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

Rob Windsor – a fighter for socialism

The 14th January 2020 marks 8 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.

img_4291

Rob leading one of many anti Poll Tax protests in Coventry

Against the backdrop of Boris Johnson’s Tory election victory and the 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.

PHONE/TEXT 07530 429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

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

 

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, decidedhe 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.

img_4306

 

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.

img_4284

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.

img_4308

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.

img_4303.jpg

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.

img_4305

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


 

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!

img_4302

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.

 


 

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.

img_4287

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 .

img_4301

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.

60

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!

img_4307

Rob speaking at the Coventry school student strike on Day X

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.

img_4295

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”.


 

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.

PHONE/TEXT 07530 429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

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

In memory of John Davies 1928 – 2019 – a life of struggle for workers and socialism

Many members and supporters of the Socialist Party across the country will be saddened to hear of the death of John Davies who sadly passed away aged 91 on the 21st December 2019.

 

John will probably be best remembered by comrades, far and wide,  as the lovely softly spoken older Welsh man who opened up his house on election days from 5 am until 10 pm for the Socialist Party’s Hillfields HQ and who would keep everyone well fed and watered with endless tea, biscuits, crisps, biscuits, pork pie, and BISCUITS!

 

John loved to see so many passionate, political people, especially young comrades, in and out of his house all day for the cause of working people and socialism – it was something he had fought for all his life and until the day he died.

 

John was born in Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1928 to a poor working-class family. He was radicalized at an early age from reading newspapers each day for his dad who was blind, as well as his own experiences seeing the toil of working people in his local area and his own relative’s experiences during WW2.

 

John first started working on the local buses as a driver in Wales before being called up for National Service, which again directed him towards socialist ideas and the struggles of working people across the world.

 

Like many workers across Britain at the time, John moved to Coventry to what was then the richest working-class city in the land.

 

John started again as a bus driver for the Coventry Corporation Transport as it was at the time. He would remain a bus driver for 38 years, a model hard worker, who never took a day off sick but also a ferocious fighter for his fellow workers and class.

 

John quickly became a shop steward for the TGWU union, now Unite, and was part of a militant and powerful shop stewards committee that secured pay, conditions and pensions that were seen as the aspiration for workers in the industry across the country.

 

John would often tell stories about the tactics and methods they would use to defeat management whenever they needed too. And as John would laugh, ‘we always won!’

 

Often they wouldn’t know how to deal with John, he used to like to joke about it, because he was a model worker, nice and polite, but inside a burning hatred of capitalism and the bosses and a determination to fight for anyone in need.

 

During the miners’ strike in 1983 to ‘84, John sacrificed his weekends and all his days off to drive buses for striking miners to flying pickets, protests and demonstrations.

 

John was active in Coventry South East Labour Party since he had arrived in Coventry. Like many other militants and socialists, John supported the local MP Dave Nellist, especially after Dave was expelled for refusing to pay the poll tax and for his socialist views. John continued the support for Dave when he stood as an Independent candidate in 1992.  

 

John remained a member of the Socialist Party for the rest of his life. He loved to see young people getting involved in the struggle for socialism, always taking the time to speak, joke around and thank anyone new he met for the job they were doing for working people everywhere.

 

He knew the obstacles the working class faced across the world so he would always donate generously and willingly to the Socialist Party to help fund election campaigns and other campaigning work.

 

In his retirement, John would spend many days leafleting thousands upon thousands of houses across Coventry for Socialist Party election campaigns, keeping exact detailed reports of how many leaflets he had delivered and to which houses!

 

A wonderful man with a magnificent thirst for knowledge. He loved to learn and also, more importantly, to pass on anything he knew.

 

John did everything he could to practice what he preached. So many people were supported, helped out and inspired in so many ways by John through the many decades of his life.

 

John grew up with Welsh as his first language and would go each week to the local Welsh church in Coventry, despite his rejection of religion, so he could speak Welsh over a cup of tea.

 

John was a real working-class hero who just quietly went about his business, passionately standing up for his class wherever and whenever he could with a smile and his lovely Welsh chuckle.

 

He inspired and helped so many comrades in the struggle for a socialist world.  John will never see this but his contribution will always be remembered.

