10 years since the passing of Rob Windsor 1964-2012 – Coventry Socialist Party Councillor & fighter for the working class.

A man who helped melt the Iron Lady.

The 14th January 2022 marks 10 years since we lost Rob Windsor to a serious illness. Rob, who passed away on 14th January, 2012, was a tireless fighter and campaigner for socialism and a former councillor in St Michaels ward for the Socialist Party. He played a major role in the anti-poll tax movement – a campaign which brought the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. He was also a great friend and inspiration to many people and his legacy lives on in those who were inspired by Rob to fight against the capitalist system and for a socialist future.

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Rob leading one of many anti Poll Tax protests in Coventry

Against the current political backdrop of ever increasing battles erupting between the working class and ruling class across the world the legacy and lessons from the struggles Rob took part in and helped lead are ever more important.

Rob was a regular on any picket line and unlike any of the current crop of Labour or Tory councillors never voted for a single cut – quite a contrast to those Labour councillors today who shrug their shoulders and say ‘nothing can be done’ about austerity savage attacks on ordinary people.

Rob was fearsome fighter for the working class. He stopped at nothing to defend the interests of working people in anyway he could but always linked every struggle to the central role of the working class and the need for a revolutionary party armed with a clear programme to  rid the world of capitalism  and build a socialist future for humanity.

If you feel inspired by Rob please get in contact  if you are interested in finding out more, attending branch meetings or joining the Socialist Party – click here!

PHONE/TEXT 07530 429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

Or drop us a reply at the bottom of this page.

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We are reproducing 3 articles below;

The first is the original obituary for Rob, written by Dave Griffiths in 2012

The second is an article written by Rob in March, 2004. At the time Rob was a sitting councillor with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. In his work as a Socialist public representative he worked tirelessly for his constituents and working class people across the city and helped people get organised.

And the third an article by Lenny Shail recalling the experience of a young lad who got to work and struggle alongside Rob

 

Remembering Rob Windsor: socialist fighter and Coventry Socialist Party Councillor 1964-2012

A Man Who Helped Melt The Iron Lady

By Dave Griffiths

January 2012

25 years ago a young lad walked into one of Dave Nellist’s campaign rooms. He wanted to get involved.

At that time Rob Windsor was built like a ‘human stick insect’ and worked helping the homeless. His cheerful, humorous and humble manner didn’t hide the steely determination within to fight the injustices of capitalist society.

He had concluded that society must be fundamentally changed to improve working people’s conditions. He had seen what Militant supporters had done in Coventry and nationwide and having checked we were serious, decided he would join us. Clearly a working class lad himself you could tell he was bright and meant business.

His job with Coventry Churches Housing was put in jeopardy when he supported our campaign to Save Whitley Hospital, the campaign that convinced him to join us.

It was no accident (having been fostered as a child) that he worked to help the homeless and most downtrodden and he passionately fought the abandonment by capitalist society of hundreds of thousands of people.

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At 18 he went to London and ran a 900 bed homeless hostel and did soup runs while living in a Notting Hill squat. He was an expert on housing and ran an inspired campaign against Council House privatisation, denouncing it in a well used pamphlet, with the aid of Nicholas Parsons’ photo, as the “Sale of the Century”.

Rob became a leader of the anti poll tax campaign and later a Socialist councillor in St Michaels, Coventry. He would help others often to his own detriment, so much so that many of the ‘rough rogues and vagabonds’ from Coventry’s working class estates who joined the Anti Poll Tax campaign ran around ‘mothering’ him. But after being encouraged to eat, Rob developed a much fuller figure in later life! His body shape changed, but his passion to change society surged on. But now that is lost to us and working people have lost one of their true champions.

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No-one who heard him could forget his wonderful and vivid way of explaining events and ideas. Almost like radio can, he could make the mind conjure up pictures. He was one of the best ‘ranters’ we’ve known, whose use of humour always made ideas accessible to people. Many comrades say they never tired of hearing him speak.

The Anti Poll Tax campaign revealed his huge talents. He gave up his job to focus on it. One day he went away with the hundreds of pages of Poll Tax legislation. 2 days later he returned with a summary of what it was and how to fight it in a mere ten page campaigning pamphlet, and not a word of it was ever found wanting.

Rob inspired many an anti Poll Tax meeting and the mass non-payment campaign. Others of us who rushed around to address one packed meeting after another would worry what could happen to people who refused to pay the tax. We would consult Rob who always had the legal answer, and always right!

He was a tiger defending the non-paying army. He baffled magistrates around the country and drove them to distraction. There was little as entertaining as Rob entangling them! And he taught others how to do it. Court after court was clogged up. He bamboozled, beat and chased off bailiffs as he cut a swathe across the Midlands. A famous headline “Mr Windsor beats Mrs Windsor” reported how Rob beat off thousands of wage attachments in the Courts.

Thatcher said the Poll Tax was “her flagship”, Rob always said it would be her Titanic and he was a significant part in beating Thatcher (who he always called the ‘tin woman’).

But he didn’t stop there. He fought on to change the system itself. To his last he still led that fight and it is as good a measure of the man as his brilliant leadership of the anti Poll tax unions, that he advanced Marxist ideas in a period of political retreat including in difficult environments like the Council chamber.

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Rob along with others in Coventry was expelled from the Labour Party for socialist views and support of the Militant and Dave Nellist

In the early 90’s capitalism appeared to have triumphed. Within months of beating the Poll Tax, Rob faced expulsion from the Labour Party. His opposition to the Poll Tax proving he was a ‘Militant’! The Labour Party was moving to the right and abandoning any talk of Socialism. It was embracing the market that has brought us to the dire economic position we face today.

But while many were abandoning socialism and Marxism, Rob fought on to help establish the support and organisation we have today that will advance the struggle for change.

It is the greatest compliment to say that when he became a councillor he was utterly politically reliable and down the line. He explained and advanced our ideas unflinchingly, be it in the Council House or anywhere else. His honesty and grasp of issues always shone through. And anyone under attack could rely on Rob on their side. From school-students on strike or pickets at Wapping (where he got an object personal lesson in the brutality of the state) or travelling to support Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight or to speak in support of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.

