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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Corona crisis: Lack of Preparation – Government evasions exposed

  • Stop the promises!

  • stop the Bull****!

  • Provide the Equipment!

  • Provide the tests!

Lack of Preparation – Government evasions exposed

CHECK OUT OUT OUR WORKERS CHARTER
AND SEE ALL OUR COVERAGE AND ANALYSIS OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS IN ONE PLACE!

Below we have 2 items that reveal:

1) That the “terrifying” results from a major pandemic exercise were kept secret from the public. (Sunday Telegraph)

The Telegraph reported exclusively that Britain had undertaken a major pandemic-readiness test, known as Exercise Cygnus, three years ago and that the NHS failed to pass it. Yet, the “terrifying” results of Cygnus were kept secret from the public.

This confirms a report in the New Statesman on March 16“Government documents show no planning for ventilators in the event of a pandemic”

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 2) From the editor of the Lancet that the lack of testing and PPE is a national scandal…………

 “They had a duty to immediately put the NHS and British public on high alert. February should have been used to expand coronavirus testing capacity, ensure the distribution of WHO-approved PPE, and establish training programmes and guidelines to protect NHS staff. They didn’t take any of those actions. The result has been chaos and panic across the NHS. Patients will die unnecessarily. NHS staff will die unnecessarily. It is, indeed, as one health worker wrote last week, “a national scandal”. The gravity of that scandal has yet to be understood.”

“Government documents show no planning for ventilators in the event of a pandemic” “ventilators, which are now in such high demand that Matthew Hancock, the Health Secretary, told British manufacturers on 14 March, “If you produce a ventilator, we will buy it. No number [you produce] is too high.” He urged firms from Rolls-Royce to JCB to stop what they do and to begin making ventilators”

As with the late and inadequate supply of PPE for frontline health and care workers and GPs, the non-appearance of rapid testing, tracking and confining suspected cases, which is the WHO guidance (and the successful policy of countries, such as Korea), so we also have a shortage of ventilators. This need not have happened, had there been planning and investment in good time. This was explained in The New Statesman (16 March) edited excerpts below.

“After failing to prepare, the UK now faces a grave shortage of the machines that will keep critical patients alive.

In October 2016 the UK government ran a national pandemic flu exercise codenamed Exercise Cygnus. The then chief medical officer Sally Davies commented “We’ve just had in the UK a three-day exercise on flu, on a pandemic that killed a lot of people” “It became clear that we could not cope with the excess bodies,” One conclusion was that Britain, as Davies put it, faced the threat of “inadequate ventilation” in a future pandemic.

Despite the severe failings exposed by Exercise Cygnus, the government’s planning for a future pandemic did not change… ..the plans were tested and failed, yet not rewritten or revised. …none of them mentioned ventilators, which are now in such high demand

Hancock’s entreaty to manufacturers was the first time the government has publicly recognised Britain’s urgent need for more ventilators – six weeks after the first cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK on 31 January. But the necessity for the devices in any pandemic has long been clear.

As the 2011 preparedness strategy puts it, “Critical care services… are likely to see increases in demand during even a mild influenza pandemic. In a moderate or severe influenza pandemic demand may outstrip supply, even when capacity is maximised… it may become necessary to make decisions concerning priority of access to some services.”

Pre-existing pandemic plans, an official is quoted as saying, “never went into the operational detail”. Britain now faces a grave shortage of the machines that will keep critical patients alive.

In summary the figures go like this: The government expects between 6080% of the population to contract coronavirus, or between 40-53 million people; that 4% of cases will require hospitalisation; modelling also assumes that a quarter of those hospitalised will need a ventilator; In short, at least 1% of all cases can be expected to need ventilation, or between 400,000 and 530,000 people

Government said that it expects 95% of all cases to occur over a 9-week period, with 50% coming during a 3-week peak. During the peak, –expected to arrive in Britain in late May or June- (that’s why recent talk of a lock down for 3 months has arisen) 15 to 20% of all coronavirus cases will hit the NHS every week for three weeks. Assuming only a 1% rate, rather than the higher rate in Imperial’s modelling, the number of patients needing a ventilator would therefore range from 60,000 per week to more than 100,000.

