A message to Jeremy Corbyn supporters in Coventry

A message to Jeremy Corbyn supporters in Coventry

Labour leadership contest

Jeremy Corbyn

We are pleased to carry this message from Coventry Socialist Party to supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in Coventry and everyone who wants to see the end of the Tories at the forthcoming general election in June.  We are holding a public meeting on Weds 10th May, 7.30pm at the Methodist Hall in the city centre where we will be discussing how we can get rid of the Tories and elect Jeremy on socialist policies. One of the main speakers will be Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party and former member of the Labour NEC.


Dear brothers and sisters,

Theresa May has called this election with the expectation of a Tory landslide. Her mantra of “strong and stable” leadership, which appears as her answer to every question, hides the fact that her leadership and the Conservative Party are anything but “strong and stable”.

For the first time in recent memory, the Tories will be faced not by “New Labour” but by a Labour Party leader in Jeremy Corbyn who is committed to putting forward an alternative to the Tories, unlike the Blair and Brown leadership which essentially proposed Tory-lite policies.

Our position

We want to see the Tories defeated, and Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister. It is for this reason that we have taken the decision not to contest the general election this time.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly. Since the expulsion of Dave Nellist from the Labour Party we have contested general elections, as well local and European elections. With the RMT trade union we have developed the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition as a contribution to rebuilding political representation for working class people.

Thousands of people regularly vote for us across the city at each election because they trust us to provide a socialist alternative to the mainstream parties.

We ensured there was a Socialist presence on Coventry City Council between 1998 and 2012 – meaning there was a consistent and principled voice for working class people against cuts being put forward by both Labour and Tory run councils.

However we think that in this situation the campaign of Jeremy Corbyn can win widespread support. Taking a bold, socialist and anti-austerity programme with mass rallies to every corner of the country could galvanise and channel the anger and discontent that exists in society in a socialist direction.

Some of the policy announcements from Jeremy are already showing the potential for being immensely popular – an end to zero-hour contracts, £10 per hour minimum wage and end to the pay cap in the NHS to name just a few.

Though there are clear differences, the campaigns of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jean-Luc Melenchon in France show the potential for radical ideas and movements to develop.

The ‘rigged economy’? Time to replace capitalism with socialism

Jeremy and John McDonnell have struck a chord with millions by talking about “fixing the rigged economy” and wanting a “fairer society”. Little wonder when thousands of people in Coventry have to resort to foodbanks to be able to eat, in the 6th richest country in the world!

The key question is how do we get that fairer society? Jeremy and John are absolutely correct – the capitalist economy is rigged. We support all the positive reforms being put forward – an increase in taxes on the rich, an increase in the minimum wage to £10 an hour, repeal of the anti-trade union laws etc. However we argue that we need to go further – and that these policies should be linked to the socialist transformation of society.

As long as the economy remains in the hands of the 1 per cent, i.e. remains a capitalist economy, it will always be rigged. That is why we think we need to break the power of the capitalists and their political establishment by nationalising not only the banks, financial institutions etc., but all the big corporations which control the majority of economic activity.

A publicly owned economy, under the democratic control and management of workers, could actually start to plan production in the interests of the 99%. (for more information about how the question of Brexit should be approached please visit here )

Time to fight and win the civil war in the Labour Party

What is becoming crystal clear is that sections of the right-wing in the Labour Party are continuing to do everything in their power to undermine the campaign. Every few days Tony Blair or Peter Mandelson are appearing in the media to try and demoralise Corbyn supporters. We even have John Woodcock MP stating that he could not support Jeremy as PM! How is that people like these can act with impunity with no action taken against them, yet expelled Socialists like Dave Nellist are not allowed to rejoin Labour?

As we have argued, the case for mandatory reselection has not gone away. In fact with every passing day it shows itself to even more critical. We need MPs who will support Jeremy Corbyn, not undermine him, MPs who will reflect the aspirations of the hundreds of thousands of new members who have supported Jeremy. We need MPs who, like Dave Nellist, would only take the average workers wage.