He was ‘a politician’, not because he wanted to be one, but because he knew we had to fight back. He could analyse issues in seconds, he was brilliant, but with no pretentions.

Rob lived for his politics but also loved walking hills (returning to supply many of us with oatcakes) and he’d planned to combine walking with visiting branches of the Socialist Party to speak. It is so hard to grasp that this won’t happen, that at only 47 he is lost to so many people who appreciated him.

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But we’ll have to work to make up for it, and as Rob did many times, rededicate ourselves to the fight he carried so well and try to find people with the strengths and talents to advance ideas in the way he did.

The liver transplant in December had promised to renew Rob’s life, and as he was now ‘more comfortable in his skin’ the best of him was still to come. But complications arose and after 5 weeks struggle they could not be resisted. His surgeon said how hard he fought for life. That’s because he valued it and wanted everyone to have the chance to do so.

Isla loses a husband and we lose a brother. He was collaborative person, a human being who by his work inspired us and was inspired by those he fought alongside.

He is a huge loss to the Socialist Party. But we stand taller because of our association with him.

We’ll work to compensate for this loss as Rob would want, and as we make advances in the future we wish he was with us to share in it. He deserves to be there.

Coventry Socialist Party will continue the work that Rob Windsor committed his entire adult life to – the struggle for a socialist future.

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Rob when he was first elected as a Socialist Party Councillor in Coventry

Video of Rob Windsor and Dave Nellist speaking at a NHS protest demo in Coventry in 1988


 

The following article written by Rob Windsor was carried in The Socialist, the weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party, in March 2004.

In the article Rob explains how he became a socialist, and why he joined the Militant, the forerunner of the Socialist Party.

If you agree with Rob, we urge you to fill in the form at the end of the article and join us in the fight for socialism.

Campaigning To Change Society

By Rob Windsor

March 2004

I was always “Socialist minded” from my late teens. I took part in CND marches. I had worked with the homeless in London aged 19 so had seen the results of capitalism at the sharp end. I used to get mad every time I saw Maggie Thatcher on the telly but then kick myself for doing nothing!

The biggest push towards joining a party was when I saw the contrast between policing at a CND mass trespass at the Trident base in Scotland, then under construction, and that used at the Wapping dispute over the sacking of 5,000 printers.

The former was low key, the latter the most brutal I had ever seen. I remember a horse charge and saw this mounted police officer peel an old guy off some railings with a long riot shield. Then a “snatch squad” of about six with short truncheons beat him to within an inch of his life.

It was then that I realised that a class war was going on and the lengths that the privileged would go to defend their interests. I became a Militant supporter (the forerunner of the Socialist Party) in 1987 after the successful campaign to get Dave Nellist, then a Labour MP, re-elected to Parliament.

Militant

Of all the groups on the Left, Militant was the most serious and disciplined. When something was fully discussed and decided, it got done. Within two years, I was playing a leading role in building the anti-poll tax campaign that beat Thatcher and her tax.

I am now one of three Socialist Party councillors in Coventry. Whilst there are only three of us we strive to show an alternative way of organising society in everything we do.

We have played a full part in the mass anti-war movement and set up a special council meeting to discuss the war, one of the few councils in Western Europe to do so.

A lot of our work involves fighting for people who the anti-war movement hasn’t touched – but the cost of the war certainly has! Every day we battle for funding for areas where local people are told that they can’t have even a few thousand quid for improvements – yet the £6.5 billion cost of war is made to seem like small change!

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Fighting for people

We have fought housing privatisation and the break up of working class communities so that developers can profit from land deals. We got the council to oppose top-up fees. We saved council jobs, and through our determination to oppose at all costs, forced the council to put an extra £1 million into adult social services.

We work on individual issues and community campaigns every day of the week. Even one of Blair’s favourite think-tanks recognised us as good local representatives.

But we are not like this because we are nice individuals or specially gifted.

It is because we are members of a party with firm ideas about transforming society so that working people own and control the wealth created; a party that doesn’t allow its representatives to have lavish lifestyles way above those that we represent. We’re there to improve the lives of working people – not our bank balances.

The Socialist Party doesn’t stop at just complaining about capitalist society but strives every day to change it. In trades unions, in local areas, in mass campaigns like the anti-war movement, amongst the workers and youth. It is well worth joining.

Video of Rob speaking at a Defend Tommy Sheridan Rally in 2008


 

This following was written on the 5th anniversary of Robs passing by Lenny Shail.

FIVE YEARS SINCE THE PASSING OF ROB WINDSOR

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor – January 2017

Today marks five years since the untimely passing of Socialist Party member and Coventry councillor Rob Windsor (1964-2012).

The following tribute was written by Lenny Shail.

Rob was a well known stalwart of Militant and the Socialist Party who played a leading role in innumerable campaigns over the years, not least the monumental anti-Poll Tax campaign which helped to organise millions of people to defeat the tax and Thatcher.

He was also an elected Socialist Party Councillor in St Michael’s ward in Coventry, a position he used with fellow Socialist Councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay to advance the interests of ordinary people in Coventry and further afield.

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I was 18 when I first met Rob at a Socialist Party meeting in Hillfields, not really sure what exactly I had joined or what I was meant to do. Rob came darting over to me at the end to talk to me, he had just come back from the Isle of Wight where he had been supporting striking Vestas workers. I was amazed by his stories of what he had got up to and how he had been sleeping on a roundabout down there!

Rob always took the time to talk and discuss with anyone who showed an interest in fighting for the working class or who was new to the Socialist Party. I was lucky to spend many hours – if not days! – pounding the streets of St Michaels and other working class areas of Coventry with Rob, and throughout 2009 and 2010 we built towards the 2010 general election and fought for Rob’s seat in the local election.

Rob led by example to the many new young members getting active at that time. While Rob was a tireless fighter for any improvement in the lives of working class people, however basic, he would always strive to raise and link any fight to need for a socialist change of society. I remember knocking doors and building for local public meetings on parking schemes, hospital parking charges and local service closures while in between doors Rob would be rabbiting on to me and other young comrades about Trotsky’s role in the struggle to defend the Russian Revolution after 1917 .