The United Kingdom has 5,000 ventilators. Many are sure to already be in use, as ventilators are deployed with intensive care beds, and Britain’s intensive care beds run at 70 to 80% capacity most months. Each ventilator will typically be required for at least ten days, making the gap between demand and supply more acute over time.

  • Ed: This article was written before the lockdown and helps explain why the Government is now trying to ‘flatten the curve’ through social isolating.

 

There are fears for people in America because of the lack of an all embracing health service and the inability of people of lesser means to be able to access it. It has led to a joke going round the USA: “For the average American, the best way to tell if you have CoVid19 is to cough in a rich persons face and wait for their test results.”

Outbreak of Crony-Virus

Specialist medical companies are claiming that on hearing of the dire shortage of ventilators, they contacted government to offer to provide increased numbers of them, but never even got a response from government. Meanwhile Dyson and JCB have featured in the media as possible suppliers. Coincidental fact: Dyson and JCB are donors to the Tory Party.

Apparently, the EU also invited the UK to join them in successfully procuring large numbers, but the British authorities ‘didn’t notice the e-mail’ and so missed out.

On panic buying and ‘hoarding’. We’ve all heard of behaviour that’s beyond the mark, but people stocking up have come under much media attack. But underlying this behaviour was a fear to fear that people wouldn’t be able to get supplies or be able to go out to get supplies. It was fear based on a lack of confidence in Government advice, or that their words wouldn’t be matched by deeds.

In fact, Supermarkets say they still haven’t heard from government who the vulnerable 1.5 million in Britain are who need help. Also reports are appearing that some people are finding it hard to get out for the supplies they need.

Public money is being used on a massive scale to bail out market failures again, but we want no return to the past when this crisis fades. Health workers, cleaners, shopworkers etc, previously under rewarded must not be turned from Heroes to Zeroes and there must be no dumping the bill on the rest of us. No going back to the lie that there’s no money for us while the billionaires pile up unimaginable fortunes.

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Confusing advice: People walking in the Peak District have drones overhead telling them off, yet planeloads still arrive in London without checks and then go into the tube network – just one piece of confusion that reflects the fact that the government failed to act quickly and clearly enough in dealing with the crisis.

 

Building new hospitals? “Am I the only person becoming increasingly irritated by ‘official’ language? Ministers and NHS boss Simon Stevens (former boss of a private health care company) keep referring to ‘building new hospitals’.

It may appear semantic, but they aren’t building them, they are medically equipping (to what standards we don’t know) giant exhibition centres to be used as field hospitals.

Make no mistake, none of us will care as long as if we get ill we are treated, but again it underlines the lack of preparedness for this crisis that they are constantly trying to bluster-up what they are doing in their desperate rush to catch up. (Perhaps they were all stung by China’s ability to actually build 2 new hospitals in a few days)

Acutely aware that the public have spotted how awfully unprepared Britain (the UK) is for this virus Stevens was keen to point out that they have freed up 33,000 beds.

2 things. It’s unlikely they are Intensive Care beds – and if some were whether they had staff to operate them, and secondly it covers over the fact that denial of treatment is now being enforced for other seriously ill patients.

Lack of capacity in the health service means Covid will cause increased deaths with other illnesses.

A cancer specialist said he expected at least a 5% increase in cancer related deaths because the pressure of Covid would mean cancelled treatments of other serious illnesses. A member of Coventry Socialist Party needing an urgent life-saving operation has had the operation postponed.

It cannot be reassuring news that Birmingham Airport is to become a temporary Mortuary for 12,000!

Corona crisis: A socialist commentary on some of the key issues

Corona crisis: A Commentary on some of the major issues so far

we have brought together below a series of short stories about the coronavirus crisis from members stuck in isolation and those still at work .

A Nuneaton nurse made this desperate comment: We’re “like Lambs being led to the slaughter”, as heroes are put at risk because of a lack of protective equipment and testing.

