Hundreds attend Corbyn rally in Leamington

Hundreds attend Corbyn rally in Leamington

Corbyn speaking in Leamington today

With little to no notice around 500 people gathered outside Leamington Town Hall today to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak. For an hour beforehand school, college and university students and workers streamed out from their lunch breaks on hearing the word that Corbyn was coming.

Such was the support for Corbyn that the road across the hall had to be temporarily closed in order to accommodate the ever growing numbers gathering either side of the road!

Corbyn spoke with his usual passion and highlighted the many policies that have inspired the sort of support he recieved today, such as a £ 10 an hour minimum wage, ban on zero hour contracts, and end to parking charges at hospitals, a massive affordable house building program and the creation of jobs and better services. 

Socialist Party members were inundated with interest with our leaflets and papers  making the call for a Corbyn and Labour to adopt a bold, socialist and anti-austerity programme – with mass rallies in every corner of the country that could galvanise and channel the anger and discontent that exists in society in a socialist direction. 

Today’s rally was built purely through word of mouth and social media, it gives a glimpse of what could be possible if Jeremy and all those that support him organised and built for huge mass rallies. Such events could inspire hundreds of thousands, if not milllions, and wipe out the threat of the Tories and UKIP in many areas and constituencies. 

It stands in great contrast to the defeat of Labour in the West Midlands Mayoral election last week, which showed up the utter failure of Blairism and the right wing of the Labour Party.

We will continue to give our support for the socialist policies of Jeremy Corbyn, and to build for the defeat of the Tories on June 8th! We have organised a public meeting on Wednesday this week at 7.30 in Coventry Methodist Central Hall, to discuss how we can get rid of the Tories and elect Jeremy on socialist policies

Agree and want to help? Get in touch – fill in the form below!

Tories win West Midlands mayor – the complete failure of the Labour right

Tories win West Midlands mayor – the complete failure of the Labour right

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Tom Watson and Sion Simon

The Tories have won the inaugural election for the position of Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. In a tight race, the Conservative candidate Andy Street received 238,628 (50.4 per cent after the second round) to 234,862 (49.6 per cent)  for Sion Simon of the Labour Party.

No doubt this will be a boost for the Tories in the run up to the general election. However it is important to understand what happened and the lessons that can be learnt in order to ensure this victory for the Tories is not built upon in June.

The loss for Labour is fuelling the narrative from both the capitalist establishment and the Labour Right that Jeremy Corbyn is a problem. The ‘blame Corbyn’ script in reality had already been written.  Sion Simon, although refusing to explicitly blame Corbyn, made the following comment which many are seeing as an attack on the leader

“I am talking about values – the issues that came back on the doorstep were about values and our regional campaign [being] overshadowed by national political issues all the time.” He went on to say “… Labour voters in Labour areas were saying to us ‘we don’t feel confident that you are strong enough in our traditional Labour values’, which we always have been hear in the West Midlands and that’s the lesson we need to learn as a party and learn it soon.”

The Labour campaign

These claims however do not stand up to scrutiny. The campaign was wholly a creature of the right wing of the Labour Party. The candidate Sion Simon, is a careerist politician par excellence. A former minister in the Gordon Brown government and current Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, he is the personification of everything ordinary people mistrust in politicians.

As an MP for Birmingham Erdington he was caught in the MP’s expenses scandal, breaching parliamentary rules by renting his “second home” in London from his sister, and was forced to repay about £20,000. Soon after he stepped down as an MP he attempted to position himself as a candidate for the position of a Birmingham City Mayor, that was rejected in a city wide referendum in 2012.

His election leaflets patronised working class voters with talk of building Spitfire aircraft and pictures of the cross of St George. There was little or no talk of Tory austerity and importantly how to fight it. There was little or no mention of the sorts of policies that won Jeremy the leadership of the Labour Party and have begun to win wider support – £10 per hour minimum wage and an end to zero hour contracts for example. Indeed, there was not even a mention of Jeremy Corbyn on the election material from the Labour Party.

