UCU hold Alternative Open Day Protest at Coventry University

UCU hold Alternative Open Day Protest at Coventry University

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Members of UCU at the rally

The Coventry University branch of the University and College Union (UCU) held a rally today calling for “Education Not Marketisation”. The Alternative Open Day protest drew support from not only UCU members, but trade unionists from UNITE, UNISON, NEU, NUJ and Coventry TUC, as well as students. The Socialist Party were proud to support this rally and bring our solidarity.

Staff had called a protest on the official Open Day of the university where prospective students were due to attend to highlight a number of serious issues. As the UCU leaflet pointed out

“The week before last two of Coventry University’s outstanding research centres were closed putting 53 staff at risk of redundancy and leaving their students without proper supervisors. Staff recently balloted for strike action over the Performance Management System they are trying to impose on us. Our Recruitment and Admissions was recently outsourced to a subsidiary where staff have hugely inferior conditions. The staff at Coventry University who will teach you or you son or daughter are people who really care about your education. We just wish we could say the same about the University’s Senior Management.”

Speakers pointed how the university, and education in general, is not run in the interests of learning and development, but about profit. Marketisation and commercialisation are inherent in the proft driven capitalist system. The fight for free, high quality education where the interests of staff, students and the local community are put first, goes hand in hand with the struggle for a socialist planned economy, where the needs of the majority are put before that of the profiteers.

 

 

 

Low paid Teaching Assistants to be made redundant as one Head Teacher’s salary soars

Low paid Teaching Assistants to be made redundant as one Head Teacher’s salary soars

Photo – Rugby Observer

By a Socialist Party member in Rugby

Avon Valley School in Rugby have announced they are to make seven teaching assistants redundant due to consistent cuts to their budget by the Tories.

This comes just a week after it was revealed that the head of Ashlawn School in Rugby is earning £270,000 per year. Head of Ashlawn Lois Reed received a pay rise of around 50% from 2016 to 2017. This places her among the highest paid heads in the country and on £150,000 more than the second highest paid head in the town at Lawrence Sheriff School.

One Rugby resident said Mrs Reed’s pay is obscene particularly at a time when many schools are struggling to balance their budgets.

It’s a question of priorities, do we want our schools adequately funded and staffed in order to provide quality education for our children or do we want fat cat salaries for one head teacher who values the Government’s academy and free school programme above a decent education for all? (As well as being Ashlawn’s head teacher Mrs Reed is also acting CEO & accounting officer for the Transforming Lives Education Trust and is leading the expansion of free schools in the Rugby area.)

The Socialist Party says:

* No to all cuts – defend every school, job, course and service
* Organise campaigns in every area uniting teachers, support staff, parents students and the community
* For a trade union organised national demonstration in defence of education
* Co-ordinated strike action by education workers to stop cuts
* Fight for a fully funded, democratically run, genuinely comprehensive education system

If you agree with us, we urge you to get in touch and help us build a movement to defend education and to fight for socialist change. Please fill in the form below!

“Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense”

“Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense”

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Photograph by Paul Mattsson

The news headlines tonight have led with the NHS crisis and an apology from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. But as this letter from a reader of coventrysocialists.com points out, it is not enough


Well that didn’t take long did it?

3 days in and it’s New Year and new crisis in the health service. Crisis for NHS staff and patients that is.

Up and down the country appointments for long awaited operations are being cancelled because the service cannot cope. Emergency admissions wait for hours on trolleys or are even asked to make their own way to hospital rather than use an ambulance.

So has a bomb dropped? Has there been a massive terror attack? Has there been a nuclear accident?

No it’s winter.  Maybe you think the job of Government and the Health Secretary in particular is to prepare for this?

Well Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been forced to apologise, but that is not enough.This crisis affecting ordinary working people us a direct result of Tory government cuts.

Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly warned the Prime Minister in the House of Commons of the effects Tory cuts to health are having. Junior doctors and health service workers have repeatedly sounded the alarm.

But the Tories claim to be surprised! Their real aim is to run down the NHS and sell it off so they can make a profit from it at our expense. This totally ineffective Tory Government have proved themselves incompetent and incapable of delivering basic services.

