Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Labour leadership contest

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Newcastle 

After Theresa May’s surprise announcement today of a snap election on June 8th, the Socialist Party has produced the following statement. Please read and share – this election is a chance to fight the Tories and fight for socialism!

Theresa May has called a general election for one reason – not the reason she gave – but because of the government’s weakness in face of a rising tide of anger in British society.

Workers are suffering the most prolonged squeeze on wages since the start of the nineteenth century. Benefits cuts are leaving millions without enough money to feed themselves and their families. Last year a record 200,000 people were admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition. Education and the NHS are facing life-threatening cuts. The housing crisis is acute. The new ultra-draconian anti-trade union laws are creating bitterness and frustration among trade unionists.

Far from being a strong government, May fears that, given the Tories’ wafer-thin majority in parliament, she could be overwhelmed by forced u-turns. In the first year of the government alone there were eleven, now – in order to try to prevent more – May has made the biggest u-turn yet. Having pledged not to call a snap election she has gone ahead and done so. This shows how capitalist politicians change the rules whenever it suits them.

Cameron and Clegg introduced the Fixed Term Parliament Act in order to try to shore up the Coalition government for five years, now May is over-riding it to try to strengthen a weak Tory government. She is gambling, based on current opinion polls, that she will win the general election with an increased majority and will then be more able to carry out her real programme – not the warm words about helping the ‘just managing’, but vicious austerity.

High risk for Tories

Her gamble is high-risk. The real poll will take place on 8 June, and a lot can happen between now and then. She is partly posing the election as a referendum on Brexit, hoping that the third of Tory voters who supported ‘remain’ will reluctantly continue to support her government. This is not guaranteed however – some may well switch to the pro-remain Liberal Democrats.

Moreover, the hated Tories are very unlikely to make significant inroads in Scotland. The Scottish National Party is not yet fully exposed and is likely to largely maintain its electoral base. Winning the Copeland byelection has probably given May hope that theTories can improve their position in the North of England. However, in both the Copeland and Stoke byelections the Tory vote actually fell in absolute terms. The Tories only scraped victory in Copeland because the Tory vote held up better than the Labour vote.

Globally the lesson of recent elections – from the US, to France, to the Netherlands – is that voters want to punish the capitalist establishment; and those parties and candidates that claim to be anti-establishment can have a mass appeal. Look at Melenchon in France, who by standing on a left programme, has soared to 19% in the opinion polls with a possibility that he will even go through to the second round. Jeremy Corbyn has already stated that Labour will not oppose the general election going ahead. Now he needs to launch an election campaign based on socialist policies that are relevant to working class people’s lives.

Policies for socialist change

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

The policies that first thrust him into the leadership of the Labour Party would be a good beginning – an immediate introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education for all, mass council house building and nationalisation of the rail and energy companies. These should be combined with policies such as an immediate end to all cuts in public services and a pledge to immediately renationalise Royal Mail.

Jeremy should make clear that he would kick the privateers out of public services and education. He should pledge to introduce a real socialist NHS – a well-funded, comprehensive, high quality NHS, under democratic control, with care free at the point of use. These demands should be linked to the need for fundamental socialist change – for a society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few.

Such an election campaign should not be limited to speeches and election broadcasts. The campaign to defend the NHS should be linked to the mass movement which began with the national demonstration on 4 March. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at that demonstration. Now he, together with the trade union movement and health campaigners, should call a second demonstration, during the election campaign, mobilising millions onto the streets against the Tories and in defence of the NHS.

A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis over by-election results

A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis over by-election results

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Prentis looking on as Jeremy Corbyn addresses UNISON conference (RT)

We are pleased to publish the following comments from a UNISON member in Coventry in response to an article by UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis in the aftermath of the Stoke and Copeland by-elections. The original article by Prentis was originally carried on the website of the New Statesman. We welcome comments and discussion on the issues raised here.


The votes in the two by-elections that took place this week in Stoke Central and Copeland had barely finished being counted before UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis had an article published in the New Statesman. This article can hardly be considered helpful from the point of view of Jeremy Corbyn and those hundreds of thousands of people who support his anti-austerity policies and wished for something better than the ‘same old Tory lite’ of New Labour.

The article was quickly and unsurprisingly picked up by the right wing press as another example of how Corbyn’s position is becoming untenable as his ‘friends’ start to lose faith in him.