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Rob speaking at the first student protest against the tripling of student fees in 2010 at Warwick university

Rob had a tremendous talent to explain and convince anyone of of even the most complex of socialist ideas. Be it a strike, local community meeting, a complex international situation – Rob always seemed to know what had to be said and what needed to be done. At the many rallies, meetings, hustings he demonstrated to us young socialists coming through how to raise and make the ideas of socialist revolution as simple as clicking your fingers. I remember at one hustings he was asked if he was religious or believed in God. Rob’s answer was that he “believed in working class people, coming together in their millions to fight for a world run in their interests and needs”. Rob always hammered this confidence and potential in the working class to us “younguns” at the time and always pushed and encouraged us to speak ourselves rather than just leave it to him at any event.

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As a fresh, energetic young activist working with Rob and others week in week out was always fun with some amazing laughs and experiences, but when needed to he would also be extremely detailed and serious. In his last few years despite his health affecting his ability to contribute to the day to day struggles, Rob still did whatever he could to help and especially to to assist me and other young comrades who were starting to play more leading roles and organising stuff ourselves.

In Autumn 2010 a huge student movement swept across Britain in response to the tripling of student fees and cut of EMA. In early October at Warwick Uni, on the day the Browne Review which announced the proposal was released, we took a punt and organised the first protest anywhere in country – no one knew at that stage how big the movement would become! I was nervous as hell, having never organised anything like it before. Rob rocked up out of the blue, having got out of work to come down and help us out. He gave us a blistering speech on the megaphone as he always did but it was the time he took to speak and advise us on what we should put forward, slogans and demands that made such an impression. Over the course of the next couple months, every week there was some sort of protest or demo we organised, at Warwick, Cov Uni and City College. Rob was at all of them, to help us out and back us up, but looking back it was clear he was also excited himself to see a whole new generation of fighters coming through and into activity. He was quite happy to stand back and just watch us get on with the job with his advice – but it was his contribution at the magnificent school student walkout we organised in Coventry on Day X, the day the vote went through parliament, that I pretty much base every talk or speech I do on!

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Rob speaking at the Coventry school student strike on Day X

Video of Rob speaking in Coventry at the Students – Day X Demo in 2010

We led a march of around 200 students through the City Centre and to Speakers Corner outside the Council House. The energy and excitement was nothing like we had experienced and we were sort of making it up as we went along, not knowing if anyone would even show up beforehand! After a few speeches from some of the students and the Socialist Students organisers, we passed the megaphone to Rob who I think gave us all goosebumps with his praise for what all those who had walked out had done and how we had “exploded onto the scene of history” and taken the first steps in the struggle to transform the world along socialist lines.

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Rob at the Vestas strike in 2009

Rob was a reluctant leader, but his ability and talent to understand complex law and theories, to inspire and explain pushed him to the front of any meeting or protest. He was a great mate and mentor, but he could do your head in sometimes with his timing skills and ability to somehow crumple any paperwork you gave him!

He was a tremendous class fighter, Marxist and revolutionary who put fighting against the exploitation of others ahead of himself, someone who did all he could to inspire, develop and train a new generation of working class fighters and Marxists; ready, as Rob often put it, for the “mighty and bigger battles to come”.

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If you feel inspired by Rob please get in contact  if you are interested in finding out more, attending branch meetings or joining the Socialist Party – click here!

PHONE/TEXT 07530 429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

Or drop us a reply at the bottom of this page.

Four Thousand Say Scrap Parking Charges At Walsgrave Hospital!

Recently our campaign to scrap the parking charges at UHCW reached the incredible milestone of 4000 signatures!

For years we have been running stalls across Coventry with our petition, rallying ordinary people in Coventry of whom the vast, vast majority agree that parking at the hospital should be free.

And why shouldn’t it be? The point of the NHS is that it is free at point of use! Hundreds of billions of pounds goes into an incredible health service, and then we’re asked to pay up-front if we need to drive to hospital? With millions in poverty and counting pennies, many have to walk long distances, cut the time they spend with loved ones, or even avoid going to hospital at all because of the up-front costs. And that isn’t speculation; we know this is fact from the experiences we have heard directly from workers and residents in Coventry on our campaigning stalls.

In Wales and most of Scotland you wouldn’t have these horrendous and even heart-breaking situations. Because Wales scrapped its parking charges in 2018, and Scotland in 2008 with the exception of their PFI hospitals!

And there is precisely the problem.

The Private Finance Initiative gives a private company the contract to run the car park, and pretty much gives them control over the charges. So of course the private company wants to make however much it can, no matter how many families it keeps apart, how many personal budgets it breaks, how many it keep away from seeking treatment, and how many NHS staff -our heroes- are forced to look for another job so they can stop going to the foodbank!

And at Walsgrave the profits are astronomical.

Coventry Telegraph reported that the car parks across Cov and Warwickshire hospitals cost about £1m to run – but they make £8m from the charges! Every time you pay £8 for parking, £7 goes right into the pocket of a company. As many have said while signing on our stalls, it is disgusting!

That’s why our petition not only calls for the parking charges to be scrapped, but also for the car park to be taken off the private company that runs it for profit and put back into public ownership. The problem isn’t that one particular company runs the car park badly; the whole profit motive that drives the ruthless capitalist machine means that ANY private firm will rip off ordinary people to make as much money as possible. They aren’t accountable to us, only to their bosses and shareholders.

Which is why across the country, PFI deals are VERY expensive. LocalGov says “in January [2018] the National Audit Office reported that there were currently more than 700 PFI and PF2 deals with a capital value of around £60bn and annual charges amounting to £10.3bn in 2016-17. Even if no new deals are entered into, the NAO said, future charges which continue until the 2040s amount to £199bn.”

The PFI deal for UHCW itself is an atrocity. To quote Coventry Telegraph in 2019, “Despite the initial investments for Coventry’s NHS Trust being worth only £379 million, the trust will have paid back an estimated £3.7billion by the time the contracts are up – almost ten times the initial money.” The annual costs mean that an EIGHTH of UHCW’s entire budget goes to private profiteers who made their investment back years ago!

