Come to the TUSC Local Elections Conference!

The Covid crisis has revealed many things about our society – including how the vast wealth that exists in the UK can be drawn upon to serve public needs when sufficient pressure is applied.
The Tory government – despite being based on Thatcher’s ‘the free market rules’ ideology – has made U-turn after U-turn against the background of growing anger and public outcry.

So many things ridiculed before as impossible or not realistic have been enacted, even if sometimes in a limited and incomplete way. At the start of the spring lockdown the government, in effect, nationalised the railways and other forms of transport to keep the system going. Over the course of one weekend councils were instructed to provide accommodation for all those living on the streets.
Now, it is true, homelessness is rising again and private companies are still embedded in the transport system.
But nonetheless such measures have demonstrated that, when under pressure, even a government of the rich can be forced into making huge concessions in the interests of ordinary people.
And local councils could play a leading role in building that pressure – if there were councillors in them prepared to fight!

Labour leads over 120 councils, with a combined spending power greater than the state budgets of 16 EU countries.
But Starmer’s Labour cannot be trusted to stand up for ordinary people. That is why the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is preparing to stand across the UK this May in the many elections taking place.
Even one councillor in a local authority taking a stand, if they used their position in the council chamber to appeal to those outside, could give confidence to local trade unionists and community campaigners to fight.
A network of rebel councillors across the country could have an even bigger impact in fighting for what is needed to meet the Covid crisis.

Come to the TUSC local elections conference to be held on Zoom on Sunday 7 February to help organise a fightback at the ballot box this May – or whenever the elections take place.
Conference registration
You can register in advance for this meeting: http://bit.ly/TUSCconferenceregistration.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

You can also just login into the meeting on the day as usual but you will still be asked for registration details on entering the zoom meeting details.

So try and either pre-register or leave a few mins to fill out the online form.
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82896595909?pwd=OVE5RjNmbjJJcG1vd0RxZ0JyQ2RkUT09
Meeting ID: 828 9659 5909
Passcode: 645766

Spread the word!
You can help build for the event, first by saying you are Going on our Facebook event: http://bit.ly/TUSCconf21
And then by inviting your friends and union and work colleagues, either on Facebook or by telling them about it.

A lot of people, especially trade unionists and young people, have been let down by Starmer’s Labour and are looking for a serious alternative.
We’re building that alternative in TUSC, and each extra attendee hearing from trade union and socialist representatives and learning how to get involved helps develop TUSC even further.

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Peace and Justice Project article and Defend Corbyn Protest report

Since Jeremy Corbyn resigned as Labour leader, hundreds of thousands of people who supported him and his programme have had to question what the way forward is for socialist ideas. When Jeremy was suspended from Labour, this question rose to the fore again, and again when he launched the Peace and Justice Project.

Here you can find a response to the Peace and Justice Project by the Socialist Party’s General Secretary, Hannah Sell:

Peace and Justice Project – no way forward for socialism

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is holding its Local Election Conference on Sunday 7th February 11am to 1:30pm. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear about the electoral fight against Starmer’s new New Labour. Click here for the Facebook event – there is a link to register in the Description.

Not heard of TUSC? Click here to find out more!


Below is a report from the protest in Coventry after Corbyn’s suspension.

Coventry Corbyn Solidarity Protest: stay and fight, or a new workers party?

By Michael Morgan, Coventry Socialist Party

On Tuesday the 3rd of November members of Coventry Socialist Party attended a protest organised by Coventry Labour Left in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, following his suspension from the Labour Party. The protest was relatively small with around 30 in attendance, many of whom were members of left wing organisations involved.

Two approaches to the issue arose at the protest. All were in agreement that no, Jeremy Corbyn was not an anti-Semite, and that the capitalist media and the right wing of the Labour Party had led a concerted effort to smear him as such. Jeremy Corbyn was indeed one of the country’s most ardent fighters against racism.

