Successful day of campaigning for Save Coventry Libraries

Successful day of campaigning for Save Coventry Libraries

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Outside Coundon Library – photo by Tara Rutledge

Saturday saw a successful day of action for the Save Coventry Libraries campaign. The “Big Library Sell Off Tour” visited the five libraries that Coventry City Council are planning to close. The Council say that unless volunteers/community groups come forward to run these vital public facilities then they will have no choice but to close them. Campaigners categorically reject this false choice put forward by the Labour Council – particularly when they have £84 million in reserves, and have increased these reserves. In fact they have doubled over the last 5 years!

The Socialist Party asks why don’t councillors use some of the reserves to offset these cuts and work with the people of Coventry to mount a campaign to force the Tory government to properly fund essential local services?

Labour should be opposing these cuts here in Coventry – not voting them through in the Council Chamber. Jeremy Corbyn opposes austerity but the majority of local Labour cllrs spend more time fighting him than they do the Tories!

The campaign visited the following libraries – Coundon, Earlsdon, Finham, Cheylesmore and Caludon Castle.

At each of the five libraries library users were angry and upset that their library could close. We collected many more signatures for our petition and handed out nearly a 1000 leaflets encouraging people to get involved in the campaign. It sent a clear message to Coventry City Council – keep all the libraries council run and fully staffed, with no job losses!

To see more pictures from the “Big Library Sell Off Tour” and to get more information about the campaign visit the Facebook page of Save Coventry Libraries

Coventry Labour MP Fletcher joins anti-Corbyn coup

Coventry Labour MP Fletcher joins anti-Corbyn coup

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Colleen Fletcher MP

Colleen Fletcher, Labour MP for Coventry North East, resigned from her secretarial position today as part of the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. Fletcher, who was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Kerry McCarthy MP, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, has also called for Jeremy to resign as Labour leader.

Fletcher’s resignation will have come as a shock to many, not because she was seen as a Corbyn supporter but because they did not realise she had a PPS position to resign from. Despite this, she has resigned in an attempt by the right-wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party to force Jeremy to resign as Labour leader. Like many MPs she is completely out of touch with the daily struggles of the ordinary working people she claims to represent. When heroic junior doctors went on strike in Coventry, with a picket line at Walsgrave Hospital in the heart of her constituency, Fletcher was nowhere to be seen – but when there’s a chance to attack the elected leader of the Labour Party she grabs it with both hands!

Jeremy is rightly resisting these attacks, and his supporters inside and outside the party are building a movement to defend him, including a petition which now has over 200,000 signatures and a demonstration outside Parliament. The Blairite coup has been on the cards since Jeremy became leader, and is now in full voice – we need to come out fighting to defend him.

Nicky Downes, who stood as a Socialist candidate against Fletcher in the 2015 elections, said “There is clear support for Jeremy from the public, with 10,000 people on the streets tonight at a protest in favour of his leadership. Colleen Fletcher has shown her true colours by resigning from the shadow cabinet along with the Blairites. It’s time to deselect her. Coventry needs an MP that will share Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to austerity and fight for this city.”

A crucial weapon for those who want to defend the leadership of Corbyn and John McDonnell is to demand the reintroduction of mandatory reselection of MPs, meaning that local Labour Party members can hold them to account for their actions. Jeremy could even go further and remove the Labour whip from the plotters who are attempting to remove him!

Labour members and Corbyn supporters in Coventry North East who are angered by Fletcher’s actions should mobilise and pass a motion in their constituency party condemning her actions and demanding she faces reselection before a general election is held.

Jeremy is absolute right to stand up to the plotters and should continue to do so, and fight to defend his leadership in a fresh contest if necessary. We will continue to support his leadership as part of the fight for an anti-austerity party that will represent ordinary people.

Academies and Free Schools cause chaos in Coventry – local Academy to close

Academies and Free Schools cause chaos in Coventry – local Academy to close

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Save our School banner

We are pleased to carry the article below by Jane Nellist, joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a member of the national executive of the NUT. She writes in a personal capacity.