The Walsgrave Car Park PFI alone is harming so many people. That’s why in July last year we pledged to redouble our efforts, and now with over 4000 signatures we are going to keep up that fight!

Help us build that fight – join the socialists or find out more!

NEW LOCKDOWN MEASURES

TORIES LEAVE IT LATE AGAIN – BUT THEIR HAND IS FORCED BY EDUCATION WORKERS ACTION!

While the government has yet again taken far too long to face up to the loss of control of coronavirus, tens and tens of thousands of education workers have said enough is enough.

Boris Johnson and his shower of incompetents have been forced, belatedly, to take further action to combat coronavirus. On Sunday he insisted all schools open, by Monday they’re all shut!

Johnson’s failures are having such serious consequences for so many people, and while it may be some consolation to know he has egg all over his face, it’s not just consolation we need, but to take confidence from the workers’ action, to learn from the people who know best and fought back.

Johnson was forced to retreat not by the science, but by the action of teachers and support workers.

Teachers by the tens of thousands refused to continue to work in unsafe conditions, and only to return when it was made safe. Not that you’d know about this from the media. Teachers’ mobilisation, involving up to 400,000 in union discussions about lack of safety and refusing to work in those conditions, closed hundreds of schools but was largely ignored by the media.

Johnson was forced to admit that schools are ‘a vector’ in the virus spreading. Something that while the government tried to deny it, the world and its auntie have known for months!

But he was forced to act because the public were aware the situation was getting very dangerous and that as teachers refused to work in such conditions and local authorities were closing schools anyway that it would leave him in London in control of nothing. Workers action has now given a clear lead.

We see in this the importance of a union for working people, giving workers the confidence to write in with Section 44 letters (that declare the worker believes the workplace to be unsafe.)   


Below are some reports to ‘The Socialist’ newspaper of how education workers organised.

Local Officers, reps and members have been working flat out since the call was made by the NEU (National Education Union) that staff should assert their contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work. As well as school, District and Regional meetings, the NEU estimate as many as 400,000 people may have watched this morning’s National Union ‘Zoom’ call – either directly or through social media broadcasts.

Union activists have been so busy talking to members, answering queries and building the campaign that there has been little opportunity (to report) the work being carried out. These brief reports hopefully give you a flavour of what’s been happening right across the Union:

As Headteacher, I have received 50 Section 44 letters from teachers and support staff today.

Some staff were already either shielding or self-isolating in any case. I have obviously responded by informing parents that the school will be closed tomorrow. It looks like a number of Southampton schools are closing. Support from the leader of the council has helped.

* UPDATE ON MONDAY MORNING – 31 Southampton primary schools closed = about two-thirds of them!

Liz Filer, Southampton NEU

Lots of primaries will be closed in Bristol.

My own school was up to 22 staff on a Section 44 letter when it was announced it will be closed to everyone tomorrow and then there will be remote learning for at least the rest of the week. I’ve also had 10 new names appear on my membership list, including several support staff who have never been unionised before.

Sheila Caffrey, Bristol NEU

Coventry saw over 300 members join an online meeting.

We have recruited more reps and members have grown in confidence.  A number of schools are fully closed and more are partially closed. This is a great start to the campaign. The response of the Local Authority has angered many members, being told that schools are safe whilst the data on Covid cases has increased by over 50% in a short period of time.

Jane Nellist, Coventry NEU

I have spoken to eight Multi Academy Trust CEOs. All bar one were very supportive of our stance.

Over 100 members attended our District ‘Zoom’ meeting this afternoon. We also invited the UNISON convenor to attend and that helped to strengthen the resolve of our members. We’ve already gained 27 new members since the union came out fighting.

Mike Whale, Hull NEU

Responding to a growing anxiety about the return to school, I worked as part of the senior leadership team to review and tighten up our risk assessment. However, given the growing risks (we) felt this would be insufficient to guarantee staff safety. After the national NEU rep’s briefing on Saturday, our school rep organised a members meeting. All 17 of our members (including 3 former NASUWT members) agreed to sign the S44 letter. We decided to contact and share the letter with all school staff. Within an hour we had 50 names on it!

Staff were keen to sign, given confidence by the union taking a stand. Our Head, fully respected the views of the staff and the school has moved to online learning as per NEU recommendations for the next 2 weeks at least. Even Tory-led Norfolk Council has now issued advice saying that “as a head teacher you may find it difficult to be certain that you will have sufficient staff to open safely on Monday”. At the latest count, I already know of over 50 local primary schools who will not be opening – and the list is being added to all the time!

From a NEU member in Norfolk

Why we supported the education workers: A fuller explanation of the education workers view….


Organise a mass refusal to attend unsafe schools on Monday

Posted on 2 January 2021 [https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31785]

Our schools and colleges are not safe.

Full classrooms provide an environment where the new variant will quickly spread. No member of staff and no pupil should have to work in such dangerous conditions. That’s why, to protect their safety, and the safety of their wider school community, school union groups should boldly make clear this weekend that they are not prepared to return to work until safety can be assured.

For months, the Government has been ignoring growing evidence that school aged children have high levels of infection and that poorly ventilated, closely packed, schools have been an important factor in the spread of Covid-19.

Keeping schools fully open has nothing to do with keeping children safe. Instead it has put more lives in danger, more pressure on an overwhelmed NHS, more chaotic disruption in schools.

Before Christmas, even their own scientific advisers warned Ministers that “accumulating evidence is consistent with increased transmission occurring amongst school children when schools are open”. Yet the Department for Education still insisted on bullying Councils like Greenwich into keeping their schools open. Now these bullies have to be faced down.

With the full opening of secondary schools delayed by a week, the immediate battleground is in primary, nursery and special schools.  With the new, more contagious, variant of the virus spreading quickly amongst young people in particular, even this Government has been forced to concede that primary schools in London and some other South-East authorities do not open fully at the start of term. But, as things stand, most school staff still face entering an unsafe workplace on Monday – and the virus doesn’t respect geographical boundaries.