However, some on the Labour left, as well as some from other left wing organisations that operate within the labour party, argued for their ‘stay and fight’ position. This included members of Coventry Labour Left, Zarah Sultana in the form of a message read on her behalf and others. These speakers argued that the Labour Party is a mass organ of the working class, and that the lefts best course of action would be to petition the general secretary of the party (right winger, Starmer backed David Evans) and even to vote in National Executive Committee elections to fight for Corbyn’s reinstatement!

The Socialist Party argues that these measures do not go nearly far enough. In effect this argument is one of continuing to feed the mouth that bit you. To plead to the functions of the Labour Party and its officialdom to right a wrong they committed regardless of the actual findings of the EHRC report or of the Labour party’s rules is a strategy doomed to fail; if Starmer cared for the rules Corbyn would still be in the party!

This is why the Socialist Party argues for a new workers’ party through the Trade Union Socialist Coalition, a political party made up of local campaigners, activists and trade unionists. Labour is not a party of the working class. Jeremy Corbyn presented a great opportunity to democratise the party’s structures, to institute mandatory reselection and to reform Labour councils like the one in Coventry, which charges SEND pupils up to £600 per year to get to school. Yet this opportunity was not taken, and at some point that goes from being a political mistake to being politically disastrous as Corbyn has seen.

We need real working people to take political control and believe this is better done through a mass workers’ party than through Starmer’s Labour. We spoke at the protest to outline this message and handed out leaflets and sold several papers to passers by who took an interest in our ideas. 


Help us bring the challenge to Starmer’s Labour and build a new mass workers’ party!

You might be thinking about joining the Socialist Party, and the best step towards that is clicking below for a sign up form.w

Or at the moment you might be more interested in helping real anti-cuts campaigners challenge pro-austerity Blairite councillors in the May elections. The best step towards that is supporting TUSC!

Report: Fight the Housing Crisis – a Socialist Programme For Decent Homes For All

By Michael Morgan, Coventry Socialist Party

On Tuesday, Coventry Socialist Party held a public meeting over zoom on the issue of housing. This was in commemoration to the 9th anniversary of the passing of Rob Windsor, a former socialist councillor in the city who amongst many other hard-fought campaigns also campaigned against the privatisation of Coventry’s council housing which has proved to be such a disaster for the city. 

We were joined by Suzanne Muna, formerly the secretary of a Unite housing workers branch (and still on the committee), communications officer for SHAC (a network of tenants, residents, and workers in housing associations and cooperatives) and formerly a member of Unite the unions executive also.

She described how the privatisation of former council homes, as well as the role of housing associations in the lack of comfortable, genuinely affordable accommodation in the city.  She also raised the issue of homelessness – pointing to the massive amounts of empty homes across the UK which go empty whilst accruing value for landlords who let them go empty. 

The best way to solve these issues of empty houses and a lack of affordable accommodation is for affordable council housing to be made on a mass scale again. 

With the relaunch of TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition) the Socialist Party will work with trade unionists and community activists, such as those in tenants’ associations, to put housing at the forefront of our programme in the May elections. After the second world war housing was built on a mass scale to the needs of the community, and in Liverpool in the 1980s the Militant-led Labour city council built housing in a similar fashion. Not only were houses built, but community centres and halls to ensure communities could grow around new housing developments. 

The discussion following from Suzanne’s talk was also important. With attendees talking about personal experiences of low quality and unaffordable housing. New developments in Coventry south were also discussed— where 1300 homes will be made – as attendees criticised the lack of affordable housing which will be mad available in the development. 

Coventry Socialist Party will soon be posting an article on homelessness following this meeting, and will take the issues forward into the May elections through TUSC. 

Socialist Policies Could Mean Decent Housing For All

Tuesday 26th January 7:30pm (contact us for zoom link) with Suzanne Muna

Click here for the Facebook event

As millions face a housing crisis hear how a socialist housing policy could solve the problem.

To celebrate and pay tribute to the memory of one of our leading members, Rob Windsor, we have organised a special meeting on this topic that was a prime motivator for Rob.