Coventry is witnessing the catastrophic consequences of the government’s programme of Academies and Free Schools. This comes at a time when the government is planning for the academisation of all schools!

The day before Year 6 children learnt which secondary school they were to be allocated, it was announced that, in effect, Woodlands Academy would be closing. The ‘consultation’ paper sent to all parents is for the  neighbouring Tile Hill Wood Academy, a girl’s school, to be renamed and designated a co-ed Academy, opening in September 2017, taking the boys from Woodlands in stages, starting with the Y7 in September.

There has been a total destabilisation of schools in the West area of the city with the opening of a Free School, Finham 2 by one of the more successful Academies which is now over-subscribed.   Even the DfE’s own impact assessment identified a detrimental impact on all three secondary schools in the area, all of which are Academies.

The opening of a girls Muslim Free School in the city and a Sikh Free School has also contributed to the fall in numbers across the city for other schools.

The introduction of competition and surplus places is not the way to raise standards.  Only a democratically accountable and planned education system can do this. Strong, well-resourced Local Authorities, working with schools, sharing good practice and supporting each other is a model that we know works.

It’s ironic that we are facing these problems in Coventry for two reasons.  Firstly, Woodlands School was built in 1954 and was one of the original Comprehensive schools built in this country.  A new future for education after the second world war, now a victim of the Tory vision of education!

The second reason is that in 2011, Coventry NUT led a fight, including strike action, to save both Woodlands and Tile Hill from being turned into Academies.

We warned of the problems that would come if they went ahead.  Governors claimed they would get new school buildings and that there would be more funding- neither of which has materialised!  Instead, Woodlands Governors have failed miserably, running up huge debts and the school is in ‘Requires Improvement’.  The school buildings are shoddy and have not benefitted from re-building as they were promised under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme which was shelved by this government.

We are now left with a school closure, our members at risk of losing jobs, pupils who are angry about the way they are being treated and communities feeling let down. In a few years’ time, forecasts show we will be desperate for school places!

You may ask where the DfE is in all of this.  They appear to have abdicated their responsibility completely. The Regional Schools Commissioner, Pank Patel, has hardly instilled any confidence in the process, and is now leaving his role to go back to headship in an Academy! Unions have written to ask for an urgent meeting but have heard nothing.  When they showed up at consultation meetings they failed to answer any questions at all.

We cannot even get simple written answers to questions about redundancy payments for staff.

As the consultation ran over the local elections, both Tories and Labour squabbled over who was to blame. Interestingly, at least one councillor was on the governing body and part of the finance committee– why did they not see the financial crisis coming? The consequences of this delayed any decisions, a re-run of the consultation which has meant that staff, parents and most importantly, pupils were all left in limbo.

As we break up for half term, the final decision has been made, the school will close in September 2017. Tile Hill Wood Academy will be re-named and will become co-ed.

For Woodlands to have been saved it needed a huge investment in resources to pay off the debt and to enhance the school’s buildings.  More importantly, it needed more pupils.

What has been experienced in Coventry isn’t progress- it’s anarchy and it serves no-one well.  Parents are understandably very angry and concerned for their child’s education.

As teachers, we want good local schools that serve our communities.  We have to continue the battle to fight this crazy system and build for a return to the vision of a truly Comprehensive education based on co-operation rather than competition and democratic accountability rather than the anarchy of the market place.

The big question is-will it happen again?  Well of course it will- we are entering into the world of the market for our schools.  That’s why we have to fight against academisation.  We warned about the risks back in 2008 when the first Academy, Grace Academy, replaced Woodway School. The evidence is clear- academisation does not produce better schools.

We shall continue to support our members and the communities that our schools serve.  The fight against the government’s plans for more acdademisation needs to be stepped up.  Lessons need to be learned and we need to galvanise our resolve. Our education system is not for sale and it’s not for giving away!