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*Testing of Health workers in England began on Saturday 28th March – 58 days since the first case of Coronavirus!

Check out out our workers charter

And see all our coverage and analysis of the Coronavirus crisis in one place!

LACK OF VIRUS TESTING – becoming a national scandal.

How crazy is it that Health workers have not been tested from the start? Health workers staying at home isolating in case they have the virus may not have it, and health workers remaining at work could be infected and spreading the virus to patients and each other.

Health workers risking their own lives to treat us are not tested and scandalously, still don’t have anything like enough access to Personal Protection Equipment that would make them much safer, and therefore able to carry on treating us.

The almost criminal lack of testing means that Government advice if you get symptoms, is “Stay at home and isolate”, ‘Don’t go to hospitals or doctors surgeries’.

But, apparently not everybody. Eyebrows were raised when Prince Charles with “mild symptoms” went to hospital and was tested. Then Boris Johnson has the same and gets tested immediately. Meanwhile Health workers and the rest of us don’t. One rule for them, another for the rest of us.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says ‘test, test, test’ if you’re to successfully fight the disease. But that advice has not been followed to date and is jeopardising us all. Simon Stevens, NHS boss says they’ll do hundreds of tests this weekend, but there’s hundreds of thousands of health workers! What’s needed is tens and tens of thousands.

And what’s the point of thousands of retired NHS staff volunteering to return to help if the government is going to let thousands of staff disappear from the service because they fall ill? Or of workers infecting patients because they don’t know they have the virus?

All of this starkly reveals to us all the way in which the underfunding of our NHS and the lack of preparation for a pandemic by government, is now endangering us all.

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Where are we with testing?

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded…test, test, test” said the director general of the World Health Organisation regarding fighting coronavirus.

Yet last week only 3,746 patients were tested per day. This compares to say 15,000 in Korea, 40,000 in Germany. Consultant Cardiologist Mark Gallagher called this a “policy of surrender.” “They are abandoning the basic principles for dealing with an epidemic… test whenever possible, trace contacts and contain.”

Johnson says the government is “ramping up” testing to 25,000 a day, but it could take 4 weeks to reach this level.

The editor of the medical journal the Lancet said “these dangers were clear from the very beginning. We have wasted seven weeks.” There must be an immediate massive injection of money and resources into the NHS and social care to expand the supply of beds, equipment and staff. All private medical facilities and testing and processing facilities should be requisitioned and integrated into the NHS.

A HEALTH SERVICE UNDER-FUNDED AND UNDER-PREPARED:

The crisis has revealed how the cutbacks in NHS spending have left the service inadequately prepared. Already overstretched every winter and recently most of summer as well, Government policy, combined with privatisation in the service had led to a huge under-capacity of beds, Intensive Care beds, doctors and nurses even in normal times. It has left workers with too little Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and the service short of ventilators. (ventilators pump oxygen into seriously ill patients).

They have run the NHS at 99% capacity with no slack in the system to deal with any exceptional situation. Running hospitals like a car factory – ‘maximum efficiency’. But the NHS isn’t a car factory, it’s a care system for humans.

Some facts:

  • Italy had TWICE our number of Intensive Care beds.
  • The UK has one of the lowest number of doctors and nurses per head of population (in OECD countries)
  • The UK has fewer acute beds relative to its population than many comparable health systems
  • Government failed to increase Nurse numbers –not helped by starting to charge people to train as nurses!
  • Hospital beds halved over the past 30 years, from around 299,000 in 1987/88 to 141,000 in 2018/9
  • This is A HEALTH SERVICE UNPREPARED BY YEARS OF AUSTERITY AND INCREASED PRIVATISATION:

One vow we must all make is that we will never let our NHS be made so weak ever again.

As the deadly pandemic spreads what has been revealed is that years of government austerity had left our NHS unable to cope with such a virus. We should have known, as there were enough reports of the health service struggling every winter and even in summer.

It’s now obvious that the NHS had too few beds, too few doctors and too few nurses.

