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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/3419

Posted on 21 November 2007 at 19:07 GMT

The Socialist Party is campaigning as part of TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, in the 2010 UK general election

* TUSC - Trade unionist and socialist coalition: important step towards a new workers' party

* Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition website


In 2009 the Socialist Party participated in No2EU, the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) sponsored coalition.

All No2EU articles


Election manifesto 2007

Standing for the millions

not the millionaires

Socialist Party 2007 election manifesto

Socialist Party 2007 election manifesto

Stop the endless cuts in jobs and services

Say No to New Labour's tax and cut policies!

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS on strike 1 May 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

While the government is busy taking backhanders from big business; local services are being cut to the bone in every area of the country.

Yet since 1997 the council tax has increased in real terms by more than 80%. Millions struggle to pay ever-rising council tax bills while local authorities use the courts and the bailiffs to retrieve arrears.

The council tax is a deeply unfair, regressive tax where the poor pay most. Those living in the most expensive properties pay only three times as much as the lowest. This means that the Blairs, with an income of at least £450,000, pay less than £1500 in council tax.

The government tries to claim that rises in council tax have nothing to do with them, but they're lying.

Councils only raise 25% of their income from council tax, while 75% comes from central government. So a small increase in council spending or, more likely, a cut in the central government grant, results in a high council tax increase. In addition, under New Labour the government grant is tied by a thousand strings to specific spending projects, mainly linked to privatisation. This leaves local councils with a pittance to spend on providing basic local services.

But local councils are not blameless. Whether Labour, Liberal or Tory they have wholeheartedly accepted a diet of cuts, privatisation and council tax increases. A socialist council would set a 'needs budget' based not on the dictats of central government, but on the needs of local people. We would then launch a mass campaign to demand the necessary funds from central government.

For a budget to meet peoples' needs

Lewisham demonstration against destructive school policies, photo Paul Mattsson

Lewisham demonstration against destructive school policies, photo Paul Mattsson

For example, last year in Stoke on Trent Socialist Party councillors proposed a 'No Cuts in Jobs and Services - No Privatisation' budget. This budget called for no cuts in jobs and services, an end to the freeze on job replacements, no privatisation, and no increase in council tax together with a broad-based campaign to fight for the return of money taken by years of government cuts.

New Labour councillor, John Beech, raged that this budget would "send out the wrong message" and claimed: "We got elected to do a job". But no-one votes for councillors because they want to see cuts in jobs, services and increases in council tax.


Vote Socialist Alternative

We say to the many thousands of councillors who are voting through cuts in services around the country –

"if you are not prepared to fight for the people you were elected to represent, stand aside for those that are. "

And we say to the millions who are fed up with endless cuts –

"if you want councillors who are going to stand up for you – to fight against tax increases and cuts in services – you should vote Socialist Alternative wherever we are standing on 3 May. "

We also support all other genuine anti-cuts and anti-privatisation candidates, and are standing in an electoral coalition with other socialists and campaigners called the Socialist Green Unity Coalition.

If you are an anti-cuts campaigner or trade unionist who is reading this and feeling frustrated because you are in an area where your only 'choice' in this election is between the big business parties we appeal to you to join us in the struggle for socialism and consider convincing your campaign to contest the elections on 'no cuts, no privatisation' platform.

All Socialist Party members who are elected to public positions take only the average wage of a skilled worker. While Blair has a £4 million mortgage Socialist Party MPs and councillors live the same lifestyles as the working-class people who put them into office.


Campaign for a New Workers

Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Campaign for a New Workers Party (CNWP) conference 2007

Campaign for a New Workers Party (CNWP) conference 2007

The Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) was launched in 2006.

It brings together socialists, community and trade union activists who believe that New Labour today – whether led by Blair or Brown – is an out-and-out party of the billionaires, and want to see the formation of a new mass party of a totally different kind – a party that fights for working-class people – not for the fat cats.

So far more than 45 trade union National Executive Committee members and 2,500 activists have signed up to support the campaign.

The CNWP is holding its second national conference on Saturday 12 May.

