Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor - a fighter for socialism

Rob Windsor

This week marks 3 years since we lost Rob Windsor to a serious illness. Rob, who passed away on 14th January, 2012, was a tireless fighter and campaigner for socialism and a former councillor in St Michaels ward for the Socialist Party. He played a major role in the anti-poll tax movement – a campaign which played a major role in the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. He was also a great friend and inspiration to many people and his legacy lives on in those who were inspired by Rob to fight against the capitalist system and for a socialist future. To read a full obituary of Rob, please click here

To mark 3 years since his passing, we are reproducing this article written by Rob in March, 2004. At the time Rob was a sitting councillor with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. In his work as a Socialist public representative he worked tirelessly for his constituents and working class people across the city and helped people get organised. He was a regular on any picket line and unlike any of the current crop of Labour or Tory councillors never voted for a single cut – quite a contrast to those Labour councillors today who shrug their shoulders and say ‘nothing can be done’ about these savage attacks on ordinary people.

The article was carried in The Socialist, the weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party. In the article Rob explains how he became a socialist, and why he joined the Militant, the forerunner of the Socialist Party. If you agree with Rob, we urge you to fill in the form at the end of the article and join us in the fight for socialism.

Campaigning To Change Society

By Rob Windsor

I was always “Socialist minded” from my late teens. I took part in CND marches. I had worked with the homeless in London aged 19 so had seen the results of capitalism at the sharp end. I used to get mad every time I saw Maggie Thatcher on the telly but then kick myself for doing nothing!

The biggest push towards joining a party was when I saw the contrast between policing at a CND mass trespass at the Trident base in Scotland, then under construction, and that used at the Wapping dispute over the sacking of 5,000 printers.

The former was low key, the latter the most brutal I had ever seen. I remember a horse charge and saw this mounted police officer peel an old guy off some railings with a long riot shield. Then a “snatch squad” of about six with short truncheons beat him to within an inch of his life.

It was then that I realised that a class war was going on and the lengths that the privileged would go to defend their interests. I became a Militant supporter (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) in 1987 after the successful campaign to get Dave Nellist, then a Labour MP, re-elected to Parliament.

Militant

Of all the groups on the Left, Militant was the most serious and disciplined. When something was fully discussed and decided, it got done. Within two years, I was playing a leading role in building the anti-poll tax campaign that beat Thatcher and her tax.

I am now one of three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry. Whilst there are only three of us we strive to show an alternative way of organising society in everything we do.

We have played a full part in the mass anti-war movement and set up a special council meeting to discuss the war, one of the few councils in Western Europe to do so.

A lot of our work involves fighting for people who the anti-war movement hasn’t touched – but the cost of the war certainly has! Every day we battle for funding for areas where local people are told that they can’t have even a few thousand quid for improvements – yet the £6.5 billion cost of war is made to seem like small change!

Fighting for people

We have fought housing privatisation and the break up of working class communities so that developers can profit from land deals. We got the council to oppose top-up fees. We saved council jobs, and through our determination to oppose at all costs, forced the council to put an extra £1 million into adult social services.

We work on individual issues and community campaigns every day of the week. Even one of Blair’s favourite think-tanks recognised us as good local representatives.

But we are not like this because we are nice individuals or specially gifted.

It is because we are members of a party with firm ideas about transforming society so that working people own and control the wealth created; a party that doesn’t allow its representatives to have lavish lifestyles way above those that we represent. We’re there to improve the lives of working people – not our bank balances.

The Socialist Party doesn’t stop at just complaining about capitalist society but strives every day to change it. In trades unions, in local areas, in mass campaigns like the anti-war movement, amongst the workers and youth. It is well worth joining.

Protest against cuts to local services

Protest against cuts to local services

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Despite the pouring rain, around 40 people joined the lobby of Coventry Council on Tuesday 13th to challenge councillors over their planned budget cuts. The cuts will mean every service outside the City Centre is under threat of closure – every library, community centre and even public toilets!

Members of unions such as Unite, Unison, NUT and the FBU were represented, as well as Coventry Trades Council. Socialist Party members and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates were also at the lobby.

Dan Crowter, who stood for TUSC in Bablake ward in the 2014 local elections, said “The councillors tell us they’re making these cuts with a heavy heart. Well I’ve got a heavy heart too – but after these cuts and council tax rises, I’ll have a lighter wallet as well.”

Jane Nellist, Branch Secretary of Coventry NUT (personal capacity), attacked the council’s decision to cut libraries, pointing out their importance to the community and also for children as they provide them books and a safe space to read. She ended by saying that “we didn’t create this crisis, we’re not going to pay for it!”

