Leading member of UNISON slams Tory hypocrisy

Leading member of UNISON slams Tory hypocrisy

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We have received these comments from Dave Auger, a member of the National Executive Council of UNISON for the West Midlands. Dave was speaking to us in a personal capacity.

“The tax evasion scandal shows the hypocrisy of the Tories, and their claims to be against it, whilst evidence shows they have resisted any attempts to reform tax laws. But more importantly the Panama papers give us a glimpse of the sheer scale of international tax avoidance and evasion (and let’s be honest, only a rich man would argue the difference!).

The capitalist class has hidden £21-32 trillion dollars in tax havens around the world, that’s one third of total global wealth, OUR money! Yet it would only take, it is estimated, $240 billion to end world poverty. Claiming the end of Cameron would be no small victory, but only by ending the current economic system of capitalism can we ensure ALL global wealth is used for the benefit of ordinary people.”

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!

TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge

TUSC candidates sign 38 Degrees NHS pledge 

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38 Degrees campaigners with election candidates including from TUSC

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates attended an event organised by the 38 Degrees campaign against the privatisation of the NHS. Despite Labour’s claim to oppose privatisation, no Labour candidates turned up – nor did any Tories, Lib Dems or UKIP.

The TUSC candidate for Foleshill, Jim Hensman, said “Labour thinks private companies in the NHS should be allowed to make 5% profit – that’s not good enough. TUSC would kick all private companies out of the NHS, and have a fully publicly owned National Health Service, free at the point of use.”

Despite TUSC’s support of 38 Degrees’ stance on a number of issues, including opposing TTIP and NHS privatisation, 38 Degrees have unfortunately refused to include TUSC on their “Vote Match” quiz which shows people which party they most agree with on some issues. This is particularly disappointing given the policies and campaigns of TUSC.

We applaud the work of 38 Degrees for the work they have done in raising awareness of a number of issues, and the local activists from 38 Degrees who work hard to promote some excellent causes, and we will continue to support this where we can. We urge 38 Degrees nationally to start including TUSC in their election campaign – after all, we are standing over 800 candidates in the local and general elections!

Want to help kick private companies out of the NHS? Fill in the form below to get involved!


#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

At Coventry Council’s budget meeting on Tuesday February 24th, the governing Labour group voted unanimously to support a budget containing £15million worth of cuts. These cuts will lead to the closure of libraries, adult education centres, children’s centres, and the sacking of many council workers including lollipop men and women.

The National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), former MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, handed in a 1,500 strong petition against the cuts to the Cabinet meeting held in the morning before the budget “debate”. When presenting the petition, Dave argued that the council should use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign to get the money back from central Government, and campaign for an incoming Government to provide financial relief to councils which used reserves to fund services.

Dave pointed out that the council has doubled its reserves from £40million to £80million, as well as making political decisions to use reserves for the ACL loan (£14million), investing in Coombe Abbey hotel (over £6million) and £millions more in Study Inn sites – “why don’t they make the political decision to use these reserves to fund services we need now, not for projects in 5, 6 or 7 years time?”

“This is nothing new. 40 years ago the Council faced cuts from a Labour Government under the IMF, and the Council leader, Arthur Waugh Sr., called a meeting in St Mary’s Hall of every Labour local authority, to call on the Labour Government not to make cuts.” Dave Nellist

In his brief response to reject the petition, Labour councillor Damian Gannon, Cabinet member for finance, claimed that reserves cannot legally be used – we would strongly challenge this claim, and ask under what law is it illegal for the council to use its own reserves? Even Tory minister Eric Pickles has called on councils to use reserves, and he isn’t known for advocating illegal budgets!

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Mr Gannon also claimed that the majority of the reserves cannot be used – however, even taking into account the £18million set aside for schools, the £10million the council plans to spend on privately-built old people’s homes (which should be built by the council, not private businesses), £4million for Ofsted improvements and around £3.5million that the council has used to fund children’s services and disabled children’s transport (demonstrating that the reserves can be used to fund expenditure!), there is around £45.5million left. Instead of setting this money aside for future projects, or “for a rainy day”, the council should acknowledge that it’s already “raining” and use it now!