We must demand that Hunt resigns, that May resigns and that an immediate General Election is called. Every day this Tory Government remains in office the more damage they cause. Let’s make it our New Year resolution to force them out!

 

Passport furore can’t hide Tory rifts

Passport furore can’t hide Tory rifts

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For a Socialist Europe

The announcement from Theresa May and the Tories regarding the changes to our passports may have been designed to hide the deep rifts that have developed within the Tory party; however neither this move, nor the recent deal on Brexit made before Christmas can succeed in healing the Tory divisions. We are reproducing the editorial from the current issue of The Socialist newspaper which we believe provides a socialist way forward for Brexit


Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

No divorce bill to subsidise capitalist elites of Europe

For a socialist, internationalist Brexit

For a while it looked like Theresa May might be about to crash out of office, as her fractured, divided party, propped up in government by the DUP, seemed unable even to reach agreement on a deal on the ‘first stage’ of Brexit negotiations. This time, however, the crisis did not prove fatal. A deal, involving numerous concessions by May, and a lot of deliberately ambiguous wording, has been cobbled together and acceded to by the DUP, keeping the show on the road for now. This so-called victory for May’s negotiating skills has solved none of the problems that May and her government face; it has only ‘kicked the can down the road’.

The most important conclusion for the millions of working and middle class people in Britain is that this government remains extremely weak and can be defeated. For as long as it remains in power, however, the norm will continue to be wage restraint, a catastrophic housing crisis, and endless cuts in public services.

Raised hopes

For the majority of Britain’s capitalist class, despite their horror at being represented by a party as dysfunctional as the Tories, the deal has raised their hopes. They now dare to dream that the ‘soft’ Brexit which would suit their interests might be achieved, despite the hard Brexiteers on the Tory right. After all, the government has acceded to the EU’s demands for an exit bill of at least £36 billion, shamefacedly abandoning their previous posturing that the EU could ‘go whistle’.

They have also agreed that, in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there would be ‘full alignment’ between Northern Ireland and EU law. In reality this would only be possible in one of two ways – either a divergence between the laws of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which would be unacceptable to the majority of Protestants in Northern Ireland, or remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union: that is, within the EU in all but name.

However, the welcoming of the deal by the Tory right does not mean they accept ‘full alignment’ by whatever means, but only that they had no choice but to agree it in order to prevent a complete collapse of the Brexit negotiations and hope, Mr Micawber-style, that something will turn up further down the road. It is likely that what will turn up will be the Tories repeatedly being forced to bang their heads against the reality that British capitalism is third rate, and that they have no choice but to make concessions to both the institutions of the EU and any of the other major powers with which they hope to negotiate favourable deals.

The nationalist ‘hard Brexiteer’ wing of the Tory party, which is fuelled by an utterly utopian dream of a return to Britain’s past as a pre-eminent world power, offers absolutely no way forward for working class people in Britain. Brexit on their terms would undoubtedly mean job losses, economic crisis and further steps towards Britain becoming little more than a global tax haven. Nor, however, do the pro-EU capitalist politicians, who represent the interests of the major corporations, have any common interests with the majority of people in Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn should be leading the campaign against paying a penny for a divorce bill that will subsidise the capitalist elites of Europe, declaring instead that the money should be spent on the NHS, raising public sector pay and abolishing tuition fees.

Instead, the pro-capitalist Blairite wing of the Labour Party is campaigning for Labour to adopt – hook, line and sinker – the position of the capitalist class on Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn and those on the left of the party need to clearly reject this.

It is ludicrous to claim, as the Blairite Labour MP Chuka Umunna has, that the EU single market is, “uniquely, a framework of rules that protects people from the worst excesses of globalisation and unfettered capitalism.” It certainly doesn’t protect those fleeing war in the Middle East and largely kept outside of the borders of ‘Fortress Europe’. They face the unimaginable horror of slave markets in Libya and risk drowning in the Mediterranean. But nor does it protect those already inside the EU’s borders from the ‘worst excesses’ of capitalism. On the contrary, the institutions of the EU have inflicted terrible hardship on the workers of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere. In Greece wages have fallen by an average of a third. In every country, including Britain, EU directives are used as a means to implement privatisation and drive down wages.