Insisting workers enter an unsafe workplace, and without risk assessments in place that address the new dangers from the new variant, is a breach of Health and Safety. That’s why the National Education Union met in emergency session today (Sat 2nd Jan) and agreed it will be calling on members in primary and special schools to exercise their rights under “Section 44” and that the Union will support them in doing so, including through balloting for industrial action if necessary. Letters will be sent to all employers by the Union.

Members will be advised to insist on a new risk assessment and that they are available to work in school to teach key worker and vulnerable children only or, otherwise, work from home to support remote learning.

This is a very significant step and one that now needs to be fully backed by the trade union movement. It should also be replicated by UNISON, GMB, NASUWT and other school unions.

By failing to act earlier in this decisive manner, the NEU has left itself with a very short timescale to get this message across to its members and to give them confidence to act. Nevertheless, it is a stand that has to be taken given the serious dangers facing all of us.

Discussing Biden Win With American Socialists

Coventry Branch Online Meeting: 10th November 7.30pm

Biden appears to have won the US presidential election.
🔍How do we analyse this win, that saw twelve million more people vote and came down to the wire in the Electoral College system?
✊What will workers and youth in the United States have to do to fight for things like free healthcare, free university tuition, a decent minimum wage, to fight climate change?
🚩How do we get actual socialist change in a country in the grip of two parties that represent an incredibly powerful capitalist class?

Join us on Tuesday to discuss how socialists can build that fight!

Click here to visit our Facebook page

Click here to email us or copy CoventrySocialistParty@Gmail.Com

Click here to visit the Socialist Party’s national website

Live in the US? Visit the Independent Socialist Group!

Disgrace of over 4 million children in poverty!

Low pay, no way! photo Paul Mattsson

Article by Jane Nellist, Socialist Party Member and Coventry NEU [Personal Capacity]

Austerity policies from successive governments have pushed an increasing number of  families into poverty.  Over 4 million children live in poverty in the UK and that number is rapidly rising.  That is over 30% of all children in a country that is one of the wealthiest in the world!

The Tory cuts to welfare benefits and the underfunded Universal Credit scheme has left families in crisis- whilst the rich continue to be insulated from austerity.

Children from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty:   45% are now in poverty, which makes the Black Lives Matter campaigns even more important.

Disgracefully, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work, many working long hours with very low pay.  Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap.

But it’s not just the lack of money that impacts on  poorer families. Services that families would turn to for support, are no longer there.  The huge cuts to Local Authorities funding, down 49%, with an unwillingness of councils to mount campaigns and use their reserves, hits the poorest families hard.  Children’s centres,  youth clubs, libraries and other support services are either cut to the bone or have disappeared. The safety net the working class had fought for has huge holes or has been taken away all together.

Barnsley Unison lobby of council cabinet 29.5.19, photo A Tice

Free school meals and  breakfast clubs, whilst not enough, have helped to ensure that children get a balanced meal during the day at school but ‘holiday’ hunger takes it toll on families.  The absolute catastrophe of the government’s voucher system during Covid-19 saw more and more families turn to food banks to feed their families.

The decision by the Tories to discontinue the  free school meals vouchers during the summer holidays has enraged families was spectacularly overturned following the letter from  Marcus Rashford, Manchester United and England footballer.  He wrote passionately, highlighting his own experiences. He wrote, “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.” This system does not work for millions of people which is why we fight so hard to change it!

Housing and childcare are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets.  But it’s not just finding a roof over your head, it’s the quality of housing that has the biggest impact. Energy costs for poorer families are high due the reliance on pre-paid cards. Families should not have to make choices between heating or eating!

Too many disadvantaged families are living in cramped conditions, especially in cities with no outdoor space, sometimes in just one room. It’s a nightmare at any time, but during the ‘lockdown’ it’s even worse. The lack of good quality council housing is a scandal – with private landlords making a fortune!

With schools still closed to most pupils, and a reliance on home schooling, much of it ‘on-line’, a national free Broadband scheme and free laptops would ensure young people could access the tools to help their learning. Yet again, the government’s promises have failed, and educational inequalities will increase enormously.

Thousands more families are living on the edge of poverty. One unexpected setback,  like redundancy or an illness or even cuts to hours- could push them into the poverty trap. The furlough scheme has helped in the short term to alleviate some of the risk, but as the government seek to pull back from this, we will see a huge rise in the number of families facing catastrophe.

The storms that were already  gathering because of a worldwide economic crisis, and made worse by the pandemic, will mean even more misery for millions, unless a mass movement of the working class rise up.  Capitalism is designed to serve the bosses and keep the rich enveloped in their wealth.  Our job as socialists, is to turn the world upside down and fight for the 99% and ensure that every family and every child has all their needs met through a democratic planned socialist system.

Help fight for a socialist society to end poverty for good – be one of the hundreds of people who has registered to join us this month!

 

 

“We’ve got to organise and overthrow capitalism” – Socialist Party member speaks at Black Lives Matter protest

Below is the speech from Deji Olay [Birmingham Socialist Party] at the massive Black Lives Matter protest in Coventry on Sunday 7th June.

Click to hear Deji’s speech yourself on our Facebook page!

My name’s Deji, I’m a member of the Socialist Party, and I’m here for the same reason as all of you. Because we’ve seen too much injustice, we’ve seen too much police brutality, and we’ve seen too much harm being done to our communities, and to our world around us.

And its not a bug; its a feature. This is systematic. The country’s democracy is a sham, and these laws are there to protect the elite. They’re there to protect capitalism, order, to protect the guys that control everything. But they don’t protect our communities, they don’t protect us. Its a racist elite that choose these laws. Its a racist elite that choose police violence because it protects their stores, and it protects their wealth. But we don’t own the stores; we just work in them. We don’t choose these laws. We don’t own these offices, we just work in them, and these laws aren’t for us.

We need to change the system. We need to protect our communities, we need to protect our libraries, and we need to protect ourselves. We need socialism to fund our libraries, and we need socialism to fund our gyms, and we need socialism to fund our community services.

Rest in peace, everyone that died because of police brutality. Rest in peace, everyone that died in Grenfell tower.