Simon prefered to pose with numerous local councillors throughout his leaflets, most of who have carried out massive cuts to local jobs, services and facilities. No wonder the turnout was so low.

Many ordinary Labour Party members would have worked hard in this campaign – unfortunately the direction of the campaign was dictated by the right wing, with disastrous results.

Sion Simon is part of the same section of the Labour Party as Gerard Coyne the West Midlands regional secretary of UNITE the union,  who unsuccessfully challenged Len McCluskey in the recent general secretary elections. Indeed during the election campaign UNITE said it would suspend its donation to Simon’s campaign due to issues around the sharing of members data between the Coyne and Simon camps. The right wing say Corbyn is a turn off for voters, but they say nothing about the effects of their Councils in places like Coventry and Birmingham implementing Tory cuts!

The West Midlands Combined Authority and election turnout

The turnout for this election was 26.3 per cent  and it is fair to say that there was a great deal of cynicism towards the question of the Combined Authority and the position of mayor. Indeed, both the populations of Coventry and Birmingham had voted against having their own city mayor in referendums in 2012 . It also needs to be remembered how the WMCA was created, which was promoted by then Tory Chancellor George Osborne and then willingly supported by right wing Labour Councils in the West Midlands.

The WMCA was never about genuine devolution, more it is about devolving austerity and is a key part of Conservative public sector reform (i.e austerity) agenda.

Unfortunately Labour in the West Midlands, rather than pointing this out for what it is, have gone along with the whole sham. Linked to this, Labour Councils in the West Midlands have obediently implemented every single cut handed down from central government. This does not help Labour set itself out as an alternative to the Tories.

What next? Step up the fight – elect Corbyn on socialist policies!

It is clear from this election, that the Labour Right have nothing to offer in terms of winning elections. The West Midlands is the fiefdom of arch Corbyn enemies such as Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader. Will he take his responsibility for this result?

Though a setback, it would be wrong for supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and all of those people who wish to see the end of the Tories, disheartened.

Working class people can be won over to a bold socialist programme! Jeremy’s policies as already mentioned ,around issues such as scrapping the Trade Union Act, restoring free education, ending the pay cap in the public sector, rights for people in rented accommodation are popular. They chime with the day to day experience of millions of people.  What is needed is a massive campaign across the country – rallies, street corner meetings, demonstrations in every town and city. Let’s bring the methods of Bernie Sanders and Jean-Luc Melenchon in to this election! The right wing can’t be allowed to airbrush Corbyn from election material. No more sabotage from Blair, Mandelson, Tom Watson and their ilk.

A campaign based around Corbyn’s key policies linked with the need for socialism can push the Tories back. The Socialist Party looks forward to helping take the fight to the Tories over the coming weeks.

If you are interested in helping to elect Corbyn and fighting for socialism, fill in the form below!

The Economist declares Theresa May ‘Missing In Action’

The Economist declares Theresa May ‘Missing In Action’

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Missing In Action?

We have received this opinion piece from a Socialist Party member in Coventry about the ‘strong and stable leadership’ of the Prime Minister


A very revealing article has just been posted on the website of ‘The Economist’ magazine. The article is titled “Theresa May, MIA – the mysterious case of the missing Prime Minister”. This magazine is not a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, far from it, it is an unashamedly pro-capitalist mouthpiece.

The writer at The Economist is clearly worried that May’s approach could be damaging for capitalist interests. They could be right to worry.

It makes reference to the reluctance of Theresa May to have any serious interaction with any ordinary member of the public. Already we have seen the Prime Minister visit workplaces with the workers having been sent home and not allowed to talk to the PM or the press. May chose a remote village hall in Scotland for another press event. In all cases her handlers attempt to carefully manage the press.

She has also refused to take part in any televised debates with the other candidates. Yet we are told only she can deliver ‘strong and stable leadership’! If she is so strong, what is she afraid of?

The Tories are not as strong as they like to make out – they can be defeated with socialist policies to kick them out of office.

