6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

6 years on from the passing of Rob Windsor

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Today marks the sixth anniversary of the sad and untimely death of our comrade Rob Windsor. Rob was well known throughout Coventry and further afield for his involvement in innumerable campaigns; from against cuts to local council services to helping to organise solidarity with Palestinians living in Gaza under attack from the Israeli military. He was also for many years an outstanding Socialist Party Councillor representing St Michaels ward with Dave Nellist and Karen McKay. However, his major role in the movement against the Poll Tax, which helped to bring down Thatcher was no doubt one which he will be remembered the most for.

The current political situation would no doubt have seen Rob throwing himself into action, helping to build resistance to austerity and popularising the ideas of revolutionary socialism and Marxism. Rob was a long time supporter of Militant, and member of Militant Labour and the Socialist Party, and an internationalist to his very core. The best thing we can do in Rob’s honour is to continue and step up the work of building a mass socialist movement, armed with Marxist ideas that Rob knew was necessary to defeat capitalism once and for all.

We are happy to post this video of Rob speaking at a demonstration in 2011 organised by Socialist Party youth members against the Coalition cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance. As ever, his comments were warmly received by this audience of young students. Rob’s speech begins at around 2 mins 18 seconds in.

Watch – Rob Williams defends trade unions taking action on Sky News

Watch – Rob Williams defends trade unions taking action on Sky News

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We are extremely proud to publish this interview conducted by Sky News with Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and member of the Socialist Party regarding the strikes currently taking place around the country.

The Socialist Party and the NSSN stand fully behind the workers in their disputes and Rob outlines the reasons why. If you agree with Rob and want to get involved fill in the form below!

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!

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.

Packed meeting discusses Trotskyism, Corbyn and socialist change

Packed meeting discusses Trotskyism, Corbyn and socialist change

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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!”

Trotskyism, the Militant tendency and the Corbyn insurgency – Coventry public meeting

Trotskyism, the Militant tendency and the Corbyn insurgency – Coventry public meeting

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A leaflet we have been distributing for the meeting – text below

Thursday 25th August, 7.30pm, Coventry Methodist Central Hall. Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA

The Socialist Party has had a lot of media coverage over the last few weeks, after Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson claimed that Trotskyists were joining the Labour Party and “twisting young arms” to support Jeremy Corbyn. He then submitted a “dossier” to back up his claims, which included reports from Socialist Party members about events they had spoken at. All these reports showed that, rather than secretly joining the party, we are openly attending events as the Socialist Party and putting forward our views – but this didn’t stop the media widely sharing Watson’s claims. These attacks on the Socialist Party, and our predecessor organisation Militant, show how scared the Labour Party right-wing are of genuine socialist ideas.

We have organised a public meeting in Coventry on Thursday 25th August, with former Militant Editorial Board member and Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe speaking – as seen on Channel 4 news! If you want to hear about the real ideas of the Socialist Party, rather than media distortions, come to the meeting and find out what we stand for.

The deputy leader of the Labour Party has laid the responsibility of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity at the feet of supposed Trotskyist infiltrators.

Why has the Labour Party right wing and the media suddenly become interested in the influence of Leon Trotsky; one of the leaders of the Russian revolution who dedicated his life fighting for socialism and against Stalinism?

The Socialist Party proudly stands in the tradition of Trotsky in fighting for the working class and fighting for democratic socialism.

It was the Socialist Party, then Militant, who led the mass non-payment of the poll tax which was scrapped and led to the defeat of Thatcher.

In recent years Socialist Party members have been at the forefront of fights against privatisation, the bedroom tax and attacks on workers and young people.

It is these ideas that the right are scared of and are trying to discredit.

A programme to improve the lives of majority and a strategy to win. We’re fighting for a different kind of society – a socialist society where the world’s resources are controlled and planned for the good of all not for the profits of a few.

Thursday 25th August, 7.30pm, Coventry Methodist Central Hall. Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA

‘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

Socialist expelled from Labour to speak in Coventry

Socialist expelled from Labour to speak in Coventry

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Hannah Sell

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

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

The Facebook event for the meeting is here

 

 

Lower Stoke by election – Socialist Party statement

Lower Stoke by election – Socialist Party statement

Coventry Socialist Party has decided not to propose nomination of a TUSC candidate in the forthcoming Lower Stoke by-election.

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Dave Nellist with Lower Stoke Socialist Party campaigner Rob McArdle

Former Coventry councillor Dave Nellist, explained today:

“Socialists in Coventry remain resolutely opposed to the cuts the Labour Council are continuing to pass on.  Such as the £3 million cut to Council Tax support for the city’s poorest.

We now know that over 1400 council jobs have been cut in the last five years, and the council plans to cut 1000 more.  That’s 2,500 young people in Coventry denied the chance of a decent job.  And Councillor Damian Gannon, Cabinet Member for Finance, has said the authority is ‘looking at altering employment terms such as holiday and sickness pay’ of those who remain.

