Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

Public meeting – build the fight against the Tories and for socialist polices

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After the general election result, which shocked the Tories and the capitalist class, Theresa May is attempting to cling onto power by forming an unholy alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies powered Labour to a 40% share of the vote – the Tories are rightly terrified that if they don’t keep power he could win an election. We need to step up the fight against them!

We are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 13th June to discuss the election and how we build the struggle against them. The meeting is at the Methodist Central Hall at 7.30. Please share and come along!

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton

​The election battle lines are drawn – the view from Nuneaton


We have received this article from a Socialist Party member in Nuneaton regarding the forthcoming general election. Readers may remember that Nuneaton was seen as a key marginal in the 2015 election.

The Labour and Conservative manifestos are hot off the printing press and for the first time in a number of years, there is a difference.

Both the Labour and Conservative manifesto offer a vision for Britain, one of society ran for the many and not the few, or one of continued austerity and misery for working class people but tax breaks for the rich.

This was clearly seen on The Andrew Marr Show recently, during a debate between John McDonnell and Damian Green. When discussing Labour’s proposed programme of what is in reality modest nationalisation, Green accused McDonnell of not understanding capitalism, McDonnell quipped back that clearly Green does as he had profited from the rip off that is our privatised water industry. Dead right John!

Whereas the Tories look at essential industries and just see avenues for profit and potential cash cows, Jeremy Corbyn sees essential services that should benefit everybody, be publicly ran, and not used to make a handful of people rich at the expense of the many.

However, the Labour manifesto, despite offering a change from the austerity politics of the Tories, and the austerity-lite policies of the Blair-Brown-Miliband years, falls short of providing a decisive break with capitalism, which we believe is the root of all our problems.

Labour’s plan to renationalise the railways, bringing back into public ownership rail services as current contracts expire, will still leave railways in the hands of private-profiteers for over a decade. The ‘nationalisation’ of the energy industry is a modest plan of setting up a publicly ran company to compete with the others, much like the plans for buss services. Although these are good steps, they fall short of the immediate, democratic nationalisation of key industries and still leave working class people to be exploited and forced to pay rip of prices for train tickets or choose between eating or heating.

Despite these plans being by historical standards very modest, they have been received by the right-wing press with mass hysteria. This is because the capitalist elite fear these modest gains for working people and fear the hopes that a Corbyn led government could give working class people. Whereas they have enjoyed 7 years of growth, with the wealth of the richest 1% of people increasing year on year- with a 14% increase last year alone according to the Sunday Times rich list the rest of us have faced falling living standards due to the cruel austerity politics of both the Tory-Lib Dem coalition and the current government. A Corbyn led government threatens to undermine this.

If given a taste of modest reforms under Corbyn, the ruling elites fear this could cause working class people to want more, which would threaten the vast amounts of wealth they have acquired while the rest of us have suffered. As the saying goes, “appetite grows with eating.”

Although Corbyn’s manifesto is modest, it offers an alternative way of doing things. Although the Socialist Party argues that Corbyn should be bolder, like Melenchon was during the French Presidential election, we back Corbyn and the change in direction he represents and are campaigning for a Corbyn victory.

Although we argue that Corbyn could be bolder with his policies and offer a break with capitalism, the battle lines of this election have been drawn and on election day we will have to choose which side we are on. Are you on the side of Corbyn and for a society that looks after the elderly, gives young people a chance at life with free education, ensures that more people are paid a wage they can live on with a £10hr minimum wage and seeks to change society to be run for the many and not the few? Or are you on the side of Tories and the wealthy elite, for continued austerity for us but tax cuts for wealthiest, for taking the food out of children’s mouths as free school meals are scrapped, or for the continued privatisation of the NHS?

However, whatever the result of the election, the battle for a fairer society and for socialism will still need to be fought. The Labour Party machine is still in the hands of the Blairites who seek to undermine Corbyn and the alternative he represents, especially in the West Midlands. There can be no more talk of ‘unity’ with these professional ‘Red Tories’ who have sought to take Labour back to the Blair-Mandelson days.

If you want to join this fight then stand with us, join the Socialist Party and get involved in the day to day campaigning we do. We support Corbyn and will be making the argument for a Corbyn-led government based on socialist policies.

Hundreds march for the NHS in Leamington

5a7c0dce-b50f-400f-b35e-2951450e4663.jpgHundreds march for the NHS in Leamington

Hundreds of people staged a lively and spirited march through Leamington on Sunday in defence of the NHS.

They reflect a growing alarm amongst ever wider parts of British society that their NHS is under threat from under staffing and under funding and is under attack from this government.

Local services face cutbacks from the so-called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STP’s) that guest speaker Dr Youssef el Gingihy rightly called the ‘Slash Trash and Privatise’ plans.

The march was organised by South Warwickshire Keep our NHS Public and was supported by parents campaigning against cuts to their school budgets.