The conference will bring socialists and anti-cuts and anti-privatisation campaigners together with trade union activists to discuss the way forward after the local elections.

www.cnwp.org.uk

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference 2007

All welcome!

Saturday 12 May 2007 12 – 5 pm

(registration starts at 11 am)

University College London, Gower St

Nearest tubes Euston, Euston Square and Goodge ST

[Editor's note 29/5/08: The 2007 conference is of course closed but the 2008 conference is on Sunday 29 June 10am - 5pm, South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London NW1. Nearest Rail/Tube stations - Kings Cross/St Pancras, Euston, Mornington Crescent To buy tickets go to www.cnwp.org.uk]


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Stop NHS cuts and privatisation!

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

In the last year over 20,000 NHS jobs have been cut.

Hospitals, emergency departments and wards are being closed.

The NHS was one of the great achievements of the 1945 Labour government.

New Labour is systematically destroying it.

The basic premise of the NHS – that free, high quality, health care should be available to all – is being rapidly eroded.

Meanwhile big business is raking in the profits from the NHS at our expense.

Firstly, they have made a mint from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

Even the Commons public accounts committee branded the refinancing of Norfolk and Norwich hospital PFI scheme as "the unacceptable face of capitalism" because it increased big businesses rate of return from 16% to 60%.

Doctors demonstrate March 2007, photo Naomi Byron

Doctors demonstrate March 2007, photo Naomi Byron

Norfolk and Norwich hospital's experience is typical. Overall business is expected to reap £3.3 billion in profits from PFI. And at the same time, the extra cost of private (as opposed to public) sector borrowing means that PFI costs the public purse an average of 40% more than the same hospital would built in the public sector.

In other words, PFI results in a direct money transfusion from our services into the pockets of big business.

And now, New Labour is qualitatively expanding privatisation of the NHS with the introduction of foundation hospitals and privately run Direct Treatment Centres (DTCs).

They're all the same!

The Tory Party, which began the current dismantling of the NHS when it was in office, is now trying to pose as defender of the NHS, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Both their and the Liberal Democrats policies are virtually identical to those of New Labour.

Cameron's chief policy strategist, Oliver Letwin, blurted out the truth to the Sunday Times, when he explained that the Tories, like New Labour, oppose any limits on private companies running parts of the NHS.

Step up the fight back! For a mass national demo!

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Only by protesting can we halt the attacks on the NHS.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already taken part in local NHS protests against cuts.

The Socialist Party is campaigning they should be brought together into a massive national demonstration against health cuts and privatisation, as a step towards further national action, including strike action.

The leadership of UNISON, the public sector trade union, has now said it will call a national demonstration in October – however, we are continuing to argue for an earlier demonstration – in June or July.

A socialist programme for the NHS

A socialist policy for the NHS would mean an immediate end to privatisation and a reversal of all the privatisation already introduced.

However, this does not mean that we just want to go back to the NHS of a decade or more ago.

The NHS needs to be democratically run with the full involvement of NHS workers and users.

It also needs to be better integrated (between hospitals, primary care, community care, social services, dentistry etc) in order to give people the best possible service.

All charges for health care, including for dentistry and eye-care, should be completely abolished.

How could this be paid for?

A socialist government would redirect money currently spent on war and occupation into the health service.

We would also take the pharmaceutical and drug companies into democratic public ownership.

In 2002, the wealth of the global pharmaceutical industry was estimated at $406 billion.

It is a closely guarded secret exactly how hefty a chunk of the billions the pharmaceutical companies make in profit comes from their sales to the NHS, but there is no doubt that it would save the NHS billions if it didn't have to buy drugs from the drug profiteers.

In addition, a nationalised pharmaceutical industry would direct research at finding cures for diseases and developing treatments for less common illnesses which the current drugs industry ignores – because it is not profitable to do otherwise.

At the same time a socialist government would carry out measures to increase living standards – such as a decent living pension, increased annually and linked to earnings, and the right to a job with a living wage for all.

It should not be underestimated how much such measures would improve peoples' health.

Ill health remains a class issue – even according to government statistics, low-paid workers are almost three times as likely to suffer from chronic ill health as high-level managers.


