Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

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Jane Nellist

We are pleased to carry this article from Socialist Party member Jane Nellist regarding the public sector pay cap. The article was originally published in a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper. Jane is joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers and a member of the NEC of her union, as well as being President of Coventry TUC (she writes here in a personal capacity)


Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap!

A stark new report by the government’s own advisors on public sector pay has shown that there was a 6% drop in average wages from 2005 to 2015.

That’s reflected in a £3 an hour loss for teachers, £2 an hour for police officers and £8 an hour for doctors.

More experienced teachers have lost as much as £5,000 a year because of pay restraint, and that doesn’t include the loss from increases in pension and National Insurance contributions.

There is a growing anger among public sector workers about low pay and funding cuts to the services they deliver. The Tories are wobbling on the public sector pay cap, with many cabinet members – fearing mass revolt – coming out for change.

But we cannot rely on their ‘good nature’! They’ll just cut somewhere else to pay for it. We must come out fighting.

At the 1 July ‘Not One Day More’ demo Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants’ union, absolutely nailed it when he posed the question: “Why don’t we have a public sector pay strike to break the pay cap?”

As each day goes by, the Tories are getting weaker. Even though mathematically they have a small majority, propped up by the billion-pound bribe for votes from the DUP, they have no authority.

And it’s not only pay they’re showing weakness on, some have hinted at tuition fees being on the table too. As their poll ratings plummet, they are more divided. We need to push harder to put them out of their misery.

The recent demo was vibrant and young. Labour’s manifesto started to lift aspirations on so many fronts. The mantra of austerity, ‘we are all in it together,’ is dead.

The mood is changing and there is a tangible feeling of victory in the air. That can become a reality, but only if the leadership of our trade unions starts to lead.

Now is the time to organise the millions of public sector workers in a serious coordinated campaign, including strike action, to win back dignity for public sector workers and the services we deliver.

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

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Ian Paisley

Following the disastrous results for Theresa May in Thursday’s snap general election the Tories are now in negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Many are rightly asking ‘who are the DUP?’. We are pleased to publish this article from 2014 written by our comrades in the Socialist Party (Northern Ireland) looking at the life of Ian Paisley who is the figure most associated with the DUP. It outlines some of the history of that party and as the article concludes, we believe that ‘A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives’.


Ian Paisley: peacemaker or warmonger?

How will Ian Paisley, who has died at the age of 88, be remembered? As the firebrand preacher who stoked the fires of conflict in Northern Ireland or as a peacemaker and the partner in government of Martin McGuinness?

Many people struggle to make sense of what appear to be entirely contradictory phases in his life. Most of the media, the British and Irish governments, and even Martin McGuinness who describes him as a friend, choose to focus on his 2007 decision to form a coalition with Sinn Fein. The media have made much of Paisley’s nicknames, claiming that for years he was known as “Doctor No” because of his rejection of all attempts at compromise but that at the end of his life he and Martin McGuinness together were known as “the chuckle brothers” because they were seen laughing together so often. The use of both of these nicknames is largely confined to the media. Most simply knew Paisley as Paisley, his creed as Paisleyism, and his followers as Paisleyites. And for decades the name Paisley struck fear into the hearts of not just Catholics but Protestant working class activists. The lauding of Paisley grates with most Catholics, who cannot forget the role he played, but also in the throat of the many Protestants who reject everything he stood for.

So how did a preacher who led his own church (the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster) for six decades, and his own political party (the Democratic Unionist Party or DUP) for nearly as long, become the most prominent politician in Northern Ireland? After all this is a man who defended the most repressive approaches on social issues such as sexuality (in the late 1970s, for example, he launched his odious “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign to oppose even limited rights for gay men).

Paisley’s initial base was not built in industrial working class areas but in the North Antrim area around the large town of Ballymena. His first following was largely rural, conservative and religiously fundamentalist. Even in Ballymena itself it took time before he seized control of the council. When he did in the mid-1970s he imposed his fundamentalist ideas on everyone else, closing the swimming pool and chaining up the park swings on Sundays. It was members of Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) from a Protestant background who lead the opposition in this largely Protestant town, protesting against the Sunday closure policy and challenging the DUP in council by-elections.

