Socialist candidate Nicky Downes opposes NHS patient fees

Socialist candidate Nicky Downes opposes NHS patient fees

Nicky with Lower Stoke TUSC candidate Rob McArdle

Nicky with Lower Stoke TUSC candidate Rob McArdle

Over the past few days our Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in Coventry have received dozens of emails through the 38 Degrees campaign regarding patients being charged for the use of the NHS and whether we would commit to keeping the NHS free at the point of use. Here is the response (slightly edited for publication) of Nicky Downes, TUSC candidate in Coventry North East.

‘Thank you for taking the time to get in touch with my campaign and good to hear from you again.

In answer to your question I am absolutely committed to keeping the NHS free at the point of use. For more background information I have added below a response taken from another enquiry regarding the NHS for more detail about the position of my party towards our health service.

Historically the NHS has been one of the most important gains made by working class people in Britain. We need a massive campaign to stop it being destroyed; which would leave workers in Britain facing the nightmare of a profit-driven US-style ‘Breaking Bad’ health service. If the Tories win the election they will accelerate the destruction of the NHS. Labour has said they will repeal the Tories Health and Social Care Act, but they have not pledged to reverse privatisation, much of which took place under Labour governments.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaigns for all the profiteers to be kicked out of the NHS. We demand an end to ‘ Profit From Illness’ (PFI) and for the massive debts it has created to be written off. We oppose all cuts, closures and job losses in the NHS.

We also go further, calling the expansion of the NHS with free and accessible dental care for all and the abolition of the prescription charges. We call for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy chains and medical supply industry and integrate them into a democratically controlled NHS.

We demand a minimum of at least £10 per hour and a 35-hour week for all health workers.

We also campaign for a democratic socialist society where poverty – the biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health – could become a problem of the past.’

Agree with Nicky? Please fill in the form below to get involved in our campaign!

Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

 Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

Dan asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

Dan asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

A number of our election candidates are writing short articles to explain why they’re standing for TUSC. Our candidate in Bablake, Dan Crowter, wrote this. Please read and share!

When Labour councillor David Kershaw announced the council’s plans to close almost all Coventry libraries, adult education services, children’s centres and more, I was stunned. How can a former head teacher, who was even a member of the National Union of Teachers, justify these cuts? They will damage children’s lives, their education and their future.

Not only that, how can he even suggest cutting transport for disabled children when he’s a governor at a special needs school, Alice Stevens (now Riverbank Academy)? For anyone to cut that essential service would be disgusting, but as a governor at a special needs school Cllr Kershaw should know and understand its importance even more.

As a young parent, and carer for someone with special needs, I know the value of these services first hand – and unlike Cllr Kershaw, I would never vote to cut them. I’d fight tooth and nail to preserve them, along with all the other services that the people of Coventry use and rely on.

Being let down by Labour councillors is nothing new, but a former teacher knowingly cutting services that will seriously affect children is shocking. That’s one of the reasons I’m standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Bablake, against Cllr Kershaw. I think the people of Coventry deserve better than councillors who pass on the cuts “with heavy hearts” – we need representatives who’ll actually stand up and fight them!

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Watch the making of the TUSC election broadcast!

Watch the making of the TUSC election broadcast!

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist speaking at a TUSC meeting

We are proud to confirm that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be having a national TV broadcast later this month. It will be a clear anti-austerity and socialist message and the broadcast times are scheduled to be BBC2 1755, ITV 1825, and BBC1 1855. It will include Dave Nellist the TUSC candidate for Coventry North West

You can watch a short film of the making of the broadcast below, and we urge you to get involved by filling in the form beneath the clip

 

 

 

No to austerity! Get involved in the Socialist election campaign

No to austerity! Get involved in the Socialist election campaign

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House (Rob McArdle left, Sarah Smith right)

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

Leaflets are now coming through doors across Coventry for our three Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) general election candidates – Judy Griffiths, Nicky Downes and Dave Nellist.