Lessons of the West Mids mayoral campaign

We have written a detailed article on our website about the Tory victory – we believe it is confirmation that the Labour right have not got the ideas to win this election. The election material did not even mention Jeremy Corbyn or any of his popular policies!

All to play for

We in the Socialist Party look forward to the period between now and the election. We will be throwing ourselves in to doing everything we can to get rid of this Tory government, making the arguments in favour of electing Jeremy Corbyn with socialist policies, and strengthening the fight to build a mass socialist movement that can provide an alternative to crisis ridden capitalism.

Yours in solidarity

Coventry Socialist Party

If you agree with what we are saying, are interested in more information or want to join the Socialists, please get in touch. Fill in the form below!

The real origins of May Day

The real origins of May Day

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Members of the Socialist Movement in Sindh, Pakistan on May Day 2017

May 1st is International Workers’ Day. We are pleased to publish this article by Dave Nellist from the current issue of The Socialist newspaper. Dave explains the revolutionary origins of May Day and it is so important for the working class and socialist movement


The real origins of May Day – by Dave Nellist

May Day has been a public holiday in the UK since 1978. But its real origins lie in the great struggles in America by working people for shorter working hours at the end of the 19th century, and the martyrdom of union leaders executed 130 years ago.

The centre of the movement for an eight-hour working day was Chicago, where some factories imposed an 18-hour day. An eight-hour law had actually been passed by the US congress in 1868. However, over the next 15 years, it was enforced only twice.

But over that same period workers began to take matters into their own hands. For example, in 1872 100,000 workers in New York struck and won an eight-hour day, mostly for building workers.

In the autumn of 1885, a leading union, the Knights of Labor, announced rallies and demonstrations for the following May – on the slogan of “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”

Their radicalism and success in key railroad strikes had led to membership growth. From 28,000 in 1880, the Knights of Labor grew to 100,000 in 1885. In 1886 they mushroomed to nearly 800,000. The capitalists were increasingly frightened at the prospect of widespread strikes.

On 1 May 1886, the first national general strike in American history took place, with 500,000 involved in demonstrations across the country. As a direct consequence, tens of thousands saw their hours of work substantially reduced – in many cases down to an eight-hour day with no loss in pay.

The employers lost no time in executing their revenge. The New York Sun, as direct as its modern British namesake, advocated “a diet of lead for hungry strikers”!

Two days later, on 3 May, 500 police herded 300 scabs through a picket line at the Chicago factory of farm machinery firm International Harvester. When the pickets resisted, the police opened fire and several workers died.

Haymarket

A protest meeting was organised for the following evening in Haymarket Square. Towards its end, in the pouring rain, with only a couple of hundred workers left, the police arrived to break it up.

The meeting had been orderly, but suddenly a bomb was thrown into the ranks of the police. Seven officers were killed and 66 injured.

The police turned their guns on the workers, wounding most of the demonstrators, and killing several. It was never established who threw the bomb – an ‘anarchist,’ or a police ‘agent provocateur.’ At the subsequent trial of the union leaders the prosecution said it was irrelevant, and the judge agreed.

Police raids rounded up hundreds of union activists throughout the country. Eight union leaders were put on trial. Seven of them had not been at the demonstration and the eighth was the speaker on the platform, so none of them could have thrown the bomb.

Legality was never the aim of that trial; revenge was. The Chicago Tribune of the day gave the game away with the headline: “Hang an organiser from every lamp-post.”

The trial began on 21 June. Instead of choosing a jury by picking names from a box – the normal method – it was rigged by a special bailiff, nominated by the prosecutor. He ensured the jury was made up of “such men as the prosecutor wants” – a practice echoed by today’s jury selection in Ireland’s Jobstown protest trial!

