Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

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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!

If you are interested in finding out more, fill in the form below

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

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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.

Unite against war, terror and racism

Unite against war, terror and racism

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Photo by Paul Mattsson

The following is a statement from the Socialist Party in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack in London earlier this week. It can also be read on our national website here


A wave of shock has followed yet another horrific terrorist attack. This time in the centre of London, yesterday’s mowing down of people using a vehicle comes after atrocities using vehicles in Berlin and Nice during the last eight months, and other appalling terrorist attacks in France and Brussels.

The Socialist Party has strongly condemned all these attacks, and does so again on this occasion.

The attacker’s choice of Westminster – and the fact that he ran towards Parliament – suggests anger against the establishment and government, but the victims were ordinary people, especially tourists viewing the Houses of Parliament. People of ten different nationalities were indiscriminately hit. Three people plus the attacker died and seven are critically injured.

In any case, whoever is targeted, acts of individual terror should always be opposed. They are not an effective means to struggle against the establishment.

Government hypocrisy

Trying to assure people that the attacker was most likely acting alone and not part of a set of attacks, Theresa May made a sanctimonious speech on ‘resolve’ to ‘never waver’ or be afraid.

Yet she heads a Tory government that is making people far more vulnerable when terrorism occurs.

Huge cuts to London transport are inflicting the axing of many safety-critical staff. In addition fire stations have been closed, the ambulance service is over-stretched due to cuts, hospitals are under-staffed and there are threats to A&E departments.

The government also wants to see the bosses of Southern Rail, Merseyrail and Northern Rail defeat the RMT union’s strikes against the removal of safety-critical guards on trains.

The first doctor on the scene to treat the injured was off-duty junior doctor Jeeves Wijesuriya. Jeeves is a member of the junior doctors’ committee of the BMA (British Medical Association) and was one of the leaders of last year’s strikes against a worse contract being imposed on junior doctors by the government. Just earlier this month – on 4th March – he was a platform speaker against government NHS cuts at the more than 100,000-strong national ‘Save our NHS’ demonstration in London.

The Tories’ hypocrisy knows no bounds. The last thing that the likes of May will acknowledge is any link between the devastation their policies have caused across the Middle East and the threat of terrorism in Britain. Little information has so far been released on the background of the attacker, but May called the attack “Islamist terrorism”, and Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility.

It is unfortunately no surprise that an incident of this nature has again occurred. There have been few terror attacks in Britain since the terrible 7/7 London bombings in 2005, but the intelligence services say they have ‘foiled’ 12 plots in the last three years and they have called the likelihood of the threat “severe” for a long period.

Last November, MI5 head Andrew Parker stated “there will be terrorist attacks in this country” and noted that the ‘tempo’ of terrorist plots and attempts during the previous three years was the highest in his 33 years at MI5.

Sign of weakness

Isis in Syria and Iraq has made it known that it is encouraging the carrying out of attacks in Europe – this is one way it is trying to fight back while being squeezed by military onslaughts against it in Mosul and north Syria.

It is a sign of its weakness, not strength, that it resorts to murderous individual acts. It doesn’t seek to remove capitalism – rather it wants use its fascistic type methods and individual terrorism to attack ordinary people and aid its aim of creating a capitalist or semi-feudal caliphate in the interests of its leaders.

Whether or not the perpetrators of atrocities like yesterday’s are directly motivated by Isis, British imperialism – along with US imperialism and other world powers – has created outrage across the Middle East and globally at its involvement in the slaughter of over 150,000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars – and also the foreign interventions in Yemen, Libya, Syria and parts of Pakistan – have generated would-be terrorists and Al-Qaida type groups across the globe.

Much of the worst suffering by ordinary people from terrorist acts has been in those countries, where regular suicide bombings have hit many hundreds of people in cities like Baghdad and Kabul.

Now the media in Britain is again asking how further attacks like yesterday’s in Westminster can be stopped, but there will be no way of stopping them based on a continuation of the government’s policies. The attacker was born in Britain – as were the 7/7 bombers. The police and intelligence services have no way of preventing all such future attackers, through their methods of surveillance and ‘anti-terrorism’ laws.

Defend the right to protest

The Tories have already used past terrorist attacks to justify anti-democratic legislation. But the ‘anti-terrorism’ laws of the year 2000 didn’t stop 7/7, nor will more repressive legislation. The police had plenty of powers to arrest anyone planning or committing a crime before these laws were brought in.

Also, extra police powers of surveillance, restrictions on movement, etc, can also be used against trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners, socialists and others who are opposing the government’s pro-big business policies. They must be opposed.

Fight racism and scapegoating

For years right-wing politicians in the three main parliamentary parties have dangerously used rhetoric that has played into the hands of racists. Anti-immigrant talk came from leaders on both sides of the EU referendum debate. The Socialist Party’s pro-working class standpoint, against division and racism and for Brexit on the basis of socialist internationalism, was not covered in the mainstream media.

Since the referendum, and the election of Trump, there has been an increase in racist attacks. Also it mustn’t be forgotten that racist attacks increased six-fold in the weeks after 7/7; a similar outcome must be fought against by socialists and trade unionists following this new terrorist attack, by calling for workers’ unity against all forms of racism and the far right.