Working class Protestants gave Paisley little support in the 1950s, 1960s and well into the 1970s. In Protestant areas he was a figure of fun and contempt for anyone who was forward looking or left inclined. This changed over time. In the late 1960’s there was a sense that change was in the air, represented politically by the growth of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) but as the Troubles spun out of control “hard men” on both sides came to the fore and the sense of working class solidarity and unity weakened.

There was nothing inevitable about this development however. The leaders of the labour and trade union movement abdicated their responsibility to provide an alternative, and their responsibility to stand up to right-wing and anti-working class demagogues like Paisley. As a direct result the previous NILP stronghold of East Belfast fell to the DUP in the 1979 General Election. The victorious candidate was today’s DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. The DUP gained its working class base in part by deliberately cultivating an image as the representatives of the Protestant working class, in opposition to the “big house” unionism of the Ulster Unionist Party or UUP (the party which governed Northern Ireland from partition until the imposition of direct rule in 1972).

1979 was a turning point: the DUP now had three MPs and could not be ignored. Its support reached a ceiling over the next twenty or so years however, as many potential supporters could not stomach Paisley’s on-off flirting with paramilitary organisations and paramilitary methods. As far back as 1956 Paisley was one of the founders of Ulster Protestant Action (UPA). From the start violence wasn’t far away. In June 1959, after Paisley addressed a UPA rally in Belfast, some of the crowd attacked Catholic-owned shops and a riot ensued.

During the 1964 general election campaign Paisley fomented the so-called “Tricolour riots”, the worst in Belfast since the 1930s. In April 1966 Paisley and Noel Doherty founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and a paramilitary wing, the Ulster Protestant volunteers (UPV). Around the same time, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) emerged, led by Gusty Spence. Many of its members were also members of the UCDC and UPV, including Noel Doherty. In May 1966 the UVF set fire to a Catholic-owned pub and caused the death of an elderly Protestant widow who lived next door, and shot John Scullion, a Catholic civilian, as he walked home. He died of his wounds on 11 June. On 26 June, the group shot dead a second Catholic man and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast. Following the killings, the UVF was outlawed and Paisley immediately denied any knowledge of its activities. This established a pattern that was to be repeated over the following decades and led to those who became active in Loyalist paramilitary organisations to hate him with a vengeance. One of those convicted for the 1966 killings was explicit in his words: “I am terribly sorry I ever heard of that man Paisley or decided to follow him”.

Paisley spent the rest of his career playing with violence: he enrolled the help of mainstream loyalist paramilitary groups in two work stoppages (in 1974 and 1977) and established several groups of his own, including the “Third Force” in 1981 and “Ulster Resistance” in 1986.
When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 Paisley and the DUP were opposed. Over the following decade he sniped at the UUP but ensured he and his party had their hands on whatever levers of power were available. In these years the uncertainty and fear felt by most Protestants delivered Paisley want he wanted – majority support amongst the Protestant electorate. This support was built on a clear platform of opposition to Sinn Fein in government. As late as July 2006 Paisley stated that Sinn Fein “are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there.”

The lure of power, created its own momentum however. Once the DUP were the dominant and largest party the question of going into government was concretely posed. The rigid structures created by the GFA (the aim being to maintain peace by copper-fastening sectarian division) made it difficult to stand aside. Personal factors may also have played a part-Paisley reportedly had a near death experience in 2004, and younger members of the DUP such as Robinson were keen to do a deal. It was also easier for Paisley to go into government when he could credibly claim victory, pointing to the fact that Sinn Fein agreed to support the police and the IRA to destroy its arms.

On 8 May 2007 Paisley was elected First Minister with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Ironically when he made his decision the fiercest opposition came from his original base in rural areas, especially in North Antrim. He was forced out of his positions as DUP leader and Free Presbyterian moderator and retired to snipe at his successors. Attempts to canonise him as a peace maker were hampered by his own words and actions. As late as 2013 he stated in a television interview that the 33 innocent civilians who died in UVF no-warning car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 had “brought it on themselves”.

Everything had changed but nothing had changed. Political theorists argue that it was necessary to bring the most extreme representatives of each community together in order to deliver a stable peace. The reality is that the most extreme representatives of each community can only deliver division and conflict, even if for now there is less violence on the streets.