Since his passing 9 years ago, the problems that he and Coventry Socialist Party fought so tenaciously have only become worse as the ‘market’ proves increasingly unable to provide a basic human right – that of a decent, secure home.  

We have invited another prominent housing campaigner to speak to a meeting on 26 January

Suzanne Muna was formerly a member of Unite the union’s executive, is secretary of Unite Housing Workers branch and communications officer for SHAC (a network of tenants, residents, and workers in housing associations and cooperatives)

9 Years Since The Passing Of Rob Windsor

January 2021 marks the 9th anniversary of the passing of former leader of the great Anti Poll Tax struggle and Coventry City Socialist councillor, Rob Windsor.

Rob’s passing was a tremendous loss to the Socialist Party. He had been an inspiring spokesperson and organiser for our Party, a man who had literally helped thousands and was loved by his active colleagues and comrades.

He was a national leader of the Anti-Poll Tax campaign that brought down Thatcher, he was an extremely hard working and effective councillor, but he was also our leader of the campaign in Coventry to stop the privatisation of Coventry’s council housing – a policy of the Labour council that has only worsened the housing problem in our city.

Read our tribute to Rob from 2015 here: Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

As he himself would have been first to say, it is not our job to mourn but to organise. Organise to fight for housing and to change the system that provides for the needs of working people so poorly.

We hope to do that in this meeting and we hope you will join us.

NEW LOCKDOWN MEASURES

TORIES LEAVE IT LATE AGAIN – BUT THEIR HAND IS FORCED BY EDUCATION WORKERS ACTION!

While the government has yet again taken far too long to face up to the loss of control of coronavirus, tens and tens of thousands of education workers have said enough is enough.

Boris Johnson and his shower of incompetents have been forced, belatedly, to take further action to combat coronavirus. On Sunday he insisted all schools open, by Monday they’re all shut!

Johnson’s failures are having such serious consequences for so many people, and while it may be some consolation to know he has egg all over his face, it’s not just consolation we need, but to take confidence from the workers’ action, to learn from the people who know best and fought back.

Johnson was forced to retreat not by the science, but by the action of teachers and support workers.

Teachers by the tens of thousands refused to continue to work in unsafe conditions, and only to return when it was made safe. Not that you’d know about this from the media. Teachers’ mobilisation, involving up to 400,000 in union discussions about lack of safety and refusing to work in those conditions, closed hundreds of schools but was largely ignored by the media.

Johnson was forced to admit that schools are ‘a vector’ in the virus spreading. Something that while the government tried to deny it, the world and its auntie have known for months!

But he was forced to act because the public were aware the situation was getting very dangerous and that as teachers refused to work in such conditions and local authorities were closing schools anyway that it would leave him in London in control of nothing. Workers action has now given a clear lead.

We see in this the importance of a union for working people, giving workers the confidence to write in with Section 44 letters (that declare the worker believes the workplace to be unsafe.)   


Below are some reports to ‘The Socialist’ newspaper of how education workers organised.

Local Officers, reps and members have been working flat out since the call was made by the NEU (National Education Union) that staff should assert their contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work. As well as school, District and Regional meetings, the NEU estimate as many as 400,000 people may have watched this morning’s National Union ‘Zoom’ call – either directly or through social media broadcasts.

Union activists have been so busy talking to members, answering queries and building the campaign that there has been little opportunity (to report) the work being carried out. These brief reports hopefully give you a flavour of what’s been happening right across the Union:

As Headteacher, I have received 50 Section 44 letters from teachers and support staff today.

Some staff were already either shielding or self-isolating in any case. I have obviously responded by informing parents that the school will be closed tomorrow. It looks like a number of Southampton schools are closing. Support from the leader of the council has helped.

* UPDATE ON MONDAY MORNING – 31 Southampton primary schools closed = about two-thirds of them!

Liz Filer, Southampton NEU

Lots of primaries will be closed in Bristol.

