As the Rotherham by-election hots up, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Ralph Dyson is taking his campaign to the streets.
Ralph led the successful strike last year at the local Rawmarsh Community School against compulsory redundancies. He told Socialist Worker he is standing “against cuts, corruption and racism”.
The big issues the campaign is tackling include 750 job cuts at Rotherham hospital, but also the expenses scandal that brought down former Labour MP Denis MacShane.
The fallout from this continues inside the Labour Party locally. “They had Labour members walk out after having another candidate thrust on them,” says Ralph. “They’re sick of it.” TUSC has put out an open letter to try to involve disillusioned Labour activists in the campaign.
And the campaign is also challenging fascists who have targeted the town over sexual exploitation of children that was blamed on “Pakistani culture”.
Ralph is clear that abuse should be investigated, including the allegations of abuse rings inside the establishment. “But when the EDL gets involved, the people of Rotherham don’t want that,” he says. “That’s why they came out in big numbers against them.”
For Ralph, it is this focus on working class campaigning that is key. In contrast to the big parties he is running a grassroots campaign, talking to ordinary people in the town. He says he will take only a worker’s wage if elected.
“We’re doing a stall every day on Rotherham Market,” he says. “Then we’re canvassing at the weekends, we’ve been round the estates, and we’re doing workplace canvassing as well, mosques, schools, everywhere we can.
“I’m a teacher, I’ve had all sorts of jobs, I’ve been on the dole. I know what it’s about—it’s about working class values.” The election is on Thursday of next week.