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist, national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, called on the council to use the £81 million they have in reserves and build a campaign against the cuts. He also said the council should be flooded with petitions challenging every service closure so the council know people are opposed to their cuts.

There will be a Coventry Against the Cuts march through the City Centre on February 21st, to put more pressure on the council before the budget vote on the 24th. If, as expected, Coventry’s councillors choose to vote for the planned cuts and decimate our services, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates will stand in every ward across the city to provide an anti-cuts alternative in May.

#CovBudget2015 – Public Consultation… With No Councillors!

#CovBudget2015 – Public Consultation… With No Councillors! 

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students campaigning against cuts

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students campaigning against cuts

Coventry Council held a public consultation about its budget proposals on Tuesday, where council officers outlined the plans to devastate services in the city with huge cuts.

Not a single councillor from any party bothered to attend the meeting, preferring to leave council officers to deliver the bad news – and there was plenty to deliver. Chris West, Director of Finance at the council, said bluntly “Austerity is here to stay. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.” Even more strikingly, he reinforced something the Socialist Party has been saying for years; “There is very little difference between the financial plans of the two main parties. Whoever wins the next election, the picture is broadly the same.”

The plans were explained to us through a video, designed to sugar coat the true impact of the cuts using euphemistic references to “savings” and light-hearted animations of the “community”.  The video also implored us to work together “as a community” to replace the services being cut by the council. We want the communities of Coventry to work together too – but not to run services being cut by the council, to work with the council and fight the cuts!

As one of the speakers from Friends of Spencer Park pointed out, relying on community groups leads to a “postcode lottery”, where some areas will get the services they need, while others (often the areas that need them most) won’t.

A Unison rep at the meeting expressed his disgust that no councillors attended the meeting, pointing out that his members faced losing their jobs and the councillors didn’t even turn up to discuss it!

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist, national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, spoke from the floor at the meeting and also questioned why no councillors were present, saying that it restricted the discussion to the technical details of the cuts rather than the political decisions being taken by the council, and that “these consultations should start by asking people if they agree with the council’s decision to make cuts at all”.

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

Former Labour MP and Socialist councillor Dave Nellist

The council has £81 million in reserves that they could use temporarily to offset the effect of the cuts for a year, buying them time to build a movement with the people of Coventry to demand central Government gives us back the money they’ve cut. If the councillors we’ve got at present won’t do that, we should elect Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition councillors who will!

LOBBY OF COVENTRY COUNCIL

Tuesday 13th January, 1pm, Coventry Council House

“Either We Fight, Or We Lay Down And Die” – Protest At Coventry City Link

“Either We Fight, Or We Lay Down And Die” – Protest At Coventry City Link

City Link workers and RMT activists on the protest

City Link workers and RMT activists on the protest

Dozens of people protested outside City Link’s Coventry office on New Years Eve against the company’s disgraceful sacking of almost 3000 workers, and to call for nationalisation of the firm.

The mood of the protesters was defiant and angry, and the most popular chant summed up many people’s thoughts – “Nationalise City Link, put the bosses in the clink!”

RMT, Socialist Party activists, TUSC supporters and City Link workers from Coventry and across the country joined the demonstration, including a group from Scotland. One of them, Mick, worked at City Link with his son and daughter – all 3 now face being made redundant.

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TUSC supporting City Link workers

“Management spoke to us two weeks before Christmas and said everything was fine and the rumours about the business were untrue.” he said. “Then they wished us a happy Christmas and New Year. They just kept lying to us.”

When asked what he thought City Link workers should do now, his answer was clear; “Fight. What else can we do? Either we fight, or we lay down and die.”

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Nuneaton RMT Branch Secretary and Socialist Party member Paul Reilly

Many workers are being told they won’t be paid for any of the overtime they worked in the weeks before Christmas – some were working 12-hour days, 7 days a week! Not only are these workers threatened with redundancy, their bosses are refusing to pay them!

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Coventry No 1. RMT Branch Secretary and Socialist Party member Lee Cooper

City Link should be nationalised immediately, and run under democratic workers control and management – with compensation only paid on the basis of proven need. The books should be opened and investigated by City Link workers and trade unions, to see where the money has gone.

The RMT has organised protests like this across the country – this is the start, not the end, of the fightback.

ROTHERHAM CITY LINK DEMO

Friday Jan 2nd, 3pm

Bradmarsh Way, Bradmarsh Business Park

Rotherham

S60 1BW