He will be missed but not forgotten.

Stand firm for socialist policies to stop Tory attacks

The following article was posted on the Socialist Party website, the morning after the General Election.  We hope our readers will find it interesting.  To see comment and reports over the holiday period visit https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/ – in particular, a major article  posted 20 December on prospects for 2021 – https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30048

 

John McDonnell addressing the RMT/NSSN lobby of Parliament 19.12.19, shortly after the Queen’s Speech announced Tory attacks on trade union rights, photo JB

 

  • Trade unions must organise now to plan action to mobilise workers and young people to defend the NHS, public services, the environment, benefits and workers’ rights against Johnson’s attacks
  • Blame the Blairites. Kick out the pro-capitalist saboteurs. Refound Labour as a mass democratic workers’ party with socialist policies
  • Join the fightback! Join the Socialist Party!

The Tories have won a substantial parliamentary majority. Boris Johnson’s victory speech talked about being a ‘one-nation Conservative’ and promised increased spending on the NHS. This is a lie. When Maggie Thatcher won in 1979 she quoted Frances of Assisi, promising to bring harmony and hope to Britain.

Instead, she ruled ruthlessly and attacked the working class. Johnson will do the same and rule not for the ‘whole nation’ but the billionaires. His manifesto promised an immediate assault on the rights of rail workers to strike. This, combined with the recent brutal anti-democratic court rulings against the postal workers’ union, the CWU, gives a glimpse of the attacks on workers’ rights to come.

But Johnson’s attacks on trade unions and the working class as a whole can be defeated. The seeming strength of Johnson’s government will be shattered by coming events. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher had a majority of 102. Within 12 months the campaign of mass non-payment against the poll tax, led by Militant, now the Socialist Party, had begun. It turned the Iron Lady into iron filings, forcing her resignation in 1990. Today, the Tory party is far weaker than it was then. It is bitterly divided, and Johnson has only been able to win by distancing himself from his own party, using populist rhetoric to falsely claim he is standing up for ‘the people’.

This was a ‘snapshot’, a very ephemeral result, with even Johnson having to acknowledge workers had only lent him their votes. In the immediate period after the election there is bound to be bitter disappointment, even despair, from workers and young people who can see what a Johnson government will mean.

Anti-Tory demonstrator, photo Paul Mattsson

Anti-Tory demonstrator, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Nonetheless, their anger will find an outlet and mass struggles – like those taking place in France, Chile and many other countries – will come to Britain. The workers’ movement needs an urgent council of war to plan a fight back against Johnson’s attacks, firstly in support of the postal, rail and other workers currently in dispute, and in order to harness the anger and give it an organised form.

A vital part of that resistance is a fight for socialist policies. Already the capitalist politicians and commentators, and the Labour right wing, are lining up to argue that Labour’s poor result was caused by Corbyn’s left-wing manifesto. This is nonsense. In fact, Labour got 10.2 million votes, the second time under Corbyn it has reached over 10 million votes, something that was not achieved by Blair after the 2001 election, or ever by Brown or Miliband.

The majority of policies in Corbyn’s manifesto have overwhelming public support, including the nationalisation it proposed. The Blairites claim a so-called ‘1970s manifesto’ was outdated, but it is their worshipping of the capitalist elite that is out of date.

Corbyn’s policies of a £10-an-hour minimum wage, mass council house building, ending zero-hour contracts, free education and more, would be a real step forward for millions of workers who have suffered a decade of falling living standards.

Corbyn’s manifesto, and above all the enthusiasm a Corbyn-led government would have engendered, terrified the capitalist class, who have moved might and main to prevent Corbyn getting into Number Ten.

A vicious campaign of slander against Corbyn was relentlessly conducted by the capitalist media, probably greater than in any election since Labour won in 1945, when Labour was accused of wanting to bring in a Gestapo but introduced the NHS and other reforms.

We should expect nothing less from the mass media, which is mainly owned by billionaires or, in the case of the BBC, is an arm of the capitalist state which has always ultimately defended its interests.