On 19 August that jury duly returned a verdict of guilty. Before sentence was formally announced, the defendants were allowed to make statements.

One of the eight, August Spies, a leader of the anarchist International Working People’s Association, made a powerful speech: “Your Honour,” he began, “in addressing this court I speak as the representative of one class to the representative of another…

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement… the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us!

“Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you – and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”

On 11 November 1887, four of the union leaders were executed.

International protests followed. Huge meetings were addressed in England and Wales by Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and William Morris. 200,000 people in Chicago lined the streets for the funerals.

Day of solidarity

From that day on, 1 May has grown to an international day of solidarity among working people.

In 1889, the founding meeting in Paris of what became known as the Second International passed a resolution calling for a “great international demonstration” to take place the following year. The call was a resounding success.

On 1 May 1890, May Day demonstrations took place in the United States and most countries in Europe.

Friedrich Engels joined half a million workers in Hyde Park in London on 3 May, and reported:

“As I write these lines, the working class of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is mobilised for the first time as one army, under one flag, and fighting for one immediate aim: an eight-hour working day.”

As workers have emerged from tyranny and repression in whatever country, they have adopted May Day as theirs. Its true history will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of socialists, as it has done so often in the past.

May Day in Coventry

May Day in Coventry

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PCS Vice-President John McInally speaking at Coventry May Day rally

As part of protests, rallies and demonstrations around the world to mark International Workers’ Day an event was held in Coventry city centre, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry against Racism.

As well as local speakers from a wide variety of unions and campaigns, the main speaker this year was John McInally, national Vice-President of the PCS civil service union.

John outlined the current situation facing working class people, and the need to get rid of capitalism and fight for socialism. He pointed out that 100 years ago in Russia, many people would have said it was impossible to get rid of the Tsar. Yet working class people not only overthrew the Tsar, but also capitalism.

Other speakers included Dave Nellist on the history and origins of May Day, a speaker from UCU, an NUT rep, a member of the Indian Workers’ Association, a Socialist Party member calling for solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya and an activist from Stand up to Racism.

Coventry TUC have ensured that the tradition of May Day is kept alive and hundreds of shoppers will have heard pro trade union, anti racist and socialist arguments. In the coming years this event will grow as the working class begins to find its voice, and rediscovers it’s revolutionary history and the relevance for today’s struggles.

On Monday we will be publishing an article by Dave Nellist in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper on the real origins of May Day.

“Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories” – Dave Nellist

“Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories” – Dave Nellist

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Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

We are pleased to share the below letter published by the Coventry Telegraph this week by Dave Nellist, former Militant Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor in Coventry. This week a petition organised by young service users will be presented to the council against youth club closures as part of an ongoing campaign against the “Connecting Communities” scheme.
“Cuts that Coventry Council are planning will radically worsen public services in our city, but in fact are entirely unnecessary.
Saying that governments of both hues over the last 10 years have originated the cuts is not enough.  Local councils do have alternatives to reducing proper library provision, to cutting youth clubs and funding for children’s centres, to reducing bin collections.
Coventry Council has increased its reserves from £41m six years ago to £95m today.  That’s five times the planned cuts for the next financial year!  The Council has lent millions of pounds to private businesses (for example to a hotel and for student accomodation) – that money should be being used to defend the city’s public services that everyone in the city relies on.
Labour council leaders held a national meeting on 17th February at Warwick University.  They could have drawn up a coordinated plan of resistance to pressurise the government to  restore money stolen from our towns and cities.
Unfortunately, it seems that if council leaders have a strategy it’s limited to waiting for the next general election in 2020 for a change of direction.  By then, 70% of council services will be gone, and thousands of local jobs will no longer be available for school leavers.
And anyway, on present form, with Labour councillors cutting service after service, there’s little incentive for people to vote Labour locally, and no guarantee of a general election victory in three years time.
Bluntly, Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories, whilst there are still public services left to defend.”

