BY RUSSELL PICKERING
SYDNEY — The jaws of Newtown's Friday night dinner crowd dropped on October 19 as a noisy 200-strong community march blocked heavy city traffic as it proceeded up and then down King Street.
Organised by the Grayndler branch of the Socialist Alliance, an initial rally of some 120 people swelled as onlookers joined the march in support of the demands, "No to War! No to Racism!"
The rally and march was the first of a series of such neighbourhood actions organised by the Socialist Alliance, as it seeks to take politics back to the streets in its first federal election campaign.
Gathering at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre in cold and blustery conditions the rally heard Pip Hinman, the Socialist Alliance's lead Senate candidate, describe the US war in Afghanistan as "a continuation of a war that the leaders of the rich countries have been waging against the people of the poor countries for decades".
Hinman pledged the alliance's total opposition to the war, saying "Socialist Alliance is firmly committed to building a movement to stop this war. We're confident that this movement will grow from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands."
Sue Johnson, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Grayndler, which includes most of Newtown, spoke of the hypocrisy of PM John Howard who "in the 'great' debate last week spoke of so-called 'mateship' and 'a fair go', yet in the same breath talked up war and attempted to justify his racist policies in a bid to get re-elected".
The Coalition wasn't the only force on the receiving end, however. "Howard's recent soaring popularity can also be directly attributed to Labor's absolute refusal to provide an alternative voice", Johnson said. "One such alternative is the Socialist Alliance, which is striving to make the process of voting relevant to ordinary people".
Other speakers on the platform included Sylvia Hale of the Greens, Ian Rintoul, the second NSW Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance, and a midwife who outlined the growing difficulties faced by NSW nurses as workloads increase and the numbers of training positions decrease.
The Grayndler branch of Socialist Alliance will be holding the official launch of its election campaign on October 23, 7pm at the Herb Greedy Hall in Marrickville. For more information or if you would like to be part of the campaign please call ph 9690 1977 or 0418 450 812.