This needs to include countering the far-right Britain First demonstration that has been called for 1st April.

All the racist, anti-democratic, pro-austerity and pro-war measures and policies of May’s Tory government must be fought by the trade union movement with new vigour and a determined plan of action. The building of a mass movement of opposition can remove it from power – and lay the basis for reversing its policies that breed poverty, division and terrorism.

No Trump UK visit: protest in Coventry 20th Feb

No Trump UK visit: protest in Coventry 20th Feb

Donald Trump’s racist, bigoted policies have shocked and angered millions of people, leading to massive protests across the world. Further protests across the UK have been planned for February 20th, when Parliament debates the petition against the planned state visit. Coventry Stand Up To Trump has called a protest at 5pm at the Godiva Statue in Broadgate.

There has been speculation in the press that the state visit may be moved to Birmingham rather than London to prevent major protests. Birmingham has a large Muslim population and has already seen massive protests against Trump – we can assure Theresa May and the government that whenever and wherever Trump visits, there will be protests against him and his vicious racism.

Book your place on the Coventry buses to national demonstration to save our NHS!

Book your place on the Coventry buses to national demonstration to save our NHS!

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Join the demo to say no cuts, no closures and no privatisation!

Saturday 4th March will see tens of thousands of ordinary people descend on London to protest against the destruction of our National Health Service which is under threat from cuts, closures and privatisation.

The march is being organised by Health Campaigns Together and is now being backed by unions such as UNITE, PCS, UNITE, CWU and many more. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has also announced his support and will be attending. Buses are being organised from Coventry, and we urge everyone to attend!

To book a place on the buses or to get more info, fill in the form below or text Kieran on 07709 598942

Please also like the Facebook page of Coventry NHS SOS to keep in touch about future events and meetings!

Watch – Rob Williams defends trade unions taking action on Sky News

Watch – Rob Williams defends trade unions taking action on Sky News

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We are extremely proud to publish this interview conducted by Sky News with Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and member of the Socialist Party regarding the strikes currently taking place around the country.

The Socialist Party and the NSSN stand fully behind the workers in their disputes and Rob outlines the reasons why. If you agree with Rob and want to get involved fill in the form below!

Education for all – not exam factories

Education for all – not exam factories

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We are pleased to publish the following article by Jane Nellist concerning the situation in our education system. Jane is on the NEC of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and is currently President of Coventry TUC. The article also appears in the current issue of The Socialist, the Marxist newspaper for workers and youth. It should be read alongside the article ‘What kind of education?’ which also appears in same issue.


Education for all – not exam factories

By Jane Nellist

It is without doubt that our children are the most tested in the world.

Almost from the time a child starts school, they are subjected to a never-ending regime of examinations. This not only impacts on the child, but on the school and the individual teacher, and most importantly on the quality of education.

The costs of these formal tests and exams are a drain on school budgets, with private companies, like Pearson, making huge profits from our education system. Constant switching between exam boards creates huge workloads for teachers, rewriting schemes of work.

The pressure of testing on pupils causes unnecessary stress, resulting in increasing levels of mental health issues. Schools are now more like ‘exam factories’.

Even the Institute of Directors uses this term. Their report in April stated that “this study raises serious concerns that UK education policy is turning our schools into exam factories, squeezing out creativity and the joy of learning at a time when these very attributes are becoming increasingly important.”

With teachers subjected to performance-related pay, it is obvious that ‘teaching to the test’ impacts on the curriculum young people experience. Music, art and drama are being marginalised.

Teachers have always used testing as part of the assessment of their pupils, but it is only one of the tools we use. The increase in the use of publicly reported testing and exams from children as young as seven is more to do with control than good education.

So does it have to be like this?

Well, the simple answer is no. Teachers want to ensure all their pupils can achieve their full potential, whatever their ability. High-stakes testing inevitably means some pupils are more ‘important’ than others. Children with special educational needs, and those more able, can often be sidelined.

‘Pisa’, which looks at the quality of education worldwide, has consistently shown that Finnish children perform well. This is in a country where there are no school inspectors, no league tables, and no exams until the age of 16.

In Germany, while they have introduced national tests, there are no performance league tables and schools are not penalised for poor results.

Of course, parents want to ensure there is accountability. But a recent Ipsos Mori poll on who people trust put teachers on 88%, second only to doctors and nurses – while politicians, who make the decisions about our education system, came in at 15%.

Sats

Parents are becoming increasingly uneasy about the level of testing. Campaigns such as ‘Children are More than a Score’ are gaining wider support for ending Sats.

We need a huge overhaul of education, led by education professionals. We need to rid our system of the present national curriculum, along with Ofsted inspections, Sats and league tables.

Our immediate demands should include a flexible curriculum with more practical learning. It must be a broad and balanced curriculum, with time for the arts, music and more pupil-led innovation, as well as a wide pastoral curriculum including health and sex education for all.

Diagnostic testing and moderated teacher assessment should be at the discretion of the teachers. But a socialist education system would be based on individual and group learning and attainment rather than exams.

Agree with Jane? Fill in the form below!