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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 April 2005

BNP - not a 'radical alternative' to New Labour

NEW LABOUR has betrayed the hopes of millions of working-class people. This has dramatically hit their support, particularly in areas like Stoke-on-Trent where they previously had such strong backing.

Andy Bentley

In Stoke-on-Trent, New Labour has stepped up the onslaught on our jobs, services and communities. In 1945, there were 45 coal mines in the area, now there are none. In 1975 the city's pottery industry had 50,000 workers, now it's down to around 10,000 and falling. Tens of thousands of other manufacturing industry jobs have gone.

These jobs have been partially replaced with low paid, short-term temporary jobs.

A staggering 100 private so-called Employment Agencies compete in the city to provide dead-end jobs with no employment rights, no job security, a lack of decent training and often dangerous working conditions.

Conditions in the communities have seriously deteriorated. Stoke-on-Trent has the sixth highest rate of child poverty. It has one of the lowest life expectancy levels in Britain.

In January 2004, a local family doctor revealed he had 5,300 patients on his books, three times more than the national average. Dozens of schools, youth clubs, shops, cinemas, banks, libraries, doctor's surgeries, care homes, post offices etc. have closed.

No wonder working-class people in Stoke-on-Trent, as in the rest of Britain, feel betrayed by New Labour. Let down by different parties claiming to represent their interests, some temporarily abstain from voting and others look for alternatives.

Mainly by scapegoating ethnic minorities and asylum-seekers, the British National Party (BNP) have had some success in local elections and now have two city councillors.

But do the BNP provide a radical alternative to New Labour? Do they really represent the interests of working class people?

BNP oppose workers' right to strike to defend jobs, services and conditions

BACK IN 2003, millions of working people gave their support to the firefighters in their struggle for better pay and to defend the fire service from further cuts. The Socialist Party supported the firefighters 100%, not just in words but in action.

The BNP did nothing. In fact they did worse than nothing. On their website (2/12/03) they said that firefighters "must be placed on the same level as military personnel and police officers and.....forego their ambiguous position of using strike action".

In other words, the BNP would deny the right of firefighters and other workers to take action to defend jobs, services and living standards.

In March 2005, public-sector workers in five different trade unions forced the New Labour government to back down in their attempt to impose a cut in pensions and to increase the retirement age by five years. This was done by threatening united strike action involving 1.4 million workers on 23 March.

If it had been left to the BNP, this significant victory for millions of working people in preventing New Labour imposing a system of "work till you drop" would not have been possible. That is because the BNP would abolish the democratic right to strike for many of these workers.

No workers like taking strike action. But sometimes because of the intransigence of employers or government they have no choice. The BNP's strikebreaking role should serve as a serious warning to all workers.

BNP support big council tax increases

IN 2004, BNP leaflets claimed: "The BNP are the only party that opposes the year on year rises in council tax", and it, "should only rise by the rate of inflation".

However, on council tax setting day, as Stoke Socialist Party members handed over a 5,000-name petition opposing any increase in council tax, BNP councillors joined with New Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and Independents to vote in a dramatic rise in council tax that was almost twice the rate of inflation.

This is on top of a massive 10% increase imposed the previous year on Stoke-on-Trent's notoriously low-paid workers.

Now, in March 2005 the BNP have again joined the other parties to impose another council tax increase almost twice the rate of inflation!

Typically the BNP blamed asylum-seekers for council tax increases. But it is the BNP who have, twice now, betrayed tens of thousands in the city struggling to pay. People are sick of all these lying politicians.

BNP make excuses for the bosses

WHEN THE closure of Royal Doulton's last factory in Stoke-on-Trent was announced in March 2004, Stoke Socialist Party and others launched a long-running campaign to save the 500 jobs at the factory.

All the BNP did was to go onto Radio Stoke and excuse Doulton's Chief Executive, Wayne Nutbeen, from any blame for closing the factory. A BNP councillor said it wasn't the management's fault!

Doulton's bosses have closed 11 factories and sacked thousands of workers in just a few years. Wayne Nutbeen was employed on 313,000 a year to carry out this carnage. He showed his contempt for people in the area when he said: "The company isn't owned by Stoke-on-Trent. It is owned by the shareholders. The board has to ensure it does right by them".

However, the profits Doulton workers earned for the bosses over 150 years of existence are enough to pay for this and other factories ten times over.

Despite falsely claiming that they are "the fastest growing political party in Britain", the BNP have done nothing to defend workers. In fact, by making excuses for employers and the government, they are aiding and abetting the slaughter of our jobs and services.

BNP divides workers and communities

THE BNP claims it is on the side of working-class people. But the examples above show this is not true. It tries to put the blame for all our problems onto ethnic minorities and asylum seekers. This only divides workers and communities and diverts attention away from the real culprits - big business and the government.

Every worker knows that unity is vital in any struggle to defend jobs, pay, conditions and our communities. Public-sector workers have clearly demonstrated how to force the government to retreat in their attempt to cut pensions and make workers work an extra five years.

This was done by building unity of all workers across the public sector, regardless of nationality or ethnic background. Without this type of unity, effective struggles are not possible. Despite the BNP's claims, their divisive and racist tactics are helping the bosses and the government to carry out their attacks on working-class people.

The BNP offer no solution. What is needed is a new mass party to represent all working-class people - a party that builds the unity necessary to fight against the attacks of big-business employers and the government. Above all we need a party that fights for a socialist future for all.

BNP's Victorian attitude to abortion - a warning to all women

THE BNP want to turn the clock back decades for women. They say that women making the very difficult choice about an abortion would become criminals and condemned as part of a nationwide "child killing industry" which the BNP would "close down".

In other words, left to the BNP, women would have to suffer again the nightmare of the back-street abortion clinics prevalent before the Abortion Act was passed in 1967. The Socialist Party defends a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children.

THE SOCIALIST Party is standing Jim Cessford as its candidate in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

As Jim says: "For twenty years I have been proud to fight alongside the people of Stoke-on-Trent in the communities and workplaces. As a real Socialist MP I can be even more effective."

Election pages

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In The Socialist 7 April 2005:

Bosses low pay racket exposed

Rich are getting richer...

General election - main parties ignore real issues

A socialist alternative for women

BNP - not a 'radical alternative' to New Labour

Militant turned socialism into reality

Zimbabwe election: "The greatest fraud of 2005"

Join the G8 protests

Pakistan - a powder keg ready to explode

Stop the BBC jobs slaughter

Big business sharks circle Rover jobs

Pensions: No concessions by 'negotiation'


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