Paisley certainly stood out but it would be a mistake to see him as unique. If Paisley had never lived someone like him would have come to the fore. And whilst the entire generation of politicians who emerged to prominence in the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s now bask in the “success” of the peace process all played a negative role in that period. One day there will be an historic reckoning. Paisley won’t be around to see it but his ilk and his successors will be. A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives. Remembering Paisley’s real role is one step on the road to that reckoning.

May and the Tories must go!

May and the Tories must go!

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Tories out! Fight for socialism!

The following is an article by Hannah Sell, the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party following the election results. We are holding a public meeting in Coventry on Tuesday at Methodist Hall, CV1 2HA, starting at 7.30pm where we will be discussing how we can step up the fight for socialist policies following the election. Come along and join the discussion and get involved!


Organise to fight for Corbyn’s policies!

Theresa May’s failed election gamble is a nightmare for the capitalist class in Britain. Seven weeks ago most of Britain’s elite were hopeful that May would succeed in dramatically increasing the number of Tory MPs, thereby buttressing her government to be able to weather the storms of economic crisis, to carry out vicious austerity against the majority in society and to implement a Brexit in the interests of the 1%.

Instead she is now a ‘dead prime minister walking’, only able to temporarily cling to power by leaning on the reactionary, sectarian Democratic Unionist (DUP) MPs, describing them as her ‘friends’ on the steps of Downing Street.

The DUP, founded by Ian Paisley, are anti-abortion, anti-LGBT rights and deniers of climate change. However, it will not only be the Tories who are dirtied by this new ‘coalition of chaos’.

The DUP’s base is mainly among a section of the Northern Irish Protestant working class who are badly affected by Tory austerity.

It seems that the DUP have already demanded the dropping of May’s plans to abolish the winter fuel allowance for the majority of pensioners as a condition of co-operation.

Tories Out! There is no mandate for May

The Tories are split down the middle and now have a leader with no authority inside or outside the party.

She is only remaining in place because the Tories can find no other alternative for now, and fear falling apart if they attempt a leadership contest.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have rightly called on May to resign and pledged to put their programme to parliament and challenge MPs to support it.

Now we need to build a movement for the implementation of their policies, whatever the parliamentary arithmetic.

The general election result was a complete vindication of Jeremy’s anti-austerity stance. On 18 April, the day the election was called, the Socialist Party declared that: “If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.” At the time that was met with derision by many including the right wing of the Labour Party: who wrongly thought a general election would give them the opportunity to unseat Corbyn.

Let’s not forget that just last September arch-Blairite Peter Mandelson told the press that he ‘prayed every day for a snap general election’ as it would mean the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

Corbyn strengthened

Instead this general election has enormously strengthened Jeremy Corbyn’s position in the Labour Party and potentially in society.

Labour got over 40% of the vote compared to just over 30% in 2015, the biggest increase in the vote share for any party since the Attlee government in 1945.

This was against the background of a phenomenal increase in the popular vote of 3.5 million, from 9.3 million in 2015, to 12.8 million this time.

This was almost entirely accounted for by the streams of young people that flooded to the polls. The very opposite of apathetic young people participated in a mass electoral revolt to demand a future.

Some estimates suggest that as many as 72% of young people on the electoral register voted, compared to 43% in 2015.

Two thirds of them voted for Corbyn. The Liberal Democrat’s hope of winning young, middle class voters by claiming to be the ‘true remainers’ largely fell flat.

Instead Nick Clegg finally got his just deserts for increasing tuition fees in 2010. Corbyn’s programme of a £10 an hour minimum wage, abolition of tuition fees, rent controls, and council house building inspired young people to take a stand.

The resulting politicisation of young people will not be reversed, and lays the basis for the development of mass support for socialist ideas.

The support for Corbyn among young people was widespread among both the working and middle class; demonstrated by Labour’s victory in Canterbury, which didn’t elect a Tory for the first time since 1918.

This reflects the increasing radicalisation of middle class young people who, as a result of low pay and astronomical housing costs, are increasingly being pushed down into working class living conditions.

It is wrong and scandalous, however, as some in the capitalist media have done, to paint this election as ‘young versus old’. This is a conscious attempt to divide the working class which both generations should consciously attempt to overcome by standing in solidarity with each other, whether over tuition fees or winter fuel allowance.

Many older workers, disillusioned with Blair’s Labour, put a cross next to a Labour candidate for the first time in decades in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In Wales, despite the Tories dreaming of gains at the start of the election, Labour made significant gains.