Let us be clear from the outset. Despite the soothing words of Prentis, the fact that UNISON supported Corbyn in the leadership contests was a result of the massive pressure from ordinary members in the union to do so. Prentis would not have wanted to support Jeremy in a million years.

In fact he would have felt threatened by the mass influx in to the Labour Party and people signing up as supporters to support Jeremy. No doubt Prentis would be thinking – if it could happen in the Labour Party, could a ‘Corbyn moment’ happen in UNISON to get rid of him as general secretary? (We think yes, more on that later)

Prentis rightly points out

‘There will be those who seek to place sole blame for this calamity at the door of Jeremy Corbyn. They would be wrong to do so. 

The problems that Labour has in working-class communities across the country did not start with Corbyn’s leadership’.

However timing counts for a lot in politics. And in this case timing says it all – with the knives inevitably coming out once again for Corbyn’s leadership this article from Prentis only adds to the pressure.

Prentis could and should have turned his fire on the Blairites and in particular Tristam Hunt (who took his ‘dream job’ with the V and A) and Jamie Reed (moving on to a highly paid job in the nuclear industry). He could have said that Copeland would still be a Labour seat if Reed had not resigned to pursue higher wages. He could have attacked Tony Blair for his intervention over Brexit, timed to destabilise Labour in the days running up to the by-elections. But no, we get an attempt to undermine Corbyn disguised as comradely advice from a ‘friend’.

Socialist Party supporters in UNISON have raised comradely criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the role played by sections of Momentum. In particular Jeremy’s willingness to placate the right wing in Labour (for example on the issue of the democratic policy of mandatory re-election), the changing of his traditional position of opposition to the EU (if he had held to his position he would have been in a good place to change the whole debate over Brexit – the left wing, internationalist case against the EU as a bosses club would have been heard by a wider audience which could have undercut UKIP) and the unwillingness to organise and mobilise the hundreds of thousands of people against the Blairites in favour of a ‘broad church’ where the right control the PLP and the party machinery.

Unfortunately Jeremy and John McDonnell have also allowed the right wing to get their way with regards to Labour Councils implementing Tory cuts. These concessions have not consolidated or strengthened Corbyn’s position – they have greatly weakened it.

However we do this from the position of wanting to see the building of a mass, anti-austerity socialist movement and that the election of Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party is a big step forward.

That is not the position of Prentis. The general secretary of UNISON is also on the Board of the Bank of England and receives a 6 figure salary which is far removed (to say the least) from the majority of members he purports to represent. Under the leadership of Prentis, our union has failed to mount any sort of campaign to defend jobs or services – with hundreds of thousands of posts being lost in local government and the Tories declaring open season on the NHS. Where is our union? Where is our leader Prentis? There have also been accusations that Dave and his team in the general secretary elections broke the rules of which more can be read about here

Socialists in UNISON have been involved in building support for the UNISONaction Broad Left in the forthcoming elections to the union’s National Executive Council  – this will be a key opportunity to elect activists who are united in their belief that the leadership of Prentis is not fit for the purpose of building a fighting, democratic UNISON. The intervention of Prentis in the aftermath of the recent by-elections further confirms why we need change in our union.

For more analysis of the elections results and what they mean, click here

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

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Enormous show of strength against the cuts from 2011

We publish below an article written by Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International setting out what 2017 will bring and the political situation we are facing.


2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2016 was the year when the pent-up anger of the masses worldwide finally spilled over in a series of political earthquakes – a delayed reaction to the devastating world economic crisis of 2007-08. And tremors are still being felt, with serious aftershocks – if not new earthquakes – expected in 2017.

The changed situation was dramatically illustrated by Brexit, with repercussions not just in Europe but worldwide. At bottom, this reflected a working class revolt against the austerity programme both of the British Tory government and the predatory capitalist EU.

The Socialist Party has consistently opposed the capitalist, imperialist EU from its origins and therefore called for a Leave vote in the referendum, along with the transport workers’ union the RMT and many others.

Moreover, it was striking that those who had suffered under the iron heel of the EU – the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian workers – hailed Brexit, which they saw as striking a decisive blow against their mortal enemies, the gang of EU robber capitalists.

Fight the right

We also fought against the corrosive nationalism of Ukip and other reactionary forces who attempted to seize hold of Brexit as a means of dividing workers against one another. We will stay implacably opposed to the neoliberal EU while at the same time proposing a class and socialist alternative: no to the EU, yes to a socialist confederation of Europe.