The real origins of May Day

The real origins of May Day

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Members of the Socialist Movement in Sindh, Pakistan on May Day 2017

May 1st is International Workers’ Day. We are pleased to publish this article by Dave Nellist from the current issue of The Socialist newspaper. Dave explains the revolutionary origins of May Day and it is so important for the working class and socialist movement


The real origins of May Day – by Dave Nellist

May Day has been a public holiday in the UK since 1978. But its real origins lie in the great struggles in America by working people for shorter working hours at the end of the 19th century, and the martyrdom of union leaders executed 130 years ago.

The centre of the movement for an eight-hour working day was Chicago, where some factories imposed an 18-hour day. An eight-hour law had actually been passed by the US congress in 1868. However, over the next 15 years, it was enforced only twice.

But over that same period workers began to take matters into their own hands. For example, in 1872 100,000 workers in New York struck and won an eight-hour day, mostly for building workers.

In the autumn of 1885, a leading union, the Knights of Labor, announced rallies and demonstrations for the following May – on the slogan of “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”

Their radicalism and success in key railroad strikes had led to membership growth. From 28,000 in 1880, the Knights of Labor grew to 100,000 in 1885. In 1886 they mushroomed to nearly 800,000. The capitalists were increasingly frightened at the prospect of widespread strikes.

On 1 May 1886, the first national general strike in American history took place, with 500,000 involved in demonstrations across the country. As a direct consequence, tens of thousands saw their hours of work substantially reduced – in many cases down to an eight-hour day with no loss in pay.

The employers lost no time in executing their revenge. The New York Sun, as direct as its modern British namesake, advocated “a diet of lead for hungry strikers”!

Two days later, on 3 May, 500 police herded 300 scabs through a picket line at the Chicago factory of farm machinery firm International Harvester. When the pickets resisted, the police opened fire and several workers died.

Haymarket

A protest meeting was organised for the following evening in Haymarket Square. Towards its end, in the pouring rain, with only a couple of hundred workers left, the police arrived to break it up.

The meeting had been orderly, but suddenly a bomb was thrown into the ranks of the police. Seven officers were killed and 66 injured.

The police turned their guns on the workers, wounding most of the demonstrators, and killing several. It was never established who threw the bomb – an ‘anarchist,’ or a police ‘agent provocateur.’ At the subsequent trial of the union leaders the prosecution said it was irrelevant, and the judge agreed.

Police raids rounded up hundreds of union activists throughout the country. Eight union leaders were put on trial. Seven of them had not been at the demonstration and the eighth was the speaker on the platform, so none of them could have thrown the bomb.

Legality was never the aim of that trial; revenge was. The Chicago Tribune of the day gave the game away with the headline: “Hang an organiser from every lamp-post.”

The trial began on 21 June. Instead of choosing a jury by picking names from a box – the normal method – it was rigged by a special bailiff, nominated by the prosecutor. He ensured the jury was made up of “such men as the prosecutor wants” – a practice echoed by today’s jury selection in Ireland’s Jobstown protest trial!

On 19 August that jury duly returned a verdict of guilty. Before sentence was formally announced, the defendants were allowed to make statements.

One of the eight, August Spies, a leader of the anarchist International Working People’s Association, made a powerful speech: “Your Honour,” he began, “in addressing this court I speak as the representative of one class to the representative of another…

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement… the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us!

“Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you – and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”

On 11 November 1887, four of the union leaders were executed.

International protests followed. Huge meetings were addressed in England and Wales by Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and William Morris. 200,000 people in Chicago lined the streets for the funerals.

Day of solidarity

From that day on, 1 May has grown to an international day of solidarity among working people.

In 1889, the founding meeting in Paris of what became known as the Second International passed a resolution calling for a “great international demonstration” to take place the following year. The call was a resounding success.

On 1 May 1890, May Day demonstrations took place in the United States and most countries in Europe.

Friedrich Engels joined half a million workers in Hyde Park in London on 3 May, and reported:

“As I write these lines, the working class of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is mobilised for the first time as one army, under one flag, and fighting for one immediate aim: an eight-hour working day.”

As workers have emerged from tyranny and repression in whatever country, they have adopted May Day as theirs. Its true history will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of socialists, as it has done so often in the past.