The figures are not yet fully clear, but the UKIP vote did not simply collapse into the Tories as May had hoped.

Among some who voted UKIP in 2015 (undoubtedly including some ex-Labour voters) May’s false posturing as being ‘tough on Brexit’ meant that they voted for her this time.

Had Jeremy Corbyn not made an early concession to the Blairites by reluctantly agreeing to campaign for ‘Remain’, and instead stuck to his own historic position (and that of the Socialist Party) of calling for exit from the EU bosses’ club, on an anti-racist, internationalist basis, May would never have been able to make the gains she did among working class voters.

Nonetheless, the position Jeremy adopted during the election campaign – of explaining he would fight for a Brexit in the interests of working class people – was able to win over a section of workers including some who had previously voted UKIP.

Even Nigel Farage had to admit that Corbyn had ‘pulled off’ winning the support of both young ‘remainers’ and working class UKIP voters.

The fundamental reason that Jeremy Corbyn started the election campaign so far behind was that the majority of the population had not heard what he stood for.

Of course, this was partly because of the inevitable hostility of the big-business media, but that was – if anything – stepped up in the course of the election campaign, yet support for him soared.

The difference was that, instead of staying quiet in a vain attempt to appease the Blairites, the Corbyn wing of the party took their programme to the country.

The right tacitly accepted this, hoping that Jeremy would then ‘own’ the defeat – instead he ‘owns’ the highest Labour vote since 1997.

This would have been even higher if Jeremy had earlier and more clearly stated he supported the right of self-determination for the people of Scotland, including a new independence referendum if they so wished.

As it was, increasing disillusionment with the SNP’s implementation of austerity in Scotland, meant that Corbyn was able to win increased votes in some working class Scottish heartlands, but it was far less than could have potentially been achieved.

At the same time the Tories made considerable gains in more affluent areas of Scotland, largely by mobilising a certain ‘anti-independence’ vote. (For more information see Socialist Party Scotland article: May Must Go! – Build mass struggle to drive out the Tories).

Trade union mobilisation needed

Jeremy Corbyn’s success now needs to be urgently built on. The trade union movement should call an immediate national ‘Tories Out’ demonstration against austerity – calling for the scrapping of the Tory attacks on the NHS and schools, and for the abolition of tuition fees.

Such a demonstration could be millions strong and the springboard for a 24 hour general strike. This in turn could force May to call a new general election.

At the same time Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left should make a clear call for Labour councils to stop implementing Tory cuts.

In a short campaign very impressive numbers were convinced to vote for Corbyn despite their initial scepticism about whether he would implement his programme.

This scepticism is a result of the betrayals of New Labour in office, and the experience of Labour councils at local level that have presided over 40% cuts in services since 2010.

To consolidate the enthusiasm that was generated for Corbyn in the election it is necessary to now make clear that he opposes any more council cuts, and that this Tory government is too weak to force Labour councils to implement them.

This is particularly important in urban areas, where the surge to Corbyn was strongest, and where every council in England has elections next year.

Transform the Labour Party

“Big up Jezza for reviving so many ppls hope in politics. If Labour was united behind Corbyn this past year he coulda won this outright!” said Riz Ahmed of the hip-hop trio Swet Shop Boys (one of the many musicians who supported Corbyn) – stating what is obvious to many Corbyn supporters.

Jeremy has not only faced the relentless hostility and sabotage of the capitalist elite, but also from the Blairites – the representatives of capitalism inside the Labour Party.

In the immediate aftermath of this election they will not dare to try and launch another coup against him, but we can’t be fooled into thinking that they are reconciled to his leadership. Labour remains two parties in one.

For the capitalist class Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, and even more the hope they are creating for millions, are a real threat.

Therefore their representatives in the Labour Party will search for a new way to defeat Corbyn. Even in the week of the election right-wing Labour MP Joan Ryan openly attacked Corbyn and banned Labour canvassers from using leaflets which mentioned him! Now in the aftermath of the election Blairite Hilary Benn has poked his head above the parapet to mutter about how ‘Labour must learn from its third electoral defeat’.

Even those Blairites who temporarily make statements supportive of Jeremy cannot be trusted. They will do so in order to try and surround him and force him to retreat from his radical programme.

What else does the ultimate Blairite and would-be assassin of Corbyn, Peter Mandelson, mean when he talks about Corbyn needing to ‘show respect’ to all wings of the party? It was the rights attempts to gag Jeremy which were largely responsible for most people not knowing what he stood for before the election.