 

Socialist expelled from Labour to speak in Coventry

Socialist expelled from Labour to speak in Coventry

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Hannah Sell

Hannah Sell, the Socialist Party deputy general secretary, who served alongside Tony Benn on the Labour Party’s ruling national executive committee (1988/89) will be speaking at the Party’s public meeting at 7.30pm Thursday 12th May at the Methodist Hall, Hertford St/New Union Street, Coventry City Centre. The meeting will look at the outcome of the local elections, the battle between Jeremy Corbyn and the Blairites, the splits in the Tories over the EU refendum, the global fight for socialism and much more.

Originally from the West Midlands, Ms Sell helped lead school student strikes in 1985  against Thatcher’s YTS Slave labour scheme, later becoming a leader of the Labour party Young Socialists. A former elected member of the labour Party National Executive Committee (1988-89), Hannah was expelled from the Labour Party along with thousands of other Militant supporters for their Socialist ideas & views in the late 80’s & early 90’s.

The Facebook event for the meeting is here

 

 

New Labour right-winger imposed in Sherbourne – vote for an anti-austerity candidate

New Labour right-winger imposed in Sherbourne – vote for an anti-austerity candidate

Jim Hensman with Dave Nellist

Jim Hensman with Dave Nellist

Across Coventry, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be standing candidates to put forward the anti-cuts alternative in the local elections on Thursday 5th May.

This includes Sherbourne where we will be standing Jim Hensman. There has been considerable controversy over the imposition of Blairite Lynnette Kelly as the Labour candidate, against the wishes of the members of Sherbourne ward Labour Party. In her election leaflet she says “the Labour Council will continue to work closely with big businesses”. For us this highlights the priorities of leading figures in Coventry Labour Party – they see this as more important than opposing and fighting Tory cuts.

We need Councillors who will actually stand up against the cuts, not just implement them.

TUSC does not want to stand against Labour and will support any Labour candidate that has opposed the cuts or pledges to do so.

As Jeremy Corbyn has said, “Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity”.

Unfortunately Blairite Labour councillors nationally have been making the political choice for austerity and expelling Labour councillors who oppose the cuts.

Former councillors like these, together with trade union activists and campaigners from groups like the one fighting the closure of the last two play centres in Coventry, make up the candidates standing for TUSC. Saving the play centres would only cost £100,000. Yet Coventry Labour Council increased their reserves this year by £3 million. The cuts are definitely a political choice – vote TUSC and fight austerity!

The following are extracts from one of our election communications in Sherbourne.

Jim Hensman, our TUSC candidate has lived in the ward for over 40 years


A message to Labour voters in Sherbourne

The Labour candidate is Lynnette Kelly. She was a councillor in Henley ward until 2015 before stepping down in a failed attempt to become a MP in Warwick and Leamington at the last general election.

The local press have reported how she has been imposed on Sherbourne Labour Party by the regional Party machine, against the wishes of the members. The local Labour Party Secretary who opposed her appointment was also suspended without being given any reason. So much for democracy!

When Lynnette was a councillor she voted for cuts, along with the rest of the Labour group. She is a supporter of the Blairite Progress faction which seeks to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. Is this the sort of representative Sherbourne needs? We want Labour to stand up and vote against the cuts in the Council chamber. Not just act like Tories.

Our candidate, Jim Hensman has lived in the ward for over 40 years.  He has a long history of standing up for ordinary people, has been a trade unionist all of his life and was expelled from Labour for standing up for his Socialist views and being a supporter of Dave Nellist.

Unlike the establishment parties, Jim would be a voice on the Council for ordinary people and would oppose and vote against any more cuts to our local services.

Jim says

“The establishment have been shaken to the core by the support for Corbyn and now the Panama tax scandal. The Tories are weak and divided on every issue, and with the news that David Cameron had his nose in the Panama tax trough…We say he has to go!