Numbers not helped by the governments attack on Junior doctors, by their charging fees for people to train as nurses which dramatically cut the number of trainees and numbers reduced by the pressure of work which drove many prematurely from the service.

But even when it was known the virus was coming (while some believed it was only flu and were unprepared, that’s ok because it isn’t the public’s job to know, but it was the governments job to know and prepare) the lack of preparation and time wasted to take measures about the lack of ventilators, intensive care beds, staff and testing was a failing.

Has Government acted quickly enough?

Lack of preparation, a changed strategy and the gap between words and deeds

We’ve all seen reports ‘we’re 2 weeks behind Italy’ and events are truly scary there. That health workers have only just begun to be tested, and in small numbers, and many still lack protective equipment shows how inadequate the response here has been.

Last week’s dramatic increase in cases seems to have moved the Government from complacency to panic stations. All talk of ‘herd immunity’ was dropped after the Imperial College study indicated that 500,000 deaths could ensue, and necessary social isolation was increased.

But inadequate action was taken over testing despite the World Health organisation saying it was vital to combat the virus –and we won’t be able to emerge from lockdown until huge scale testing is available. That, combined with austerity and the historic lack of beds, doctors, nurses, ventilators and vital protection equipment has meant desperate catch up measures by a government forced to drop its free market ideas – temporarily at least.

But the gap between the promises and reality still looms large. Government statements say they’ll do all that’s necessary without ever saying what exactly.

They failed to be part of an order organised by the EU for ventilators because ‘they didn’t see the e-mail’.   They claim to have lots of PPE but every day some doctors and health staff say they’re not getting enough.

Health experts are saying that lack of action could lead to thousands of extra lost lives. Crowded public transport and who are essential workers is still unresolved. The self-employed ‘will be helped’ –but not til June at least. People trying to access universal credit joined queues of hundreds of thousands! Disabled and seriously ill people struggle to access food deliveries – supermarkets still claim not to have had list of the 1.5million vulnerable people from Government.

From Zeroes to Heroes ……….and back to zeroes afterwards?

No Prince, Prime minister, Lord or Dame has failed to point out how they took to the streets to join the rest of us in applauding Health-workers, be they nurses, cleaners, doctors or whatever.

Plainly, all should applaud the NHS and other essential staff. However it has taken a pandemic to remind some in this country that without cleaners, binworkers and the like we’d all die anyway, -to remind us that all workers are useful.

What a contrast with beforehand. As part of its’ ‘assault on the public sector’ the government not long ago sought to encourage Junior doctors to stay in the NHS by pushing them out onto strike! One newspaper – you can guess which – editorialised that all the doctors should be sacked. MP’s also cheered after voting to restrict nurses pay and they began charging fees for people to train as nurses.

Hospital parking charges: – meanwhile our heroes have been charged to park for just going to work and risking their lives to help us all. They’ve happily been charging workers for years. At Coventry’s UHCW the private company (under the Private Finance Initiative – PFI- deal) made £2.7 million profit in its first year, which last year that rose to a staggering £8 million +. None of this goes back into healthcare, but is a flow of £1 coins into a multi-national’s bank account.

As public support for health-workers soared and petitions gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures the government realised that they’d better be seen to do something. Firstly, well done and thank you to all of you that surged to sign our petition against parking charges at Coventry’s hospitals and to the at least 400,000 who signed a national petition.

NHS minister Matt Hancock said the charges would be dropped. But it’s not clear how this will work for PFI hospitals. Hancock merely said he “urged” Hospital Trusts to drop the charges. We’d be interested to hear from Health workers at UHCW what’s actually happened.

So let’s keep the pressure up, and health service Trade Unions, Get onto this!

And as this pandemic fades, don’t let workers be pushed back from Heroes to Zeroes.

Worker at a major food distribution centre: “Amid the chaos of coronavirus, it is interesting to note that on the Tory governments list of key workers not one billionaire is mentioned.”

We’re all socialists now?

The Coronavirus crisis and the utter incapacity of the ‘free market’ to deal with it have forced the government into dramatic interventions. Tory ministers have been forced to rip up all their old ideas.