We cannot allow this to happen again. Instead a campaign needs to be immediately launched to transform the Labour Party into a genuinely anti-austerity, democratic party of workers and young people.

This requires the introduction of compulsory reselection of MPs. The next general election could be at any time and Labour must not face another election with the majority of its own candidates opposing Jeremy Corbyn.

This should be combined with the democratisation of the party, including restoring the rights of trade unions, and welcoming all genuine socialists in a democratic federation.

These measures could create a party which was genuinely able to bring together all the young people, socialists, workers and community campaigners who are inspired by Jeremy Corbyn into a powerful mass force.

Fight for Socialism

This general election campaign has introduced socialist ideas to a new generation. That is enormously positive.

It has also given a glimpse, however, of how far the capitalists would go to try and sabotage any attempts to introduce policies in the interests of the many not the few.

The hostility Jeremy Corbyn faces in opposition is only a pale shadow of how they would attempt to derail a Jeremy Corbyn led government.

To prevent this will pose the need for far-going socialist measures including nationalising the 100 or so major corporations and banks that dominate Britain’s economy, in order to be able to introduce a democratic socialist plan.

This would allow a socialist government to begin to manage the economy in a planned way under democratic workers’ control and management – that really would be “for the many, not the few.”

Join the fight for socialism! Fill in the form below and we will be in contact

 

Nick Clegg loses his seat! A debt ridden student celebrates

Nick Clegg loses his seat! A debt ridden student celebrates

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Nick Clegg loses seat

We are extremely pleased to publish this article by Aidan, a leading member of Socialist Students in Coventry. More comment and analysis on the election will follow


I write this as a student who has just finished 3 years of university and now weighed down by tens of thousands pounds worth of debt. Bye bye Nick Clegg! Enjoy the dustbin of history.

Nick Clegg has lost his parliamentary seat of Sheffield Hallam to Labour, a significant loss for the Liberal Democrat party and an overdue reward for his attacks on young people whilst propping up the tories during the 2010-2015 coalition.

Like so many young people in 2010, I was a member of the “I agree with Nick” crew. The promise of free university education, a fundamental right for everyone, along with a manifesto that at the age of 14 I thought was to the left of what Labour was offering was enough for me to support the Lib Dems.

Just as these promises got a younger me to support the Lib Dems, so too did Clegg’s betrayal and the tripling of university fees, plus the propping up of a vicious Tory government, pushed me towards socialist ideas. The Lib Dems showed their true colours, orange on the outside and blue on the inside. Like so many young people, as evidenced by the student protests in 2011 at the increase of tuition fees, I learnt that capitalist politicians cannot be trusted.

Socialist Students have been fighting against the effects of the coalition and the regressive ‘reforms’ that they made to higher education.

Here at Coventry University working class students will be celebrating Nick Clegg’s loss. They will potentially leave university with over £50k worth of debt, having their living conditions squeezed with maintenance loans that in some case only just cover the cost of rent and the prospects of finding a stable post-graduate career is just a dream.

I was fortunate to have a part-time job to help me with the costs, however like so many students who had to do bar or retail work this is a massive time commitment, and when you are stressing about coursework deadlines or an upcoming exam the last thing you want to do is be wasting valuable revision or study time and go to work to be paid a poor wage to afford your education.

As well as these direct effects on students living standards the commodification of education that the Lib Dems supported and made possible has encouraged a business-like nature to Coventry University that again has affected students from working class backgrounds.

Instead of the university seeing itself as providing a public service, it is now run like a for-profit business. Students are treated as piggy-banks to have money squeezed out of them. This is evident in the housing sector where Futurelets, the letting agency that has the university as its sole shareholder, charges extortionate rents and charge admin fees of unheard of levels. They charge hundreds of pounds in some cases, but no one really knows what work they do to justify that!

Staff are treated like in any other business, with an article in the Guardian (27/11/2016) comparing Coventry University’s management to Sports Direct! Finally, and most tellingly, the University is now cutting the Hardship fund, a fund given to those students most in need, to basically non-existence. This is a move that has shocked Student Unions up and down the country as when approached by Coventry University Students Union they can’t believe the callousness of this move. The harm this will cause Coventry students is no-way worth the small amount of money the university will save! Not that with a profit of over £25m Coventry University needs to save money!