Rip up neoliberal rules

If Jeremy Corbyn were to launch a campaign for a socialist Brexit it would transform the situation. A socialist Brexit would mean ripping up the EU bosses’ club neoliberal rules – not in order to create the more isolated and even more exploitative neoliberal vision of the Tory right, but to begin to build a society for the many not the few. It would mean taking socialist measures so that the enormous wealth in society could be harnessed to provide everyone with the prerequisites for a decent life: a high-quality, secure home, a good job, free education, a top class NHS, a living pension and more. Such a programme could unite working class people in Britain, regardless of how they voted in the referendum.

It would also act as a beacon for workers and young people across Europe to take the same road, opening the path to mass opposition to the EU bosses’ club – and towards a democratic socialist confederation of Europe. Jeremy Corbyn should urgently use his international anti-austerity authority to help establish a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis. Only this approach can cut across the confusion created by the lies of all wings of the Tory party.

 

Xmas greetings from Coventry Socialist Party 

Xmas greetings from Coventry Socialist Party 

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Socialist Party members campaigning against the Tories. Photo by Paul Mattsson

Coventry Socialist Party would like to send Xmas greetings to all members and supporters in what has been a busy 2017. We would like to thank all those who have helped us during the year, whether you donated to us, signed our petitions, came to our meetings, bought our literature or aided us in any other way.

In 2017 the capitalist system once again showed us it has nothing to offer other than growing inequality, attacks on the NHS and education, environmental damage, austerity, racism and much more.

In 2018 the ideas of socialism and Marxism will be needed more than ever to combat the capitalist crisis and show a way out for working class people. In working class communities, in the trade unions and amongst young people, the Socialist Party will continue to put forward bold socialist policies as the way forward.

We encourage everyone to think about how you can help us in the vital task of building a force for socialist change. Can you make a donation to our Fighting Fund? Whether £1, £5 or £50, it all helps fund the fight to transform society. Please click here to help out.

Furthermore, take the step of joining the Socialist Party. We are fighting for socialism in Coventry, across the UK and in nearly 50 countries around the world with our sister organisations in the Committee for a Workers’ International. To find out more, click here!

 

 

 

Trump retweets Britain First videos – time to fightback against racism and capitalism!

Trump retweets Britain First videos – time to fightback against racism and capitalism!

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Trump and Jayda Fransen

Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, has once again hit the headlines for his Twitter activities. On this occasion he has sent the tiny far right grouping Britain First in to raptures by retweeting videos posted by their deputy leader Jayda Fransen. Not surprisingly this has been warmly welcomed by Britain First, who despite having a large social media following struggle to get more than a few dozen people to their ‘national mobilisations’.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Trump was wrong to retweet Britain First saying “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions”. However no one will forget Theresa May gladly holding hands with Trump, nor the role the Tories and right wing Labour MPs have played in helping to create an atmosphere where the far right can potentially grow.

It is rumoured that Trump will visit the UK some time in 2018. The Socialist Party look forward to being part of the mass movement that will great him in opposition to his agenda that seeks to divide working class people away from the real problem in society, that is the capitalist system that breeds war, racism and poverty in the UK, US and across the world.

Join us to help build a mass socialist movement that will consign Trump, Britain First and their system to the dustbin of history!

DWP to outsource more core work to Capita

DWP to outsource more core work to Capita

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We have received the following article from a Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) member in Coventry.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced on Wednesday 16th November that telephony work for new claims to Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) along with general enquiries for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), would be outsourced to Capita.

This is not the first instance of outsourcing vital DWP work to a private company. JSA claims were handed to Capita in 2012, a move that resulted in a failure to meet targets on processing claims. DWP staff even had to go to Capita to clear the backlog!

The decision to outsource ESA new claims to Capita will be disastrous. A huge proportion of ESA claimants suffer with mental health issues and are therefore more vulnerable. If Capita performs as well as it did with JSA claims, then this is likely to have a severe impact on the wellbeing of those who most need support.

This is already beginning to affect the morale of DWP staff too – with many workers fearing either the prospect of losing their jobs, or the stress of a complete change in the roles in which they have been trained in. There is also the issue of staff feeling like they are ‘worthless’, ‘undervalued’ and not doing an important enough job.