They cut and privatised in the past, now they are nationalising and spending! Governments around the world are abandoning their neo-liberal ‘let the market decide’ policies. One commentator in the Telegraph said “To avert socialism, we must briefly become socialists, we must spend whatever it takes to save free market liberalism” In other words, they are currently scared their system is being exposed, but as soon as possible they want to return to their old ways.

Millions who’ve suffered or seen poverty and insecurity will ask themselves why can’t governments act for us in normal times? Why if billions of pounds (magic money trees) can be found now, why was it not available when we were struggling under austerity? And why should these measures only be used briefly to save capitalism and not to save society?

Only a few months ago Corbyn was ridiculed for saying money should be spent to invest in improving our society, when he argued for rail nationalisation -which has now happened in practice – they said it made him ‘unfit for government’.

Government has asked firms to convert production, so why can’t production be re-purposed all the time to make socially useful products jobs and skills and to help society?

A US doctor made a plea for “a plan” to cooperate and collaborate in dealing with the crisis, but Socialists argue that you can’t organise production and distribution for need while big business puts profits first. A Vaccine was close to production for a previous corona outbreak, but it was never finished because the virus didn’t become widespread enough for a big enough ‘market’ to make profits from. Understandable for a private firm, but incomprehensible in societal terms.

Big pharma should be integrated into the NHS to guarantee research and the production of medicines, vaccines and treatments.

This lack of planning comes from a system driven only by profit and not human needs. More and more the state is having to intervene to overcome market inadequacies. It reveals the need for planning the economy to coordinate production and distribution of goods, services, medical supplies etc. That can only be done if the major manufacturing, service and finance industries are taken into democratic public ownership.

The supporters of the free market will want to go back to it as soon as this blows over, we must stop them and win support for a new Socialist and democratic way of organising society

Is a cure on the horizon? by former GP Jon Dale

‘Testing large numbers is critical to fight epidemics. 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

 

Thank you to socialist voters in Upper Stoke – Coronavirus shows the need for socialist change more than ever

We would like to thank the 101 people people that voted for Jane Nellist – our Socialist Alternative  candidate in Thursdays Upper Stoke by election in what was clearly extremely difficult circumstances.

We received over 8% of the vote, which we believe is a strong base to build further the resistance to austerity continuity carried on by this Labour Council in Coventry.

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As expected the Labour Party retained the seat. However for socialists that is not the end of campaigning, we will be out again from today fighting in anyway we can in the interests of ordinary working people and for a socialist change of society. 

We say that the Labour council simply can’t carry on as it has been doing. 

2000+ council jobs have been lost since 2010. The city is meant to be next years city of culture yet is more like a city of Homelessness, high rents & dodgy landlords, with most Sure-start, libraries, youth clubs – wound down or closed

The council must organise with the working people of Coventry to resist future Tory austerity –where another £86 million is to be cut from our city. Labour must change or get out of the way for people who will fight back on behalf of and with the working people of Coventry.

(Here’s what we said in our election campaign https://coventrysocialists.com/2020/03/09/vote-jane-nellist-in-the-upper-stoke-by-election-we-need-a-socialist-councillor-in-coventry/)

The Coronavirus pandemic will dominate many people’s thoughts and it reveals the capitalist system in crisis and its complete Inability to protect ordinary people across the globe.

We have produced a charter of demands needed to protect working people https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/partydoc/Coronavirus_-_a_workers_charter_2020

From an NHS underprepared after a decade of austerity, to a lack of testing for the virus, to jobs and wages under threat and to production systems and food supplies inadequate for this event because of ‘just in time’ methods, that earn big firms small profit increases, but which crumble in the face of anything unusual.

This will rightly lead to a huge questioning of the economic system as the threat of the virus fades. People should remember that we were told there was no magic money tree and public ownership was bad, yet now we see £trillions found and governments forced to intervene where the market is failing.

Austerity was a fraud, and even Boris Johnson was forced to say on Thursday that ‘while people think the bail out in 2007-8 was mainly for the bankers and not the people, this time we will look after the people’. This shows how scared they are of movements against their system further down the line.