It is no exaggeration to say that the leave vote resounded throughout the world. How dare the ignorant untutored masses defy their rulers, reasoned an army of capitalist comentators!

The leave vote upended the Tory cabinet and Cameron was soon consigned to history. Absolute turmoil has ensued, which continues into 2017, plunging the Tory party under Theresa May into an endemic crisis. The capitalist media constantly harps on the split within Labour but from the medium and long-term perspectives, the divisions within the Tory party are much more serious.

A schism within the Tory party, like that over the Corn Laws in the first half of the nineteenth century, is entirely possible. This saw the Tory party out of power for generations.

In Italy, Renzi has followed Cameron, after a stunning 60% to 40% rejection of his own undemocratic referendum, which sought to consolidate his austerity regime.

But the far right in Europe is still on the march, having been given a lift by the victory of Trump in the US presidential elections. Although the Austrian far right failed to win the re-run presidential election.

It is not even excluded that at a certain stage some countries – Austria, France, the Netherlands and possibly also Italy – could repeat the successes of the far right in Eastern Europe, participating in right-wing coalition governments.

Failure

It is the transparent failure of right-wing social democracy in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Britain – trapped within the framework of diseased capitalism and consequently presiding over savage cuts, eye watering poverty, mass unemployment etc – which has provided this opportunity for the right to emerge and threaten past conquests of the working class.

They believe that they have been given a huge comfort blanket by the victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. There are even some on the left who believe that a ‘festival of reaction’ will follow.

Nothing of the kind is likely or possible. Without in any way minimising the threat from the right – which should be fought – the relationship of class forces is still decisively in favour of the working class and its organisations, although weakened. The fascists could not successfully use today the methods of Hitler or Mussolini, the mobilisation of mass middle class forces to terrorise and atomise the working class.

Coming to power – even partially sharing power in a right-wing, conservative government – would act like a crack of thunder to awaken the working class and particularly the youth into ferocious resistance to such governments and the measures that they would undertake.

Witness the marvellous resistance of Polish women to the attempt to restrict abortion rights. Other powerful mass women’s movements have developed in Ireland against strict abortion laws, in Argentina against vile attacks on women, and in Turkey against attempts to legitimise rape.

Look also at the mass resistance that erupted against Trump’s fraudulent victory in cities in the US, in some cases led by our co-thinkers in Socialist Alternative. It is expected that mass demonstrations in the US and worldwide will take place on 20 January at Trump’s inauguration. This is just a little payment on account for the mass working class resistance he is likely to encounter in the next years.

Moreover, such right-wing governments with far-right participation would pave the way for a massive swing towards the left among the working class, which would be reflected in the labour movement. This will act to further discredit the right-wing social democrats, who through their failure have paved the way for the right’s re-emergence.

The truth is class radicalisation overwhelmingly predominates worldwide. This was shown in the 180 million Indian workers who demonstrated their power in a mighty general strike against the right-wing Modi regime in September 2016.

Unprecedented mass movements have also a broken out in South Korea, which are likely to force the president out on corruption charges.

Middle East

Of course, this has to be balanced against the horrific intractable crisis in the Middle East with its countless victims – a monument to the endless horrors to which humankind will suffer on the basis of outmoded capitalism.

The war in Syria has lasted longer than World War One, and moreover there is an element of that situation in the present conflict with its mutual slaughter. Leon Trotsky remarked in relation to the pre-1914 Balkan war: “Our descendants… will spread their hands in horror when they learn from history books about the methods by which capitalist peoples settled their disputes.”

If nothing else, the Syrian war has demonstrated beyond all doubt that none of the capitalist powers – the US, Russia, the European Union – can provide a solution to the myriad national conflicts within the region.

Indeed, imperialism in all its guises – British, French, US – is the author of the present divisive patchwork divide-and-rule tactics on a massive scale, undemocratically stitched together when these imperialist powers were forced to retreat from direct domination of the region in the post-1945 situation.

A representative of the British spy agency MI6 recently appeared on British television and had the effrontery to quote from the Roman historian Tacitus – “You create a desolation and call it peace” – while attacking Putin’s Russia! If so, then Putin learnt well in the school of the British ruling class and MI6. They were the first to pursue a bloody divide-and-rule policy, to carve out their empire upon which the ‘sun would never set’.