If the councillors believed that the election of a Labour Government in May would make a difference, they could begin campaigning now for an incoming Labour Government to reverse all cuts, restore funding to local Government and reimburse any money the council had to use from reserves. However, despite council leader Ann Lucas’ theatrical prayer for a Labour Government in the council chamber, the evidence suggests that they know a Labour Government will act in the same way as the Tories. Perhaps they have heeded the words of their director of finance, Chris West, who said recently that “there is very little difference between the financial plans of the two main parties. Whoever wins the next election, the picture is broadly the same.”

Reflecting on the Cabinet meeting at which the petition was rejected, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist and community campaigner Robert McArdle said “It seems as though Labour councillors are willing to use reserves for anything except fighting cuts, and aren’t prepared to mount a battle against austerity.”

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

Before the budget meeting in the afternoon a group of trade unionists and socialists lobbied the council to ask the councillors going in if they would vote against cuts. Sadly none of the councillors were swayed – we believe this shows the need for an anti-austerity challenge at the next election, to elect councillors who will listen and fight.

The budget meeting was more eventful than most council meetings, particularly as the opposition to cuts throughout was demonstrated by the presentation of 3 petitions against library closures – one of them presented by Labour cllr Ram Lakha, who went on to vote for the budget which will probably lead to the closure of the libraries!

Labour’s Damian Gannon moved the budget, which was described by a Tory cllr as “a Gannon korma not a Nellist vindaloo”! Even this is perhaps flattering to the budget, however, which many people across Coventry will have found hard to swallow.

For the most part the budget consisted of “tangible service cuts that our residents will see and feel”, in cllr Gannon’s own words. However, the proposal of a £500,000 “transition fund” to enable “community groups” to run services was notable. This concept chimes perfectly with David Cameron’s vision of a “big society”, in which the state and local government have ceased to run services and they are instead taken over by volunteers – not the first time that our Labour council has echoed Tory values.

While volunteers can do valuable work, a team of untrained individuals, however dedicated, will not be able to run services as effectively as trained staff. The council is using this fund as a way to distract from the massive damage these cuts will cause. It is also important to ask how much of this £500K will be going to private vultures like PriceWaterhouseCooper, who the council have previously used?

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

Cllr Gannon said that the council has “no choice but to make cuts”, and “has made bold and brave decisions”. A bold and brave decision would be to fight the cuts, not do the Tories’ dirty work!

During council leader Ann Lucas’ speech, despite appealing to the trade unions to work with the council, she attacked their position towards the council as “drivel” and criticised the “outraged middle class” for protesting against cuts. We want the council to work with the trade unions as well – but we want them to work together to fight the cuts, not make them.

Coventry Council does have a choice. They could use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign against cuts – but they’ve chosen instead to make ordinary people pay with our jobs and services. Cllr Gannon rightly said that the Tories are “on the side of the few not the many” – but which side are Labour on?

The Socialist Party will keep building the campaign against austerity within the trade unions, in our communities and in elections as part of TUSC . We will also campaign against the capitalist system, the cause of austerity – and replace it with a socialist system, run by the millions not the millionaires.

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Coventry Council announced today that disabled children’s transport to school will continue to be funded for at least another year, after protests over the planned cuts.

Over 50 people protested last month outside the Council House, including Socialist Students and TUSC activists as well as members of Warwick for Free Education. The protest was organised by community campaigner and DPAC member Eleanor Lisney.

This victory shows that protest and pressure works, and councils can be forced to back down over planned cuts – however, as the funding has only been guaranteed for another year it shows the importance of keeping that pressure up, both in terms of protest and electoral challenges to councillors who continue to vote for cuts.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

It is urgent that the Council use the £80million+ reserves to stop any cuts to buy time to build a mass fightback in the city, linking up with other councils, to demand proper funding from central Government.

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Around 60 protesters lobbied Coventry Council today in protest at their planned cuts to disabled children’s transport to school. These cuts could leave many children unable to get to school, as many families may be unable to pay for the transport required. Activists from the Socialist Party,the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students attended the demonstration, which was organised by Eleanor Lisney, a local campaigner and member of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Coventry’s Labour Council is choosing to carry out Tory cuts rather than fighting back and passing a budget that meets the needs of the people of Coventry.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

They should use some of the £81million they have in reserves to fund services temporarily, while building a campaign with service users, trade unions and community groups to demand central Government provides the money to fund the services we need.