If you are visiting this site after reading it, welcome! We encourage you to get involved with our campaign in any way you can – whether it be by talking to your friends, family and workmates about why you they should vote TUSC, leafleting your street, knocking doors. putting up a window poster or donating a few pennies or pounds to our funds. We would also encourage you to consider talking the step of joining the Socialist Party. Help us build a movement to put an end to capitalist austerity and to build support for a socialist system that puts the needs of ordinary people before profit.

For more information about TUSC please watch the clip of Dave Nellist at the bottom of this page.

If you are want to help our campaign or to join us, please fill in the form below!

Geoffrey Robinson to stand down?

Geoffrey Robinson to stand down?

Millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson

Millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson

Commenting on the rumour of the possible resignation of Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson, Dave Nellist, himself a former Coventry MP and now TUSC candidate for the constituency, said:

“It comes as little surprise that stories are appearing about Geoffrey Robinson standing down, or that local people face the imposition of an outside candidate, I predicted this some months ago.

The last thing the people of Coventry North West need is an establishment lackey from the political classes parachuted in to our city. But whoever the Labour candidate is, I won’t need a map or a chaffeur to get round the constituency, because I live here.

If they win the general election the Tories intend to increase the pain of austerity.  But Labour are no real alternative, as they have also signed up to similar levels of cuts.  Frankly, it makes little difference which big party you vote for. What Coventry needs is an MP who will oppose austerity from whichever party it comes, and stand up for local people against the Westminster establishment.”

Mr Nellist, who was the Labour MP for Coventry South East from 1983 to 1992, was expelled from the Labour Party for his socialist views and consistent opposition to Tory policies such as the Poll Tax.  He famously only took the same wage as a skilled factory worker in Coventry, a commitment he has again made if elected.

Mr Nellist said today:

“People say that all the establishment parties are the same. They are right. If elected I intend only to take the average wage of a skilled worker in the city – less than half the wage MPs currently get. I’ve always believed MPs should be prepared to live exactly the same as ordinary people in ordinary jobs – not on a wage that insulates or isolates them from day-to-day problems.

Let’s see whether Labour’s new candidate is coming to share the life and problems of Coventry people, or to use us as a rung on a career ladder to Westminster.”

Agree with Dave and want to help the Socialist campaign? Fill in the form below!

 

 

#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

At Coventry Council’s budget meeting on Tuesday February 24th, the governing Labour group voted unanimously to support a budget containing £15million worth of cuts. These cuts will lead to the closure of libraries, adult education centres, children’s centres, and the sacking of many council workers including lollipop men and women.

The National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), former MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, handed in a 1,500 strong petition against the cuts to the Cabinet meeting held in the morning before the budget “debate”. When presenting the petition, Dave argued that the council should use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign to get the money back from central Government, and campaign for an incoming Government to provide financial relief to councils which used reserves to fund services.

Dave pointed out that the council has doubled its reserves from £40million to £80million, as well as making political decisions to use reserves for the ACL loan (£14million), investing in Coombe Abbey hotel (over £6million) and £millions more in Study Inn sites – “why don’t they make the political decision to use these reserves to fund services we need now, not for projects in 5, 6 or 7 years time?”

“This is nothing new. 40 years ago the Council faced cuts from a Labour Government under the IMF, and the Council leader, Arthur Waugh Sr., called a meeting in St Mary’s Hall of every Labour local authority, to call on the Labour Government not to make cuts.” Dave Nellist

In his brief response to reject the petition, Labour councillor Damian Gannon, Cabinet member for finance, claimed that reserves cannot legally be used – we would strongly challenge this claim, and ask under what law is it illegal for the council to use its own reserves? Even Tory minister Eric Pickles has called on councils to use reserves, and he isn’t known for advocating illegal budgets!

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Mr Gannon also claimed that the majority of the reserves cannot be used – however, even taking into account the £18million set aside for schools, the £10million the council plans to spend on privately-built old people’s homes (which should be built by the council, not private businesses), £4million for Ofsted improvements and around £3.5million that the council has used to fund children’s services and disabled children’s transport (demonstrating that the reserves can be used to fund expenditure!), there is around £45.5million left. Instead of setting this money aside for future projects, or “for a rainy day”, the council should acknowledge that it’s already “raining” and use it now!

