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

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

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Marching against cuts to youth clubs in Coventry

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

An election day message from Dave Nellist and Coventry Socialist Party

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC

The last time I voted Labour in a general election was thirty years ago, in 1987.  I was expelled by the party just before the 1992 election for refusing to back down in my opposition to the Poll Tax and for refusing to disassociate myself from those in the Militant who were the main (and successful) organisers against it.

Seven years ago I helped co-found, with Bob Crow, the late elected leader of the transport union the RMT, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition because you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the any of main political parties.  All stood for making ordinary people pay for the recession of 2008 triggered by the gambling and speculation of the banks.

Well now, in this election, you can tell the difference between the Labour and the Tory leaders.

Putting my old backbench colleague Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10 Downing Street today would make a major change to so many people’s lives in Coventry.

If Jeremy wins today thousands of 17 and 18 year olds in our city could wake up tomorrow morning knowing they could go to university in September without the fear of a £50,000 debt at the end of three years – and with an acceleration of housebuilding, they could look with more confidence at having their own home in the future.

People in low-paid work could look forward to a 50% pay rise, as the national minimum wage is raised to a more decent level of £10 an hour.

Health workers, teachers, police and council workers – in fact all in the public sector – could look forward to an actual pay rise as Labour has promised to scrap the 1% cap on public sector pay increases, which has been in place for the last five years whilst inflation has eroded the real value of that pay.

And some workers at Walsgrave Hospital, paying hundreds of pounds a year to park at work, could benefit by another pay rise when hospital car parking charges are scrapped –and many thousands of familes would be freed from a charge to visit sick relatives or friends.

Those and many other changes – for example ending the cuts in education and health, giving the public ownership again of rail, mail, water and parts of the energy industries –  could give a glimpse of a different way of running society, the first steps in a socialist direction.

And it wouldn’t be ordinary people paying the price, rich corporations and the richest 5% in the country would have to shoulder more of the burden they’ve escaped in recent years – their taxes would go up, but not for the 95% majority.

So voting Labour in Coventry could make a huge difference today; and I’ve not been able to say that for thirty years.

Now that’s not to say I agree with everything Labour’s doing.  I think they were wrong not to support Scottish independence linked to a socialist programme (and they have lost 50 seats because of it); they were wrong not to stand in the traditions of Tony Benn and Bob Crow and argue for a socialist Brexit last June; they should be promising an end to all council cuts for example in libraries, youth clubs and community centres; and I certainly don’t support spending £200 billion over the next 30 years on a replacement to the Trident nuclear missile system.

But Teresa May and the Tories stand for more austerity – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories stand for low pay, student debts, housing shortages and worsening health and education – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

Teresa May and the Tories would let rich individuals like Richard Branson and wealthy corporations own our essential public services, such as rail, mail, water and energy – Jeremy Corbyn would challenge that.

But for Jeremy’s challenges to succeed – when the whole of the press, media and Establishment would try to undermine his efforts – he’s going to need more help even than your vote today.

Just like we’ve marched on the streets to defend the NHS or oppose the war in Iraq, we’re going to have to organise to defend Jeremy if he gets into No. 10 from the powerful rich vested interests that don’t want you to have free health and education, higher wages and more secure employment, decent homes and a future to look forward to – if it means their profits and rich lifestyles have to pay for it.

We need to build a powerful socialist organisation in Britain that can take the fight for a new socialist society forward, whoever wins on June 8th. The Socialist Party is trying to do that.

So, vote Labour in Coventry today, and let’s get Jeremy into No. 10.  And join us in the Socialist Party to fight for a socialist future. Fill in the form below!

We are holding a public meeting to do discuss the election results and how we can continue the fight on Tuesday 13th June, 7.30pm at Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. The Facebook event is here. 

 

 

 

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Rob speaking at the Day X student demo with Lenny

Today marks five years since the untimely passing of Socialist Party member and Coventry councillor Rob Windsor (1964-2012). The following tribute was written by Lenny Shail.