Councils across Britain could also do so much more  https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30435/18-03-2020/councils-must-break-austerity-rules

Finally we appeal to anyone angered by the current crisis to think about getting involved – it’s easy to!

It’s had become clearer than ever that it is working people that are needed to keep society afloat – cleaners, delivery drivers, metalworkers, doctors and all the rest of us. However, we can do without the capitalist who just puts the barrier of profit in the way of what needs to be done.

Help us fight for the drastic socialist change needed to protect the millions not millionaires! – join the

PCS news in HMRC in Coventry & Birmingham

PCS Members In ISS Ballot For £10 An Hour
PCS members employed by ISS to clean and maintain the HMRC (the government’s tax collection department) offices in Birmingham have been balloted for strike action and over 97% of votes are for strike action on a turnout of nearly 90%. This ballot is an extension of the strike action already taken by their colleagues in Liverpool and Bootle in 2019. Those PCS members have to be balloted again under the anti trade union laws which mean that any strike ballot is valid for a maximum of 6 months.
ISS, a global outsourcer based in Denmark, had global turnover in 2018 of over £7 billion with global profits of over £400 million. These large profits are achieved through the blatant and unashamed exploitation of their workforce. The ISS workers being balloted are on minimum wage and given the statutory minimum terms and conditions. Their fight is for £10 an hour and terms and conditions equivalent to those given to the HMRC workers whose offices they clean.
PCS has attempted to negotiate with ISS for these reasonable demands. The response from ISS has been that if HMRC pays more money for the contract then ISS will pay their staff more. HMRC’s position is that this is a matter between ISS and its workers and they won’t be getting involved. The workers are being betrayed by both sides and are left with no choice but to take strike action.
Last year ISS staff cleaning offices for the department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy took indefinite strike action for months and won the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour plus improved terms & conditions. This shows that workers that take action can win. With that in mind the question is why there’s no leadership from the top of PCS to encourage more branches to bring ISS workers into the union and into the struggle for better pay and terms & conditions.
What’s needed now is a strategy from PCS to resist further outsourcing to companies like ISS and to bring outsourced services back in-house so that workers automatically benefit from the collective agreements. This would allow PCS to recruit more members amongst ISS and to coordinate and extend the existing industrial action. This type of strategy isn’t available from the existing PCS NEC majority which has already decided its only focus is pay for the core civil service. That’s why the formation of the Broad Left Network will take forward issues for members by campaigning on all of the issues that matter to our members rather than setting demands and members against each other. If you are a PCS member then please vote for Broad Left Network candidates in the upcoming 2020 NEC elections. 
———————————-

HMRC Coventry Redundancies – Unions Must Fight For All Jobs!


Workers at HMRC (the tax office) in Coventry have now been put on the path to redundancy ready for Sherbourne House to be closed in September 2020. This is the latest step in HMRC’s estates plan, mis-named ‘Building Our Future’. Once complete it will mean the closure of tax offices in Birmingham, Coventry, Merry Hill, Northampton, Solihull, Telford and Wolverhampton with workers moved into two offices – one new office in Birmingham and one existing office in Telford.
There are roughly 200 workers currently based at Sherbourne House. This is down from a peak of around 450 workers 10 years ago. There’s been a loss of people through retirements but the biggest loss is due to resignations. Many staff, unhappy with the way HMRC has ignored them and their needs, have simply left to pursue a future elsewhere in Coventry rather than waiting to be forced out. HMRC has repeatedly told workers and politicians that 90% of the workforce are within ‘Reasonable Daily Travel’ of the new Birmingham office. Information from management now shows that just 68 staff will be moving to Birmingham. Questions need to be asked about how a government department has been allowed to repeatedly lie to workers, to the PCS union and to politicians of all colours at local and national levels.
If a third of staff move from other other offices outside of Birmingham then it will leave HMRC woefully understaffed at a time when Boris Johnson is making spending promises in the hopes of bribing the Midlands and North of England to continue to support him. HMRC knows this problem is looming and has been regularly recruiting new staff into Birmingham. But new staff can’t replace the 1,000’s of years of accumulated knowledge and experience that’s about to be lost.