If the councillors believed that the election of a Labour Government in May would make a difference, they could begin campaigning now for an incoming Labour Government to reverse all cuts, restore funding to local Government and reimburse any money the council had to use from reserves. However, despite council leader Ann Lucas’ theatrical prayer for a Labour Government in the council chamber, the evidence suggests that they know a Labour Government will act in the same way as the Tories. Perhaps they have heeded the words of their director of finance, Chris West, who said recently that “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.”

Reflecting on the Cabinet meeting at which the petition was rejected, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist and community campaigner Robert McArdle said “It seems as though Labour councillors are willing to use reserves for anything except fighting cuts, and aren’t prepared to mount a battle against austerity.”

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

Before the budget meeting in the afternoon a group of trade unionists and socialists lobbied the council to ask the councillors going in if they would vote against cuts. Sadly none of the councillors were swayed – we believe this shows the need for an anti-austerity challenge at the next election, to elect councillors who will listen and fight.

The budget meeting was more eventful than most council meetings, particularly as the opposition to cuts throughout was demonstrated by the presentation of 3 petitions against library closures – one of them presented by Labour cllr Ram Lakha, who went on to vote for the budget which will probably lead to the closure of the libraries!

Labour’s Damian Gannon moved the budget, which was described by a Tory cllr as “a Gannon korma not a Nellist vindaloo”! Even this is perhaps flattering to the budget, however, which many people across Coventry will have found hard to swallow.

For the most part the budget consisted of “tangible service cuts that our residents will see and feel”, in cllr Gannon’s own words. However, the proposal of a £500,000 “transition fund” to enable “community groups” to run services was notable. This concept chimes perfectly with David Cameron’s vision of a “big society”, in which the state and local government have ceased to run services and they are instead taken over by volunteers – not the first time that our Labour council has echoed Tory values.

While volunteers can do valuable work, a team of untrained individuals, however dedicated, will not be able to run services as effectively as trained staff. The council is using this fund as a way to distract from the massive damage these cuts will cause. It is also important to ask how much of this £500K will be going to private vultures like PriceWaterhouseCooper, who the council have previously used?

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

Cllr Gannon said that the council has “no choice but to make cuts”, and “has made bold and brave decisions”. A bold and brave decision would be to fight the cuts, not do the Tories’ dirty work!

During council leader Ann Lucas’ speech, despite appealing to the trade unions to work with the council, she attacked their position towards the council as “drivel” and criticised the “outraged middle class” for protesting against cuts. We want the council to work with the trade unions as well – but we want them to work together to fight the cuts, not make them.

Coventry Council does have a choice. They could use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign against cuts – but they’ve chosen instead to make ordinary people pay with our jobs and services. Cllr Gannon rightly said that the Tories are “on the side of the few not the many” – but which side are Labour on?

The Socialist Party will keep building the campaign against austerity within the trade unions, in our communities and in elections as part of TUSC . We will also campaign against the capitalist system, the cause of austerity – and replace it with a socialist system, run by the millions not the millionaires.

Dave Nellist outlines the Socialist response to the TTIP deal

Dave Nellist outlines the Socialist response to the TTIP deal

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Over recent days we have received dozens of emails from residents across Coventry regarding the TTIP deal. The emails were sent to all candidates that have announced they are standing in the General Election via the 38 Degrees campaign website. The Socialist Party welcomes the opportunity to state our position on this, and if you agree with our response please fill in the form at the bottom of the article. Remember nothing will change unless we get organised!

The email that was sent to us is below, followed by the response from Dave Nellist, and our other two parliamentary candidates, Judy Griffiths and Nicky Downes.

Dear Dave Nellist, Parvez Akhtar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP,

As a candidate in my local constituency, I would like you to oppose the TTIP trade deal.

