agenda, once you got into the Peterborough City Council chamber, and you tried to influence policy making there?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Well first of all I’d expose the corruption that exists. It exists at all levels in politics.
PAUL STAINTON: What? In Peterborough City Council?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Yes. There’s deals that are done between the main parties under the counter.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you have proof?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: I would expose that.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you have proof?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: There are things that have happened certainly. I’m not going to ..
PAUL STAINTON: Well don’t please, well not without any proof anyway.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: It happens in all levels of politics.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. So you’d bring that to the fore. That would be the first thing you’d do.
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Without a doubt.
PAUL STAINTON: What have people been telling you when you’ve been knocking on their doors, campaigning?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Well it’s horrendous, the levels of poverty that exist in Peterborough. Unless you go round and actually speak to workers on the doorsteps, there’s no way that you would know. Because certainly the local press doesn’t speak about it, and it’s not overtly recognised. So that is one of the first things that we’ll try to redress.
PAUL STAINTON: When you knock on the door, and you say to people, I’m from the Socialist Equality Party, do they even know what that is, or do they just say, who?
STEPHEN WOODBRIDGE: Occasionally they remark the same as you did, never heard of you. But a short explanation and our aims and objectives register very strongly in the working class.
PAUL STAINTON: Well, Stephen Woodbridge, who’s a socialist, and standing in the Bretton North constituency. Is socialism back on the rise? Because Mark Cooke is standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialists Against the Cuts in Orton Longueville. Morning, Mary.
MARY COOKE: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you concur with a lot of what Stephen Woodbridge was saying there?
MARY COOKE: I absolutely concur. When you go round to the .. and as Marco Cereste has just mentioned about what a very good place Peterborough is to be in, well we’re certainly looking at the trees, the plants, the rest of it .. but go round and ask. I last went around, I was supporting Labour at the time, and the difference in the areas now, you wouldn’t believe.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s the difference between you and Labour Mary? What’s the difference between you and Labour?
MARY COOKE: Well there is a difference in that .. you may have heard Mr Miliband, well you may not have heard but he said just the other evening on Newsnight, there will be cuts, but he didn’t quite know which cuts. And we’re saying, no cuts, the money is there, no cuts.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you think you’ve got a chance? Do you think you could be one day running this council Mary?
MARY COOKE: It won’t be in my lifetime, will it, if we’re realistic? What I’m saying .. I don’t even think it’s worth laughter that one. I think the situation is becoming desperate for many many people. From the start of the new financial year you’ve got over 850,000 families who will lose all their child tax credits worth at least £545. Families on the lowest incomes will be hit the hardest.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. We know all that, but what can you do in Peterborough Mary, if you get in the Council? What can you do?
MARY COOKE: What we need to do is to tell people. They’re desperate for some sort of hope that they will be possibly lifted out of the position in which they find themselves. We have got to give people hope. When I go round I couldn’t believe it, I tell you. You can’t believe it. The BBC needs to get out into these areas quite frankly.
PAUL STAINTON: Well you tell us where to go Mary, we’ll be there.
MARY COOKE: Come to Orton Goldhay. Come to Orton Malbourne. Go around and listen to what people are saying.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. Well listen Mary. We wish you all the best. What’s the first thing you’re going to do if you get elected?
MARY COOKE: If I get elected, do something about this Orton Centre.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. Mary, thank you for that. Mary Cooke, who’s atanding for the Trade Unionist and Socialists Against the Cuts in Orton Longueville. She’ll be standing against Lisa Forbes of Labour, Alan Fromm of UKIP, and Pieter Smit Conservatives. Before that you heard from Steve Woodbridge who’s atanding in Bretton North for the Socialist Equality Party. He’s up against Daniel Bird for the Conservatives, Frances Fox for UKIP, Pat Nash, Peterborough Independents, Malcolm Pollock the Liberal Democrats and Ann Sylvester Labour.