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This country has weaponised racism for profit. This country, the leaders, have got their wealth on the back of slaves. They got their wealth from Africa. They got their profits from exploiting Nigeria, South Africa… and they’re still profiting from Africa.

In America, in the UK, in the Caribbean, in Africa, we are all one people.

We’re all living under the same system. And nothing will change until we change this system, until we get rid of this racism, until we get rid of capitalism.

We’ve got to organise. Like the Haitians when they overthrew slavery, we’ve got to organise and overthrow capitalism in this country and in the world.

We need to educate ourselves after this demo. Because these people, they promised us education, but all they’ve given us is tests and scores and bull**** educations.

We need to learn about the Black Panthers Party, and we need to read about Huey P. Newton, and we need to read about Freddy Hampton, and we need to learn about the Black Panthers’ revolutionary programme. And we need to read Karl Marx because they did.

We’ll learn that racism won’t go without changing the entire system. Because its not just a few bad apples, its structural problems. Its these problems. Fred Hampton was the leader of the Black Panthers, and he built a rainbow coalition, uniting white people, Asian people, black people against racism, sexism, and capitalism. That’s why I’m so happy to see so many to see so many different people out here tonight…

I’ll finish with his words: we’re going to fight racism, not with racism, but we’re going to fight it with solidarity. We’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, we’re going to fight it with socialism!

Join the struggle against racism and capitalism! Join the Socialist Party today!

West Mids Socialist Party Discusses The Fight Against Coronavirus In Workplaces

On Thursday Socialist Party members in the West Midlands met online in a forum to talk through workplace situations during the coronavirus pandemic, and discuss strategy to defend workers’ health against some truly despicable management practices from the private and public sectors.

The meeting included tax officers, teachers, union staff, probation officers, railway staff, shop and warehouse workers and more, as well as comrades recently made unemployed.

We heard that some MoJ and HMRC office management have been flagrantly ignoring government advice on working from home, that most supply teachers have been furloughed but no money has been paid out from the furlough scheme yet, that rail staff have had to fight for weeks to get social distancing in work. Despite heaps of praise for shop workers by their employers, supermarket upper management have utterly failed in protecting their staff by denying them PPE and anything close to social distancing.

Success in health and safety has only been won by the organised determined action of workers. Vigilant campaigns have ensured adequate PPE, social distancing, remote working, and even furloughing at 100% pay.

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Workers have been winning PPE and protective measures to protect from Covid-19 at work.

In an incredible success of worker action, one non-unionised office in the West Mids organised their own rotas to ensure skeleton staff to keep the office functioning, keeping the majority of workers home and the rest safely distanced. Management there had insisted they would all need to be in office, but the workers forced the managers to adopt their rota model!

Many workers have successfully struggled to ensure their safety from coronavirus in the West Midlands and across the country, but too often this has been with the absence of trade union leaders.

The leaderships of some of the biggest unions in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of workers have failed to lead the fight to defend their members’ safety. In this meeting Socialist Party members spoke out against union right wingers and careerists who have been far too concerned with bureaucracy and stalled negotiations with the government and employers, risking workers’ safety week after week in a rapidly changing situation.

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The Socialist -our weekly paper- details workers’ fights and the need for trade union action.

During and after the coronavirus crisis there will be massive attacks on workers as the capitalist class seek to recuperate their losses and minimise any increased consciousness among workers. Events so far have only been a small test in terms of what fighting leadership is needed from trade unions as the core organisations to defend the working class.

The Socialist Party branches and union caucuses continue to meet online regularly, discussing political and workplace situations and organising for militant working class action.

We fight for socialism -for workers’ democratic control and management over the economy- and will push the case for a determined fight for socialist change within the trade unions. Only the working class finally taking control will end the endless battles with bosses that workers face even during a global pandemic!

JOIN US! – IT’S EASY TO GET INVOLVED!

The week government lies caught up with them

THE WEEK THAT GOVERNMENT LIES CAUGHT UP WITH THEM

  • If we’re to beat Covid 19, it can’t go on like this!
  • One of the worst death rates in the world.  
  • Testing doesn’t meet needs
  • PPE shortage letting down our health and social care workers
  • Care homes becoming death traps
  • Government then blame health workers for misusing PPE!!

This has been the week where much has been revealed. The lack of preparation for the virus, the weakened state of the NHS   due to austerity and privatisation for profit is broadly recognised by people. Many people of course want to get on with fighting the enemy at the door, Covid 19, rather than argue about things.

But failure of both our economic system and government has consequences, different responses have different outcomes.

There is still much for the British people to learn and absorb about the lack of preparation that has left us short of PPE, staff, ventilators and the rest – not least the ignoring of operation Cygnus in 2016 that warned we were unprepared for a pandemic.   But it’s also the week the government tried to shift the blame, and largely failed.

London Transport workers fighting private companies and TfL to secure health and safety

Postal workers’ anger over profits before health and safetyPostal workers’ anger over profits before health and safety

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BLAME THE POPULATION….NOT THE PREPARATION ?

From PPE, to ventilators, to testing, to delayed lockdown, to considering ‘Herd immunity’ (which would have led to 500,000 deaths) the government’s lack of preparation and slow reaction has hamstrung our reaction to Covid19. Now, even ‘The Times’ a Tory supporting paper, has joined the condemnation of the wasted months (in an astonishing attack). Faced with this the Government moved to shift the blame and shift our gaze, with a “Don’t look there, look here” policy.

It started with “blame the public” -get us all to blame each other re shopping or going out in public. It was classic divide and rule, but the reality was very different. Of course, social distancing is vital and that it came too late has allowed to virus to kill over 20,000 already (16,000 in hospitals, 4000 in care homes and community as of 20 April) **

Then it was footballers – note: not billionaires, or more ‘upper class’ entertainers.

Then the biggest mistake of the government, they tried to start blaming health and care workers for the lack of PPE. As health workers saw increased deaths amongst colleagues and feared going to work, that the government tried to blame them brought howls of outrage across the country.


