Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

foodbank

Foodbank use is on the up

News has emerged that the use of foodbanks in the United Kingdom has continued to rise. The Trussell Trust has reported that in “between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017 (they) provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.”

This has been blamed on a number of factors, not least the introduction of Universal Credit as well as the continued use of Benefit sanctions as a way of punishing those most in need. It is also true that due to poverty wages and zero hour contracts, that people who are in work can also be forced to foodbanks in order to survive.

How can this be right in the 6th richest country in the world? A country where there is no shortage of money and wealth. Why is it that working class families have to suffer the sheer indignity of going to foodbanks, whilst the rich corporations manage to avoid paying their taxes?

The answer is simple – it is the capitalist system to blame. A system that sees the majority of the world’s population suffer, even in supposedly advanced countries like the UK.

We need to be able to control the vast wealth and resources that exist on our planet, so we can plan the economy in the interests of ordinary people. That means getting rid of capitalism, fighting for public ownership and workers control of the key sectors of the economy, so we can truly put people before profit. In short, we need to fight for socialism. Join us!

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#JobstownNotGuilty meeting in Coventry this Wednesday – Irish activist speaks

 #JobstownNotGuilty meeting in Coventry this Wednesday – Irish activist speaks
Image result for jobstown not guilty
This week the trial of seven protesters began in Ireland, including Solidarity TD (MP) Paul Murphy. They have been charged with “false imprisonment” of the then Deputy Prime Minister Joan Murphy during a sit-down protest against water charges in November 2014. This has been described as “the biggest political trial in Ireland for a generation”.
In a recent interview with The Socialist, Paul Murphy highlighted the shameful attempts by the prosecution to stop the defendants from speaking about the trial. These were unsuccessful, as were the attempts to rig the trial by banning anyone from Tallaght area – over 100,000 people! – from serving on the jury. The trial is clearly politically motivated, with two Solidarity councillors, Keiran Mahon and Michael Murphy, also charged – with an offence that can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
International solidarity with those on trial has poured in, and this will continue in Coventry on Wednesday. Dublin-based activist Shane O’Fionnain will be speaking at a meeting upstairs in the Four Provinces pub at 7.30pm. This trial is an attack on the right to protest, and must be defeated – please share and attend this important event!

France prepares to go to the polls with race wide open

France prepares to go to the polls with race wide open

melanchom mass rally april 9

Mass rally of 70,000 in Marseille for Jean-Luc Melenchon

France will go to the polls on Sunday 23rd April in the first round of the presidential elections. In a reflection of the political and economic instability that exists around the world, the race is wide open with 4 of the 7 candidates vying to reach the top two and go forward to the run off on 7th May.

This election has been highly significant from the point of view of the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon of ‘France Unbowed’, who in railing against the rich, austerity policies and the political establishment has drawn enormous crowds across France who are enthused by his message. This also provides useful lessons for the campaign of Jeremy Corbyn here in the UK.

We are pleased to reproduce two articles as background reading for those interested in these elections, critical not just for France but people across Europe and indeed the world.

The first is by Clare Doyle of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the worldwide socialist organisation that the Socialist Party is part of. It was written on 8th April and provides useful background information about the context of the election

The second is from the comrades of Gauche Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Left), our sister organisation in France. Members of GR have been actively supporting and intervening in the movement developing around Mélenchon, whilst at the same time putting forward a programme to take the movement forward. You can read what they are saying, including the text of the leaflet being distributed, by clicking here.

If you are interested in the issues raised here and want to link up with socialists in Coventry looking to change society and fight for socialism, then fill in the form below and we will be in touch!

Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Labour leadership contest

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Newcastle 

After Theresa May’s surprise announcement today of a snap election on June 8th, the Socialist Party has produced the following statement. Please read and share – this election is a chance to fight the Tories and fight for socialism!

Theresa May has called a general election for one reason – not the reason she gave – but because of the government’s weakness in face of a rising tide of anger in British society.

Workers are suffering the most prolonged squeeze on wages since the start of the nineteenth century. Benefits cuts are leaving millions without enough money to feed themselves and their families. Last year a record 200,000 people were admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition. Education and the NHS are facing life-threatening cuts. The housing crisis is acute. The new ultra-draconian anti-trade union laws are creating bitterness and frustration among trade unionists.