Vote Jane Nellist in the Upper Stoke By-Election – We need a Socialist Councillor in Coventry!

On Thursday 19th March voters in the the Upper Stoke ward of Coventry will have the chance to vote for a fighting anti austerity socialist voice in a local By-Election Vote…

Coventry Socialist Party’s Jane Nellist will be standing as the Socialist Alternative candidate – Someone who will fight Tory cuts – not continue to pass them on to Coventry people!

Coventry Council can’t go on like this anymore!

  • 2000+ council jobs lost since 2010
  • homelessness, high rents & dodgy landlords
  • sure-start, libraries, youth club – wound down or closed!

Johnson says austerity is over…

but in the next 3 years Coventry faces a shortfall of £86 million….what suffers next?…social care? parks? schools? roads?

Labour Councillors must choose whether to stand with Coventry people and resist austerity…. or carry on making Tory cuts!

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A Socialist Councillor like Jane Nellist- –

Would be a voice and fighter for local people against austerity, landlordism and closures in Coventry. Jane has been a local teacher, Trade Union leader and fighter for ordinary people across Coventry for 30 years. Unlike Tory-lite Labour Councillors, she would resist Tory austerity instead of passing on savage cuts to Coventry.

  • Organise on the Council to resist further cuts in Coventry
  • Restore lost services, libraries and jobs
  • A programme of house building to meet the needs of Coventry
  • Stop hospital parking charges at Walsgrave

Coventry receives £120 million less a year In government grants than it did 10 years ago.  The Labour council has passed those cuts onto local people – axing 2000 jobs, cutting service levels and increasing charges for services.

Over the next 12 months people with dementia will lose some weekend services, adult social care will be worse, lights on some streets will be dimmed at night and families saying goodbye to loved ones will have to pay more at the crematorium.

But making those Tory cuts won’t satisfy the government. Over the next three years, because of further government cuts, Coventry Council faces further shortfalls of £19 million in 2021, £30 million in 2022, and £37 million in 2023.

Labour won’t fight back against these cuts. We need a socialist councillor who will.

Brexit has torn apart the Tory Party and shown Blairite Labour MP’s to be tied to the wealthy and powerful. Westminster nor Brussels have much concern for the lives and conditions of ordinary people in Coventry or the wider UK.  Socialists campaign for a Brexit that benefits workers, putting the millions ahead of the millionaires.Neither remaining in the EU nor a Tory pro-big business Brexit will provide any solution to austerity and privatisation.

Pre-election Public Meeting

Coventry cannot take any more austerity – what can we do to resist it?

Wednesday 18th March, 7pm @ St Michaels CoE Church Centre

365a Walsgrave Rd, Coventry, CV2 4BG

With Socialist Alternative candidate Jane Nellist speaking. come along to find out more, ask any questions and hear how just one socialist Councillor could help change Coventry

Socialists want change – Join with us

Socialists are dedicated to fighting for every possible improvement for working people. The ‘free market’ is failing to provide decent jobs or homes for all. It undermines our NHS and loots our services. Instead of paying off the debts of the bankers, we want to change the system and use the huge resources that exist in society for the benefit of all.

We call for the major firms and banks that dominate the economy to be brought into democratic public ownership. Production and services could then be planned to meet the needs of all while properly protecting the environment. That’s why we fight for socialist change – so the wealth of this country benefits all, not just the super rich!

 

Interested in helping? Can you deliver leaflets, or put up a poster? Or, interested in joining the Socialist Party?

07530 429441

http://www.coventrysocialists.com

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk

coventrysocialistparty@gmail.com

FB: ‘Coventry Socialists’

 

 

Promoted by Lenny Shail (agent) 108 Lake View Rd, Coventry, CV5 8JY on behalf Jane Nellist

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.

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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.

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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


 

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.

 


 

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

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”.


 

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.