I’m really worried about the effect of TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Patnership) on further privatisation of our NHS and public services, as well as the inclusion of an ISDS clause which could allow corporations to sue governments. A document leaked last week showed that the NHS still isn’t exempt from the deal. You can read more about it here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/ttip-leaked

Please can you tell me what you will do to stop this deal and protect our public services?

Our response

Myself and my party are resolutely opposed to the TTIP trade deal for the very reasons outlined in your email. We believe it would further open up our public services (particularly the NHS) to be privatised and run in the interests of profit, not the public.

The way that TTIP has been devised is completely underhand and shows the undemocratic nature of the forces behind it. Little wonder they want to keep it behind closed doors given that it represents another attack on ordinary people and the services we rely on.

In an article in our weekly newspaper The Socialist we wrote:

‘Despite its alleged boost to economic growth, the TTIP would further deregulate finance, genetically modified organisms and fracking, and also harden copyright laws. But probably the most dangerous aspect of the TTIP is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

The European Commission defines ISDS as a system that “allows an investor to directly bring a claim against the authorities of the host country in front of an international tribunal”.

Corporations could bring claims against states whenever they feel that their business interests have been affected by national laws or policies.

It means, for example, that the Tories’ NHS privatisation agenda would be accelerated as US private healthcare companies demand access to run NHS services and be entitled to legally claim against a government if denied.’ (From The Socialist Issue 825, 17.09.14 – full article here http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/19231)

So we also think it represents an attack on our democratic rights, with multi-national corporations trumping the interests of ordinary people and voters. It is worth noting as well that my party has a very good record in Coventry on the issue of NHS privatisation unlike the Conservatives and Labour, both of whom supported the Private Finance Initiative at Walsgrave which has resulted in scandals like the rip off car parking charges. We would add that Labour do not oppose TTIP on principle, indeed in the neighbouring Coventry North East constituency their candidate has responded that they support TTIP albeit with some reservations and they do not even call for all public services to be exempt from the agreement. This really highlights the problem in that Labour only disagree on with the Tories on certain issues of detail, not fundamentals. They are not prepared to oppose TTIP in its entirety which is being created wholly in the interests of the big multi-national corporations to open up markets to the detriment of ordinary people.

What is stark about TTIP is that it reflects clearly what the current economic system is about – making profit at the expense of working people. So we resolutely oppose TTIP now, and would continue to do so if elected. I would also use the platform as an MP to help mobilise opposition to TTIP, both through raising awareness but also protests and demonstrations which can force change. I also believe TTIP is yet another example of how we need to change the type of society we live in, where people are put before profit so I will continue to campaign for a new socialist society.

If you would like any more information or have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or visit our websites at the bottom.

Yours Sincerely

Dave Nellist

www.coventrysocialists.com

www.tusc.org.uk

www.socialistparty.org.uk

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Interview with children’s author Cathy Cassidy about library closures

Interview with children’s author Cathy Cassidy about library closures

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Cathy Cassidy speaking at NUT “Save Our Libraries” meeting. Nicky Downes centre, Alan Gibbons far left

Around 50 people attended a “Save Our Libraries” meeting on Tuesday 3rd March, organised by the National Union of Teachers. The meeting, chaired by Coventry NUT President and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Nicky Downes, heard speeches from authors Alan Gibbons and Cathy Cassidy about the importance of libraries and the campaign to save them.

Socialist Party member Dan Crowter spoke at the meeting about the need for the council to adopt a fighting strategy by using their reserves to buy time, and build a campaign with trade unions and community groups to get the money back from central Government. Afterwards we interviewed children’s author Cathy Cassidy about the campaign.

Dan: Where do you think the campaign to save the libraries should go now?

Cathy: We need to keep it up. This [the one year delay of closures] isn’t breathing space, it’s a chance to build the campaign. The protests and lobbies of the council should continue, write letters to the paper, turn up to meetings and councillors surgeries. Keep saying it. Be a thorn in the side of the council! The campaign in Coventry has been amazing, so keep it up. Put pressure on the council – I don’t believe any Labour councillor wants to make cuts.

Dan: So what would you like to see the council do instead?