Far from being a strong government, May fears that, given the Tories’ wafer-thin majority in parliament, she could be overwhelmed by forced u-turns. In the first year of the government alone there were eleven, now – in order to try to prevent more – May has made the biggest u-turn yet. Having pledged not to call a snap election she has gone ahead and done so. This shows how capitalist politicians change the rules whenever it suits them.

Cameron and Clegg introduced the Fixed Term Parliament Act in order to try to shore up the Coalition government for five years, now May is over-riding it to try to strengthen a weak Tory government. She is gambling, based on current opinion polls, that she will win the general election with an increased majority and will then be more able to carry out her real programme – not the warm words about helping the ‘just managing’, but vicious austerity.

High risk for Tories

Her gamble is high-risk. The real poll will take place on 8 June, and a lot can happen between now and then. She is partly posing the election as a referendum on Brexit, hoping that the third of Tory voters who supported ‘remain’ will reluctantly continue to support her government. This is not guaranteed however – some may well switch to the pro-remain Liberal Democrats.

Moreover, the hated Tories are very unlikely to make significant inroads in Scotland. The Scottish National Party is not yet fully exposed and is likely to largely maintain its electoral base. Winning the Copeland byelection has probably given May hope that theTories can improve their position in the North of England. However, in both the Copeland and Stoke byelections the Tory vote actually fell in absolute terms. The Tories only scraped victory in Copeland because the Tory vote held up better than the Labour vote.

Globally the lesson of recent elections – from the US, to France, to the Netherlands – is that voters want to punish the capitalist establishment; and those parties and candidates that claim to be anti-establishment can have a mass appeal. Look at Melenchon in France, who by standing on a left programme, has soared to 19% in the opinion polls with a possibility that he will even go through to the second round. Jeremy Corbyn has already stated that Labour will not oppose the general election going ahead. Now he needs to launch an election campaign based on socialist policies that are relevant to working class people’s lives.

Policies for socialist change

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

The policies that first thrust him into the leadership of the Labour Party would be a good beginning – an immediate introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education for all, mass council house building and nationalisation of the rail and energy companies. These should be combined with policies such as an immediate end to all cuts in public services and a pledge to immediately renationalise Royal Mail.

Jeremy should make clear that he would kick the privateers out of public services and education. He should pledge to introduce a real socialist NHS – a well-funded, comprehensive, high quality NHS, under democratic control, with care free at the point of use. These demands should be linked to the need for fundamental socialist change – for a society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few.

Such an election campaign should not be limited to speeches and election broadcasts. The campaign to defend the NHS should be linked to the mass movement which began with the national demonstration on 4 March. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at that demonstration. Now he, together with the trade union movement and health campaigners, should call a second demonstration, during the election campaign, mobilising millions onto the streets against the Tories and in defence of the NHS.

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

rape-clause

The form

 

The following article about the disgraceful latest attacks on benefit claimants was written by a DWP worker and member of the PCS trade union. A version was published in The Socialist newspaper. The full article is reproduced below.


Changes to Child Tax Credits and the ‘Universal Credit’ benefit system mean that people making a new claim from 6 April will have the number of children they can claim for capped at two. One exception to this is if the third child was born as a result of what the government calls “non-consensual conception.”

However, in order to prove this was the case, there is an eight-page mandatory form that the victim will need to fill out.

Dubbed the “rape clause,” it will require the claimant not only to name the child the exception will apply to, but also have a “third-party professional” fill out part of the form.

This represents a new low for the government.

Disgracefully, the exemption will not apply to claimants who still live with their rapist – despite a British Crime Survey finding that 45% of rapes happen within current relationships. Attacks can be extremely difficult for victims to disclose, let alone prove.

In evidence presented to the House of Lords, the manager of the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre said: “We have more than 30 years’ worth of empirical evidence that tells us that the most dangerous time for a woman and her children is at the point of leaving an abuser. In the UK a woman is murdered every three days by a partner or ex-partner.”

This latest attack on women compounds the threat to women posed by the Housing Benefit cap, which could close two-thirds of the already insufficient number of women’s refuges.