Rob was a well known stalwart of Militant and the Socialist Party who played a leading role in innumerable campaigns over the years, not least the monumental anti-Poll Tax campaign which helped to organise millions of people to defeat the tax and Thatcher. He was also an elected Socialist Party Councillor in St Michael’s ward in Coventry, a position he used with fellow Socialist Councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay to advance the interests of ordinary people in Coventry and further afield.

I was 18 when I first met Rob at a Socialist Party meeting in Hillfields, not really sure what exactly I had joined or what I was meant to do. Rob came darting over to me at the end to talk to me, he had just come back from the Isle of Wight where he had been supporting striking Vestas workers. I was amazed by his stories of what he had got up to and how he had been sleeping on a roundabout down there!

Rob speaking at Vestas in the Isle of Wight

Rob always took the time to talk and discuss with anyone who showed an interest in fighting for the working class or who was new to the Socialist Party. I was lucky to spend many hours – if not days! – pounding the streets of St Michaels and other working class areas of Coventry with Rob, and throughout 2009 and 2010 we built towards the 2010 general election and fought for Rob’s seat in the local election.

Rob led by example to the many new young members getting active at that time. While Rob was a tireless fighter for any improvement in the lives of working class people, however basic, he would always strive to raise and link any fight to need for a socialist change of society. I remember knocking doors and building for local public meetings on parking schemes, hospital parking charges and local service closures while in between doors Rob would be rabbiting on to me and other young comrades about Trotsky’s role in the struggle to defend the Russian Revolution after 1917 .

Rob had a tremendous talent to explain and convince anyone of of even the most complex of socialist ideas. Be it a strike, local community meeting, a complex international situation – Rob always seemed to know what had to be said and what needed to be done. At the many rallies, meetings, hustings he demonstrated to us young socialists coming through how to raise and make the ideas of socialist revolution as simple as clicking your fingers. I remember at one hustings he was asked if he was religious or believed in God. Rob’s answer was that he “believed in working class people, coming together in their millions to fight for a world run in their interests and needs”. Rob always hammered this confidence and potential in the working class to us “younguns” at the time and always pushed and encouraged us to speak ourselves rather than just leave it to him at any event.

As a fresh, energetic young activist working with Rob and others week in week out was always fun with some amazing laughs and experiences, but when needed to he would also be extremely detailed and serious. In his last few years despite his health affecting his ability to contribute to the day to day struggles, Rob still did whatever he could to help and especially to to assist me and other young comrades who were starting to play more leading roles and organising stuff ourselves.

Rob holding aloft unpaid Poll Tax bills outside the Council House!

In Autumn 2010 a huge student movement swept across Britain in response to the tripling of student fees and cut of EMA. In early October at Warwick Uni, on the day the Browne Review which announced the proposal was released, we took a punt and organised the first protest anywhere in country – no one knew at that stage how big the movement would become! I was nervous as hell, having never organised anything like it before. Rob rocked up out of the blue, having got out of work to come down and help us out. He gave us a blistering speech on the megaphone as he always did but it was the time he took to speak and advise us on what we should put forward, slogans and demands that made such an impression. Over the course of the next couple months, every week there was some sort of protest or demo we organised, at Warwick, Cov Uni and City College. Rob was at all of them, to help us out and back us up, but looking back it was clear he was also excited himself to see a whole new generation of fighters coming through and into activity. He was quite happy to stand back and just watch us get on with the job with his advice – but it was his contribution at the magnificent school student walkout we organised in Coventry on Day X, the day the vote went through parliament, that I pretty much base every talk or speech I do on!

We led a march of around 200 students through the City Centre and to Speakers Corner outside the Council House. The energy and excitement was nothing like we had experienced and we were sort of making it up as we went along, not knowing if anyone would even show up beforehand! After a few speeches from some of the students and the Socialist Students organisers, we passed the megaphone to Rob who I think gave us all goosebumps with his praise for what all those who had walked out had done and how we had “exploded onto the scene of history” and taken the first steps in the struggle to transform the world along socialist lines.

