I spent most of May Day (the proper May Day, 1st May - workers day!) doing what a good socialist should be doing. I was out supporting a candidate in the local elections, someone who is actually a socialist and a committed local activist.
I could only wish she was a member of the Labour party, but good socialists are becoming a rare breed within that particular organisation. She is the Respect Party candidate for Tong ward, and her name is Sarah Cartin. And she is amazing - the Labour Party should be desperate to attract local councillors of her calibre.
As I went round the Holme Wood estate, a place I know very well having served as a priest there for 3 years, in became obvious to me that people felt let down by their current councillors. Whether they have the collective insight to vote for a relatively new party such as Respect remains to be seen. I'm just glad that at least there is an alternative from the left, and not just from the right.
The people of Holme Wood are the most friendly, down to earth, remarkable folk I have ever had the privilege to work with. Honest working class heroes living with the legacy of joblessness and low income that has become the norm in pockets of the North since the Thatcher years. They continue to build community and solidarity despite the sometimes harsh realities of estate life.
They deserve a good local councillor who really cares about the issues they face. I hope that if Labour get in again, they will represent the people vigorously and fight for better conditions on the estate. But I know that if Respect candidate Sarah Cartin gets in, then she will fight for ordinary people automatically, with great skill and with every fibre in her being.
On May Day, at least I can be grateful that such socialists of charactor still exist to defend the working class people of Holme Wood and beyond.