Build the fight against austerity – get the Tories out now! A contribution to the debate

Build the fight against austerity – get the Tories out now! A contribution to the debate

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Marching against cuts to youth clubs in Coventry

A Coventry Socialist Party member and active trade unionist in the city responds to the letter supported by local Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn


Anyone walking through Coventry will see the impact of austerity. Empty shops, a visible increase in people being forced to sleep in doorways and under bridges. Public services stretched almost to breaking point. An NHS in crisis. Students taking on tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt just to get an education.

It seems like a long time since George Osborne said “we’re all in this together”.

It is very welcome that local Labour MPs are supporting the letter to Prime Minister Theresa May highlighting the damage being done by cuts to local government funding. Any and all pressure that can be put on the Tories is a step forward.

At the same time, we need to think about what is the way forward in the fight against austerity, and what our MPs and local councillors can be doing to put the maximum pressure on this weak and divided government to force them out of office at the earliest opportunity.

With the Tories in such a crisis, we think if even a small number of Labour councils said to the government that they would not continue to implement austerity cuts, it would add to the pressure immensely. As we have consistently argued, we think it was mistaken that since the formation of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition in 2010 and then the Tory government of 2015, our Labour council has consistently passed on local government cuts to the people of Coventry. This has seen school transport charges levied on families of children with disabilities, cuts and closures in youth services, thousands of jobs lost at the Council, attacks on the terms and conditions of staff that provide vital services in our city to name but a few.

Our elected representatives should work with the people of Coventry, the trade unions, local communities, anti-cuts campaigns, and all those affected by Tory austerity to demand more money for our city. Letters will not be enough. The Labour council, with the support of the MPs, where possible linking up with other Councils doing the same, should say to the Tories we demand the restoration of all funding stolen from our city. The reserves that the council have built up, more than doubling since 2010 to over £90 million could be used as a temporary measure to set legal no cuts budgets to “hold the line” to allow time for a mass campaign to be built. And with May teetering on the brink, a future Labour government should pledge to restore all funding as soon as it was elected.

It is timely that at both Labour and Tory conferences, the spectre of Liverpool City Council was raised. Labour MP Dawn Butler invoked a frenzied response from the Blairites for remembering in a positive fashion that conference was taking place in the city where in their 1980s battle with Mrs Thatcher, the councillors said it is “better to break the law than break the poor.” Esther McVey of the Tories in her conference speech compared the left-wing group Momentum to Militant.

Liverpool City Council won back the equivalent of £60 million in today’s terms from the Tories. Despite the lies of the right wing, not a single worker was made redundant. Decent housing, leisure facilities and public parks were created.

We need our public representatives to show some of the audacity and determination of the Liverpool councillors.

To build on the letter sent to the Tories, words should be turned to action. Our MPs should call mass public meetings in conjunction with trade unions in the city which would bring together union members, campaigners and all those hit by austerity to hammer out and discuss the tactics and strategy needed for us to win.

The trade union movement also needs to discuss what demands we should be fighting for.

For example the letter that MPs and councillors across the West Midlands signed finishes by demanding “complete reform of local government funding to make councils more sustainable and more accountable to the local electorate. Local authorities should be given the power to set local taxes and retain local revenue, allowing the proceeds of growth to be kept locally“. The letter doesn’t actually specifically call for the cuts of the last eight years (which now amount to over £100 million a year in Coventry) to be refunded, but for “government to reverse the disastrous policy of austerity” which is not quite the same.

Without a restoration of national government funding then “the power to set local taxes and retain local revenue” might be okay for some richer boroughs, but not for poorer.

We think mass meetings organised by our public representatives would take the struggle forward in terms of the fight for public services, but also help build the movement that can drive the Tories from office, and bring Jeremy Corbyn to power. Socialist policies are what are needed to end austerity, which is a direct result of the capitalist crisis triggered by the collapse of the banks. We are still paying for it. Working class people have paid enough. Time to stop all the cuts, get the Tories out and fight for socialism.

If you agree with this, please share this contribution and consider joining the fight for socialism.

 

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Newspaper and radio coverage for Socialist response to Tata steel crisis

Newspaper and radio coverage for Socialist response to steel crisis

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Coverage in the Coventry Telegraph

The response of the Socialist Party and Dave Nellist to the crisis of the steel industry has received coverage in the local media.

The Coventry Telegraph carried an article that included the press release issued by Coventry Socialist Party (see below)

Dave Nellist was also interviewed live on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on the Phil Upton show (Gagan Grewal was standing in)

It can be listened to here – go to 2:04:45 to hear Dave outline the case for public ownership and a fighting response from the trade unions.

 


 

‘Governments have bailed out banks – why not steelworkers?’ Dave Nellist urges Jeremy Corbyn to call for Tata Steel nationalisation

BY SIMON GILBERT (writing in the Coventry Telegraph)

Former Coventry MP wants the UK steel industry to be publicly owned following recent crisis in the industry.

Former Coventry MP Dave Nellist has called for the government to take over troubled firm Tata Steel as fears of plant closures loom after the firm announced it wanted to sell its UK business.

He also called on Jeremy Corbyn to adopt the same stance after the Labour Party leader urged the prime minister, David Cameron, to recall parliament to debate the situation in the UK steel industry.