Rob was a reluctant leader, but his ability and talent to understand complex law and theories, to inspire and explain pushed him to the front of any meeting or protest. He was a great mate and mentor, but he could do your head in sometimes with his timing skills and ability to somehow crumple any paperwork you gave him!

He was a tremendous class fighter, Marxist and revolutionary who put fighting against the exploitation of others ahead of himself, someone who did all he could to inspire, develop and train a new generation of working class fighters and Marxists; ready, as Rob often put it, for the “mighty and bigger battles to come”.

Click here for an obituary written by Dave Griffiths, who worked with Rob for over 25 years.

If you would like to make a donation to the Socialist Party in memory of Rob, please click here.

Rob was a longstanding member of the Socialist Party. To find out more or join us please 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.

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

Tom Watson attacks the Trotskyists

Tom Watson attacks the Trotskyists

Militant poster

Militant poster

Recent days have seen the deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson, as part of the campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn attack the Socialist Party, labeling us as Trotskyists. But who was Trotsky, and what is Trotskyism?

Leon Trotsky was a leader of the Russian Revolution, the first time that the working class successfully took power. When the Russian Revolution degenerated and a bureaucratic regime came in to being headed up by Joseph Stalin, it was Leon Trotsky who fought against Stalin to defend the original aims of the Russian Revolution – standing up for world revolution and for workers democracy. Trotsky, and innumerable supporters of the ideas of genuine socialism ultimately sacrificed their lives in the fight against Stalin. Indeed Trotsky was assassinated by a Stalinist agent.

The Socialist Party is proud to stand in the tradition of Leon Trotsky – Watson thinks it is a term of abuse. In our view it is a badge of honour.

Our party, and our forerunner organisation the Militant, has a proud record of fighting for ordinary people . For example helping to organise the historic fight against Thatcher’s poll tax which not only beat the hated tax but also got rid of the so called Iron Lady, campaigning against PFI and privatisation in our NHS and stopping evictions due to the hated Tory Bedroom tax. These are just a few examples. There are many more.

We fight against the cuts and austerity, but also against the capitalist system itself and put forward a socialist alternative not just in this country but across the world.

People like Tom Watson, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock hate Trotskyists and genuine socialists – because we believe that the Labour Party and the trade unions should be under the control of the members, not Blairites who have no interest in standing up for ordinary people. The effort that they went to in expelling Dave Nellist from the Labour Party shows the lengths they will go to.

We invite everyone to look at this article from the national website of the Socialist Party to find out more about the real ideas of Leon Trotsky.

Importantly, now more than ever we need the ideas and programme of Marxism, Trotskyism and genuine democratic socialism to defend Jeremy Corbyn and to build the fight against capitalism.

We urge you to fill in the form below to find out more and get involved!

 

 

Socialist Party statement on the Livingstone suspension

Socialist Party statement on the Livingstone suspension: ‘Slow coup’ against Jeremy Corbyn

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Ken and Jeremy (picture from the Huffington Post)

By Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party. Hannah will be speaking at this event in May, in Coventry
The furore around charges of anti-Semitism engulfing the Labour Party is, in reality, an orchestrated and cynical new stage of the campaign by the right-wing pro-capitalist wing of the Labour Party to try and prepare the ground for ditching Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest possible opportunity.

It is not possible to tell what the timescale will be, but this has all the hallmarks of a slow coup.

Iain Watson, the BBC’s Political Correspondent, reports a Labour MP telling him a week before this broke publicly that: “There is a lot more in this anti-Semitism issue – a lot more. And the people we will take out are all close to Corbyn.”

Jeremy Corbyn was elected less than a year ago by a landslide; having enthused hundreds of thousands of people with his anti-austerity policies.