As far back as the 1926 general strike it claimed to be ‘independent’ while banning speeches from the Labour leader, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury – because he was considered too conciliatory. As 1945 showed, however, with a clear fighting programme it is possible to cut across the lies of the capitalist media.

Blairite sabotage

In this election the capitalist class had another important ally in the battle to defeat Corbyn: the Blairites. 15 ex-Labour MPs took out huge adverts in northern papers the day before the election urging people not to vote for Corbyn.

This open sabotage was only one step further than many MPs who stayed inside the Labour Party but openly undermined Corbyn, failing to ever mention him or the manifesto in their leaflets.

Jeremy Corbyn, photo Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Already this election is being compared to Labour’s defeat under Michael Foot in 1983. On that occasion it wasn’t the left manifesto, but the right-wing traitors – the SDP – who left Labour and split the vote, which was the main reason for the defeat. This time their successors, the Blairites, were mostly working to defeat Corbyn from inside the party.

However, it was the compromises that the Labour leadership made with the Blairites that are the central reason for this defeat, above all on Brexit. Swathes of working-class Leave-voting areas saw Labour as a ‘Remain’ party. Even right-wing Sunday Times commentator, Dominic Lawson, recognised this last week, declaring, “Labour’s centrists blew this, not its leftie leader”.

Lawson went on to state the obvious: “It is the centrists, supported by the former Labour leader Tony Blair and his erstwhile spin-doctor Alistair Campbell, who dragged the party from its policy of respecting the result of the 2016 referendum.”

He goes on to point out that Corbyn never supported the EU, but in order to convince pro-EU Labour MPs to join a shadow cabinet reluctantly agreed to campaign for Remain in the referendum, and has made concession after concession ever since.

Rage against system

As the Socialist Party has consistently argued, the working-class vote for Brexit was a cry of rage against everything they had suffered in a decade of austerity. Had Corbyn, as we did, taken a different position in the EU referendum the right-wing Tory nationalists would not have had the space to dominate the Brexit campaign in the way they did.

He should have argued in 2016 for a vote for Brexit on the grounds of opposing the EU bosses’ club – with its pro-privatisation and anti-working class laws, standing instead for a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis.

Even after this mistake, the 2017 snap election showed how promising to respect the EU referendum, and negotiate a Brexit in workers’ interests, could win working-class Brexit voters. More than a million people who had previously voted Ukip voted Labour in that election.

This time, however, Corbyn’s neutrality, combined with months of seeming to collaborate in parliament with pro-capitalist Remainers – Jo Swinson, Ken Clarke, and co – allowed Johnson to claim he was the only candidate who could “get Brexit done”.

A considerable number of Brexit-voting workers and some Remain voters who were fed up of the Brexit paralysis and just wanted it ‘sorted’, lent their vote to Johnson, often holding their noses to do so. They will be sorely disappointed.

The capitalist class, the majority of whom want to remain as closely aligned to the EU as possible, are hoping against hope that – having won a clear majority – Johnson can now be pressured into negotiating a final deal in their interests.

There are more than 130 Remain Tory backbenchers who can fight for that position. Johnson may do what they want, which will almost certainly mean extending the transition period beyond the end of next year. That would reopen the splits in the Tory party, and shatter the lie that Johnson will ‘get Brexit done’.

However Johnson plays it, his Brexit deal is a vicious pro-big business deal which further undermines workers’ rights. Against the background of growing economic crisis, any illusions that Johnson stands ‘for the people’ will be destroyed by the government’s actions.

In the coming turmoil there will be a burning need for a political vehicle to represent the working class: a mass workers’ party. Labour under Corbyn hasn’t become such a party, rather it was at best ‘two parties in one’: a potential workers’ party around Corbyn and a capitalist Blairite party. Corbyn supporters have to urgently learn the lessons of this defeat.

It was not only on Brexit that concessions to the Blairites undermined Corbyn’s message. During this election campaign there was a policy of not attacking the record of previous Labour governments. This allowed, for example, Johnson to claim Labour were responsible for much of the privatisation in the NHS. Corbyn – instead of attacking the Blairites’ record on PFI and pointing out he voted against it – allowed himself to be dirtied by New Labour’s record.

