Protesters lobby Coventry council against cuts

Protesters lobby Coventry council against cuts

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Photo from Cov Telegraph

Protesters from trade unions, community groups and anti-cuts campaigners held a lobby of Coventry Council to protest against the budget passed yesterday.

UNISON Branch Secretary Sarah Feeney spoke and called on the council to use the £84million they have in reserves – a sum which they have increased by £3.5million in the last 12 months – to fund services and build a campaign against the cuts.

Dave Nellist spoke representing Coventry Against the Cuts and called on council workers to take action to defend their jobs – and their terms and conditions, which are also being threatened by the council – and echoed the call for the council to fight the cuts. “By the end of this Parliament 80p in every £1 of this city’s budget will have been robbed by the Tories in London, so that bankers can have the same Christmas bonuses this year as they did in the year they caused the financial crash.”

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Local Labour Cllr Pervez Akhtar then spoke and said that Labour councillors are “at pains” because of the cuts, but said they had no choice and they would not set an illegal budget. While it is welcome that Cllr Akhtar came and spoke – other councillors have not done so – he unfortunately misrepresented the position advocated by the groups assembled. We are not calling for an illegal budget to be set, we are calling for the council to pass a legal no-cuts budget by using the money they have in reserves. Of course Labour councillors do not want to make cuts – and we want to work with them to fight the Tories, rather than fighting them while they pass on Tory cuts.

These cuts will mean more job losses, play centres being closed, libraries opening hours reduced and council workers terms and conditions being threatened. We need to fight back.

 

Poll shows that Socialism is on the rise!

Poll shows that Socialism is on the rise!

Socialism Rising

Socialism Rising

After the 2015 General Election many people will be understandably wary of polls, and for good reason.

However a poll released by YouGov certainly makes for interesting, and encouraging reading. A survey of 3905 people showed that British people are keener on Socialism than Capitalism and that 36% of people have a very favourable or somewhat favourable opinion of Socialism compared to 33% who have a very favourable or somewhat favourable opinion of Capitalism.

In the same survey, almost 1 in 5 people described themselves as Socialists.

As ever these poll findings should be treated carefully. No doubt what people understand as Socialism will vary greatly. But what we can say is that this confirms something we have said for a long time, Socialism is far from dead, on the contrary it is on the rise.

Hardly surprising given that it was announced earlier this year that the 62 richest people in the world own as much wealth as half of the world’s population put together.

So if you are one of the growing number of people looking at Socialism as an alternative to global capitalist crisis, why don’t you get in touch to join us or find out more? Change won’t just happen, we have to get organised. Fill in the form below!

 

Lobby Coventry Council against cuts

Lobby Coventry Council against cuts

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UNISON members marching against austerity

Coventry TUC has organised a protest outside the council house on Tuesday 23rd, when Coventry Council will set the budget for the next year. The planned budget includes proposals to close libraries and reduce their opening hours, close Edgwick and Eagle St play centres, close public toilets and cut another 1000 council jobs.

UNISON, the largest union on Coventry Council, is calling on the council to pass a legal no-cuts budget, using the £84million+ the council has in reserves to avoid making cuts and to build a campaign to win more money for local services.

The protest is outside the council house from 1pm on Tuesday 23rd February.

Ann Lucas told – cut cake, not libraries!

Ann Lucas told – cut cake, not libraries!

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Protesters highlighting Lucas’ record of cuts

Library campaigners protested against Cllr Ann Lucas at an event last week. Sarah Smith was one of them, and she wrote this report.

February 10th marked the 30th birthday of Central Library, and the guest of honour at the celebration was Cllr Ann Lucas – leader of Coventry City Council. She proudly cut a cake to celebrate – despite her leading the council that’s cutting our libraries!

All libraries are still threatened with closure, and under the current plans almost all libraries other than Central will be closing on a Wednesday and Sunday, and Central will be closing an hour earlier. Willenhall and Arena library are both being moved to cheaper buildings, 35 library jobs will be cut and the mobile library is being scrapped altogether.

We at Save Coventry Libraries went to the event to tell Ann Lucas to cut the cake but not the libraries. We had a peaceful protest to highlight the hypocrisy of Coventry City Council.We were thanked and supported by a number of people in the audience at the event – and we will carry on fighting for our libraries!

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.”

 

Xmas greetings from Coventry Socialist Party

Xmas greetings from Coventry Socialist Party

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One of the protests against cuts earlier in 2015

Coventry Socialist Party would like to send Xmas greetings to all members and supporters in what has been a busy 2015. We would like to thank all those who have helped us during the year, whether you were one of the thousands of people who voted for us in the Local or General elections in May, donated to our fighting fund, supported one of our many campaigns or who helped in any other way.

It has been another challenging year for working class people as capitalist austerity continues to hit ordinary people here in Coventry, across the UK and all over the world.

However 2015 has seen alternatives to austerity and the idea of fighting back become more prominent. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, the rise of PODEMOS in Spain and Bernie Sanders in the US shows there is an appetite for anti-corporate policies and anti-establishment movements.  Not only that, the re-election of Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant in Seattle shows there is a growing mood not just for anti-corporate politics but for bold socialist policies to challenge capitalism.  Read this Guardian article where Kshama explains why Socialism is becoming more popular

2016 in Coventry will see continued and deeper threats to our jobs and services. The Socialist Party will be part of the campaigns to defend our services and communities, whilst putting forward the need for a socialist alternative to end the nightmare of capitalism.

Help us build the forces of Marxism by donating to our fighting fund or by joining the struggle for Socialism!

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.