It’s no defence for Labour to say they are responding to national Tory cuts – locally, Labour has doubled its reserves in the last four years from £41m to £84m; it could use a proportion of that to delay cuts whilst launching a campaign to force the government to restore proper funding to the city.

These are the arguments we will continue to put.  But we are conscious that this is the first local by-election since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn says the Labour Party will be anti-austerity and we want to work with members of Labour, especially new members, who support that.

Unfortunately TUSC hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy to discuss what he can do to get Labour councillors, in Coventry and elsewhere, to refuse to implement Tory cuts.

Or to find out what he thinks council service users, trade unionists, and community campaigners should do in elections if all the likely candidates on the ballot paper are going to carry out the cuts.

So, on this occasion, the Socialist Party has agreed not to stand a candidate, so that there is no artificial obstacle to having that discussion with Jeremy and his supporters.

But time is short. Standing aside in a council by-election is one thing. But in May there will be over 2000 councillors up for election, including 18 seats in Coventry.

We want to have a serious discussion with those in Labour who are serious about fighting the cuts. But the Socialist Party is also clear that any politician who votes for cuts cannot expect to have a free run at the ballot box, no matter what party label they wear.”

 

Public Meeting – What next after Corbyn’s Victory?

Jeremy Corbyn victory!

* POPULARITY OF ANTI-AUSTERITY IDEAS CONFIRMED

* NOW THE BATTLE TO CREATE AN ANTI-AUSTERITY PARTY BEGINS


 Coventry Socialist Party Public Meeting – all welcome!

After the Labour Party leadership Election…Can Jeremy Corbyn change Labour?..What next after the result?

Thursday 24th September 7.30pm @ Coventry Methodist Central Hall

Warwick Lane, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA

Speaker: Dave Nellist

A former ‘Militant’ Labour MP, Coventry Socialist Party Councillor & now National Chair of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition. Dave was expelled from the Labour Party along with thousands of other Militant supporters for their Socialist ideas & views in the early 90’s.

FaceBook Event

Dave Nellist and Jeremy Corbyn marching

Dave Nellist and Jeremy Corbyn marching


This is a historic moment. Nothing will be the same again. For decades Westminster politics has meant nothing but right-wing, pro-big business politics.

A handful of left Labour MPs like Jeremy Corbyn voted against austerity, war and the undermining of democracy but their isolated voices were largely drowned out.

Now the pro-austerity consensus has been smashed with Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party with 59.5% of the vote.

The hopes have been raised of millions who want to see a society for the 99% not the 1%.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn, however, is only the beginning. Throughout the election the right wing that dominates the Labour Party and the capitalist media have done everything in their power to try and stop Corbyn winning.

Tens of thousands of people have been ruled out of voting in the leadership election, overwhelmingly Corbyn supporters.

But nothing has worked, on the contrary the attacks on Corbyn from Blair, Brown, Mandelson and the rest have only increased his support.

Deeply disillusioned with the establishment politicians, hundreds of thousands of people have seized the opportunity created by Jeremy Corbyn’s presence on the Labour leadership ballot to begin to create a political voice for their anti-austerity views.

Even ultra-Blairite Liz Kendall was forced to admit that Corbyn had “mobilised and enthused vast numbers of people in a way we haven’t seen for decades.” In the face of that enthusiasm the Labour right has been forced back.

It is ruled out that the Labour right will accept defeat and simply allow the Labour Party to be shifted left by Corbyn and his supporters.

Legal challenges or immediate attempts to launch a coup against Corbyn still cannot be totally ruled out but are not likely given the scale of his victory.
It is clear, however, that the Labour right will attempt to imprison and undermine Corbyn with the aim of removing him as soon as possible.

In doing so they will have the full support of the capitalist establishment. Thatcher considered Blair and New Labour were her greatest success.

Labour had been transformed into a party that could be relied on to act in the interests of the 1%. There will now be a huge campaign, putting what has happened during the election into the shade, to try and once again make sure that the voice of the majority – the working class – is once again extinguished within the Labour Party.

How can onslaught from right be defeated?

Jeremy Corbyn will not be able to defeat the onslaught he will face if he remains isolated within the constraints of the right-wing dominated Labour Party machine.

There are only nine members of the socialist group of MPs of which he is a member. To win he needs to build on the popular movement against austerity that found a voice in his election campaign.

Much of his support has come from the ‘outside’ – new members and registered supporters who were attracted by the hope of something different.

This is a new party in the process of formation. Many of those are a new generation of young people, alongside some returning former members.

As a starting point we would urgently encourage Jeremy Corbyn to organise a huge conference of all those who support him, including the many trade unions – including non-affiliated unions like the RMT, PCS and FBU – which support a fighting anti-austerity programme.