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics

Dave Nellist discusses application to join Labour on the Sunday Politics 

Dave Nellist fighting his expulsion from the Labour Party (pic: BBC Sunday Politics)

Dave Nellist was on the Sunday Politics today discussing the application from 75 expelled Labour Party members, including himself, to rejoin the party and support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Dave was a Labour MP and was expelled in the early 90s for his support for backing the campaign to build non-payment of Thatcher’s Poll Tax. The Sunday Politics said he was “synonymous with the most radical side of Labour.”

During the feature a clip was shown from one of the many meetings held by Militant members fighting the witch-hunt within the party. Two of the speakers on the platform were Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn himself!

Some people in the Labour Party are apparently “terrified” of the prospect of our members being allowed to rejoin. Why is that? Why are our ideas so terrifying to the right-wing “moderates”? Apparently they are to John Spellar MP, who referred to us as “dedicated Trotskyists” with our own organisation.

He also claimed that we “caused trouble” in Coventry. What trouble would that be John? Having a Labour MP elected in 1983 and 1987 on an increased majority? Was it ‘causing trouble’ that Dave only took a workers wage, unlike the majority of politicians who take the massive salaries and claim huge expenses on top?

We are not ashamed of  our ideas or methods.
Are we Trotskyists? Guilty.
Are we organised? Guilty.
Do we support Jeremy Corbyn against the so called moderates? Guilty.
Are we Socialists? Guilty.
Are we committed to replacing capitalism with a new type of society that puts the needs of working people and the planet before private profit? Guilty – and proud of it!

We will continue to help organise campaigns against the capitalist austerity cuts that are damaging so many lives. All Labour MPs and Councillors should be doing the same!

Capitalism has long proven that it can not provide even the basics for the majority of the population here in the UK and around the world. We need socialist change more than ever and that explains why Jeremy Corbyn has gained so much support amongst people.

Agree with our ideas? Want to support the “organised Trotskyists” trying to change the world?  Get in touch by filling in the form below!

“I had to spend £350 to visit my dying husband” – Socialist Party campaigns against NHS cuts in Radford

“I had to spend £350 to visit my dying husband”

Socialist Party campaigns against NHS cuts in Radford

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Signing the petition against the PFI parking charges at Walsgrave

Members of the Socialist Party were out in Jubilee Crescent, Radford on Saturday morning for our regular campaigning activity highlighting the scandal of cuts in the NHS particularly focusing on the outrageous car parking charges at Walsgrave Hospital.

We had many people sign our petitions, with leaflets taken away highlighting the way forward in the battle to save the NHS.

Several of the people who supported our petition told us about the all to familiar experiences of the car parking rip off at the hospital.

One woman told us over an 11 week period she had to spend over £350 to visit her husband who sadly passed away. Another told us of how his wife had been hurt in a car accident and he had already spent £110 to visit her.

As the result of years of the Socialist Party campaigning on this issue, many are already aware that the car parking charges are the symptom not the disease – that it is all linked to the Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) involved in the NHS.

Our leaflet stated

‘Kick out NHS profiteers! We need to kick the fat cats out of the NHS. The NHS is being privatised bit by bit. Services have gone to private firms across the country and the consequences are already being seen. Services have worsened and are costing more as companies cream off a profit.

The Socialist Party calls for a comprehensive, high-quality NHS, under democratic control with free care at the point of use’

That is why we are supporting the national demonstration on Saturday 4th March, 2017 to defend our NHS (more details to come)

We also had many conversations about the cuts to council services – where unfortunately the Labour Council, rather than providing resistance to Tory austerity is actually closing our libraries, children’s centres and youth clubs.

Thank you to all who signed our petitions, took leaflets away, bought our newspaper The Socialist or donated to help keep our anti-austerity campaigns going.