Across the country, Labour councils under Corbyn have continued implementing austerity, on the spurious grounds that they have ‘no choice’. After 40 years of governments – Tory and New Labour – defending the interests of the capitalist elite, the majority are bound to be cynical about claims of being anti-austerity.

Unite union library workers on strike in Bradford, photo Iain Dalton

Unite union library workers on strike in Bradford, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

If even one or two Labour councils, supported by Corbyn and McDonnell, had refused to carry out cuts to jobs and public services and started mass council house building, it would have done more to convince workers of Labour’s anti-austerity credentials than a thousand warm words.

Instead, in the West Midlands alone, 20,000 local government workers were made redundant over the last decade, mainly by Labour councils.

Liverpool road

The positive role of anti-cuts councillors is a key lesson of the struggle of Liverpool City Council, in which we played a leading role in the 1980s. By taking on and defeating Thatcher, building 5,000 council houses and creating jobs, we caused a swing to Labour that – had it been repeated on a national scale in the 1987 general election – would have led to a majority Labour government.

The Labour left also made serious mistakes on the national question in Scotland, resulting in Labour being reduced again to just one seat, with the capitalist SNP making gains.

For Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme to be heard in Scotland, Labour had to support the right of the Scottish people to self-determination. Given the dominance of the Tories in Westminster, the demands for independence in Scotland are now likely to grow rapidly.

In the wake of this defeat, the Labour right are already demanding that Corbyn goes immediately. It would be a major mistake for the Corbynistas to retreat in the face of the Blairite onslaught. Instead, they must urgently take the measures that the Socialist Party has been calling for over the last four years.

A workers’ movement conference – of all those trade unions and socialists who want to defend Corbyn’s programme against the Blairites’ attacks – should be immediately called to discuss a programme to transform Labour into a workers’ party with a clear socialist programme.

Democratisation of the party – including restoring the rights of the trade unions, introducing mandatory reselection, and organising on a federal basis with the Socialist Party and others encouraged to affiliate – would be an important step.

The most important measure, however, would be to take a clear and firm position for Labour to be a real anti-austerity party in words and deeds, with no place for MPs and councillors who implement Tory attacks on the working class. Unfortunately, at least on election night, this was not the approach of the Labour left.

They urgently need to halt the retreat, and stand and fight. Even if they do not, the burning need for a mass workers’ party will remain and the task of creating one, in one form or other, will be posed as part of the mighty battles to defeat the Johnson government. The Socialist Party will play a key role in this fight.

RMT strike and picket line

Supported by drivers, station staff and public, West Midlands Train guards went on strike on Saturday 16th November.

Rail bosses want to remove safety-critical guards from trains and the members and their union are not having it!  Over a dozen workers picketed Coventry station and gave out information to the public throughout the long day.

Here is the rail union’s flyer that explains the issues (the union is the RMT – Rail, Maritime & Transport).

And here’s a solidarity bulletin produced by Socialist Party RMT members in the West Midlands.

Workers plan further action in defence of their jobs and of rail safety.  Why not get your union branch, workplace or community organisation to send a message of solidarity?

Keep the guard on the train!

Keep the train safe!

 

Public Meeting: The fight against climate change and the struggle for Socialism

Coventry Socialist Party public meeting:

The fight against climate change and the struggle for Socialism

Tuesday 8th October 7pm @ The Squirrel Pub Coventry city centre, Greyfriars lane, CV1 3GY

Special guest speaker: Chris Baugh – former PCS Assistant General Secretary, who led for over 10 years the union’s campaigns against climate change.

What can trade unions do?

How can we protect jobs and services, whilst making a rapid move away from fossil fuels and towards a zero carbon economy?

What are the consequences if we don’t?

What is the role of public ownership in democratically controlling energy production?

Come and discuss these and other issues with local socialists.

07530429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk

Kashmir crisis: Attack on democratic rights must be opposed

Joint statement from New Socialist Alternative (Indian section of CWI) and CWI supporters in Pakistan – sister organisations of the Socialist Party.

kashmir

The ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) regime in India has once again displayed its contempt and aversion to basic values of democracy. During the past week this regime had been increasing its armed forces to the tune of 35,000 in the already militarised Kashmir valley, (which is estimated to have half a million Indian Army forces) citing bogus threats. This regime wilfully created a terror panic to clear tourists and students in the valley. This blatant abuse of power was only the tip of what had been in store.