Cathy: Well, instead of making cuts with a heavy heart, why aren’t their hearts so heavy that they decide they can’t make the cuts? If it’s playing on their minds, if it’s weighing on them, on their consciences, they should listen to that. They should listen to the people of Coventry, and stand up for the people and for the children who use the libraries. Children keep contacting me and telling me they care about their libraries, asking me to stop this from happening in their town – the councils need to listen.

Thanks Cathy for doing the interview and supporting the campaign – join the fightback against library closures and all cuts!

Tile Hill Library campaigner – “Why I fought to save our libraries”

Tile Hill Library campaigner – “Why I fought to save our libraries”

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Sarah Smith

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Sarah Smith

On Monday 23rd February scores of protestors held a “read-in” at Coventry Council House to protest at the councils proposals to close libraries in the city.

One of them was Sarah Smith from Tile Hill, a Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) activist who campaigned against the closure of Tile Hill Library and has now organised a petition against the closure of Jardine Youth Centre and Tile Hill Children’s Centre.

Below are some remarks she wrote about the campaign.

“The Library “read in” protest on Monday involved the telling of stories, so here is a story of a girl, who as a child had nothing. This girl got kicked out of school aged 14 without being able to read or write and was branded a good for nothing.

This girl used to pass a house often and in that house lived Dave Nellist, this girl heard that this MP stood up for people like her but didn’t ever dare to think that one day she would meet him. That girl was me, and now I campaign alongside Dave!

It’s thanks to Libraries and adult education classes that I learned how to read and write and got diagnosed with Dyslexia aged 25. So when I heard of the threatened closures I knew I had to get involved and started the “Save Tile Hill Library” petition, taking it in to every shop on Jardine Crescent. By standing with a stall in Tile Hill, and thanks to the shops support in having the petition, it has gained further support and well over 1000 signatures.

My petition ends Tuesday 3rd March, from there I aim to start a new petition, this time to save the Youth Centre and Sure Start Centre that are in Tile Hill. Finally, I feel very passionately about this campaign and my own theory on the reason why this is happening is the following – we are all entitled to our own opinion, but how do you reference that opinion if there are no books on that Library shelf? I feel that this is an attack on the lower and working class to silence us, but they WON’T silence me!”

Sarah is the prospective TUSC candidate for Woodlands in the May elections. Vote TUSC for fighting local councillors who’ll stand up for you!

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

77 people attended the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in Coventry on February 25th. The Socialist Party, which organised the meeting, is standing as part of TUSC alongside the RMT trade union and many leading trade unionists.

Judy Griffiths, Coventry CWU branch secretary and prospective TUSC candidate, chaired the meeting, at which speakers from the FBU, PCS, Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and NUS spoke (all speaking in a personal capacity), reflecting the base of TUSC and the Socialist Party in the unions across the city.

Jordan Jefferies, a sixth-form student in Coventry and a Socialist Party member, spoke about the anger felt by many young people against austerity, and said that TUSC has been amazing in attempting to engage the people who are disillusioned and disinterested in politics. People are disillusioned and angry with establishment politics and rightly so. The Socialist Party and TUSC are out to build the opposition to “business as usual”.

Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President and prospective TUSC candidate, spoke about the effects she sees of austerity on children in her job as a teacher.

Nick Harrison, Coventry Fire Brigades Union borough rep had been on strike with his union the same day – supported on the picket lines by Socialist Party and TUSC activists – and spoke about their dispute, and the need for a viable political alternative to Labour.

Lee Cooper, RMT Coventry No.1 branch secretary, spoke about the City Link scandal, the effect it had on workers and the need for a working class political voice.

Former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist spoke about the TUSC project more widely, and why it is significant in the development of a new party for ordinary people.

This meeting showed some of the appetite in Coventry for a political party that sticks up for ordinary people. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain show the potential for building an anti-austerity alternative. The Socialist Party will build TUSC and fight for bold socialist policies to combat not just austerity, but the cause of austerity – the capitalist system.

Sign up here to get involved in the Socialist Campaign Team for the election!