Maxine Bowler, an independent socialist for Palestine

“I will make this a vote over Palestine”. That was the rallying cry from Maxine Bowler, as she launched her campaign to be the socialist MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough on Friday.

Maxine is determined that the mass movement for Palestine that’s rocked the British establishment will surge in the general election. Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer want a general election based on business as usual politics, where the Tories and Labour compete with right wing programmes.

She’s one of a number of independent socialist candidates who are challenging both parties—over support for Israel’s genocide, anti-migrant racism, attacks on working class people, and all their rotten policies.

Maxine told Socialist Worker, “The main reason I’m standing is to raise my voice for Palestine. The Labour MP Gill Furniss who currently holds the seat has failed to come out and call for a ceasefire. 

“That’s such a misrepresentation of people’s view—which I’ll put right if I get elected.”

She added, “This is Israel’s attempt to wipe out the entire Palestinian people. But our government is arming Israel and the leader of the ‘opposition’, Keir Starmer, is more than happy to go along with that. 

“We have to stop the weapons drive, cut off the support it receives, bring sanctions on Israel and fight to dismantle Israel’s apartheid state.”  

Maxine has a long history of campaigning against Western imperialism. “I was involved in campaigns against the Gulf War in 1990,” she said. “I worked closely with the Yemeni community in Sheffield who were the backbone of the opposition to that war.  

“I was involved in opposing the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 as part of the anti-war movement.”

Her endorsements include Dr Abdul Shaif, a prominent Yemeni community activist in the city. “She is pro-Palestine in every bone in her body,” he says.

“Her courage and dedication to defending everyone’s rights make me confident that she would be an excellent MP, representing the people’s voice and striving for a better future for all of us.”

Maxine is a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and is standing to make sure there’s an alternative to Labour’s pro-boss, anti-worker agenda.

She was a community worker for many years, until retiring a couple of months ago. She worked in a GP surgery helping people get access to benefits and housing among other issues. 

She knows the housing crisis is another fundamental issue, not just in Sheffield but across Britain too. 

“Renationalisation of public services is another big issue I’d fight for if elected,” she added.

Maxine has always supported strikes—and, if elected, will use her position to raise solidarity for workers taking action.

One of her supporters is Sahar, a Palestinian doctor. “It’s great to know the junior doctors will be striking in the last week of the election,” she said. “And I’ll be on the picket lines in Sheffield to support the junior doctors’ strike.”

Maxine is a member of Sheffield trades council’s executive and secretary of the Unite union not for profit branch. “We represent workers in the voluntary sector,” she said. “It includes Shelter housing charity workers who won a pay rise after going on strike last year. 

Among the trade unionists supporting Maxine is James Oliver, Sheffield NEU education union joint secretary. “I teach in this community and I believe we deserve better than the Tories or Starmer,” he said in his personal endorsement.

“Maxine is the hardest working campaign that I know, for Palestine, for anti-racism, workers’ rights and against cuts. She’d never betray these causes, Starmer already has.”

As the co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism in Sheffield, Maxine has been part of campaigning against the Rwanda plan. “I’ve also taken aid to refugees in Calais many times,” she said. “We’ve organised refugee trips in the summer alongside other groups like Care4Calais.” 

She’s been involved in the Lift The Ban campaign pushing to allow refugees to work. “Refugees left in hotels and not allowed to work are being othered by the government and the right wing press.

“But Starmer’s Labour is not standing up to the scapegoating of refugees and migrants—they’re encouraging it.

“I always stand up against racism and attempts to divide working class people.”

The local launch of Maxine’s campaign will be at Abbeyfield House, Abbeyfield Road, Sheffield S4 7BL on Friday 7 June at 6.30pm 

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