Only the decisive intervention of the working class and poor in the Middle East region through a programme of class unity and socialism on the basis of a democratic confederation can put an end to this horror once and for all. The first step towards this would be the development of an independent political voice for the masses.

But in the meantime the catastrophic situation which has beset all countries in the Middle East will continue. The alleged coup in Turkey has led to an even bigger and more effective right-wing counter-coup led by Turkish President Erdogan himself. Over 100,000 public sector workers have been dismissed; there has been a clampdown on the media and suppression of democratic rights. Only by determined struggle, and a vision of a new humane, socialist society, will the forces of the right be pushed back.

Donald Trump

Nowhere is that more necessary than in the US following the victory of the right-wing demagogic populist Donald Trump, who lied and cheated his way to power by pretending to champion the ‘working class’. Nothing could be further from the truth.

He lacks any real ‘legitimacy’ for his right-wing programme. While he won the Electoral College, he was decisively beaten in the ‘popular vote’ by 2.6 million, receiving fewer votes even than the last defeated Republican presidential candidates Romney and McCain, and George W Bush when he won.

Within a matter of weeks – and without being installed yet as president – he has shredded most of his promises. His proposed government, true to form, is stuffed with billionaires, representative not of ‘Main Street’ but of Wall Street, which he denounced during the election campaign.

He is recruiting heavily from Goldman Sachs, which after the crash of 2007-08 was described by Rolling Stone magazine as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. Its tentacles are poised to try and further strangle working people in the cause of Trump’s pro-big business agenda.

The trade unions face a massive challenge as he seeks to emulate Ronald Reagan in rolling out so-called ‘right to work’ legislation to weaken them. He will seek to reward Wall Street sharks who supported him by ruthless measures like privatisation and sackings, particularly of public sector workers.

Infrastructure and jobs

He hopes to soften the blatant pro-billionaire agenda by borrowing from capitalist economist Keynes with a promise to increase government spending of at least $1 trillion on the US’s collapsing infrastructure.

However, as welcome as any new jobs would be in restoring the confidence of the US working class to fight back against the bosses and providing the unemployed with work, nevertheless these would not replace the high paid secure jobs which have been lost in the massive deindustrialisation of the US.

An estimated 70,000 factories in the US disappeared during this process, never to return on the basis of capitalism. Since 2010 something like 15 million new jobs were generated in the US but these have been overwhelmingly low paid and insecure, many the equivalent of the hated zero-hour contracts in Britain.

Moreover, the US is already saddled with colossal debt – government, corporate and personal – which is the main reason why enfeebled US and world capitalism has been able to still stagger on.

But will even a Republican congress ratify big increases in public spending, without any overall economic growth and ratcheting up even more debt? Top US tax expert and Congressman Ken Brady has declared: “The greatest threat to our prosperity long term is our growing national debt.”

On the basis of capitalism, particularly the parasitic kind which Trump represents, a return to a ‘golden age’ when today appeared to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow would certainly be better, is over. The 60% of the US population who now consider themselves worse off than before signifies this.

Bernie Sanders

Hence the explosive developments in the US with the rise of the Bernie Sanders movement. Sanders’ call for a political revolution drew mass support from discontented workers and young people and in turn terrified the pro-capitalist Democratic Party establishment.

When he was denied victory in the primaries by the manoeuvres of the pro-Clinton Democratic establishment, Bernie made a big mistake in not taking to the open road and establishing a new party. He had successfully appealed to the same impoverished and discontented layers of workers and young people to whom Trump was also pitching his message.

If he had stood for the presidency, then if not beating Trump, he would have at least attracted sufficient support to have allowed for the possibility of Hillary Clinton coming to power. This would have been the ideal scenario for the prospects of the further political awakening of the American working class and the youth.

A Clinton Democrat administration, which would have been tested to destruction – much as the Liberal Party in Britain was at the turn of the 20th century – could have created the base for the emergence of a new mass workers’ party. Given the economic catastrophe of US capitalism and the desperation of the masses for an alternative, a new mass movement for socialism would have taken shape.

The election of Trump – the whip of counter-revolution – will not halt but ultimately spur on this process. There are features present in the current situation reminiscent of the explosive years in the 1960s and 70s. Socialism is an idea which has already captured the imagination of the new generation of workers and young people.

Socialism in the US

‘Trotsky in New York 1917’ – part of the avalanche of new books in preparation for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution this year – while inaccurate about Trotsky’s real political views, nevertheless provides valuable insights about the powerful attraction for the American masses of socialism and its leading international figures then.

