Packed meeting discusses Trotskyism, Corbyn and socialist change
It was “standing room only” at a packed Coventry Socialist Party public meeting on Thursday 25th August.
People came from all over Coventry to hear Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe speak on “Trotskyism, the Militant tendency, the Corbyn insurgency and the struggle for socialist change.“
Introducing the meeting former Coventry Labour MP Dave Nellist put the current attacks on the Socialist Party, formerly Militant, in their historial context.
Peter Taaffe outlined the role of Trotskyism in the 21st century, the role of Militant and its successes in Liverpool and Coventry, how Militant led the campaign against the poll tax which brought down the Thatcher Government, while also discussing the current Corbyn insurgency and the Socialist Party’s role now and in the future.
Peter discussed the role of the Militant leadership in Liverpool City Council in the 1980’s who refused to make cuts, redundancies and closures, instead setting a needs budget with the support of a mass movement of local trade unions and communities against the Tories to fight for the money the city needed. The council won, with the Thatcher Government providing millions more to Liverpool council, allowing them to build 5000 more houses and created thousands of jobs, with not one job lost!
Compare the fighting stand taken by Liverpool Council who took on Thatcher, building homes and community facilities with Coventry City Council who are closing libraries, public toilets and children’s centres. Quite a contrast!
On the issue of the Poll Tax Peter outlined how it was the Militant that mobilised the mass non-payment which eventually led to the downfall of Thatcher.
Both Dave Nellist in his introduction and Peter in his speech made clear that it was these huge victories of the working class, aided by the leadership of the Militant, that have fuelled the attempts of the establishment and right wing of Labour to whitewash history and attempt to discredit Trotskyism and the history of the Socialist Party.
He also discussed the success of Dave Nellist and the precedent he set as Coventry MP in only taking the average wage of skilled workers within his constituency, with Peter highlighting that you can only represent working people if you’re going through the same struggles they are, which came up within the contributions with many commending him for doing so.
Talking about the role of the Socialist Party after being expelled from the Labour Party, Peter set out how we have been the only 100% anti austerity alternative within politics. While many would agree that the election of Corbyn was a massive victory for the labour movement, this is undermined when the likes of Sadiq Khan aren’t helping those being evicted in Walthamstow by rip off landlords and it is the Socialist Party that is organising occupations and protests to help these people.
However, Peter argued that the Socialist Party would welcome affiliation to the Labour Party similar to that of the Co-operative Party, if the Labour Party was to open up its structures to a more democratic and federal structure and was to become a truly anti-austerity party as Corbyn and the Socialist Party both want.
Following Peter’s remarks there were many interesting contributions from the floor, from Labour voters arguing for deselection of right-wing MP’s and their disgust at Labour councillors passing on Tory cuts to working people. With another attendee stating that “if [he] hadn’t have joined [the SP] last week, [he] definitely would have tonight!”
The discussion brought forward many good contributions and questions for example the campaign for a £10/hr minimum wage and whether this was “idealistic”, to which Peter argued that in reality tax credits are used to subsidize big companies who, whilst making massive profits, say they can’t afford a proper wage for their workers.
The key question for socialists is the question of the system itself, capitalism. We are a very rich country (and world), the problem is the wealth is concentrated at the top. We support all reforms and campaigns that fight for greater equality and for a better life for working class people. At the same time, we point out that we need to get rid of the capitalist system and replace it with socialism.
As well as this there was resounding support for the demand that Coventry City Council should set a no cuts budget and stop the cuts being passed on to working people, and instead building a movement much like the Liverpool council and taking on the Tories instead of doing their job for them, with this tying in to how to further build the movement against austerity.
The meeting highlighted that the attacks on Trotskyism and the Militant have not deterred people, but have increased the interest in our ideas and organisation with the meeting filled with many young people and also people of all ages. They were not put off by the term ‘Trot’ or ‘entryist’ and instead wanted to learn more about it. One union rep from the railways commented afterwards “I have learnt so much today and am definitely looking forward to Socialism 2016 in November!”