The regime cut off all internet and communication facilities, imposed a curfew and put the democratically elected leaders in the valley under house arrest.  Monday morning when the Rajya Sabha(Upper house of Indian parliament) convened, it proved true what many news outlets had been speculating as the cause for the sudden build-up of armed forces in Kashmir. Home minister Amit Shah announced from the floor that their regime had decided to scrap Article 370 and 35A. These articles gave special status to the region of Jammu and Kashmir. It was initially enacted to bring Kashmir under Indian military control and some positive aspects of it were never fully implemented.

This week, the Indian state also went on to propose splitting the Kashmir state into two Union Territories (UTs) – Kashmir and Jammu as UTs, with legislatures, and Ladakh as a UT without a legislature. This decision by the BJP regime comes at a time when the democratically elected government has recently been scrapped and President’s rule imposed.

This regressive move was also supported by other regional parties like the Uttar Pradesh-based BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party, which claims to be a party of the oppressed and supposedly follows in the idological path of Dr. Baba saheb Ambedkar)), Andhra Pradesh’s TDP (Telugu Desam Party) etc. However this action has also faced mounting opposition from various other regional parties and the main opposition party – the Indian National Congress. The opposition, led by Congress with the left parties – PDP (People’s Democratic Party) in Kerala, the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) in Tamil Nadu, the MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) also in Tamil Nadu and various other parties all protested against this blatant disregard for the democratic values of the constitution. They were jeered on the floor of the national parliament. PDP MPs even tore up their copies of the amendment as a sign of protest. The CPI (Communist Party of India) announced immediate protests in Delhi and burned effigies of BJP leaders.

These right wing regional parties and Congress do not stand for the rights of Kashmiri workers and poor. None of these parties, including the Communist Party of India, has stood for the national rights of Kashmiris. Some of these parties are now using the situation to oppose BJP rule since nationalist tensions in many states, particularly in the south, have been mounting over recent years. The attempt of the newly elected government of the BJP under Narendra Modi to create one country – introducing one universal form of citizen registration, one taxation system and one language has faced huge opposition.

The attempt to make the Hindi language compulsory for all has met with colossal opposition in the southern states where there is a history of “anti-Hindi” struggle. This has seen forces including even right wing regional parties to come out vehemently against the BJP government.  A national register of citizens with the view of “checking genuine Indian citizenship” has also added to the burning national tensions. The BJP’s attempt to “integrate India” is destined to fail as India has never been one nation state. 

In his speech, Home Minister Shah blamed special status as a hindrance to the development and integration of the state. Like most of his statements, this has no truth in it. Comparatively, Kashmir has better levels of developmental than the BIMARU states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) which have been undisputed integral parts of India since independence. Amit Shah also quipped that article 370 has prevented Kashmiris from getting reservation benefits. This is the same regime that has diluted the reservation policy in favour of EWS hardly a month ago. Incidentally BJP has proposed the controversial 10% reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Section) as the first policy in Kashmir post article 370 removal.

When examined, all the lame excuses by the BJP regime fall flat. At a time when even the capitalist economists and industrialists have been raising their concerns over the dire state of India’s economy and the stagnation of the automotive sector, the rulers have managed to distract the media and the public by dragging the Kashmir issue to the fore. Through this they are also trying to reinforce their idea of Hindu rashtra. The BJP has accelerated their push to further their ‘One India, One culture’ agenda since their re-election.

A section of the liberal media and the population cheer on this aggression as a bold move. Some social media users cheered on this action because it means they may now be able to buy properties in the Kashmir Valley. One mining industry billionaire-baron, Gautam Adani, wrote that this move would open up great mining opportunities and hoped to be establishing his business there. Even so-called progressive leaders like Aravind Kejriwal of the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party- Common Man’s Party) welcomed this decision. It should be noted that Kejriwal complained for the major part of his tenure of office as leader of the local administration in Delhi about the intrusion by central government in his affairs and had been constantly campaigning for more local rights for Delhi. This exposes the deluded stance of Indian liberals who believe Kashmir “belongs” to India. This lays bare the fact that even after seventy years of independence, Indian politicians have only replaced the British rulers with local rulers who have utter disregard for the people. They have made no effort to really safeguard the rights of the people that constitute this country.

