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

covyouthclub

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.

 

Advertisements

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

wp-1471526827678.jpg

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’

31701_409682369264_5183836_n

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!