As the crowd gathered by the park bandstand, they heard organiser Anna Pollert say that the march had been a follow up to the huge national demonstration in defence of the NHS that took place on March 4th, but that now, the recent calling of the general election  had made the issue of defending the NHS as a public service even more urgent.

Other speakers included health workers, Councillor Matt Western, school staff and a 12 year old school student.

Dr El Gingihy, author of the book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps”, explained that in legal terms the NHS had already been abolished. There are still GP’s and hospitals but underneath it has been changed. In the ‘dark days’ of the 90’s the creation of markets and introduction of private finance was preparation to end the NHS as we know it.

They now plan to reduce 7,500 GP surgeries to only 1500 and reduce the number of A&E hospitals to between only 40-70.  The last parliament removed government responsibility to provide health care and now ever greater parts of the NHS were being sold off to corporations to make profits from illness. This he explained was paving the way for a private insurance system on the US model.

Outlining the cuts of £40 billion planned to be made by the early 2020’s, Youssef also reminded us of the one positive thing. That we can change this! That we must mobilise.

The huge demonstration in March and the energy in this protest in Leamington show that we will not let our NHS be stolen from future generations without a fight. The growing number of local protests and of local campaigning groups shows that the potential to beat the profiteers and maintain top notch health care is there.

Whatever the result on June 8, whether we will need to resist the Tory government or campaign to ensure Jeremy Corbyn can stand up to powerful financial interests, we are going to need to campaign, to mobilise and to fight to defend our NHS.

Press release: Dave Nellist withdraws from general election

Dave Nellist withdraws from general election: press release

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

Yesterday it was announced in the local press that Dave Nellist would not be contesting Coventry North West in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In case you missed it, here is the full press release. We also invite you to our meeting tonight at 7.30pm, Methodist Hall


Dave Nellist, who has stood in the last eight general elections, six of them against Labour, has today announced he won’t be contesting Coventry North West in June in order to support Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister.

Mr Nellist, a former Labour MP who was a colleague of Jeremy Corbyn’s in Parliament in the 1980s, was expelled by Labour in 1992 over his opposition to the Poll Tax.  He sat on Coventry City Council as a socialist from 1998 to 2012.  He is now a member of the Socialist Party.

In an open letter being distributed amongst Labour Party members, Coventry Socialist Party says:

“We want to see the Tories defeated, and Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister. It is for this reason that we have taken the decision not to contest the general election this time.”

“Thousands of people regularly vote for us across the city at each election because they trust us to provide a socialist alternative to the mainstream parties. In this election we support the positive reforms being put forward by Jeremy – including an increase in taxes on the rich, increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour, the repeal of the anti-trade union laws etc.”

“We’ll be throwing ourselves into doing everything we can to get rid of this Tory government and making the arguments in favour of electing Jeremy Corbyn with socialist policies”.

Mr Nellist said today:

“I support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies of higher wages, free university education, affordable house building programme, public ownership of the railways – and 4 more bank holidays! I want to see him elected Prime Minister on June 8th.”

“That won’t stop me continuing to oppose Labour’s local council programme of storing up tens of millions of pounds of reserves whilst libraries, nursery provision and youth clubs are underfunded and threatened with closure.”

“But we have a chance on June 8th to send Jeremy to No. 10 and we can’t do that if Coventry sends Tory MPs to Westminster.”

Mr Nellist is the national chair of TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which stood 135 parliamentary candidates in 2015, making it the sixth largest party across Britain.

The TUSC national steering committee meets on 10th May in London and is expected to endorse no candidates at the June general election to maximise the opposition to the current government.

The Socialist Party is holding a public meeting at Coventry’s Methodist Central Hall on Wednesday, 10th May at 7:30 pm to further explain its stance.  The speaker will be Hannah Sell, Deputy General Secretary of the Socialist Party, who was a former member of the Labour Party National Executive in 1988/89.

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.

May Day in Coventry

May Day in Coventry

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PCS Vice-President John McInally speaking at Coventry May Day rally

As part of protests, rallies and demonstrations around the world to mark International Workers’ Day an event was held in Coventry city centre, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry against Racism.

As well as local speakers from a wide variety of unions and campaigns, the main speaker this year was John McInally, national Vice-President of the PCS civil service union.

John outlined the current situation facing working class people, and the need to get rid of capitalism and fight for socialism. He pointed out that 100 years ago in Russia, many people would have said it was impossible to get rid of the Tsar. Yet working class people not only overthrew the Tsar, but also capitalism.

Other speakers included Dave Nellist on the history and origins of May Day, a speaker from UCU, an NUT rep, a member of the Indian Workers’ Association, a Socialist Party member calling for solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya and an activist from Stand up to Racism.

Coventry TUC have ensured that the tradition of May Day is kept alive and hundreds of shoppers will have heard pro trade union, anti racist and socialist arguments. In the coming years this event will grow as the working class begins to find its voice, and rediscovers it’s revolutionary history and the relevance for today’s struggles.

On Monday we will be publishing an article by Dave Nellist in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper on the real origins of May Day.

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.