While the present crisis has been created by the ruling BJP, the Congress Party, which previously ruled this country for 5 decades, is very much at fault. Congress created the mechanisms that the BJP is using now to suppress the national rights of the people of Kashmir. The confused stance of the various left parties and their failure to address the national question of this country has also to an extent contributed the current crisis.

The people of Kashmir have lost thousands of lives in this long drawn out conflict. Any so-called fragile peace has never brought any real improvements. After the recent threat of war, artificially whipped up by the BJP before the general election, there emerged some hope for a relatively calm period. This is now ruined.

This latest action is likely to provoke violent outbursts in Kashmir with the Indian state itself is predicting. They have moved tens of thousands of army personnel to this state which already has the largest presence of military per civilian population in the world. This can also feed into the geo political tension that exists already. US president Donald Trump in the past had offered to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan on the request of Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan. Already Imran khan had issued a forceful challenge to Modi and stated that he would challenge the decision at UN Security Council.

The BJP-led Indian state is now preparing for the brutal suppression of any opposition that may emerge in Kashmir. Of course they will also blame this on Pakistan. The Pakistani state in turn will use this opportunity to whip up patriotic support to cut across the opposition to the ruthless privatisations that they are carrying out as dictated by the International Monetary Fund as a condition of its loans to the country. Existing tension at the border is likely to escalate further even into an outright war between the two nuclear-armed powers. This could cause the loss of lives of tens of thousands.

India is a prison house of nationalities. Various regions that were brought together under British rule by force have never established a real union. The Congress party, that gave lip-service to being opposed, became the main culprit in the recent past behind the brutality that exists in Kashmir.

Congress must not be let off the hook from the historically abysmal role they have played in Kashmir. The BJP, acting in the interests of a small layer of a super-rich class, wanted to make sure that the whole of India’s territory is available for plundering without any intervention from the regional parties. The Congress party has no disagreement with the recent action of the Modi government. In fact it has to be noted that as for as the draconian and archaic rules are concerned such as ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act-1968 (AFSPA) the entire Indian political establishment takes a united stand to oppress the people of Kasmir and the North Eastern states.

Congress, which is facing near decimation now aims to win back the support of the section of capitalists they have lost and re-establish their vote base. But given the history of corruption and the total lack of ability of its leadership, this historically important party is now shrinking in size and support.

It is significant that various regional parties and the so-called left parties have come forward to oppose the attack on Kashmir. However, their opposition is also very limited. Historically, both ‘Communist’ parties – the CPI and CPI (M) – have opposed the nationality rights of the Kashmiri people. Article 370 was what they defended as it is part of the Indian constitution. They never stood for the right of the Kashmiri people to decide despite that right being included in the initial pact of 1947.

Narendra Modi has campaigned to get rid of this for a long time and it featured as one of the core issues in his 2014 election campaign. None of the left parties has organised any opposition to this reactionary policy. So far they have not brought together their strength in the unions to support the democratic rights of the Kashmiris.

We, as socialists, stand for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Of course this demand is not mechanical nor can it be applied mechanically to the whole region. Due to past history and the policy of divide and rule – Kashmir is now divided into many regions with varying interests. The ruling BJP government is trying to use the same approach and further divide the region to control it and plunder the wealth.

The fate of this region should be determined by the people living in it. This can only be realised by linking up the struggle of the workers, peasants and poor in Kashmir, India, Pakistan and other countries in the region to end the grip of capitalism and landlordism once and for all.

The socialist transformation of society will also emancipate the masses from all sorts of national oppression. Defending the national rights of all oppressed peoples in the region – whether it be in Kashmir, other parts of India and Pakistan or in Sri Lanka – means struggling for a voluntary confederation of socialist states on the basis of public ownership and democratic control to be able to plan and share the resources in the region to the benefit of all.