My own school was up to 22 staff on a Section 44 letter when it was announced it will be closed to everyone tomorrow and then there will be remote learning for at least the rest of the week. I’ve also had 10 new names appear on my membership list, including several support staff who have never been unionised before.

Sheila Caffrey, Bristol NEU

Coventry saw over 300 members join an online meeting.

We have recruited more reps and members have grown in confidence.  A number of schools are fully closed and more are partially closed. This is a great start to the campaign. The response of the Local Authority has angered many members, being told that schools are safe whilst the data on Covid cases has increased by over 50% in a short period of time.

Jane Nellist, Coventry NEU

I have spoken to eight Multi Academy Trust CEOs. All bar one were very supportive of our stance.

Over 100 members attended our District ‘Zoom’ meeting this afternoon. We also invited the UNISON convenor to attend and that helped to strengthen the resolve of our members. We’ve already gained 27 new members since the union came out fighting.

Mike Whale, Hull NEU

Responding to a growing anxiety about the return to school, I worked as part of the senior leadership team to review and tighten up our risk assessment. However, given the growing risks (we) felt this would be insufficient to guarantee staff safety. After the national NEU rep’s briefing on Saturday, our school rep organised a members meeting. All 17 of our members (including 3 former NASUWT members) agreed to sign the S44 letter. We decided to contact and share the letter with all school staff. Within an hour we had 50 names on it!

Staff were keen to sign, given confidence by the union taking a stand. Our Head, fully respected the views of the staff and the school has moved to online learning as per NEU recommendations for the next 2 weeks at least. Even Tory-led Norfolk Council has now issued advice saying that “as a head teacher you may find it difficult to be certain that you will have sufficient staff to open safely on Monday”. At the latest count, I already know of over 50 local primary schools who will not be opening – and the list is being added to all the time!

From a NEU member in Norfolk

Why we supported the education workers: A fuller explanation of the education workers view….


Organise a mass refusal to attend unsafe schools on Monday

Posted on 2 January 2021 [https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31785]

Our schools and colleges are not safe.

Full classrooms provide an environment where the new variant will quickly spread. No member of staff and no pupil should have to work in such dangerous conditions. That’s why, to protect their safety, and the safety of their wider school community, school union groups should boldly make clear this weekend that they are not prepared to return to work until safety can be assured.

For months, the Government has been ignoring growing evidence that school aged children have high levels of infection and that poorly ventilated, closely packed, schools have been an important factor in the spread of Covid-19.

Keeping schools fully open has nothing to do with keeping children safe. Instead it has put more lives in danger, more pressure on an overwhelmed NHS, more chaotic disruption in schools.

Before Christmas, even their own scientific advisers warned Ministers that “accumulating evidence is consistent with increased transmission occurring amongst school children when schools are open”. Yet the Department for Education still insisted on bullying Councils like Greenwich into keeping their schools open. Now these bullies have to be faced down.

With the full opening of secondary schools delayed by a week, the immediate battleground is in primary, nursery and special schools.  With the new, more contagious, variant of the virus spreading quickly amongst young people in particular, even this Government has been forced to concede that primary schools in London and some other South-East authorities do not open fully at the start of term. But, as things stand, most school staff still face entering an unsafe workplace on Monday – and the virus doesn’t respect geographical boundaries.

Insisting workers enter an unsafe workplace, and without risk assessments in place that address the new dangers from the new variant, is a breach of Health and Safety. That’s why the National Education Union met in emergency session today (Sat 2nd Jan) and agreed it will be calling on members in primary and special schools to exercise their rights under “Section 44” and that the Union will support them in doing so, including through balloting for industrial action if necessary. Letters will be sent to all employers by the Union.

Members will be advised to insist on a new risk assessment and that they are available to work in school to teach key worker and vulnerable children only or, otherwise, work from home to support remote learning.

This is a very significant step and one that now needs to be fully backed by the trade union movement. It should also be replicated by UNISON, GMB, NASUWT and other school unions.

By failing to act earlier in this decisive manner, the NEU has left itself with a very short timescale to get this message across to its members and to give them confidence to act. Nevertheless, it is a stand that has to be taken given the serious dangers facing all of us.