We are informed that “at least six New York newspapers with more than half a million readers would announce Trotsky’s arrival in the city. Three put the story on the front page.” There was a vibrant socialist movement and Eugene Debs had stood as a Socialist Party candidate in every presidential election since 1900, receiving over one million votes in 1912, the equivalent of six million today.

Those traditions will be revived, alongside those of the monumental class battles of the 1930s. American capitalism’s colossal wealth and power allowed it to soften class relations in the post-1945 situation. Its relative economic decline has now sharpened these divisions, which will be further deepened by Trump.

And this will develop with American speed and elan. The success of our US co-thinkers, with the spectacular growth of Socialist Alternative and the election of the first socialist councillor in 100 years in Seattle – Kshama Sawant – is a measure of the changes wrought in the heartland of world capitalism.

As is the success of the school student union in Spain, which chalked up a big national victory against the PP government – the first in five years – when it successfully mobilised two million school students in a national strike which compelled the government to withdraw its attacks on education.

The political force behind this victory, the Spanish Marxist organisation Izquierda Revolucionaria, is in the process of linking up with the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which represents a great strengthening of the genuine forces of Marxism internationally. This will undoubtedly act as a magnet for other Marxist forces to come together with us to confront capitalism and its agents within the workers’ movement.

Warnings

Never has this been more necessary. Even the representatives of the capitalist system, like Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, have warned the class they represent of the inherent dangers arising from the current crisis. Carney warned of the worst crisis for over 100 years with the UK “suffering its first lost decade since the 1860s”, when Karl Marx was alive.

He repeatedly referred to the sense of insecurity and frustrations with global trade and technology, which has favoured “the superstar and the lucky… But what of the frustrated and frightened?” He denounced “inequality” as well as the banks who had been, according to him working in a “heads I win, tails you lose bubble”.

Its intent was to warn the bosses who Carney represents of the incendiary economic and social situation in Britain which threatens to blow the system apart. And the examples which he uses are damning indictments of British capitalism, as well as an indication of further seismic events to come.

More than a fifth of the UK’s population – almost 14 million people – is below the official yardstick for calculating poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That includes 4.8 million adults and 2.6 million children in poverty despite living in a working family. The numbers in this category grew by over a million in the last decade, symbolising the inexorable impoverishment of broad swathes of the British people.

Stories now creep into the press of how those who come from the middle class can now rapidly sink into a desperate situation. From having a job, to no job, therefore no income, then being incapable of paying the rent and ultimately ending up on the streets. The wheel of progress has gone into rapid reverse towards barbarism, with some homeless people now found to be living in caves in Wales!

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

It was these conditions – arising from the complete failure of traditional ‘social democracy’ trapped within the framework of outmoded capitalism to provide an answer – which lit the flame of populist revolt symbolised in Britain through the mass movement gathered around Jeremy Corbyn. And yet 18 months after this – and with the crushing defeat of two right-wing Blairite coups – his campaign has now stalled. Jeremy himself seems to be missing in action. Why?

Because a policy of ‘peaceful coexistence’ during a civil war, which has existed in the Labour Party and the labour movement from the very first day that Jeremy was elected, has been adopted by his closest supporters in the leadership of Momentum. It is potentially fatal for his leadership prospects and the mass anti-austerity movement around him. This has been successfully urged on him by his closest advisers in Momentum.

There is an element of dual power in the Labour Party at the moment. The right controls the Parliamentary Labour Party – mainly the unreconstructed Labour right, who display their opposition and contempt for Corbyn and his allies on a daily basis.

These ‘Labour’ MPs are unmistakably in the camp of the bosses. This was illustrated by Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn – one of the poorest constituencies in South Wales – seeing himself as the ‘voice’ of the parasitic hedge funds rather than the working class, and proposing a parliamentary liaison committee with these City of London creatures.

This right-wing MP is prepared to get into bed with the financial spivs, who create nothing and who treat factories and workplaces as ‘assets’ that can be gambled away on the stock exchange. They are the sworn enemy of working people and yet this alleged representative of the workers of South Wales seeks the participation of corrupt, parasitic swindlers who are shunned by even ‘respectable’ capitalists.

This shows just how politically corrupt large swathes of the Parliamentary Labour Party are – the sooner they are driven out the better. The Labour right have played for time, while the left has dithered and refused to conduct a real struggle, therefore playing into the hands of the right.