Women and children need material support to escape abusive relationships and live stable, independent lives. The Tories’ rape clause punishes victims and will endanger lives for the sake of reducing the bosses’ tax burden. 

This vile Tory government has shown time and time again that there is no limit to how low it will stoop to in its attacks on the working class and the most vulnerable in society.

Our previous article reported on the callous measures to remove eligibility to Personal Independence Payment – a benefit designed to help with the extra costs of living with care or a disability – from 160,000 people, saving £3.5 billion.

Cuts to the weekly rate of Employment and Support Allowance for those in the ‘Work-Related Activity Group’ will see claimants losing almost £30 from their payments – measures the government claim are beneficial as they will incentivise people to find work!

The heavy-handed nature of the sanctions and conditionality regimes in the benefit system have really been brought to the forefront with the release of Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake, which showcases the miserable living conditions faced by so many in Britain today.

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on living with a disability in Britain today says:

“It is a badge of shame on our society that millions of disabled people in Britain are still  not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, appropriate health services and housing, or benefit from education and employment.  The disability pay gap is persistent and widening, access to justice has deteriorated, and welfare reforms have significantly affected the already low living standards of disabled people.”

It is clear that capitalism isn’t working – we need to fight for the transformation of society along socialist lines, to ensure it is run in the interests of the majority, not the minority.

Under a socialist programme, everyone would be guaranteed a decent job, housing, and education, with the full support there for those who need it most.

Under capitalism, not even these basic demands are possible for so many people. If the system cannot afford these, then we cannot afford the system.

The Socialist Party says: scrap the rape clause. Reverse all benefit cuts and fund secure, genuinely affordable housing for all. You can’t fight domestic violence without also fighting the cuts.

Coventry postal worker responds to closure of Royal Mail pension scheme

Coventry postal worker responds to closure of Royal Mail pension scheme

Striking postal workers in Coventry

Royal Mail have announced plans to close the current Defined Benefit pension scheme in March 2018. The following response was written by a postal worker and Communication Workers Union (CWU) member in Coventry.

Their plan is to put members into an inferior alternative, with no certainty of what members would earn – workers could lose up to a third of their future pensions.
The consultation with the CWU and postal workers have been swept aside as Royal Mail seems determined to undermine terms and conditions, pay and pensions since privatisation in October 2013.

The CWU have rightly spoken out condemning the possible imposition of these pension changes without agreement, but words need to be turned into action very quickly or postal workers like me will stand to face a future of poverty in retirement.

Royal Mail claim they cannot afford to keep paying the current pension, even though it has found £650m to pay shareholders dividends over the last three years.

For workers like me, retirement is fast becoming an elusive dream as the Tory government move the retirement age higher and higher. What chance have I got to live out the rest of my years with some kind of comfort if the government and my employer ‘robs’ the very pension I have worked for?

Royal Mail have not listened to the thousands who voiced their concerns during the consultation and so the CWU need to gather the workforce behind an all-out battle to defend our rights for a decent pension.

It is pretty clear that Royal Mail have no intention of changing their objective of rewarding shareholders while punishing the workforce, so only a clear call to strike action is the only course of action that will get Royal Mail to change course.

Working class families have been paying the price since the banking crisis of 2007/08 and we are all living with the effects of cuts to services every day.

The need for co-ordinated action across all unions against the attack on our pensions and pay is stronger than ever – we have had enough of seeing the top 1% getting richer from hammering us into the ground.

Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Trump orders missile strikes on Syria

Ordinary people across the world have watched the events in Syria unfold with horror, particularly the recent escalation of chemical weapons used against civilians and the response of missile strikes from Trump’s US. We are republishing the below article by Niall Mulholland of the Committee for a Workers’ International on the ongoing situation. 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to launch missile attacks against the Shayrat air base, in Syria, ratcheted up the long running conflict in Syria and dangerously fuelled tensions between the US and Russia and Iran, and also with North Korea and China. It will also significantly increase rivalries between Sunni and Shia-based regimes in the Middle East.

Trump claimed that the tomahawk missiles attack was ordered “on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched”, referring to Khan Sheikhun, where over 70 people died earlier this week.

