The Socialist 12 April 2007 |
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3 May elections
Fight for a socialist alternative
'He's just the same as Blair, he says there's a tax cut, but it's only for the rich'. These were the angry comments of working-class people in Coventry's St Michael's ward, following Gordon Brown's final budget as chancellor.
Rob Windsor speaking at Socialist Party congress 2006, photo Paul Mattsson
Rob Windsor, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
Brown's budget, which included a 2% corporation tax cut, was a blatant pitch to reassure big business that even though the 'son of Thatcher', Blair, is about to depart to indulge his pathetic legacy-driven delusion as a 'reforming world statesman', big business is still safe in New Labour's hands.
But public services, the natural territory of the once working-class membership of Labour, are not. It was Brown who was the architect of the 'reforms' of the civil service.
These are not aimed at some mythical pin-striped, bowler hat-clad mandarins, but at ordinary low-paid staff in benefit offices and their like. That is why benefit recipients in our city - whose number has risen following the decimation of the car industry - have to play 'call centre roulette' as their claims, once dealt with in the city, have been moved 30 miles away to Cannock.
Brown was also the key promoter of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). In Coventry we have the most expensive PFI hospital going. It cost £400 million to build. But the taxpayer will repay some £2 billion as the PFI contractors who own the hospital and rent it back to the NHS make their profits.
Prior to the last local election we were advised that the PFI 'mortgage' would be £52 million a year. Since then it has become 'circa £56 million a year'.
There was a shortfall of over £20 million on the first instalment and now we are advised that this hospital is designed, not just for Coventry, but for the 1.3 million "client base" of the county and beyond, so that 'business' can be touted for widely to pay the private contractor's bill.
It has been Socialist Party councillors in St Michael's ward, through our work with people in the local community, who have achieved results in the teeth of New Labour-inspired service cuts carried out by a Tory council (see box on right).
In Coventry, the boundary between the Tories and New Labour could not even be measured by an electron microscope.
We are seen, city-wide, as a signpost stating that there is a different way of doing things. Whilst the three main parties want to retain the dominance of the free market, we want to turn the world upside down and ensure that working people own and control the wealth and power in society and can use it for the whole planet's benefit.
Rather than billionaires stacking their fortunes 80 miles high, we want affordable homes 800 miles long. We want decent healthcare for all, and freedom from having to cope with insecurity and debt.
The Socialist Party is standing in three seats in Coventry on 3 May. They are:
St Michaels, Coventry: Lindsay Currie
Henley, Coventry : Josie Kenny
Sherbourne, Coventry: Jason Toynbee
We are not standing in six others where we would normally stand, as instead we are supporting a pensioners' and left alliance standing in those seats.