Tata Steel’s parent company Tata owns Coventry-based Jaguar Land Rover and the metal firm is one of the luxury car manufacturer’s suppliers.

The steel company recently opened a research and development centre at the University of Warwick and aims to completely relocate its R&D to Coventry.

Mr Nellist said: “Most of my family were steelworkers. The sale or closure of the remaining steel works would be a disaster for the areas concerned.

“The Tories were forced to nationalise Rolls Royce in 1971, and completed the job in just 24 hours. If we had a serious public sector led house-building programme there would be plenty of need for steel. I support the call to nationalise steel.

“Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to urge the prime minister to recall parliament to debate the issue. But I urge Jeremy to add his name to the call for nationalisation to save jobs and to defend the communities that rely on the industry.

“Governments have been quick to bail out the banks. Why not the same for the steelworkers and their families?

“The situation with Tata once again shows why the capitalist system, that puts profit before everything, can’t be trusted to provide jobs and security for ordinary people.”

But Sajid Javid, the government’s business secretary, appeared to play down any suggestion of nationalisation ahead of a meeting of key ministers today.

Mr Javid said: “I’m deeply concerned about the situation. I think it’s absolutely clear that the UK steel industry is absolutely vital for the country.”

He added: “At this stage, given the announcement from Tata has just come out, it’s important I think we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and we look at all viable options.

“I don’t think nationalisation is going to be the solution because I think everyone would want a long-term viable solution.

“And if you look around Europe and elsewhere I think nationalisation is rarely the answer, particularly if you take into account the big challenges the industry faces.”

Tata says it is being forced to sell its UK steel business after trading conditions “rapidly deteriorated” in the UK and Europe. It pointed the finger at a global oversupply of steel, cheap steel imports, high costs and currency volatility.

Tata was founded in 1868 and has an annual turnover of £77billion and made a profit of £4.7bn in 2015. It owns more than 100 companies and employs 600,000 people worldwide, including 80,000 steel workers in 26 countries.


 

Labour councillors approve £15 million of cuts

Labour councillors approve £15 million of cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Labour controlled Coventry City Council this afternoon voted through a budget that will see £15 million of Tory cuts passed on to the people of Coventry, meaning vital services and jobs will be lost. Rather than put up a fight against cuts from Tory central government, the Labour Council have surrendered without a fight despite calls from local unions to do otherwise.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition presented a 1,500 strong petition earlier in the day which was rejected by the Council – see this piece in the Coventry Telegraph for report.

In the coming days we will be doing a more detailed report.

Socialists joined a protest lobby of the Council meeting and will be hosting an election launch rally details as follows –

Wednesday 25th February

7.30pm Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre,  Cv1 2HA

TUSC supporters

TUSC supporters

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

The following letter from Jane Nellist was carried in a recent issue of the Coventry Telegraph. Jane is a leading member of the National Union of Teachers, secretary of Coventry TUC and member of the Socialist Party. Jane outlines in this letter why library closures should be opposed, and why we must all oppose the idea that they are run on a charity shop basis as is proposed by the Council.

‘As a representative of the National Union of Teachers in Coventry, representing over 1,800 teachers, we are extremely concerned with the city council’s intention to reduce dramatically the number of public libraries in Coventry.

We believe that libraries are uniquely placed to help foster engagement in reading. They offer free access to learning and a ‘safe’ space for children and young people to study and access resources.

They can help students to develop their confidence and motivation, seeing themselves as readers outside school and, therefore, read more widely and independently. They will offer a far wider range of reading materials than the school can offer, inspiring students to extend their reading tastes.

Librarians are key to this service. The fact that councillors are even suggesting that we can run libraries on a ‘charity shop’ model with volunteers is an insult to our library service.

Councillor Kershaw rightfully points to them being a ‘golden thread running throughout our lives’ (Telegraph, Jan 16). These cuts, supported by both political parties, will turn that 24 carat gold to fool’s gold if they succeed with this plan.

Libraries are a treasure of information and imagination and we must all join together to fight to keep all our libraries as well as oppose all cuts. Let’s unite to defend the services that matter to us and not be divided by the canker of austerity.

Jane Nellist,

​Joint secretary and national executive member,

Coventry NUT’

Agree with Jane?

Then join the demonstration against cuts including the closure of the libraries

Saturday 21st February, assemble 12pm, outside Coventry Transport Museum. Facebook event page here

Letter in Coventry Telegraph supporting Brand’s call for revolution

Letter in Coventry Telegraph supporting Brand’s call for revolution

Brand

Brand

The following short letter appeared in the Coventry Telegraph newspaper today (Weds 30th October) from Socialist Party member Dan Crowter. We urge you to join the fight for socialism. Please fill in the details in the box below. 

It’s not often you turn on the TV and see a comedian calling for revolution, but that’s exactly what Russell Brand said on Newsnight last week! His passionate call for equality struck a chord with millions of people.

Our society is run by the super-rich. They control the economy, the media and our political parties. They caused the banking crisis, but we’re the ones paying for it! Russell Brand might not be right about everything, but he’s right that things need to change. We need a socialist system that helps the millions, not the millionaires.

Dan Crowter