Discussing Biden Win With American Socialists

Coventry Branch Online Meeting: 10th November 7.30pm

Biden appears to have won the US presidential election.
🔍How do we analyse this win, that saw twelve million more people vote and came down to the wire in the Electoral College system?
✊What will workers and youth in the United States have to do to fight for things like free healthcare, free university tuition, a decent minimum wage, to fight climate change?
🚩How do we get actual socialist change in a country in the grip of two parties that represent an incredibly powerful capitalist class?

Join us on Tuesday to discuss how socialists can build that fight!

Click here to visit our Facebook page

Click here to email us or copy CoventrySocialistParty@Gmail.Com

Click here to visit the Socialist Party’s national website

Live in the US? Visit the Independent Socialist Group!

#EndSARSCov Solidarity Protest In Coventry

Report by Adam Harmsworth, Coventry Socialist Party –

On Sunday I joined hundreds of mostly black youth gathering outside the Transport Museum to protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS] in Nigeria and its terrible record of brutality.

Nigeria has been rocked by weeks of mass protests against SARS, a unit of the police which is accused of decades of gang-style extortion, robbery, torture, and murder. After mounting pressure sparked by video recordings of murder by SARS officers being sent across social media, the Buhari government decided to disband SARS. However, the former SARS officers remained in the police. Some were moved into a newly-formed group of Special Weapons And Tactics [SWAT], which is considered to be just SARS reinvented. There is no justice for the victims, no serious change in the police, and vicious state repression continues. Amnesty International estimated that just last weekend 10 people were murdered in anti-SARS protests!

Nigerians and their friends and relatives in the UK have begun calling solidarity protests. The event in Coventry was organised by the Nigerian Societies at Coventry and Warwick Universities. It began with a short march around Trinity Street and brief rally in Broadgate before heading back to the museum where the main protest took place. We marched with chants like “End SARS!” and slogans in regional languages like the Yoruba phrase “Soro Soke Werey”; I was told the polite translation is a rallying cry to “Speak up, idiot!”.

A protester playing the saxophone as others solemnly sing the Nigerian national anthem

National identity and unity was at the absolute core of this protest. It began with a prayer and the Nigerian national anthem, which was sung several times in the two hour event. The first speaker emphasised how Nigerians were united in struggle even though “we are from different camps, we are from different religions”.

“The dream of our past generations is going to be a reality!”

Speakers from the Nigerian community in Coventry are very confident in the potential for serious change in Nigeria. Phrases like “system change” and a “new Nigeria” were repeated. One speaker called for Nigeria to “overhaul the constitution to allow all to thrive”, another said “the dream of our past generations is going to be a reality” referring to the 60th anniversary of Nigerian independence where the release from colonialism brought hopes of a better life.

The protest marched through the city centre, with a brief rally in Broadgate

The next round of speakers were far more solemn. Personal accounts from victims of police brutality and their friends and relatives left the protest in silence. One described being beaten, thrown into a river and being left to die. That level of violence is endemic throughout the Nigerian police, as a report from the Democratic Socialist Movement – the section of the Committee for a Workers International in Nigeria – showed clearly. Just a few days ago they joined a peaceful #EndSARS protest in Alausa district in Lagos, which was met by state-sponsored thugs armed with machetes who injured six protesters. The Coventry protest had a reading of the names of victims followed by a call of “End SARS!” for each.

Every leaflet was taken!

The organisers were pleased to have support from Socialist Party members, especially as a group with a political connection to the country through our international. I brought copies of the Youth Rights Campaign leaflet which calls for a 48 hour general strike with mass protests. As I spoke with fellow protesters I explained how we see the link between police brutality and capitalism. We recognise the police as a tool of the state to attack the working class, so that the capitalist class can continue to suppress wages and work conditions and harm the environment and communities to increase profit.