For coverage in the Coventry Telegraph click here

Boris Johnson – Super rich a ‘put upon minority’

Comment of the day: Boris Johnson – Super rich a ‘put upon minority’

Even less taxes for the rich!

Even less taxes for the rich!

Many people today will have seen the comments by Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, claiming that the super-rich are some sort of oppressed ‘put upon’ minority. We can say that Johnson is at least half right. They are indeed a minority, a tiny minority, the 1 per cent, that he and his Tory party of millionaires represents, and they and their capitalist system are bleeding working class people dry.

The article published on the politics.co.uk website (and many other sites) explains how under Johnson that the number of rough sleepers in London have doubled in the capital over the last 5 years. Many people in London and up and down the country are facing eviction due to the bedroom tax, with ordinary people paying for the crisis causes by the minority at the top. How many of his rich buddies have been evicted recently? So to say that the rich and the homeless are both oppressed minorities is truly something else.

Wages have in real terms got worse, with the cost of living rising. He states that the rich should be given further tax breaks! Despite his ‘fluffiness’ Johnson has shown again exactly what he is, a  vicious representative of the rich minority.

We in the Socialist Party will make no apology for criticising the banks, the city financiers and their lackeys in the 3 Westminster establishment parties. But we go further. We need to build a political alternative not just to individuals like Johnson and the bankers, but the entire capitalist system. We want a socialist society, where production is based on fulfilling human need not private profit.

Help us to fight for such a society, by applying to join the Socialist Party today. Click here

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

On the picket line at Radford

On the picket line at Radford

FBU members took strike action today against attacks on their pensions. Across the country firefighters walked out between 12-4pm, including here in Coventry.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party reported from the picket line

‘There was a very determined mood amongst FBU members today. They’re been told to pay even higher pension contributions and to work longer. The Tories have told younger firefighters I met on the picket line that they have to work 40 years now for a full pension compared to existing staff’s 30 years. Firefighters will now have to work to 60 (would you want a 60 year old having to climb up a burning building to rescue you?).

Oh, and the head of the West Midlands Fire Service retires (from a desk job!) in November. He’s 53 years old!’

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40th anniversary of bloody overthrow of Allende government

In re-building a socialist movement, lessons of coup need to be learnt

Tony Saunois, Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI)

 The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001 was not the first ’9/11’. In Chile, on 11 September 1973, a bloody coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet and backed by the US administration, overthrew the democratically-elected, Left government of President Salvador Allende. In its aftermath, thousands of trade unionists and socialists were slaughtered and thousands more imprisoned, tortured and exiled.

On the fortieth anniversary of the coup, Chile is embarking on a new presidential election scheduled for 17 November 2013. Following a massive student movement, which has continued to rock the country, the first possible important steps are being taken to rebuild an alternative for the working class.

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The two main political blocks, the ‘New Majority’ and the ‘Alliance’, both represent the existing ruling elite. They have offered no alternative for the working class and poor of Chile. The parties of the “left”, like the Socialist Party and Communist Party, have long since abandoned the radical left ideas they adhered to during the Allende-era. Like there counterparts internationally, these parties have embraced capitalism and the market and offer no alternative to the working masses.

Former President Michelle Bachelet of the Socialist Party and New Majority coalition is standing again, as no other credible candidate emerged from the former governing coalition. Bachelet is the daughter of air force General Bachelet, who supported Allende and died under torture following the coup.

The right-wing Alliance is fielding Evelyn Metthei, daughter of former Pinochet junta member, General Matthei.

Neither candidate offers anything but a continuation of neo-liberal policies. Yet also running in this election is Marcel Claude, the candidate of the Humanist Party and Left Alliance. Defending the students’ movement, demanding free quality education for all, and re-nationalisation of the copper industry, banks and big monopolies, Claude’s campaign has drawn big crowds and won enthusiastic support from workers and young people. The campaign represents an important step forward in re-building the workers’ and socialist movement. To build on this and to take it forward following the November election, the lessons from the bloody coup 40 years ago need to be learnt by a new generation. The reasons for the defeat 40 years ago are relevant for the workers and youth of Chile and all countries.

Tony Saunois, 11 September 2013

To read about the background to the coup and the lessons workers and youth must draw from it, we are re-publishing,

‘The other 9/11 – 1973 bloody coup against Popular Unity government, lessons for today’, by Tony Saunois, written in 2011.

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