Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

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Socialists with the local community prevent bedroom tax eviction in Charterhouse

May 3rd will see local elections take place in Coventry, with 18 seats (one third of the council) being contested.

Nationally the Tories continue to show that they are not “strong and stable” but weak and wobbly. The 2017 general election called by Theresa May was supposed to follow the Conservative script  – an increased majority for May, with Corbyn’s Labour suffering. The actual results were very different. We predicted that Corbyn’s anti austerity policies would be popular despite the constant sabotage of the Labour right wing. The outcome showed that working class people are looking for change – not surprising given year after year of austerity cuts.

Unfortunately Corbyn’s anti austerity leadership has not yet been reflected in Labour Councils across the country, and Coventry is no exception.

We have outlined previously how we think the council should be opposing the cuts by refusing to pass on Tory austerity and campaigning to win back money stolen from Coventry by central government, a strategy which has obtained support at a national level within the local government trade unions as well as union branches locally. Sadly, instead of using some of the substantial reserves (which have now risen to over £100 million since 2010) to fund services and hold down council tax whilst a campaign is built, they have chosen to reduce library services, increase charges for children’s disability transport and made cuts to community centres and adult education. Coventry is suffering massively from the crisis of capitalism – we need public representatives who are going to help organise resistance to these attacks.

In recent elections the Socialist Party, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, has stood widely across the city, including standing in all 18 wards. We wanted to ensure that there was an anti austerity and socialist voice when both of the main parties offered more of the same, pro cuts pro big business polices – this stance being supported by several thousand votes across the city. In the 2017 general election we took the decision not to stand in order to support Jeremy’s battle against the Tories – we distributed over 15,000 leaflets outlining why the Socialist Party supported Corbyn’s policies, and why they needed to be extended further.

In 2018 we recognise that Jeremy Corbyn is attempting to build on his anti austerity message at a time when the Tories are on the ropes. Therefore we will not be contesting all wards, but will be standing in 5 – St Michaels, Radford, Lower Stoke, Henley and Sherbourne.

Whilst recognising Jeremy’s position and so standing in fewer seats, we are continuing to fight austerity and the capitalist crisis using every opportunity we have, whether that’s taking part in campaigns to save the NHS and other key services, helping to build stronger, more militant unions, or standing in elections.

We will be continuing to put forward the idea that councillors do have a choice to oppose the cuts, both in the council chamber and on the streets, and that working class people should not pay for the capitalist crisis. Given the latest increase in PFI car parking charges at Walsgrave we will continue to call for these Profit from Illness schemes to be scrapped.

We will be arguing that to end the situation where thousands of Coventry kids are living in poverty we will need to create a socialist society that puts ordinary people before profit. A socialist society that through public ownership of the key sectors of the economy including the banks, can plan the enormous resources that exist for the benefit of the majority.

We urge you to support our candidates in the wards where we are standing, attend our public meeting, help our campaign by for example making a donation, putting up a poster or volunteering to distribute leaflets. We also would encourage you to think about joining the Socialist Party – help us build a mass socialist movement armed with the policies that can defeat capitalism once and for all.

Public Meeting 

Council cuts, Corbyn and the Tories – how can we fight back?

Tuesday 24th April, 7.30pm

Methodist Central Wall, Warwick Lane, Coventry.

Please fill in the form below to get involved!

 

 

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Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

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Defend the NHS

For the second time in less than a year hospital bosses have decided to increase parking charges at University Hospital in Coventry. The car park is operated by private company ISS, as part of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. These charges are paid by patients and hard-working NHS staff – what PFI really means is Profit From Illness!

The Coventry Telegraph has previously revealed that between 2011 and 2017 the local NHS trust paid over £6 MILLION in subsidies for the car park to ISS – and ISS refused to reveal how much profit they made from the contract. Public money shouldn’t be given to private profiteers – PFI contracts should be ended immediately!

Thousands of people have already signed a petition organised by Coventry Socialist Party and NHS SOS against these outrageous charges.

We say

  • No to PFI car parking charges
  • Time to scrap PFI – no more Profit From Illness
  • The NHS should be brought completely back in to public ownership, under the democratic control of NHS workers, patients and the communities that it serves
  • Get rid of capitalism – the root cause of all attacks on our healthcare system

Protesters rally in the snow to support the NHS

Protesters rally in the snow to support the NHS

Following from successful movements and protests across the country Coventry Keep Our NHS Public organised a protest to protect our NHS on the 3rd of March. Protestors, including many Socialist Party members, gathered at the walk in centre on Stoney Stanton Rd and marched towards Broadgate – calling on the government to increase NHS funding and to scrap PFI contracts. Despite the cold and snow, there were over 60 in attendance and there was great support from the general public for the campaign, including many NHS workers.

At Broadgate speakers gave rousing speeches on issues affecting the NHS, explaining how the NHS ‘winter crisis’ is a symptom of poor funding and privatisation, and how the Tories deliberately allow this to continue. The rally was chaired by Jane Nellist, president of Coventry TUC. Vicky Horbury, organiser of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign, highlighted how Coventry’s health centre may be under threat, and how important it is to campaign for the NHS in Coventry.

Steve Score spoke about how campaigns against Tory health service cuts are important and how they can succeed. As chair of the successful campaign to Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre his insights were inspiring for protesters and set an example for a successful campaign. He argued that going forward there must be a united movement, and also that trade unions should increase their support of the junior doctors’ struggles. Similarly, Dr Louise Irvine, co-chair of Health Campaigns Together, spoke about leading the successful ‘Save Lewisham Hospital’ campaign, emphasising the importance of uniting patients and staff in mass organisation to challenge Tory plans to ‘downgrade’ the hospital. Raising tens of thousands of pounds, the campaign was able to successfully challenge the Tories plans and resulted in a great victory for local people. Both campaigns prove the importance of uniting patients and staff to effectively oppose the Tory cuts and prove that through organisation campaigns can win.