“Even the poor deserves free life” placard at a protest in Lagos

A key example is the cruel polluting of the Niger Delta, where Shell has spilled millions of litres of oil into the water. This has poisoned many local people and ruined livelihoods made from fishing and farming, yet they have not had justice and Shell continues to make gigantic profits in the country. Additionally, these massive profits from multinationals contrast with 102 million Nigerians in extreme poverty.

This is possible because the police including SARS have attacked protests and tried to strike fear into the community and prevent the mass uprisings necessary to make fundamental change.

To end the scourge of police brutality, the police must be run by the working class majority itself. Community and workers’ organisations must have control of police budgets, weapons, priorities, the power to remove officers and even abolish the police if they wish. To achieve that, the working class itself must take democratic control of the state and of the commanding heights of the economy currently held by a capitalist class that sponsors state brutality.

The YRC leaflet calls on working class organisations like the trade unions to join and spread the protests. It concludes this struggle can lead to “an equitable, safe and democratic socialist society where everyone, old or young, can live and go about their daily legitimate activities without fear of molestation, illegal arrest and detention, extortion and extrajudicial killing.”

The Democratic Socialist Movement is the Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers International.

Solidarity with NUJ Strike at Bullivant Media

This report comes from Socialist Party members in Birmingham, who went to the picket to support the striking workers. You can read more here: Birmingham Socialist Party Facebook

It’s “nepotism not journalism” said one picket. The Bullivant Media NUJ chapel were out on their first ever strike on 25-26 August, opposing compulsory redundancies, demanding to be paid in full and wanting to protect high-quality journalism.

Warwickshire and Worcestershire newspaper publisher Bullivant Media Limited is owned and ran by the Bullivant family. One family member has started publishing their own ‘cut-and-paste’ type stories while bypassing editorial staff and undercutting news quality.

At the same time, the actual journalists – some on minimum wage – were not paid in full for three months.  Some received next to nothing and had to go to food banks as a result. There was no warning before these pay cuts – the workers just found out when they opened their bank statements!

Also undercutting news quality will be the proposed job cuts, including a compulsory redundancy that targets an NUJ member in blatant trade unionist victimisation. These cuts will result in higher workloads for the remaining staff, who are already overworked as management demand more journalistic output. Distribution staff have already been made redundant.

 

On 21 August, when Acas talks between the union and employer ended, Bullivant confirmed three jobs would go, including one compulsory redundancy. While better than the five posts originally under threat, the chapel remains steadfastly opposed to any compulsory lay-off.

The 18 journalists produce nine weekly freesheets, including the Coventry Observer and Redditch Standard. The chapel voted unanimously for and is 100% solid behind the four-day strike, set to continue on 1-2 September, with pickets at the company’s Redditch office.

 

The NUJ chapel has received solidarity and financial support from trade unionists across the UK and Ireland. Donations, labelled ‘Bullivant strike’, can be made to the NUJ strike hardship fund: sort code 60-83-01, account number 20049274, account name NUJ Manchester. Emails raising concerns and asking for the dispute to be resolved can be sent to Bullivant’s managing director – chris.bullivant@bullivantmedia.com

NUJ l

STOP the ‘Going to Work Tax’ on NHS workers!

This is the latest leaflet from the Socialist Party fighting hospital parking charges:

As Government plans to bring back Hospital Parking Charges for NHS staff:

STOP the ‘Going to Work Tax’ on NHS workers!

The “Going to Work Tax” on NHS workers is a disgrace.

Socialist Party and other NHS campaigners vow to redouble our efforts to oppose Hospital parking charges.

We’ll be stepping up our campaign to stop the government re-imposing a ‘going to work’ tax on our NHS workers” said former Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist.

The Government recently announced that measures to stop NHS workers having to pay to park at work will be ended.

Socialists have been campaigning against Hospital Parking charges for years, but we’re sure that most people in our city will be outraged at the Government backtracking on this.

Our workers were ‘heroes’ for a few months now they face a bill of hundreds of pounds a year, being charged to turn up to work to be those heroes.