For staff in Poole Contact Centre, this truly is a ‘slap in the face’ – along with the planned closure of the office in February 2018, the DWP will also contract out the Income Support work they do!

The PCS union which represents DWP staff has consistently opposed the privatisation of their work, and campaigns for it to be brought back in-house – the way our public services are meant to be operated!”

The Socialist Party echoes this, and we also call for:

• An end to all privatisation of public services – run them for people, not profit!

• No more benefit cuts or sanctions! For the right to a decent living, and support for those who need it!

• An end to austerity! For a £10 an hour minimum wage now and the scrapping of zero-hours contracts!

Socialism 2017 – an appeal from Dave Nellist

Socialism 2017 – an appeal from Dave Nellist

Socialism 2017

In 10 days’ time, on the weekend of November 11/12, over a thousand socialists, young people and trade unionists will gather in London at Socialism 2017.

It will be, quite simply, the best two days’ discussion and debate on issues from Catalonia to fighting Donald Trump, from ending low pay to fighting racism.  And in each session and rally there will be leading participants in the struggles that are taking place.

For example, what’s going on in Catalonia? What do socialists think about it all? Juan Ignacio Ramos, General Secretary of Izquierda Revolucionaria (the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Spain) and Coral Latorre, General Secretary of the Student Union in Catalonia, will be among our keynote speakers.  There will hardly be a better way of getting an up-to-date socialist view of why we believe fighting for an independent socialist Catalan republic, which defends the aspirations of the majority, is part of the fight to change society along socialist lines.

And as well as speakers from Spain we will have internationalists from elsewhere, including leading elected socialists from Ireland and the USA, including Kshama Sawant from Socialist Alternative in Seattle and Paul Murphy from Dublin.

Or take the greatest event in 20th century history when, 100 years ago next week, workers in Russia took power out of the hands of the bosses and the bankers and their political representatives. Today that group of people is rapidly sending our living standards through the floor not to mention warmongering and destroying the environment! So what can we learn from the 1917 Russian Revolution for today? How did Stalinism arise? Would future socialist change inevitably follow the same path?

One issue perhaps above all others will unite the 1000 people at Socialism 2017 – we can’t wait until 2022 for a general election, we need Jeremy Corbyn’s policies now! So how can we best fight for free education, major housebuilding and rent controls, and secure jobs on a £10/hr minimum wage? How we do that will be a central theme of Socialism 2017 where speakers on the struggles of today will include Ian Mearns, leading Corbyn supporting Labour MP; Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary involved in Birmingham bins dispute; Sean Hoyle, RMT president, and Chris Baugh PCS assistant general secretary.

The weekend will have around 40 workshops and forums which will be introduced by a speaker or a panel but each one will include time for everyone to participate, asking questions or making comments – if they wish.  There’s bound to be several that will interest you – the full programme is here.

So why not join a thousand of us in London that weekend or for the Saturday or Sunday?  Whether it’s to learn, to ask questions, to be inspired or to feel the solidarity of knowing your wish for a socialist world is widely shared – you’ll get something special out of Socialism 2017. I hope you can be there with us.

If you would like more information about the event, including travel details, tickets etc get in touch by filling in the form below. If you book now you get 10 per cent off the ticket price! 

Yours in solidarity
Dave Nellist

What is the Single Market?

What is the Single Market?

corbyn and starmer

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn

The announcement over the weekend from Keir Starmer has caused controversy over the position that Labour and the trade union movement should take towards Brexit, the Single Market and the European Union. This is a key question for the left – we are publishing this article from Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party, originally carried in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper. In this article Hannah spells out the socialist analysis of the EU and Brexit, and importantly the policies and programme that we think need to be fought for.


The Single Market: a neo-liberal tool of the bosses 

Fight for a socialist Brexit

Theresa May’s four-week holiday is drawing to a close. She is returning to an autumn of watching her party tear itself apart over the EU. Following her humiliating general election campaign she really is a ‘dead prime minister walking‘; powerless to be more than a passive bystander in the Tories’ civil war.