Alistair Smith, Warwick University lecturer in global sustainable development and UCU member, brought solidarity from the UCU amidst their continuing industrial action. He explained how education and health are both core parts of our society and how individualism has been pushed upon us at the expense of the many. The marketisation of health and education in tandem are symptoms of the same Tory ideology that sacrifices principal for profit. It was encouraging for all to see support and unity from wider movements for the NHS.

Dr Louise Irvine and Jane Nellist speaking at the rally

Socialist Party members also ran a stall, distributing leaflets and selling The Socialist newspaper as well the Socialism Today magazine. The amount of interest shown in our literature reflects the public’s appetite to oppose Tory attacks on the NHS, and that socialist ideas are key to this struggle. The Socialist Party will continue to support the Coventry Keep Our NHS Public campaign and to work with them on future events.

 

Leading Coventry trade unionist urges support for International Women’s Day meeting

Leading Coventry trade unionist urges support for International Women’s Day meeting

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Jane Nellist

Coventry Socialist Party are holding a meeting this week to mark International Women’s Day 2018. The event will take place on Thursday 8th March, 7.30pm at Methodist Hall, Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. Please visit the Facebook event for more information.

Here Jane Nellist, a prominent socialist trade unionist in the city, explains why she is attending the meeting and why everyone should attend.

“It’s 48 years since the first Women’s Liberation demonstration took place in London on March 6th 1971.  This had a huge impact on me as a 15 year old, reading about the demand for equal pay and equal rights for women.  It gave me confidence. This year we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the right for some women to vote (all working class women gained the vote 10 years later!).
Whilst women have made huge strides forward thanks to the struggles of women, especially working class women, there is still a long way to go.
As a member of the Socialist Party in Coventry, I will be going to the public meeting on Thursday 8th March, International Women’s Day, at the Methodist Central Hall to discuss how we can take the fight for full rights for women and the real liberation from a class system that still divides and rules us.
The equal pay gap, continuing sexual harassment of women, the cuts to our services- our health, our safety and our children’s services and many more- must be challenged.
But more importantly we have to rid ourselves of capitalism that creates a society where the 99% are forced to endure austerity whilst the 1% continue to cream off vast wealth.
We stand in the shoes of those women and men who have fought and won- the Ford Workers, the women Chainmakers, the working class women in the cotton mills fighting for the vote.
Come and join us on Thursday evening”

 

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people

Coventry shows solidarity with the Syrian people

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In Broadgate to show solidarity

A protest was held in Coventry today to stand in solidarity with the people of Eastern Ghouta, Syria – where in the last few days alone 500 have been killed by bombing with many more injured.

At short notice around 65 people assembled in Broadgate, many originally from Syria.  Speakers spoke passionately about the situation facing people – with millions displaced from their homes, families separated and lives shattered.

It was pointed out by speakers that the so called international community have abandoned the people of Syria – the various governments, whether that be the UK, US or Russia are busy vying for influence alongside their regional client states and organisations, all at the expense of ordinary people in the region.

As we wrote

“We need to build mass movements of ordinary people both here in the UK, and across the Middle East. These need to provide solidarity to those affected whilst at the same time being armed with a socialist programme for revolutionary change that can cut across national, religious and ethnic divides, to build a society that puts an end to the chaos of capitalism and imperialism”

Members of the Socialist Party attended the protest to show our solidarity, and also distribute our leaflet outlining where we stand. You can download this by clicking here.

You can see more pictures of the protest by visiting the Coventry Socialists Facebook page.

If you are interested in finding our more, please fill in the form below!

Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

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Marching against cuts in Coventry

Labour controlled Coventry City Council has voted yet again to increase Council Tax – this time by 4.9% – meaning we will pay more for less.

Tory cuts from central government have hit cities like Coventry, since 2010 the money coming to Coventry has decreased by £107million. At the same time because the Council has not fought back, this has only encouraged the Tories to cut even more. Not a single Labour (or Conservative) councillor voted against the rise in council tax today.

Rather than fight back against the government, the Council has slashed thousands of jobs, closed libraries, introduced charges for children’s disability transport and brought in volunteers to do jobs previously done by paid employees.

Since 2010, whilst having their money cut the Council has increased their reserves from £45 million to over £94 million.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and the national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has consistently put forward that the Council should use this money to halt cuts in services, link up with other Labour councils and campaign to win the money from central government. The government is weak. A concerted effort could win. The alternative to this is passing on Tory misery to Coventry people. It is fantastic that as leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has been putting forward anti-austerity policies – this must also extend to ending Council austerity here in Coventry.

1 in 4 West Midlands rental properties “unfit for habitation”

1 in 4 West Midlands rental properties “unfit for habitation”

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An article from the 10th of February in the Coventry Observer reported that over a quarter of private rented homes in the West Midlands are unfit for human habitation. The figure for social housing from each local authority in the West Midlands came to 12 percent. These findings are based on the government’s English Housing Survey’s report for 2016/17.

These figures add weight to calls for tenants to have further powers to defend themselves from rogue landlords. The government has announced its support for the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19, but this bill is still a long way from becoming law. Also, considering the wealth gained from being a private landlord, whose interests are represented by the Tories, this bill may never actually see the light of day.

The Socialist Party believes that everyone has the right to high quality, safe housing. Though we support the efforts behind the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, tenants need safe and suitable housing now! This is why we support tenants to collectively organise and campaign for their demands against dodgy landlords including, when necessary, rent strikes and/or non-payment of service charges.

If you live in either privately rented accommodation or social housing and are interested in setting up a tenants association to campaign for better housing or would like more information please fill in the form below.