The right to a decent home

A high-quality, affordable home is one of the most crucial elements of a decent standard of living.

If effects every aspect of our lives. Recently, a research programme compared the health of the residents before and after a major renovation of an estate in Hackney, London.

Just having their existing homes refurbished meant that residents' health improved and they made 30% fewer visits to the doctor.

Yet a high-quality, affordable home is a right now denied to most of us.
Half a million people are literally homeless.

But the problem is much wider than that - there are now more than a million adults who are still living with their parents – even though they are approaching 40!

As house prices soar, it is impossible for many young people to stretch to a mortgage – on average, the lowest-paid quarter of the population would have to earn five times their current wages to buy a property.

Private sector renting is all that is available to increasing numbers of people. Millions of people are being forced to live in sub-standard, overcrowded private rented housing – a return to the Rachmanite landlords of the 1960s.

And private sector rents are following house prices into the stratosphere.

We campaign for the reintroduction of rent officers with the power to force landlords to charge a fair rent.

Stop the sell off – defend council housing

To begin to solve the housing crisis local authorities need to provide affordable, secure, good-quality public housing to be provided for all those who want it.

After all, from 1949–54 an average of 230,000 council houses were built per year.

The Socialist Party is campaigning for a programme on a similar scale that would refurbish existing stock and build enough new homes to genuinely solve the housing problem.

In complete contrast to a socialist policy New Labour is hell bent on worsening the housing crisis.

They are attempting to systematically sell-off what remains of council housing. Although they haven't yet met their target of selling off 200,000 homes a year, they have succeeded in selling off more council houses in the nine years they've been in office than the Tories managed to sell off in 18 years!


Crime

New Labour claims to be 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime'.

It is neither.

It is true that record numbers of people are being locked up, many for crimes of poverty, such as inability to pay extortionate council tax bills.

But on the other hand last year Britain's 54 billionaires paid an average of 0.12% of their income in taxes.

Others, mainly young people, who have been 'ASBOED' are being sent to prison without having ever being convicted of a crime.

Yet no matter how many people New Labour locks up violent crime is still increasing in many parts of the country.

The Socialist Party is opposed to all criminal and anti-social behaviour, and supports democratic community action to tackle these problems.

It is working-class communities, young and old, that bear the brunt of crime.

The super-rich have always been able to protect their homes and goods with sophisticated security measures.

Now they can go one better and 'rent a cop'! Several police forces, while complaining about being under-staffed, are renting out their services to the rich.

In Devon and Cornwall, for example, you can have a constable for £350 a day or a chief inspector for £365.

Meanwhile many ordinary people no longer bother to phone the police when they are burgled, because they know that nothing will be done.

At the same time, in working-class communities throughout Britain, nothing is being done to provide young people with the hope of a decent future – a good education, a good job and a decent home.

Youth clubs and other facilities are being closed down.

Yet there is no doubt that the provision of such basic rights would prevent the vast majority of a new generation being sucked into crime.

To really defend local communities you have to provide decent public services

All the mainstream parties' election propaganda centres on the importance of local communities – yet their policies, at local and national level, are destroying local communities.

Under New Labour 3,000 local Post Offices are closed or threatened with closure. When Post Offices close local communities lose a vital local service.

Every kind of service that helps local communities to function is under attack – from nurseries, to youth clubs, to libraries.

In the first six months of this year alone, 21 (1.4%) of the country's libraries have closed, five are due to close and 67 are under review for closure according to figures in the Bookseller magazine.


No to the BNP!

The far-right, racist British National Party (BNP) claims that it is on the side of working people.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

The BNP is a racist party that lays the blame for the problems local communities face – poor housing, privatisation and council service cuts – at the door of ethnic minorities and asylum seekers. This is easy for the BNP, after all, the government and the tabloid press use the same kind of propaganda.

By whipping up racism the BNP diverts blame from the real culprits for the problems of working-class communities – big business, the government and local councils.

Whenever the BNP has been elected it has done nothing to fight for the local people it claims to represent.