According to the capitalist media the only Brexit choices on offer are the ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ visions offered by the two wings of the Tory Party. Unfortunately, many leaders of the workers’ movement, including the leadership of the TUC, also paint the issue in the same terms: supporting the ‘soft Brexit’ wing.

None of the variants of Brexit on offer from the Tory Party, however, are in the interests of working and middle class people.

Reactionaries

The right-wing nationalist ‘hard Brexiteers’ represent the view of a small minority of the British capitalist class, if even that. They are full of utopian dreams of a return to the days when Britain was the world’s biggest imperialist power, and of resentment at their nation’s inexorable decline.

Their growing dominance in the Tory party, exacerbated by the collapse of a section of Ukip into their ranks, means that the Tories can no longer be relied on by the capitalist class to act in their interests. The idea, however remote, that the ultra-reactionary toff and ‘MP for the eighteenth century’ Jacob Rees-Mogg could become leader of the Tory Party sums up the dire state it is in.

It is clear that the nationalist ‘little Englander’ Tories offer no way forward, but nor does the ‘George Osborne’ wing. It is criminal to suggest, as Polly Toynbee has in the pages of the Guardian, that we should be looking to the likes of Osborne, responsible as chancellor for inflicting the worst austerity since World War Two, for a Brexit in the interests of the majority.

Osborne and his ilk represent the view of the majority of the capitalist class in Britain, which would prefer no Brexit, and are fighting for as ‘soft’ a Brexit as possible.

They aim to remain within the single market and the customs union, if not in name at least in substance.

They are driven by what is in the best interests of their system. In essence the EU is an agreement between the different capitalist classes of Europe in order to create the largest possible market.

The different national capitalist classes within it remain in competition with each other but cooperate in order to maximise their profits.

For the weaker economies of Europe – above all Greece – it has meant virtual neocolonial exploitation by the stronger powers.

Inevitably, since the start of the global economic crisis in 2009, there has been a rise in national tensions within the EU which will, at a certain stage, lead to a fracturing of the Euro and major crisis within the EU. Nonetheless, the majority of Britain’s capitalists think they can make fatter profits inside the EU than outside.

It is ludicrous to claim, as the Blairite Labour MP Chuka Umunna has, that the single market is, “uniquely, a framework of rules that protects people from the worst excesses of globalisation and unfettered capitalism.” It certainly doesn’t protect those fleeing war in the Middle East and largely kept outside of the borders of ‘Fortress Europe’; horrendously often left to drown in the Mediterranean.

But nor does it protect those already inside the EU’s borders from the ‘worst excesses’ of capitalism. On the contrary, the institutions of the EU have inflicted terrible hardship on the workers of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere.

The pro-EU majority of the capitalist class currently has no party they can rely on to act in their interests. Instead there are politicians in all the major parties, not least the right wing of Labour, collaborating together to try and defend the interests of the capitalist elite.

According to the Financial Times, before parliament shut for the summer they came together in a meeting in the office of Blairite MP Chuka Umunna. Also present were Anna Soubry from the Tories, Stephen Gethins from the SNP, Jonathan Edwards from Plaid Cymru and Jo Swinson from the Liberal Democrats.

This alliance is not only about Brexit. It is also part of a conscious attempt to undermine Corbyn and help to prevent something that the capitalist elite fear even more than a ‘hard Brexit’ – a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. Also over the summer rumours have abounded of a new supposedly ‘centrist’ party being formed for the same reasons. This may not seem to be posed immediately, but is inherent in the situation.

It is naïve for shadow chancellor John McDonnell to suggest, as he appeared to in the Guardian on 19 August, that it is no longer necessary to push for urgent constitutional changes to democratise the Labour Party because, “the nature of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) has changed”.

Measures like mandatory reselectionrestoring trade union rights within Labour and readmittance of expelled socialists are more urgently needed than ever. Unfortunately, the majority of the PLP remain pro-capitalist and opposed to Jeremy Corbyn, even if his popularity means that some of them are currently holding back from saying so openly. Instead they are mobilising against him on the issue of a ‘soft’ Brexit.

It is urgent that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the workers’ movement launch a major campaign – not for a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit – but for an internationalist Brexit that is in the interests of the working and middle class, both in Britain and across Europe. Otherwise it is inevitable that the different wings of the capitalist class will succeed in confusing and dividing working class people.