The appalling death of scores of civilians, including children, quite rightly led to revulsion and condemnation from working class people around the world. However the US, supported by other Western powers, cynically seized upon the terrible incident to try to strengthen their position in the Syrian conflict. The Western powers, which want to see the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, were quick to rush to blame the Syrian regime for the deaths. The unstable Trump administration is also using the missile attack as a way to try to boost its domestic support and to divert attention from the failure to meet Trump’s election promises and provide any solutions to the lives of Americans.

In the absence of an investigation into the reasons for the chemical deaths and without seeking a UN mandate, or even a mandate from the US Congress, Trump ordered the missile attacks against Syria. The US attacks were welcomed by European governments, including the UK, Germany and France, as well as Turkey and Israel. The opposition Islamist Ahrar al-Sham militia in Syria welcomed US “surgical strikes.”

Assad will use the US attacks to try to bolster his anti-imperialist credentials at home. But socialists give no support, whatsoever, to the Assad regime, which has shown no concern for the lives of innocent civilians during Syrian’s long and bloody civil war. Assad is a brutal dictator prepared to use ruthless means to stay in power. However, as of yet, there is no hard evidence to say that the Assad regime was responsible for the death of civilians from chemicals. Given that Assad, with crucial help from Putin, is winning the war, it appears counterproductive from his point of view to launch an indiscriminate chemical attack, fully aware that it would a pretext for a possible US-led military attack.

Moscow insisted that the Syrian air force hit a depot of chemical weapons produced by rebels fighting government forces. Günther Meyer, director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, goes further: “Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons. With their backs against the wall, they have next to no chance of opposing the regime militarily. As President Trump’s recent statements show, such actions make it possible for anti-Assad groups to receive further support.” (Quoted by the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (6/4/17)).

Counter-revolution

At this stage, the only certainty about this week’s terrible scenes in Khan Sheikhun is that it killed scores of civilians, on top of the hundreds of thousands of other war-related deaths. This is fundamentally a result of the counter revolution that unfolded in Syria following a genuine mass revolt against the rule of Assad in 2011, inspired by revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. But in the absence of strong united working class organisations and a socialist leadership, sectarian and Islamic forces were able to step into the vacuum, aided by reactionary Gulf States and Turkey and by western powers, leading to the degeneration of the mass revolt into a vicious multi-faceted civil war.

It is unclear whether the US air strikes are a show of strength and limited action or if they presage a broader military intervention in Syria. The Shayrat airbase is an important staging post for Syrian and Russian military operations against the largely Islamic armed opposition and the US attacks will be blow.

Russia condemned the US air strikes as an “act of aggression” and a “violation of international law” and suspended its channel for communicating military action in Syria with Washington, used to prevent accidental conflict.

These developments leave open the possibility of direct clashes between US-led and Russia military forces in Syria, with far-reaching consequences in the region and internationally.

Iran, which has militias fighting alongside Assad’s troops, also strongly condemned US actions. Adding to the dangerous complications on the ground, Iranian forces are also in Iraq, nominally fighting alongside the US-backed Baghdad regime’s troops against ISIS.

Trump appeared to order the air attacks while in talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, on his visit to the US, which will only serve increase tensions with the Beijing regime. Earlier this week, Trump indicated he was prepared to take “unilateral” military action against North Korea and has also made threatening remarks over Chinese military “island-building” in the South China Sea. According to the Financial Times (London, 07/04/17), “Liu Binjie, who sits on the standing committee that oversees China’s parliament, warned against unilateral action on North Korea. ‘The entire state is militarised,’ he said. ‘If you threaten them with force, it may backfire on you.'”

As the CWI warned, the advent of Trump’s administration marks a shift to more dangerous and unpredictable world relations. In this situation, the working class and youth of the Middle East, the US and all over the world need a mass anti-war movement and the development of powerful working class parties, with bold socialist policies, to counter the war, terror and poverty of capitalism and imperialism.

  • Stop Trump’s attacks on Syria – Oppose all outside powers’ interference in the region
  • End war and terror in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East
  • No to racism and scapegoating of immigrants and refugees
  • For workers’ unity and socialism