This is particularly the role of the leaders of Momentum. They refused to consistently support the one measure that would have mobilised hundreds of thousands of left-leaning workers and youth who joined the Labour Party in great enthusiasm to complete the Corbyn revolution: namely, subjecting right-wing MPs to reselection.

The Socialist Party has offered to further this process, to join the Labour Party on the basis of a political and organisational reconfiguration, leading to a federal form of party. Jon Lansman, the leader of Momentum, unceremoniously refused to support this, while showing touching sensitivity to the right. His tactics have blown up in his face, with Momentum torn apart over forms of organisation.

There have been no systematic protests at the arbitrary and bureaucratic denial of access to its ranks or that of the Labour Party.

Our request for readmission of 75 supporters of the Socialist Party previously expelled has met a brick wall. This while the right have ruthlessly used their position on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party to consolidate their grip.

Unresolved civil war

The right have a clear plan to expel and marginalise all those on the left who pose a threat to their continued rule. The left under the baton of Momentum’s leadership – organisationally and politically inept – have allowed the right to make a comeback.

All of this could have been avoided if clear direction had been given from the beginning to the hundreds of thousands who rallied enthusiastically to Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme and clearly demonstrated the desire to drive the Blairite right out of the Labour Party. The response of Momentum’s leadership was to rule out any such political ‘confrontation’ with the right.

The Labour Party is still composed of two incompatible parties in one. The right from the beginning showed they were absolutely unreconciled to Corbyn’s leadership and would overthrow him at the first opportunity. That still remains their goal.

The civil war which has existed from the beginning of Corbyn’s accession to the leadership remains unresolved. The right, having failed to remove him in an open coup and afraid of leaving the Labour Party in the hands of the left, have fallen back on a ‘creeping coup’. The tactics consist of a war of attrition, constantly seeking to discredit Jeremy and John McDonnell, and marginalising and excluding their supporters.

Blind alley

There is nevertheless everything to play for in 2017. Capitalism is a blind alley, incapable of taking society substantially forward. All of those parties who accept the system will ultimately fall under the wheels of history.

The movement around Jeremy represents a determined attempt to throw off the outmoded shell of Blairite pro-market, pro-capitalist forces and take to a more radical, socialist road.

The Socialist Party, together with the CWI, will do everything in its power to assist workers and young people to attain the goal of a mass, socialist party fighting for a socialist society in Britain and the world.

2016 – a year of growing discontent

2016 – a year of growing discontent

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Marching to defend youth clubs in Coventry

2016 has been a year of growing discontent and anger at the political and economic system across the world. This has been expressed in many different ways – in the UK with the Brexit vote and the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, in Italy with the referendum vote against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi  and in the US with the election of Donald Trump and the massive protests following his election.

These developments pose challenges, such as the fight for a socialist Brexit in the UK, and building resistance to Trump’s racist and divisive agenda in the US. But they also show the growing anger at the “establishment”, reflected in different ways. A clear anti-austerity message can win people over to a socialist programme.

Here in Coventry there have been campaigns against cuts to local services and the Socialist Party have helped to support these, for example the ongoing battles to save libraries in the city and youth clubs which are so vital for ordinary people in our city. We continued to build opposition to cuts in the health service gaining great support for campaigning to defend the NHS from privatisation and look forward to a big national demonstration on 4th March.

There has also been increasing interest in our socialist ideas in 2016. We held big meetings on the question of Jeremy Corbyn, Trotskyism and the real ideas of the Militant (our forerunner) as well as a public rally putting the socialist case for leaving the EU.

We have been involved in innumerable campaigns and supporting many issues from practical support for workers on strike to honouring the victims of the Orlando massacre and supporting LGBT rights at Coventry Pride.

2017 marks the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and we will be posting material to mark it. It looks set to be a year of struggle against the Tories, the Blairites, the far-right and the capitalist system as a whole. If you want to join that struggle, fill in the form below!

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.

‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from Coventry Council

‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from Coventry Council

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Trade unions campaigning against ‘Connecting Communities’

Saturday saw trade unionists and anti-cuts groups out in the city centre campaigning against the latest round of cuts (under the misnamed title of ‘Connecting Communities’) from Coventry City Council. Hundreds of leaflets were distributed and petitions signed against the closure of libraries, children’s and youth centres.