Our starting point is the diametrical opposite of the starting point for all sides of the Tory Party: we have to support what benefits working class people and cements their unity, and to implacably oppose that which undermines it.

Capitalist ‘freedom’

What attitude does that mean taking to the single market? The single market finally came into being in 1993, following negotiations that began with the 1986 Single European Act; something that Maggie Thatcher claimed credit for initiating!

From the beginning it has been based on the so-called ‘four freedoms’, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. It is policed by the European Commission (made up of one representative from each EU state), which takes infringements of market rules before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). From its inception it has aimed to drive through neoliberal, anti-working class measures in order to maximise the profits of the capitalist elite.

The single market compels the privatisation of public services, prohibits nationalisation, and makes it easier for employers to exploit workers in numerous ways. For example, the ECJ rulings in the Viking and Laval cases, which put corporations’ ‘rights of establishment’ before the right of workers to strike. Or the EU posted workers’ directive, which does not recognise agreements between unions and employers, and has been systematically used to undermine the rights and conditions of workers. The posted workers’ directive was at the heart of the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike in 2009. Jeremy Corbyn was right, therefore, to say shortly after the June general election that Brexit should not mean remaining part of the single market. Nor should it mean remaining part of the customs union which means handing the right to negotiate trade deals to the European Commission alone.

In his Guardian article John McDonnell expressed it as: “The bottom line for me, is the new relationship we have with Europe should be designed on the basis that we can implement our manifesto.”

This is not a bad starting point. A Corbyn-led government should pledge to enter the negotiations declaring that all EU laws which hindered this would immediately be annulled. This is not a question of fighting for British ‘sovereignty’, as Labour’s shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner unfortunately put it when correctly arguing to leave the single market, but fighting in the interests of the working class not just in Britain but across Europe.

There are, of course, aspects of EU law – such as various environmental and health and safety protections – which the workers’ movement should have no objection to keeping other than a desire to strengthen them.

And no one wants to see what the ‘soft’ Brexiteers paint as inevitable outside the single market – economic crisis, job losses and price increases. On the basis of a Tory ‘hard’ Brexit, all of that would be posed – but nor does continuing as part of the crisis-ridden EU offer a way forward for working class people in Britain.

Socialist measures

A socialist Brexit, by contrast, could be the start of building a society that was able to provide everyone with the prerequisites for a decent life: a high-quality secure home, a good job, free education, a top class NHS, a living pension and more.

In doing so it would act as a beacon for workers’ and young people across Europe to take the same road, opening the path not only to mass opposition to the EU bosses’ club but also to a democratic socialist confederation of Europe.

A starting point for a workers’ Brexit would be to implement the demands at the end of this article, all of which would require a complete break with the single market.

At the same time, doing so would inspire the 450 million workers remaining in the single market to fight for similar demands in their own countries. It would also terrify the capitalist class, not just in Britain but globally, who would see their rotten profit-driven system under threat from a mass movement for a new democratic, socialist society.

Without doubt the world’s ruling elites would do all they could to sabotage the implementation of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme, including attempting to use the rules of the single market if Britain remained inside it.

But, provided a determined mass movement was mobilised in support of the government’s programme, they would not be able to succeed. The reteat of the Syriza government in Greece over fighting austerity was not pre-ordained. If the government had shown the courage of the Greek people and refused to capitulate to the capitalists and their EU institutions, the outcome could have been very different.

However, to effectively prevent the attempted sabotage of the capitalist class – inside or outside the EU – will pose the question of taking socialist measures in order to remove control of the economy and finance system from the tiny unelected minority who currently hold it in their hands. Pleading with the City of London “to stabilise the markets before we get into government”, as John McDonnell suggests to the Guardian, will never prevent the financial markets trying to attack a government which threatens their obscene profits.

Nor will it work to beg multinational corporations to stay in Britain if they think they can make a bigger profit by moving to a country with cheaper labour.

Instead, socialist measures – bringing into democratic public ownership the 125 or so big corporations and banks that control around 80% of Britain’s economy – would be posed. This would provide the possibility of developing a democratic, socialist plan of production that could very quickly transform the lives of millions.