The Socialist Party would participate in such a conference and would encourage all other anti-austerity campaigners to do the same.
Part of the transformation of Labour into a pro-capitalist party has been the complete destruction of the democracy which previously existed.

Labour ‘moderates’ are already bleating that the left would ‘seize the party’s levers of power’ under Corbyn’s leadership.

What they mean by this is “giving more control over policy to the annual conference and the National Executive Committee and less influence to the Parliamentary Labour Party” (The Independent 11.09.15).

In other words restoring some of the party democracy that existed in the past! They are also hysterically attacking any attempt to re-select MPs.

Yet the right to re-select MPs just means the democratic right of a party’s members to replace an MP that has voted against the party’s policies.

That should be uncontroversial. However, it is not a surprise it upsets Labour MPs who have voted for welfare cuts, austerity and war.

Jeremy Corbyn should fight to implement every one of the democratic measures which so terrifies Labour’s right wing, including restoring the collective voice of the organised working class, via the trade unions, within the party.

At the same time the party should be opened up. All those who have been forced out or expelled in the past for fighting against cuts and for socialist ideas should be invited back.

The Corbyn campaign has raised the idea of using social media and virtual democracy to hold policy consultations.

Such methods can play a useful supplementary role but defeating the pro-big business elements that dominate the Labour machine will require mass, active participation.

Socialist ideas popular

The capitalist media has united in insisting that a Corbyn-led Labour Party is unelectable. They will do their best to make it so, but it isn’t true! On the contrary, the latest polling from Lord Ashcroft gives 52% of people agreeing that a ‘radical socialist alternative would be a good thing’.

The population is far to the left of the establishment politicians. For example, 68%, 67% and 66% support renationalisation of the energy companies, the Royal Mail and the railway companies respectively.

The last general election has already shown the popularity of anti-austerity ideas. While ‘austerity-lite’ Labour was almost annihilated in Scotland the SNP, despite implementing austerity policies in Scotland, was able to sweep the board by promising to oppose austerity in Westminster.
Meanwhile, despite hatred for the Con-Dem government, Labour in England and Wales was only able to regain the support of a million of the over four million votes it has lost since 1997.

Disillusioned Labour voters did not, in the overwhelming majority of cases, vote Tory but voted for parties that they saw as protesting against the establishment – or stayed at home and did not vote at all.

Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for nationalisation of rail and the energy companies, a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education, council house building, and repeal of the anti-union laws have already enthused millions.

Nonetheless, the programme Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has presented in his written programme is actually quite limited.

He has raised the popular idea of a ‘people’s QE’ but has not drawn all the conclusions about what would be necessary to implement such a policy.

He merely calls for ‘meaningful regulation of the banking sector’ rather than for nationalisation of the banks under democratic control, for example.

Part of building a successful movement against austerity would be a democratic discussion on how to permanently defeat it.

Within such a discussion the Socialist Party would argue that would require the need for the nationalisation – under democratic working class control – of the major companies and banks that dominate the economy.

Only in this way would it be possible to begin to build a democratic socialist society planned to meet the needs of the majority instead of having, as at present, a society driven by maximising the profits of the 1%.

For councillors who fight the cuts

Local councils will be a central battleground in the struggle to create an anti-austerity party. Jeremy Corbyn has rightly made the call for councils to stand together and refuse to implement government cuts.

Over 450 councillors have signed up to support Jeremy Corbyn. This is significant, but it is barely 6% of the total number of Labour councillors.

Unfortunately, the majority of Labour candidates in the next year’s council elections will still be pro-austerity.

Council services have already been cut by 39%. We cannot accept Labour councillors continuing to slash more.

The experience of Syriza in Greece, where the leadership of an anti-austerity party capitulated to the pressure of big business and is now implementing austerity, shows that defeating austerity requires a determined struggle.

To accept pro-austerity Labour councillors continuing to slash jobs and services would be to prepare the ground for the defeat of the movement that has begun with Jeremy Corbyn’s election.

The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) which was co-founded by Bob Crow the late general secretary of the RMT transport workers’ union in order to stand anti-austerity candidates in elections.

TUSC will assist in next year’s council elections, by supporting Labour candidates who clearly pledge to vote against cuts and at the same time standing against those who say they will continue to axe local services.

For a mass party of the working class

Jeremy Corbyn’s victory has lifted the confidence of all those who oppose austerity and has already dealt a blow to the establishment.

However if the right succeed in containing and undermining him the danger is that those drawn around Corbyn’s campaign will become disillusioned and leave.

If he is removed at any stage it is vital that all the conclusions are drawn about the viability of Labour as a vehicle to continue the struggle against austerity.

We urgently need a mass party for the working class that can spearhead a struggle against austerity. The route to this is not straightforward.

But Jeremy Corbyn’s victory and, above all, the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of anti-austerity young people and workers that have ensured that victory are an important step forward.