 

OBEYING THE LOCKDOWN: You wouldn’t think it from government and media blaming and shaming, but the public response to social distancing has been remarkable. With rare exceptions, the lockdown has been well observed and community support for one another has soared. We’ve seen the best in people. Many have been surprised at how well people have recognised the rules. Especially young people, for whom misleading talk might have led them to believe they would not be affected.

That didn’t stop TV pictures of a couple walking a dog in the big spaces of the Peak District. Of one woman alone on a beach being moved by police, or of Central News last Friday showing pictures of (much reduced) traffic on the M42 asking ‘where are they going?’ Yet on the mile long section of road filmed, there were only 4 cars!

But, as government finger pointing at the public went against what most of us experienced, and even the Government had to admit “they were surprised at the public response to supporting lockdown” (BBC), they had to start ‘backing off’.

FOOTBALLERS: Matt Hancock pointed the finger at wealthy footballers not donating. There can be few of us sports lovers who welcome the huge salaries for the minority of super-successful footballers, but this attack was not made on absentee, Tax dodging billionaires, or the less working class elements of the entertainment industry and just revealed Tory dislike of working class kids doing well. But to their credit, footballers organised themselves to donate directly to health services and not hand money back to their often very wealthy owners. Again the government had to back off.

HEALTH WORKERS ‘MISUSING’ PPE. The government shot themselves in the foot here. Some Trusts were close to or actually running out of PPE over the weekend. Dr Rob Harwood chair of the BMA Consultants, said: We “should not expect people to expose themselves to potential risk to their lives during the course of their work. It’s a real disappointment to us that Government has been unable, even after a month, to address this progressively worsening shortage of PPE”.

Note from his comment that the situation is “worsening”. Ministers have tried to claim it was a distribution problem but it’s becoming clearer it’s a supply problem. Meanwhile they admit to 27 health workers dying from Covid, As of April 18, The Guardian says it knew of at least 58, the Times confirms this figure.

If we might advise the government: people are sick of this deflection and hiding. If there’s a shortage, say so. Don’t keep pretending there’s enough and blame shifting. Get on with putting it right! Stop debating contracts with private firms, and mobilise the relevant parts of British industry to get the stuff made.

To add to all this, is the horrible truth coming out about infections and deaths in care homes, the deaths of transport workers and while Mr Hancock claims cancer and other treatments should be carrying on, there has even been talk of up to 60,000 deaths from other illnesses that are not fully treated as hospitals are diverted to Covid treatment.


 

Does all this matter for the immediate future?   –   Simple answer ‘Yes’.

When government supporters say ‘keep politics out of it’ are they right?  –  Simple answer ‘No’.

As we all fight to win against Covid, we want the best ways to win. It is widely recognised now that the government squandered time despite the warnings from China and Italy. Sir Jeremy Farrar of the government’s own SAGE committee said ‘UK is likely to be one of the worst, if not the worst in Europe’ for deaths and infections.

Government supporters cry that ‘Politics should be taken out of it’, but the problem is two-fold.

First that past ‘politics’ got us ‘behind the curve’ in the first place, with decisions to run down pandemic preparation due to austerity, decisions to break up and fragment health and social care for their ‘market’ in health care that has led to uncoordinated procurement of materials and uncoordinated Laboratories, decisions to rely on ‘just in time production’ and to outsource production of vital materials to cheap labour economies. This has already cost thousands of lives.

Secondly, we want to win the war against the virus and we don’t think this lot are up to it. We had the wrong preparation and then the wrong response. The Times revealed government simply didn’t take this seriously enough. Fortunately for us all, the government dropped ‘herd immunity’ and started using the state to organise, but their love of relying on the market means they are still way behind catching up with the virus. Cabinet members who ‘hate the state’ are clearly unsuitable for the job.

These issues are biting government now and instead of spending time covering their backsides at press conferences, they need to get on with it and mobilise all resources to fight this virus.

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HOW TO GET OUT OF THIS?

The growth of the death rate appears to be levelling off but we are not out of the woods by a long way. The ‘plateau’ that they talk about looks like hundreds of deaths per day for a significant period. Without adequate testing any attempt to leave lockdown risks a deadly second wave and cycles of release and lockdown.

The only way out until a vaccine is available for all, is by testing, tracing isolating – hunting the virus down and keeping people away from it, and to stop it spreading in hospitals and care homes protecting our health, social care and other workers.

But with testing at only 20,000 per day when what’s needed is 500,000 per day, things don’t look good. That’s why there’s cabinet division on coming out of lockdown.

What is required is a huge mobilisation of our industry and our labour to provide a system of testing tracing and isolating. Something we simply aren’t seeing.

SOCIALISM

Against their will and to save capitalism amidst the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, the capitalists and their parties have been forced to use massive state intervention. However the example of the nationalisation of the Banks in the crisis a decade ago shows they will bail out the bankers and wealthy shareholders at the expense of the working class.

An editorial in the recent issue of ‘the Socialist’ commented: “A genuine exit strategy – not just from the pandemic, but from the austerity, poverty and exploitation that the capitalist profit system generates – will only be possible in a fundamentally different kind of society.

“This would be based on public ownership of industry, services and finance, in which the planning that governments have been randomly groping towards in this crisis – to build the hospitals, secure essential equipment such as ventilators and masks, distribute food, etc – could be extended to the whole of the economy.

“Working-class people could then democratically decide and prioritise where the enormous wealth that already exists, and will be created in the future, should be spent.”

Join us!

 

**Breaking: April 21st Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that deaths are 40% higher than government figures.

 


Comments seen this week on social media…….

“Definition of an essential worker: Someone you treat like sh*t, until you realise you need them”

‘Britain in 2020. A 99 year old man has to haul himself round his garden to raise money for medical supplies while billionaires sit on private islands with more money than they can spend in a lifetime. And the worst part is people think this is normal. This country is fu*ked, absolutely fu*ked.’

‘Captain Tom should be praised, but while we praise the heroes, we must also hold the villains to account.’

‘By the way, what happened to the Chancellor’s ‘doing whatever is necessary’. Why is charity money needed then?’

If thousands of beds can be found for Nightingale hospitals, why couldn’t they be found in the past when the NHS was stretched to breaking point?