For workers continuing to suffer brutal capitalist austerity in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland – indeed to workers everywhere – it would act to show a way forward to a new, socialist world.


  • Not a penny to be paid in a ‘divorce bill’ to subsidise the capitalist elites of Europe
  • Ban zero-hour contracts. £10 an hour minimum wage for all
  • Abolition of all anti-trade union legislation. For the right of all workers to freely organise and when necessary strike, in defence of their and other workers’ interests
  • No ‘race to the bottom’! The ‘rate for the job’ for all workers. For democratic trade union control over hiring new workers
  • For the right of all EU citizens currently in Britain to remain with full rights, and to demand the same for UK workers in other EU countries
  • Immediate scrapping of all rules demanding ‘competitive tendering’, limiting state aid and opposing nationalisation. This would remove the legal obstacles to councils bringing all local services back ‘in house’. It would enable the immediate renationalisation of all privatised public services such as rail, energy and water. It would remove the obstacles to renationalising the NHS, throwing out the private multinational companies that are bleeding it dry
  • For a socialist society run in the interests of the millions not the billionaires. Bring the 125 major corporations and banks that dominate the economy into democratic public ownership

If you agree with us, get in touch to find out more! Fill in the form below

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

Who are the Democratic Unionist Party?

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Ian Paisley

Following the disastrous results for Theresa May in Thursday’s snap general election the Tories are now in negotiations with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Many are rightly asking ‘who are the DUP?’. We are pleased to publish this article from 2014 written by our comrades in the Socialist Party (Northern Ireland) looking at the life of Ian Paisley who is the figure most associated with the DUP. It outlines some of the history of that party and as the article concludes, we believe that ‘A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives’.


Ian Paisley: peacemaker or warmonger?

How will Ian Paisley, who has died at the age of 88, be remembered? As the firebrand preacher who stoked the fires of conflict in Northern Ireland or as a peacemaker and the partner in government of Martin McGuinness?

Many people struggle to make sense of what appear to be entirely contradictory phases in his life. Most of the media, the British and Irish governments, and even Martin McGuinness who describes him as a friend, choose to focus on his 2007 decision to form a coalition with Sinn Fein. The media have made much of Paisley’s nicknames, claiming that for years he was known as “Doctor No” because of his rejection of all attempts at compromise but that at the end of his life he and Martin McGuinness together were known as “the chuckle brothers” because they were seen laughing together so often. The use of both of these nicknames is largely confined to the media. Most simply knew Paisley as Paisley, his creed as Paisleyism, and his followers as Paisleyites. And for decades the name Paisley struck fear into the hearts of not just Catholics but Protestant working class activists. The lauding of Paisley grates with most Catholics, who cannot forget the role he played, but also in the throat of the many Protestants who reject everything he stood for.

So how did a preacher who led his own church (the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster) for six decades, and his own political party (the Democratic Unionist Party or DUP) for nearly as long, become the most prominent politician in Northern Ireland? After all this is a man who defended the most repressive approaches on social issues such as sexuality (in the late 1970s, for example, he launched his odious “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign to oppose even limited rights for gay men).

Paisley’s initial base was not built in industrial working class areas but in the North Antrim area around the large town of Ballymena. His first following was largely rural, conservative and religiously fundamentalist. Even in Ballymena itself it took time before he seized control of the council. When he did in the mid-1970s he imposed his fundamentalist ideas on everyone else, closing the swimming pool and chaining up the park swings on Sundays. It was members of Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) from a Protestant background who lead the opposition in this largely Protestant town, protesting against the Sunday closure policy and challenging the DUP in council by-elections.

Working class Protestants gave Paisley little support in the 1950s, 1960s and well into the 1970s. In Protestant areas he was a figure of fun and contempt for anyone who was forward looking or left inclined. This changed over time. In the late 1960’s there was a sense that change was in the air, represented politically by the growth of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) but as the Troubles spun out of control “hard men” on both sides came to the fore and the sense of working class solidarity and unity weakened.