Coventry Socialist Students have been on the fore-front of resisting all these issues. Whether it is for free-education, to tackle the housing crisis in Coventry for students and local residents, supporting the lecturers and their union (UCU) or fighting for the protection of the Hardship Fund, we are campaigning against things that can be blamed on Clegg and the Lib Dems propping up the Tories. Students and young people will not shed a tear over him getting the sack from parliament.

This election electrified young people with a youth turnout at unheard of levels. Young people have responded to the socialist policies of Jeremy Corbyn: Free Education, mass house building to tackle the housing crisis and a £10hr minimum wage for all, not just the over 25s!

We will be supporting these demands on our campus and nationally and students haven’t forgotten Clegg’s betrayal. Only socialist ideas have the answers for young and working class people so let’s fight for them!

Get involved, fill in the form below!

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

The last time I voted Labour in a general election was thirty years ago, in 1987.  I was expelled by the party just before the 1992 election for refusing to back down in my opposition to the Poll Tax and for refusing to disassociate myself from those in the Militant who were the main (and successful) organisers against it.

Seven years ago I helped co-found, with Bob Crow, the late elected leader of the transport union the RMT, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition because you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the any of main political parties.  All stood for making ordinary people pay for the recession of 2008 triggered by the gambling and speculation of the banks.

Well now, in this election, you can tell the difference between the Labour and the Tory leaders.

Putting my old backbench colleague Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10 Downing Street today would make a major change to so many people’s lives in Coventry.

If Jeremy wins today thousands of 17 and 18 year olds in our city could wake up tomorrow morning knowing they could go to university in September without the fear of a £50,000 debt at the end of three years – and with an acceleration of housebuilding, they could look with more confidence at having their own home in the future.

People in low-paid work could look forward to a 50% pay rise, as the national minimum wage is raised to a more decent level of £10 an hour.

Health workers, teachers, police and council workers – in fact all in the public sector – could look forward to an actual pay rise as Labour has promised to scrap the 1% cap on public sector pay increases, which has been in place for the last five years whilst inflation has eroded the real value of that pay.

And some workers at Walsgrave Hospital, paying hundreds of pounds a year to park at work, could benefit by another pay rise when hospital car parking charges are scrapped –and many thousands of familes would be freed from a charge to visit sick relatives or friends.

Those and many other changes – for example ending the cuts in education and health, giving the public ownership again of rail, mail, water and parts of the energy industries –  could give a glimpse of a different way of running society, the first steps in a socialist direction.

And it wouldn’t be ordinary people paying the price, rich corporations and the richest 5% in the country would have to shoulder more of the burden they’ve escaped in recent years – their taxes would go up, but not for the 95% majority.

So voting Labour in Coventry could make a huge difference today; and I’ve not been able to say that for thirty years.

Now that’s not to say I agree with everything Labour’s doing.  I think they were wrong not to support Scottish independence linked to a socialist programme (and they have lost 50 seats because of it); they were wrong not to stand in the traditions of Tony Benn and Bob Crow and argue for a socialist Brexit last June; they should be promising an end to all council cuts for example in libraries, youth clubs and community centres; and I certainly don’t support spending £200 billion over the next 30 years on a replacement to the Trident nuclear missile system.

But Teresa May and the Tories stand for more austerity – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories stand for low pay, student debts, housing shortages and worsening health and education – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories would let rich individuals like Richard Branson and wealthy corporations own our essential public services, such as rail, mail, water and energy – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

But for Jeremy’s challenges to succeed – when the whole of the press, media and Establishment would try to undermine his efforts – he’s going to need more help even than your vote today.

Just like we’ve marched on the streets to defend the NHS or oppose the war in Iraq, we’re going to have to organise to defend Jeremy if he gets into No. 10 from the powerful rich vested interests that don’t want you to have free health and education, higher wages and more secure employment, decent homes and a future to look forward to – if it means their profits and rich lifestyles have to pay for it.

We need to build a powerful socialist organisation in Britain that can take the fight for a new socialist society forward, whoever wins on June 8th. The Socialist Party is trying to do that.

So, vote Labour in Coventry today, and let’s get Jeremy into No. 10.  And join us in the Socialist Party to fight for a socialist future. Fill in the form below!

We are holding a public meeting to do discuss the election results and how we can continue the fight on Tuesday 13th June, 7.30pm at Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. The Facebook event is here. 

 

 

 

Corbyn surge leaves May weak and wobbly

Corbyn surge leaves May weak and wobbly

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Theresa May

A late surge in the polls for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has left the Tories and their friends in the mainstream media panicking about the prospect of a hung parliament – or even a Labour government. Theresa May has compounded the damage by refusing to debate Jeremy Corbyn and sending her hapless Home Secretary Amber Rudd instead.

Many polls are currently predicting a hung parliament, a far cry from the landslide majority May was anticipating when she gambled and called the election. David Cameron gambled on a referendum twice, and when it came to the EU referendum he was defeated by a working class rebellion – the same could happen to May.

Like rats leaving a sinking ship, one of the mouthpieces of the capitalist class, The Economist, has dropped support for May and switched to the Lib Dems – the “second eleven” of big business. Corbyn has rightly ruled out a deal with them or any other party.

With just days until the election, it’s “all to play for”. Socialists in Coventry have been out campaigning hard for Jeremy and his socialist policies, we have met many people enthused by this election and who want to join the fight for socialist change. In the next few days lets do everything we can to get the Tories out, and build a strong, combative movement for socialism.

The Socialist Party are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 13th June to discuss the outcome of the election, and how we can continue support for Jeremy Corbyn and build the campaign for socialist change.

It will take place at 7.30pm, Methodist Central Hall in the city centre

Fill in the form below for more information and to get involved!

Jeremy Corbyn supports a “Robin Hood Tax” – what do Socialists say?

Jeremy Corbyn supports a “Robin Hood Tax” – what do Socialists say? 

robin hood tax

The Robin Hood Tax – Getty Images

Labour have today pledged that they will introduce a “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions in the City that could bring in billions of pounds that could be used for public services. The Socialist Party supports increased taxation on the rich and welcomes this move. At the same time we argue that we need to go much further if we are to create the fair society that so many want to see. We are republishing this article below which was first carried in The Socialist newspaper in 2016. To create a truly fair society, we will need to break with capitalism in order to democratically plan the vast resources that exist in the interests of the majority of people, i.e. bring about socialist change. We hope this article is a contribution to the debate about how we can get the change that so many people need.


Fighting the great tax robbery: taxes and regulation or socialist nationalisation?

Tax avoidance has been in the headlines lately, provoking renewed call to tax the rich and big business. The Socialist Party campaigns for closing loopholes and increasing wealth and corporation taxes. But you can’t control what you don’t own: only socialist nationalisation can end the great tax robbery.

It is a time of seemingly never-ending austerity. Workers across the UK and the world are being forced to pick up the tab for a crisis caused by the capitalist system.

So the news that massive corporations are engaged in massive tax avoidance is a source of understandable bitterness and anger.

As previously reported in the Socialist, huge multinationals such as drugs firm AstraZeneca and telecom company Vodafone pay zero corporation tax in the UK. After a ‘sweetheart’ deal with the Tory cabinet, internet giant Google agreed to pay £130 million – just 2.8% of its profit.

Little wonder people are up in arms when the government says there is no money for libraries, play centres, vital public services or pay rises.

HMRC

With government credibility already shot to pieces regarding its ‘all in it together’ slogan, the Tories have continued to make swingeing cuts to HM Revenue and Customs. The ability to collect tax has been weakened further.

In an illustration of how the balance has shifted towards giving big business an easy ride, the rate of corporation tax in the UK in 1981 was over 50%. It is 20% in 2016!

It is no surprise that demands for the rich to pay their share are gaining ground. People see the increase in the gap between rich and poor in their everyday experience. This has been a large part of the rise of the likes of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the United States. People are looking for answers to the crisis that they see around them.

For example, the website of the Sanders campaign states that, if elected, he would start by “demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. As president, Senator Sanders will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying US income taxes.

“He will create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3% of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. He will also enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.”

Here in the UK, the fact that we have a Labour leader prepared even to talk about rising inequality, and say ordinary people shouldn’t foot the bill for the crisis, is an important step forward. Arch-Blairite Peter Mandelson, architect of New Labour, famously declared his party was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.”

In his campaign for the Labour leadership last year, Jeremy Corbyn set out his economic vision in the document ‘The Economy in 2020’. He sets out some laudable aims. These include collecting £120 billion of avoided and evaded tax, creating a system where the rich pay more (the rate is not specified), and creating a “level playing field” between small and big businesses.

Demands for the rich to pay their taxes, and proposals like a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on big finance institutions’ transactions, are not new. In fact, for most of Labour’s history – not including the Blair-Brown New Labour years – they were common currency. These ideas have recently made a partial comeback through the publicity work of groups like 38 Degrees and the Tax Justice Network, as well as being raised by Jeremy Corbyn.

The Socialist Party supports many of the measures he proposes, but are they enough to solve the crisis for working class people?

Recent events in France show once again that, whatever the intentions, taxing the super-rich is not a straightforward question.

François Hollande of the Parti Socialiste (equivalent of the Labour Party) promised higher taxes on the super-rich during his 2012 election campaign. He pledged to tax incomes over €1 million at 75%.

Under pressure from the capitalist class, in practice he reduced this to 50%, before dropping the policy altogether. High earners were threatening to leave the country – and take their wealth with them.

According to reports from the French finance ministry, Hollande’s increase only brought in the relatively small sums of €260 million in 2013 and €160 million in 2014. This was in relation to a budget deficit at that time of €84.7 billion!

ENFORCING

No doubt a firmer stand on the rate, closing loopholes and enforcing collection could have improved these figures. Certainly they in no way mean we oppose higher income taxes on the super-rich.

A genuine socialist government would combine such measures with taking democratic control of all imports and exports. This means enforcing a state monopoly of foreign trade and exchange, including movements of capital, with democratic control of all imports and exports. That would prevent the tiny super-rich elite from trying to flee the country with their plunder.

What about the corporations? In Britain, around 150 big companies control the majority of economic activity. Surely, you might say, we can tax them further?

Yes, is the answer. Substantially increasing both income tax for the rich and corporation tax for big business could, if actually implemented, provide enough money to reverse all cuts to public services, increase public sector workers’ pay, and a lot more. However, as long as we live in a capitalist society, where wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the 1%, they will use all means at their disposal to avoid handing over even a penny of what they’ve got.

The experience of Syriza in Greece shows that half-measures – or more accurately, quarter-measures – can lead to a situation where a left party ends up implementing brutal capitalist austerity.

Even if such governments succeed in redistributing some of the wealth controlled by big business, that is not the end of the story. Britain’s 1945 Labour government created the welfare state and operated far greater taxation and regulation than today’s establishment parties. But over the following decades, the capitalists took every opportunity to claw those gains back.

In Chile and Venezuela in the 20th century, left governments even faced mass sabotage by capitalists. ‘Why supply goods and services,’ they reasoned, ‘for countries that won’t even let us keep most of the profits?’

The clear answer to companies that threaten closures, job losses or sabotage is to take them into public ownership.

As Karl Marx, scientific socialism’s founding thinker, put it in his ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’:

“The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of non-workers in the form of property in capital and land…. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically.

“If the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one.”

Marx’s words, despite being written in 1875, are totally relevant today. You can’t plan what you don’t control, and you can’t control what you don’t own.

The mass inequality we see is a logical consequence of the capitalist system, whereby wealth production is owned and controlled by a tiny minority in its own interests. Year on year the wealth gap is widening further as the capitalists react to economic stagnation and crises by making the working class pay.

NEOLIBERAL

Neoliberal economic commentators suggest that taxes should be cut to entice more wealth into the country and encourage businesses activity. But the so-called ‘trickle down’ approach has only ever achieved the opposite, as is clearly the case today.

What is needed is a genuine, full, socialist programme. This means breaking the power of the capitalists – by nationalising not only the banks, financial institutions, plus companies threatening job losses and so on – but all the big corporations which control the majority of economic activity.

A publicly owned economy, under the democratic control and management of workers, could actually start to plan production in the interests of the 99%.

FIGHT FOR BOLD SOCIALIST POLICIES: TAKE THE WEALTH OFF THE 1%!

  • Reverse all cuts to HM Revenue and Customs – collect the uncollected tax, and increase taxes on the super-rich and big business
  • Nationalise the banks, top 150 corporations and tax avoiders under the democratic control and management of workers and service users. Compensation only to be paid on the basis of proven need
  • For a socialist, democratically planned economy to meet the needs of all, not make obscene profits for a few

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