But Coventry’s Labour Councillors spend more time attacking Corbyn than the Tories and carry on with further devastating cuts. TUSC councillors will fight to defend the jobs and services that we as ordinary people rely on. We need to build a city-wide campaign against the cuts to demand the return of money stolen by central government, whether it was Labour or Conservatives in power.”

The Tories are trying to rob Coventry, and the Labour Council are letting them!

Instead of fighting back, Labour in Coventry have made cuts that any Tory Council would be proud of. The Council have £84 million in reserves, this should be used to fund services and to buy time to build a campaign win back money for our city.

Despite the election of Jeremy Corbyn who is trying to oppose the Tories, your local Labour Council have voted to

  • Close libraries and want to replace staff with unpaid volunteers
  • Shut play centres
  • Make over 1,000 workers redundant over the next few years
  • Close public toilets across the city

Labour signed us up for George Osborne’s West Midlands Combined Authority – Ann Lucas and Co didn’t even want Coventry people to have a vote. Is that because they were afraid about what we would say?

If you would want to help the TUSC campaign in Sherbourne (for eg helping us leaflet, putting up a poster or donating), fill in the form below!

Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

 

Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

Dan Crowter (right) quizzing a Labour Councillor over support for their support for the cuts

Dan Crowter (right) quizzing a Labour Councillor over their support for the cuts

Dan Crowter is our candidate in Bablake ward. Here he explains why he is standing in the local election on Thursday 5th May. Dan is 23, works in a call centre and is a member of the UNITE trade union.


I stood as a Socialist candidate in Bablake ward last year to put forward a socialist, anti-austerity alternative in that election. At that time Labour were running candidates in elections across the country,  putting forward plans for deep cuts in services that were as bad as Tory plans. The Labour candidate last year, David Kershaw, represents everything wrong with the right wing of Labour – a man who has proposed closing libraries and cutting school transport for disabled children!

This year, though, Jeremy Corbyn is leading the Labour Party, and has said he opposes austerity measures. With that in mind, we wrote to every Labour candidate in the city asking them to meet with us to discuss how we can fight the cuts together – as we have done previously. Unfortunately none of them were willing to discuss with us.

I think people in Coventry deserve Councillors who’ll stand up for them, rather than cutting their services.

The Tory cuts planned in Coventry will devastate services – and we need to fight them. That’s why I’m standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition as an anti-cuts candidate.

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

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TUSC activists rally against cuts

Election nominations are closed and we can now confirm that Socialist candidates will be standing in all 18 wards in Coventry for the local elections in May. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), backed by the RMT transport workers union, will be standing anti-cuts candidates across the country.

Before making the decision to stand, we wrote to every Labour candidate in Coventry and asked them to meet with us to discuss whether they would be willing to vote against cuts – cuts that will lead to the closure of libraries, public toilets, adult education centres and community centres. None of them would even agree to meet us. Ann Lucas and her colleagues have also signed up the city up to George Osborne’s West Midlands Combined Authority, without even allowing Coventry people a vote.

Our candidates include Dave Nellist in St Michaels, as well as leading trade unionists, young workers, students and community activists.

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants to fight austerity .We support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies – it is regrettable that Coventry Labour Councillors have voted to implement the Tory cuts on our city with some Councillors more concerned with attacking Jeremy than fighting the Tories.

As we have done previously, the Socialist Party and TUSC will set out a programme to fight the cuts – including the use of some of the £84 million of reserves that the Council has. This could fund services and delay the cuts, buying time for the building of a mass city wide campaign involving unions, local communities and anti-cuts groups to win back the money stolen from our city by the Tories.

We will also make the case that the Panama Papers tax scandal shows that the money exists in our society for decent public services and housing for all – the problem is that it is in the hands of the 1 per cent at the top. It is austerity for us, tax evasion for the rich! That is why we need socialism.

Will you be voting for the Socialists? Can you help with our campaign by leafleting, putting up a poster or donating? If so, fill in the form below!