There was nothing inevitable about this development however. The leaders of the labour and trade union movement abdicated their responsibility to provide an alternative, and their responsibility to stand up to right-wing and anti-working class demagogues like Paisley. As a direct result the previous NILP stronghold of East Belfast fell to the DUP in the 1979 General Election. The victorious candidate was today’s DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. The DUP gained its working class base in part by deliberately cultivating an image as the representatives of the Protestant working class, in opposition to the “big house” unionism of the Ulster Unionist Party or UUP (the party which governed Northern Ireland from partition until the imposition of direct rule in 1972).

1979 was a turning point: the DUP now had three MPs and could not be ignored. Its support reached a ceiling over the next twenty or so years however, as many potential supporters could not stomach Paisley’s on-off flirting with paramilitary organisations and paramilitary methods. As far back as 1956 Paisley was one of the founders of Ulster Protestant Action (UPA). From the start violence wasn’t far away. In June 1959, after Paisley addressed a UPA rally in Belfast, some of the crowd attacked Catholic-owned shops and a riot ensued.

During the 1964 general election campaign Paisley fomented the so-called “Tricolour riots”, the worst in Belfast since the 1930s. In April 1966 Paisley and Noel Doherty founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and a paramilitary wing, the Ulster Protestant volunteers (UPV). Around the same time, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) emerged, led by Gusty Spence. Many of its members were also members of the UCDC and UPV, including Noel Doherty. In May 1966 the UVF set fire to a Catholic-owned pub and caused the death of an elderly Protestant widow who lived next door, and shot John Scullion, a Catholic civilian, as he walked home. He died of his wounds on 11 June. On 26 June, the group shot dead a second Catholic man and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast. Following the killings, the UVF was outlawed and Paisley immediately denied any knowledge of its activities. This established a pattern that was to be repeated over the following decades and led to those who became active in Loyalist paramilitary organisations to hate him with a vengeance. One of those convicted for the 1966 killings was explicit in his words: “I am terribly sorry I ever heard of that man Paisley or decided to follow him”.

Paisley spent the rest of his career playing with violence: he enrolled the help of mainstream loyalist paramilitary groups in two work stoppages (in 1974 and 1977) and established several groups of his own, including the “Third Force” in 1981 and “Ulster Resistance” in 1986.
When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 Paisley and the DUP were opposed. Over the following decade he sniped at the UUP but ensured he and his party had their hands on whatever levers of power were available. In these years the uncertainty and fear felt by most Protestants delivered Paisley want he wanted – majority support amongst the Protestant electorate. This support was built on a clear platform of opposition to Sinn Fein in government. As late as July 2006 Paisley stated that Sinn Fein “are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there.”

The lure of power, created its own momentum however. Once the DUP were the dominant and largest party the question of going into government was concretely posed. The rigid structures created by the GFA (the aim being to maintain peace by copper-fastening sectarian division) made it difficult to stand aside. Personal factors may also have played a part-Paisley reportedly had a near death experience in 2004, and younger members of the DUP such as Robinson were keen to do a deal. It was also easier for Paisley to go into government when he could credibly claim victory, pointing to the fact that Sinn Fein agreed to support the police and the IRA to destroy its arms.

On 8 May 2007 Paisley was elected First Minister with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Ironically when he made his decision the fiercest opposition came from his original base in rural areas, especially in North Antrim. He was forced out of his positions as DUP leader and Free Presbyterian moderator and retired to snipe at his successors. Attempts to canonise him as a peace maker were hampered by his own words and actions. As late as 2013 he stated in a television interview that the 33 innocent civilians who died in UVF no-warning car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 had “brought it on themselves”.

Everything had changed but nothing had changed. Political theorists argue that it was necessary to bring the most extreme representatives of each community together in order to deliver a stable peace. The reality is that the most extreme representatives of each community can only deliver division and conflict, even if for now there is less violence on the streets.

Paisley certainly stood out but it would be a mistake to see him as unique. If Paisley had never lived someone like him would have come to the fore. And whilst the entire generation of politicians who emerged to prominence in the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s now bask in the “success” of the peace process all played a negative role in that period. One day there will be an historic reckoning. Paisley won’t be around to see it but his ilk and his successors will be. A united working class will sweep away all the detritus of the past and all its rotten sectarian representatives. Remembering Paisley’s real role is one step on the road to that reckoning.