Video: Dave Nellist talk and Q&A at Warwick Politics Society

Video: Dave Nellist talk and Q&A at Warwick Politics Society

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, a Coventry Socialist Party member and national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, recently spoke as a guest at a Warwick University Politics Society Q&A event about the current Corbyn movment and battles inside the Labour Party and his experiences as a ‘Militant’ supporting Labour MP.

Dave was elected for Coventry South East in 1983 and took only half an MP’s wage, basing his income on the average skilled workers’ rate in Coventry factories. He was expelled from the Labour Party in 1992 for his refusal to pay the Poll Tax. He was elected as a Socialist Party city councillor in Coventry from 1998 to 2012. Mr Nellist is currently national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which in the last two years has been the sixth largest party in terms of the number of candidates stood at elections.

We would like to thank Warwick Politics Society again for inviting Dave and Warwick Socialist Students for coming along in their numbers to support Dave.

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

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Campaigners just before handing the petition in to Coventry City Council

Campaigners from Save Coventry Libraries have today handed in a petition signed by nearly 2000 people against the plans by Coventry City Council to reduce and close library services around the city and replace fully trained paid staff with volunteers.

Campaign organiser Sarah Smith of Save Coventry Libraries handed over the 1,886 strong petition, with another 456 having signed online. This was just the first batch of signatures, with further protests and petitions planned against not only the library cuts, but also other parts of the Connecting Communities programme that will see massive attacks on children’s and youth services throughout the city.

We repeat what we have stated many times before – the Council do have a choice. They should not be passing on the Tory cuts to the people of Coventry. Labour Councillors should be organising a fightback against central government, linking up with other Labour Councils to say ‘enough is enough’, and demanding more resources for the services we need.

Coventry Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) look forward to helping to build the anti cuts campaigns in Coventry.

Packed meeting discusses Trotskyism, Corbyn and socialist change

Packed meeting discusses Trotskyism, Corbyn and socialist change

Militant

It was “standing room only” at a packed Coventry Socialist Party public meeting on Thursday 25th August.

People came from all over Coventry to hear Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe speak on “Trotskyism, the Militant tendency,  the Corbyn insurgency and the struggle for socialist change.

Introducing the meeting former Coventry  Labour MP Dave Nellist put the current attacks on the Socialist Party, formerly Militant, in their historial context.

Peter Taaffe outlined the role of Trotskyism in the 21st century, the role of Militant and its successes in Liverpool and Coventry, how Militant led the campaign against the poll tax which brought down the Thatcher Government, while also discussing the current Corbyn insurgency and the Socialist Party’s role now and in the future.

Peter discussed the role of the Militant leadership in Liverpool City Council in the 1980’s who refused to make cuts, redundancies and closures, instead setting a needs budget with the support of a mass movement of local trade unions and communities against the Tories to fight for the money the city needed. The  council won, with the Thatcher Government providing millions more to Liverpool council, allowing them to build 5000 more houses and created thousands of jobs, with not one job lost!

Compare the fighting stand taken by Liverpool Council who took on Thatcher, building homes and community facilities with Coventry City Council who are closing libraries, public toilets and children’s centres. Quite a contrast!

On the issue of the Poll Tax Peter outlined how it was the Militant that mobilised the mass non-payment which eventually led to the downfall of Thatcher.

Both Dave Nellist in his introduction and Peter in his speech made clear that it was these huge victories of the working class, aided by the leadership of the Militant, that have fuelled the attempts of the establishment and right wing of Labour to whitewash history and attempt to discredit Trotskyism and the history of the Socialist Party.

He also discussed the success of Dave Nellist and the precedent he set as Coventry MP in only taking the average wage of skilled workers within his constituency, with Peter highlighting that you can only represent working people if you’re going through the same struggles they are, which came up within the contributions with many commending him for doing so.

Talking about the role of the Socialist Party after being expelled from the Labour Party, Peter set out how we have been the only 100% anti austerity alternative within politics. While many would agree that the election of Corbyn was a massive victory for the labour movement, this is undermined when the likes of Sadiq Khan aren’t helping those being evicted in Walthamstow by rip off landlords and it is the Socialist Party that is organising occupations and protests to help these people.