We fight for:

  • The immediate reinstatement of the special status of Indian occupied Kashmir.
  • Stop all action which plunders the natural wealth of Kashmir.
  • End the occupation! Withdraw all army and paramilitary forces from this region.
    Repeal AFSPA immediately both in Kashmir and North East.
  • Stop repression, release all the political activists and protesters.
  • All democratic rights – to free speech, free assembly and organisation, freedom of the media, free elections – including a referendum on the situation of the Kashmiri people.
  • For the right of self-determination for Kashmir!
  • For a socialist Kashmir and a socialist confederation of the sub-continent.

knife crime rise – a product of poverty & austerity

By Jane Nellist

Incidents in Coventry involving knives and guns are on the increase.  There have been several fatalities and serious injuries.  The most recent attack in The Burges, where a 15-year-old was shot and seriously wounded in a ‘drive by’ attack, has left people horrified.  The deaths of Emmanuel Lukenga from a knife attack in Tile Hill and Patrick Hill in Earlsdon are just two of the 28 knife attacks in Coventry in the first seven months of 2019.  In the whole of 2018, there were 16.

25825

ITV weatherman Alex Beresford told Good Morning Britain that wider social problems are the cause of knife crime, photo by ITV Good Morning Britain

Parents are understandably in fear for their children.  It’s only because of the skill of paramedics and doctors that more youngsters have not died.  But many young people have been left with life changing injuries.

The response by the police, much depleted in numbers and resources, was to state that they would have more armed police on the streets. Increasing the number of armed police will not deal with the underlying reasons why gun and knife crime is on the increase.  We need a much more holistic response to get to the root cause of this.  Policies to deal with growing poverty and the rise of gang culture must be prioritised.

For the last 9 years, austerity cuts have hit our city hard.  Austerity has been a political choice by the government.  Local politicians have failed to mount a serious campaign to win more resources for our communities.  Millions of pounds have been taken from the city which has meant that vital services such as youth clubs, Sure Start centres, community wardens, and other services that we relied on, have been slashed or disappeared altogether.

Young people see their families struggling in low wage precarious work, often taking more than one job to survive.  Benefits are being slashed with the introduction of Universal Credit.  The reliance on food banks is growing.  Food and fuel poverty affect thousands.  Imagine how young people feel when they can see their families struggling.

Add homelessness and overcrowding, with the lack of affordable homes, and you have a toxic cocktail where young people feel increasingly alienated.

If young people feel that they don’t have a future, the temptation that gangs and crime offer can seem more attractive.  As we know only too well, this can ensnare them into a life of misery and potential violence, exploited by others.

More armed police are not the answer; Other Measures, like extra police on the streets can have a contradictory impact – sometimes making whole communities feel criminalised rather than protected – especially with police powers like ‘stop and search’ which disproportionately target black people and only creates more tensions.  More local police and PCSOs rooted in the community would help – but much more is required.

Our younger generation must feel that they have a future.  They need a guarantee of high-quality training and a job with proper rates of pay.

We desperately need a huge injection of money and resources into our city.  The money is there – it’s just that it’s in the wrong hands.  Whilst the rich are getting richer, squirreling their money in offshore accounts and refusing to pay their contribution in taxation, our city is being squeezed.

Instead of investing millions of pounds of our money into a luxury hotel or the City of Culture, councillors should be prioritising those most vulnerable in our community.

  • Use the council reserves to provide necessary services for our communities and launch a massive campaign, alongside trade unions and community groups, to demand the government provides the money that is needed;
  • Join with other councils to demand that the government starts to invest in our communities and pays back the money we should have had;
  • Open well-funded youth and leisure centres that provide free sport opportunities including free swimming and gym membership and other activities
  • Train more youth workers and mediators to work with those caught up with gangs;
  • Raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour and stop the exploitation of young workers;
  • End zero-hour contracts.

If young people in Coventry are to have a decent future, we need a socialist society that values the lives of young people. Where the resources of this wealthy country are spent on the majority, not the millionaires.  We need to plan the economy for need not for profit.

Do you agree with our ideas?

If you are interested in finding out more and getting involved – get in touch!

07530429441

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com