In Burnley, the BNP councillors didn't even turn up to the council meeting where council tax rises and £1 million worth of cuts were voted through.

In Stoke, BNP councillors voted in favour of a dramatic rise in council tax equal to almost double inflation.

It is not enough for anti-racists just to condemn the BNP's record of racism, prejudice and hatred.

We need to offer a clear socialist alternative based on working class unity.

New Labour's Tory policies of cuts and privatisation boost support for the BNP whilst the government's attacks on the right to asylum for refugees fleeing torture, repression and war help make the BNP look more legitimate and respectable.

The campaign to stop the BNP must expose its real agenda but, more importantly, offer a positive alternative including mass community and trade union campaigns to improve council services, stop cuts and privatisation and prepare the way for a new mass workers' party to genuinely represent working people.


The rich get richer…

It is not a lack of wealth that has resulted in 25 years of cuts.

There are now 946 billionaires in the world according to Forbes magazine, and their total wealth went up last year to an incredible $3.5 trillion.

Britain is home to 54 of those billionaires.

If they paid even the measly 40% tax that New Labour asks for £50 billion would have found its way into the states coffers.

Instead they paid just £14.7 million in tax.
Needless to say no action has been taken against them.

The policies of all the mainstream parties are dictated by the interests of the big corporations that dominate the British economy.

Tony Blair recently boasted that the World Bank had described Britain as being among the most "lightly regulated" countries in the world.

In other words big business can do pretty much whatever it likes.

And big business in the 21st century is driven more completely than ever by the short-term desire for the maximum possible profits – so for them public services can never be too paltry, or wages too low – because the less we have, the more profits they make.

So while the government has no problem spending money (for example, Trident II is predicted to cost £76 billion and current costs for the invasion and occupation of Iraq are running at £5 million a day) it does everything it can to resist spending money on improving our living conditions – because it is not in the interests of big business.

This is the brutal logic of the system we live under, capitalism.


Fighting back

But we do not have to accept that logic. Across Britain workers – such as benefit and job centre workers and the nursery nurses in Scotland – have been forced to take strike action over pay.

The Socialist Party stands in solidarity with all those workers fighting to defend or improve their pay and conditions.

Within the trade unions our members, including the 24 currently serving on trade union national executives, campaign for union leaderships who are prepared to fight on their members' behalf.

The Socialist Party also campaigns as part of local communities against cuts and closures in our services.

If we put up a fight it is possible to win victories, like, to give just one example amongst many, the nursery nurses in Huddersfield who have just managed to force the council to pull back from closing three nurseries.

For a socialist alternative

The Socialist Party is fighting for every possible improvement in working-class people's lives, but we recognise that under this profit-hungry capitalist system, we will always face a constant struggle to defend our living conditions.
That is why we are fighting for socialist change.

We don't want the kind of regimes that existed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe which, while they were based on a planned economy, were completely undemocratic.

Socialism can only work with the fullest democracy.

We want real socialism – a democratic society and economy run to meet the needs of all instead of the profits of a few.

Based on co-operation and equality, socialism would lay the basis for an end to poverty and all forms of discrimination and oppression.

Join the Socialist Party


Britain is a rich country

Socialist Party 2007 election manifesto

Socialist Party 2007 election manifesto

New Labour has plenty of money to spend on war and helping their rich friends:

Since Tony Blair came to power the wealth of the top 1% had doubled from £355 billion to £797 billion!

That is more than has been spent on health, housing and education combined over the last five years.

Tesco now make £3.5 million a day in profits, Shell make over £1 million an hour!

But they aren't tax to the bone, on the contrary Hans Rausing, the richest man in Britain, receives more in government rebates and grants than he pays in taxes!

New Labour, like the Tories before, has dramatically cut taxes for the fat cats. Meanwhile our council tax is going through the roof and our services are being cut.

Your socialist candidate is fighting for the millions not the millionaires!


Defend Public Services


Work


Council Tax


Crime


Change the system!

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triangleHow can Corbyn's programme be implemented?

triangleThe media, May and the general election

triangleCorbyn in - Tories out

triangleCorbyn's alternative for young people

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