The Blairites were trounced and these 4.5%ers were horrified at the prospect of Labour – a party whose leadership had loyally acted in the interests of big business for decades – being reclaimed by the working class.

Backed to the hilt by big business and the right-wing media, they are dedicating all their time and energy into once again making Labour a party that can be relied on to act in the interests of the 1%.

Compromise no solution

As we have repeatedly warned, no amount of attempts to compromise with the right wing that dominates the parliamentary Labour Party will pacify them.

On the contrary it only emboldens them. Nor are there any limits to the levels they will stoop to. MPs like Jess Phillips, who declared she would happily knife Jeremy Corbyn in the front, or John Mann, who has attempted to discredit Corbyn with the most scurrilous lies since the moment his name appeared on the ballot paper, will be prepared to use any means necessary to achieve their goal.

Hence an attempt is being made to equate criticism of the right-wing Israeli government with anti-Semitism and to smear the whole of the left with the charge.

This has included an outrageous attempt to smear the Militant, now the Socialist Party. The slur was made on Newsnight by former leading SDP member Baroness Neuberger.

She has since admitted that she has ‘no written evidence’ but based her accusation on the reports of ‘personal friends/acquaintances’! In fact Militant (and now the Socialist Party) has always fought against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, and has a very longstanding position of supporting the right of two states – Israel and Palestine – to exist side by side, which would be possible on a socialist basis.

We have a sister organisation in Israel Palestine that takes the same stance and heroically campaigns against the Israeli government.

Unfortunately, this is not the position of many others on the left. We would criticise Ken Livingstone for his crass remarks mentioning Zionism and Hitler, which were greeted with glee by the right wing because they gave them an opportunity to step up their attack.

However, Jeremy Corbyn made a mistake when, rather than just making clear his disagreement with Livingstone’s remarks, he acceded to the frenzied demands of the right to suspend him from the party.

No action against John Mann

At the same time no action has been taken against John Mann for his brutal public provocation of Livingstone other than a supposed ‘dressing down’ by Rosie Winterton, the right-wing Labour chief whip.

In fact, as the capitalist class’s mouthpiece, the Financial Times (FT), reported, far from being punished, Mann had “Labour MPs…lining up to pat him on the back”.

The FT added that: “One party insider said the row was indeed a proxy for the left-right split within the Labour party. ‘You go to party conference and all the leftwingers are at the Friends of Palestine event and the right are all at the Friends of Israel drinks’.”

They conclude that: “Mr Corbyn is now under pressure from his critics to make a big speech on anti-Semitism with a promise to stamp it out; for the Labour leader, making good on that promise is the politically dangerous part.” The right intend to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Corbyn to denounce all those on the left who have criticised the right wing Israeli government.

Badge of honour

Meanwhile, voting for bombing Iraq or Syria will, in their view, continue to be badges of honour.

It would be a serious mistake for the Labour leadership to retreat in the face of this onslaught. Many of those who were enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign can see this onslaught for what it is and will be eager to come to his defence.

Outrageously, leaders of Momentum, initially set up to organise those very people, have cravenly gone along with the attacks by the right.

Unfortunately this has been the trend – from refusing to campaign for deselection to attempting to exclude non-Labour Party members, including the Socialist Party, from Momentum.

But by supporting Livingstone’s suspension and demanding he should permanently “exit politics” Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, has shown he is incapable of organising a movement to effectively defend Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the Labour right.

It is urgent that the lessons of this incident are learned. As we have consistently pointed out it will only be possible to defeat the right by mobilising the anti-austerity movement in a mass, democratic movement.

To succeed this cannot be led by those who see the way forward within the narrow and undemocratic constraints of the existing Labour Party and whose approach is for endless compromise with the pro-austerity warmongers that dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Instead it means building a movement – organised on federal lines – that brings together all of those workers, young people and community activists who have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn and want to see a determined anti-capitalist party. The Socialist Party will do all we can to assist in the building of such a movement.

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.