People should not be being charged to go to work and nor should people be charged for being ill and having to attend hospital and certainly not to boost the profits of a private company.

It’s reasonable for hospitals to cover costs of providing parking, but this is a private company, not the NHS, that is making millions of pounds profits every year from hospital parking charges. And those profits are soaring, from £2m a year at the start to nearly £7m last year.

We see this profit extraction from our NHS happening more and more as more NHS services are being handed out to private companies.

We welcome the Early Day Motion put by local MP Zarah Sultana, calling for free parking for staff –though we’d have liked it to be signed by a lot more than just 24 Labour MP’s.

We need public support more than ever to pressure this shameless government and the private companies behind them. We’ll be out even more collecting signatures but maybe you could help get a petition sheet circulated. If so, message Dave via 07530 429441.

 

Disgrace of over 4 million children in poverty!

Low pay, no way! photo Paul Mattsson

Article by Jane Nellist, Socialist Party Member and Coventry NEU [Personal Capacity]

Austerity policies from successive governments have pushed an increasing number of  families into poverty.  Over 4 million children live in poverty in the UK and that number is rapidly rising.  That is over 30% of all children in a country that is one of the wealthiest in the world!

The Tory cuts to welfare benefits and the underfunded Universal Credit scheme has left families in crisis- whilst the rich continue to be insulated from austerity.

Children from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty:   45% are now in poverty, which makes the Black Lives Matter campaigns even more important.

Disgracefully, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work, many working long hours with very low pay.  Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap.

But it’s not just the lack of money that impacts on  poorer families. Services that families would turn to for support, are no longer there.  The huge cuts to Local Authorities funding, down 49%, with an unwillingness of councils to mount campaigns and use their reserves, hits the poorest families hard.  Children’s centres,  youth clubs, libraries and other support services are either cut to the bone or have disappeared. The safety net the working class had fought for has huge holes or has been taken away all together.

Barnsley Unison lobby of council cabinet 29.5.19, photo A Tice

Free school meals and  breakfast clubs, whilst not enough, have helped to ensure that children get a balanced meal during the day at school but ‘holiday’ hunger takes it toll on families.  The absolute catastrophe of the government’s voucher system during Covid-19 saw more and more families turn to food banks to feed their families.

The decision by the Tories to discontinue the  free school meals vouchers during the summer holidays has enraged families was spectacularly overturned following the letter from  Marcus Rashford, Manchester United and England footballer.  He wrote passionately, highlighting his own experiences. He wrote, “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.” This system does not work for millions of people which is why we fight so hard to change it!

Housing and childcare are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets.  But it’s not just finding a roof over your head, it’s the quality of housing that has the biggest impact. Energy costs for poorer families are high due the reliance on pre-paid cards. Families should not have to make choices between heating or eating!

Too many disadvantaged families are living in cramped conditions, especially in cities with no outdoor space, sometimes in just one room. It’s a nightmare at any time, but during the ‘lockdown’ it’s even worse. The lack of good quality council housing is a scandal – with private landlords making a fortune!

With schools still closed to most pupils, and a reliance on home schooling, much of it ‘on-line’, a national free Broadband scheme and free laptops would ensure young people could access the tools to help their learning. Yet again, the government’s promises have failed, and educational inequalities will increase enormously.

Thousands more families are living on the edge of poverty. One unexpected setback,  like redundancy or an illness or even cuts to hours- could push them into the poverty trap. The furlough scheme has helped in the short term to alleviate some of the risk, but as the government seek to pull back from this, we will see a huge rise in the number of families facing catastrophe.

The storms that were already  gathering because of a worldwide economic crisis, and made worse by the pandemic, will mean even more misery for millions, unless a mass movement of the working class rise up.  Capitalism is designed to serve the bosses and keep the rich enveloped in their wealth.  Our job as socialists, is to turn the world upside down and fight for the 99% and ensure that every family and every child has all their needs met through a democratic planned socialist system.

Help fight for a socialist society to end poverty for good – be one of the hundreds of people who has registered to join us this month!