If thousands of beds can be found for Nightingale hospitals, why couldn’t they be found in the past when the NHS was stretched to breaking point?

When on so many occasions people were forced to wait in ambulances or trolleys?

Coronavirus response could create ‘very serious unintended consequences’ says the HSJ (Health Service Journal)

HSJ says ‘Non-coronavirus patients at serious risk due to huge focus on fighting virus’

‘National NHS leaders are to take action over growing fears that the “unintended consequences” of focusing so heavily on tackling covid-19 could do more harm than the virus, HSJ has learned.’ 

NHS England analysts have been tasked with identifying patients who may not have the virus but may be at risk of significant harm or death because they are missing vital appointments or not attending emergency departments, with both the service and public so focused on covid-19.

A senior NHS source was quoted “There could be some very serious unintended consequences. While there will be a lot of covid-19 fatalities, we could end up losing more ‘years of life’ because of fatalities relating to non-covid-19 health complications.

“What we don’t want to do is take our eye off the ball in terms of all the core business and all the other healthcare issues the NHS normally attends to.”  “People will be developing symptoms of serious but treatable diseases”

Unless urgent action is taken people suffering strokes, or from Cancer, Heart conditions and more could end up as part of a silent death toll.

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A member comments:   “What does the Catherine Armstrong case tell us?

Scotland’s chief medical officer was the public face of the TV campaign to get people to stay at home and then bobs off to her second home for two weekends!

The lockdown is being largely effective because of the responsible actions of millions of working people and the bravery of others. Yet, every day people are being shamed for being 10 yards apart in a park while the chief medical officer does this!

I’ve met no-one who isn’t shocked at the selfishness and stupidity. And few who aren’t angry at the ‘One rule for us, another rule for them’ mentality.

Doesn’t it echo the MP’s expenses scandal and many similar stories we’ve heard? Where expenses claims were beyond the outrageous. Where Ian Duncan Smith could proclaim ‘the end of something for nothing’ regarding Benefits and at the same time make expenses claims for a hair-cut? (What hair?)

Just how corrupt or out of touch are those who climb the greasy pole to the top of our system?

For a chief medical officer to tell people stuck in flats, often with kids and no gardens to go in, that they must stay at home while not only can she go to her first home’s considerable garden but buggers off to a second home ( – a pre-requisite it seems for our upwardly mobile upper professional class.)

How is it they can feel no pressure from the rest of us to be accountable or even considerate, never mind do their job properly?  Is it the breakdown of social solidarity following the “no such thing as society” mantra of Thatcherism? The mantra that meant MP’s could fiddle their expenses without a tinge of guilt? Or what else could make them feel no connect to others in society, no being bound by the same rules as the ‘rest of us’?

Whatever it is, we must fight to put an end to this hypocritical ‘I’m alright Jack’. There needs to be a huge democratic and accountability shake-up to end a situation where elected and appointed officials feel no connection to we ordinary millions. The ordinary millions without whom nothing would work anyway.

We should ensure that democratic and accountable bodies run our public services. Public representatives like MP’s should get the wage of an average skilled worker not way more. Stop the gravy train where people stand to be reps to fill their pockets instead of fighting to improve conditions for all. Then they can rise with the rest of us.”

Reports are emerging that MP’s are to get an extra £10,000 to work from home. This can’t be true, someone tell us it’s fake news….

Hypocrisy as Tories lecture us on selfishness and Branson seeks a bail out.

After years of telling us ‘there’s no such thing as society’, that we’ve ‘all got to look after number 1’, and of MP’s feeding in the trough and of taking lucrative executive positions in private companies, it’s a bit rich of Tory ministers to tell people not to be selfish!

And while they pick on predominantly working class footballers, demanding a pay cut, they don’t talk about the billionaires and super rich in society. Indeed one of them, Mr Branson is appealing for a public bailout for his company despite having a personal fortune that could cover those financial issues many times over.

And, while there’s talk of hoarding…What about £13 trillion hoarded in tax havens around the world? Money that could be used to improve economies and peoples’ lives across the world.

👉 If you agree, join us: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/main/join

 

Corona Crisis commentary latest 3rd April

MATT HANCOCK FRONTS UP

At least at yesterdays’ government press conference (Thursday 2nd April), Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced up to the governments’ failure to provide PPE and testing. Unlike previous government evaders, he answered some questions and made promises to dramatically improve provision. Let’s all hope he’s successful.

He also promised to write off NHS Trust debts –worth £13.5 billion – for debts read money Trusts couldn’t cut from their restricted budgets. It sure would have helped if the Conservatives had done this before instead of worshipping austerity.

Also, most interestingly Mr Hancock acknowledged that ‘Britain’s diagnostic industry starts from a very low base’….Why is that?

In an earlier article we carried by Dr Jon Dale, (Is there a cure on the Horizon?) he explained why this was the case. Essentially there is a lot less money going into diagnostics because there is less profit in it compared to producing medicines.

There is some amazing work being done by many companies to understand and seek cures or palliatives for this virus and no-one can blame a company having to work in a ‘Market system’ for needing to make a profit to survive. But what it reveals – yet again – is that the market cannot deal with human problems. Hence the huge government intervention needed in this crisis.

Health priorities cannot be left to the profit motive but must be decided by society for the interests of all.

See latest article from our journal Socialism Today – Another market system failure

If our health industries are to be improved they must be brought into public ownership and integrated and planned and alongside our NHS.

– What Jon Dale said: “Small biotech companies employing 20-30 scientists are rapidly developing faster, more accurate tests. But they may be too late for this pandemic.

– Private investment in these bio-tech companies between 2015-19 was 6 times less than in companies researching treatments where higher profits are hoped for. (One expert commenting on inadequate diagnostics) said it was “a market failure” that diagnostics were less valued than treatments.

– Large companies making diagnostic tests don’t invest in tests that may not be needed, they want guaranteed sales. A Socialist plan of production would combine laboratory research with modern purpose built factories, prepared for new infectious outbreaks.

– Public ownership and investment, not short term profit hunting, would save many lives.”

Tests for all now!

Nationalise production and research!

While we await a cure, we can cure the system that holds us back in the our fight against epidemics

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