In a wide ranging interview for the North Devon Gazette Communist Party General Election Candidate Gerrard Sables explains why he is standing for parliament.
How long have you been in politics?
I joined the Communist Party in 1972 but have been involved since 1966. I joined because I was active in the trade union movement and against apartheid, the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons.
Why have you decided to stand for election?
I want to give the vote to people who believe in socialism. I will be different from all the other candidates as I am against the monarchy, House of Lords, the European Union, NATO and capitalism. I also hate xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and what Shakespeare’s Hamlet called “the insolence of office.”
What are the major issues facing North Devon between 2015-20?
The major issues here are the same as the major issues in the rest of the country namely poverty and inequality. The austerity agenda promotes poverty. The unemployed, the sick and disabled are victimised by the Tory press, by the Department of Work and Pensions and by the mean spirited which seek to limit the amount paid out.
What would you like to see done to combat these?
Let’s close the overseas tax havens and recruit more tax officers. Let’s restore the cuts- all of them. Let’s revoke all anti-trade union legislation and give workers the rights they deserve. Let’s make paying low wages a criminal offence. Let’s have free education, health and care from cradle to grave. Let us stop wasting money on nuclear weapons and let’s reduce our military spending per person to a European average.
How would your party deliver on this for the people of North Devon?
The people would have to claim these themselves. After the election we will still need widespread industrial action, occupations and demonstrations to carry out a left wing programme. A socialist government would support such actions not hinder them. The people must be involved in the decision making process in the workplaces and in their communities.
How much pressure do you think local services will come under should spending cuts continue? Can local authorities cope with these?
If we elect valiant and courageous people to our local councils and are prepared to back them up, cuts can be avoided.
Do you support or oppose further housing and renewable energy developments in the constituency? Why?
We need a large council house building programme and the obligation on councils to sell should be scrapped. Private tenancies should be taken over by councils and fair rents charged. Ten percent of average earnings ought to be more than enough to pay for rent, fuel and water. Tenants movements should be encouraged.
North Devon has renewable energy resources in abundance. We should use them. It is silly not to. Harnessing the wind waves and the sunshine could create climate jobs in the area and North Devon could export the energy.
How confident are you of a successful election campaign for your party, both locally and nationally?
Simply getting our points across and letting people know that there still is an active Communist Party is success enough at the moment. If we recruit members that will be a bonus. At the moment we have seven candidates including two members of the Young Communist League. Our candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport might well be the youngest in the country. Laura-Jane Rossington is 18.
In one sentence, what would you pledge to offer to the people of North Devon should you be elected?
Like fellow Communist MPs Sharpurji Saklatvala, WillieGallacher and Phil Piratin before me I would become a hard working, thoughtful and wise tribune of the people. If I am not elected I will continue the fight for peace, socialism and international solidarity.
Why should people give you their vote?
Anybody who is racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic should not give me their vote. Those votes I do not want.
If you are a Christian and believe in the Sermon on the Mount or if you are a Muslim and believe in the Prophet’s Final Sermon then voting Communist makes sense.
If you believe the European Union to be a gigantic protection racket but are not completely bonkers then you must vote Communist. If you believe that capitalism needs to end vote for me and get involved.
I am probably the only candidate to have organised a flying picket and to have been arrested for peace movement activity so if you want someone who has been fighting for peoples’ rights for four decades and who is not frightened of getting into trouble for it you should vote Communist.
What would you say to anyone thinking about not voting in May?
I hear non-voters say, “They’re all the same.” Well at least two of the candidates are not and you decide who the other one is and anyway those who don’t do politics can find that politics will do them.
Away from politics, give us a quirky fact about yourself?
I have played some of the most evil villains in pantomime. The late great Hamish Patrick tended to typecast me although the last time I trod the boards it was as the Dame.
Any other comments?
Let us treat people who come to live and work here from abroad a lot more decently. We Communists love immigrants. Karl Marx was an asylum seeker. Our first MP was an Indian. When a politician uses immigration to grub around for votes it encourages racism and the violence that goes with it.
Asylum seekers should be believed not treated as liars. They are denied benefits and the right to work. It’s a national disgrace and needs to be remedied.
Job centres should be properly staffed to pay people their full benefits and to find them jobs. They should not be used to trick people into losing their benefits. Likewise if a doctor says someone is sick then he or she should be believed.
Let’s put a stop to programmes which vilify the poor.
We support the National Pensioners’ Convention in its campaigns for decent pensions and treatment of the elderly.
Finally just as Norway does not need to be in the EU and Ireland does not need to be in NATO, Britain does not need to be in either of these protection rackets.
We need a Britain that serves the millions not the millionaires.
Communist policies are not just for the Communist Party. We want other progressive forces to take them up.