We publish below the text of a leaflet distributed by the Socialist Party. If you agree, get in touch using the form at the bottom!


‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from the City Council

Councillors should fight austerity – not implement it

Coventry City Council is ‘consulting’ on proposals that will have a devastating impact on Coventry people, and change the nature of vital public services including public libraries, youth work and nursery provision, children’s and youth centres.

The Council wants to get rid of paid staff in the libraries and replace them with volunteers who will work for free. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the ‘Big Society’ of David Cameron and the Tories. Unfortunately it is being introduced by a Labour council here in Coventry.

Last year the council ‘consulted’ over plans to cut £1.2m from libraries and play centres. Despite dozens of meetings the Council largely ignored the opposition and went ahead with closing play centres on Eagle Street and Edgewick, cutting spending on library books and DVDs, and reducing library staff and opening hours. Now they’re coming back for more! 

Right-wing Labour want 3x as much in cuts to libraries, nurseries, youth clubs and community centres next year – £3.8m!

And to rub salt into the wound, whilst the council is again organising meetings to ‘listen to people’s views’, at the very same time it had set up a fund, over £1/2m, to give grants to those who want to take over services under threat.

Jeremy Corbyn has just been re-elected as Labour leader on an anti-austerity platform. However Labour councils like here in Coventry, or in Durham and Derby where they are attacking low paid education workers, are undermining his anti-austerity message.

It’s true the Tories have slashed the amount of money provided to our city. Their only concern is to protest the bankers and the 1%. However Labour locally could be opposing these cuts. For example:

  • Use the reserves to hold off the cuts. The Council has increased its reserves from £40m in 2010 to £84m today. Use some of this money to buy time to build a massive campaign of unions, local communities and service users to demand more money from central government.
  • Councillors should look to link up with other local authorities including calling a conference of councillors and unions from local government to build a massive national campaign to restore funding to our councils.

Unfortunately our Council has done neither of these. Not one Labour Councillor has voted against any of the proposed cuts packages. We need councillors that will fight these cuts and stand up for our communities. At the same time we need build a movement that can challenge capitalist austerity and lead a fight for a socialist system which can guarantee our public services and put the interests of working class people before private profit.

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UNISON backs Corbyn – comments from a member in the West Midlands

UNISON backs Corbyn – comments from a member in the West Midlands

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Jeremy Corbyn addressing UNISON conference – photo by Paul Mattson

The following article was written by a UNISON member in the West Midlands following the union’s decision to support Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership. The comments were published in The Socialist newspaper several weeks ago. Although the ballot has now closed we are reproducing them here to further the debate within UNISON and the wider trade union movement on how Jeremy’s likely victory can be consolidated and the policies that we believe are needed to change society. There are also strong warning signs from some parts of UNISON who would rather see Jeremy defeated – and see the movement around him as a threat to their positions.


Many Unison members will be pleased that our union has officially backed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. Jeremy is the only candidate, as was the case with the leadership election in 2015, who is fully supportive of the trade union movement and who is in line with the union’s anti-austerity policies.

The immense support and enthusiasm that he receives from activists was witnessed at our annual conference in Brighton in June. When Jeremy spoke he got a huge standing ovation and was mobbed by supporters when he finished speaking – the fact that we have a Labour leader who is unashamedly pro-trade union is a big step forward!

However make no bones about it, there are plenty in our union who would have liked to have ‘done a GMB’ and supported Owen Smith. General secretary Dave Prentis made a statement on 12 August which talks of Labour becoming the ‘nasty party’ with many veiled attacks on the Corbyn campaign.

Prentis fears a Corbyn-type movement in UNISON that could transform our union from top to bottom. Unison members would do well to remember that Prentis and his bureaucracy spent hundreds of thousands of pounds witch-hunting Socialist Party members in UNISON in an unsuccessful attempt to ‘get the Trots’ – sound familiar to the Labour Party today?

The key issues for UNISON members are first of all ensuring a Corbyn victory but then making sure we properly finish the job – no more compromise with right-wing Labour councillors cutting our jobs or Labour MPs who are happy to take our union donations but don’t support union policies.

Importantly we need to discuss how exactly we can get the fairer society that Corbyn supports and many UNISON members want to see – Socialist Party supporters in UNISON believe that means breaking with the failed system of capitalism and introducing widespread public ownership of the banks and major industry.

Then we can truly put people before profit!

Unison member in the West Midlands

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