However, Peter argued that the Socialist Party would welcome affiliation to the Labour Party similar to that of the Co-operative Party, if the Labour Party was to open up its structures to a more democratic and federal structure and was to become a truly anti-austerity party as Corbyn and the Socialist Party both want.

Following Peter’s remarks there were many interesting contributions from the floor, from Labour voters arguing for deselection of right-wing MP’s and their disgust at Labour councillors passing on Tory cuts to working people. With another attendee stating that “if [he] hadn’t have joined [the SP] last week, [he] definitely would have tonight!”

The discussion brought forward many good contributions and questions for example the campaign for a £10/hr minimum wage and whether this was “idealistic”, to which Peter argued that in reality tax credits are used to subsidize big companies who, whilst making massive profits, say they can’t afford a proper wage for their workers.

The key question for socialists is the question of the system itself, capitalism. We are a very rich country (and world), the problem is the wealth is concentrated at the top. We support all reforms and campaigns that fight for greater equality and for a better life for working class people. At the same time, we point out that we need to get rid of the capitalist system and replace it with socialism.

As well as this there was resounding support for the demand that Coventry City Council should set a no cuts budget and stop the cuts being passed on to working people, and instead building a movement much like the Liverpool council and taking on the Tories instead of doing their job for them, with this tying in to how to further build the movement against austerity.

The meeting highlighted that the attacks on Trotskyism and the Militant have not deterred people, but have increased the interest in our ideas and organisation with the meeting filled with many young people and also people of all ages. They were not put off by the term ‘Trot’ or ‘entryist’ and instead wanted to learn more about it. One union rep from the railways commented afterwards “I have learnt so much today and am definitely looking forward to Socialism 2016 in November!”

‘Dave Nellist was not deselected. He was expelled by Neil Kinnock’

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Dave Nellist and Jeremy Corbyn marching

The following letter has been sent to The Guardian following an article dated 10/08/16 (see link below).

In the penultimate paragraph it states “Of the Labour MPs who had been backed by Militant, Wall died in 1990, Fields was expelled from the party in 1991 and Nellist was deselected, eventually losing his seat in the 1992 election where he stood under the banner of Independent Labour.”

With increased interest in socialist ideas, we believe it is important that the events are reported correctly and factually.


Dear Editor,

An article on 10 August 2016 states that Dave Nellist former Coventry Labour MP was ‘deselected’

If you are to write a potted history of Militant, could you please get it right.

Dave Nellist was not deselected. He was expelled by Neil Kinnock and Labour’s national executive committee (NEC).

In fact, under the system of that time of re-selection of MP’s every parliamentary term, Dave was re-selected by his constituency Labour Party – Coventry South East – by a huge majority.

He was not removed by local Labour Party members, but by the national ‘machine’.

The NEC moved to expel Dave at the Labour conference of 1991, completed the job at a shoddy hearing in West Bromwich at the end of 1991, and sought to impose a candidate on us. We in Coventry South East Labour Party would not accept losing our popular MP who lived ‘on a workers wage’.

Such was Dave’s support that our Labour Party continued to support Dave even after he was expelled and as a consequence the constituency (that had built a record high membership) was undemocratically closed down by the Kinnock supporting NEC and was later to have over 125 members expelled for their resistance.

As a postscript, can I say that ourselves and Dave Nellist were very happy to accept the regular re-selection of MP’s. It was to ensure that they did not become a separate caste from the broader Party and more closely pursued the policies of the Labour Party, something few MP’s at the time did.

Given the outrageous behaviour of many Labour MP’s over recent months, that democratic accountability seems to me to be something that would have been, and will be, very helpful to Labour members.

Yours, David Griffiths, former member of Coventry South East Labour Party management committee