Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/437/5170
Public services not private profit
THOUSANDS OF public-sector workers and campaigning organisations will take to Bristol's streets on 29 April to protest at attacks on public services. They have plenty to protest about.
Mark Baker, PCS NEC (personal capacity) and Bristol Socialist Party
In education, schools that desperately need resources are starved of them whilst a few schools in the government's "Academies" project can seek funding from outside bodies. Many parents, ground down by years of underfunding and local authority mismanagement, may see this as a means of improving their schools.
But recent 'league tables' showed St Georges Academy, touted as Bristol's flagship, finished second bottom even under the government's own criteria. These measures are merely an opportunity for business organisations and religious bodies to get their hands on 'educating' our children (see feature article centre pages).
In the NHS, whilst the futures of Bristol's existing hospitals are in doubt, talk of a new hospital centres around private finance to pay for it. The headline news of NHS workers being axed makes clear that profits will be put before patients. Attacks on social services day care centres, provision for the elderly and disabled fuel the fire of local government workers already angry about threats to their pension schemes.
New Labour's "cash for peerages" scandal it is really about "cash for privatisations". One of those who gave money was Rod Aldridge of Capita, whose company were rewarded for his generosity by being handed government computer projects, particularly in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Having sold off the silverware the government make former civil servants redundant for their pains. Whilst Brown talks of civil service waste and cutting more jobs, it is awash with private sector consultants at £1,000 an hour coming up with systems that don't work and more unnecessary bureaucracy than ever before.
The government are preparing to sell off whole swathes of the public sector to the highest bidder. Anyone who believes contracting out our public services makes them better should try using our privatised public transport systems every day.
Blair is following the Thatcherite idea that public services belong to the past, and the most vulnerable in society should fend for themselves. However, the working-class resistance has begun.
The public-sector unity built up around the pensions issue, which forced the government into partial retreat, can now be harnessed into a broad campaign for public services not private profit. Fourteen trade unions in Bristol now support this and working with campaigning user groups, tenants associations and community organisations can force the government back if we act together.
But these gains will only be temporary as long as workers have no political voice of their own. All the established parties sing from the same 'cuts and privatisation' song sheets. We urgently need to build a new mass political organisation that will act in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.
Saturday 29 April, 11.30 am.
Assemble at Castle Park to march to College Green.
Bristol bus demo
STUDENTS FROM the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol staged a Saturday afternoon protest at the fares and unreliability of First Bus which has a monopoly on providing Bristol's bus services.
A march through the city centre attracted around 200 people on 22 April.
Socialist Party members work with the campaign, taking part in regular planning meetings and organising a public meeting in the poorly served south of the City, as well as distributing literature, collecting signatures and discussing with bus users to try to build support.
Saturday's protest should help to give the cause some publicity. We hope that the campaign can gain the active support of ordinary workers and their families who have no choice but to rely on the over-expensive and unreliable services provided by First in Bristol.
In The Socialist 27 April 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party election campaign
1926 General Strike
Environment: Nuclear power
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis