NHS protest. Photo: Mary Finch
NHS protest. Photo: Mary Finch

WHAT WE THINK

Helen Pattison, Socialist Party London regional secretary

As well as energy bills rocketing at home, our public services are at crisis point.

There are over 100,000 vacancies in the NHS. Nearly 7 million people are on waiting lists. And this will only get worse as overworked and underpaid health workers leave at the highest rate in four years. And getting an appointment with a GP is becoming as likely as winning the lottery.

People are dying because ambulances are queued up outside hospitals, mainly due to the fact that there’s nowhere for elderly patients to go because of the crisis in the privatised care service.

It’s not just health staff; only two-thirds of new teachers are still in the job after five years, and more and more school buildings are at risk of collapse because of austerity.

The crisis is not just confined to the public sector. Millions of working people are feeling the strain. This is the real cause of the strike wave we are seeing now, with both local and national strikes, as workers say enough is enough.

This growing anger and mood for struggle is not what the government or bosses were banking on. The fight for the leadership of the Tories has been a battle over how the working class will be made to pay for the impact of Covid and the growing economic crisis. But while they’re fighting among themselves, working-class people are fighting for a pay rise, for decent funding, and against privatised companies who have been lining their pockets from public sector contracts.

When the call for pay rises or slashing bills has come up, every time the response has been, ‘we can’t afford it’. The energy giants have said it, the rail companies and Royal Mail. Yet at the same time we hear about their huge payouts to shareholders and CEOs paid millions every year.

We can’t trust the government or these private companies to act in our interests. Our schools, hospitals and public services are run on a shoestring while private profit piles up in the hands of a rich minority. We need an alternative. There’s growing support for renationalising our vital services, even among Tory voters!

What’s happening in energy, water, Royal Mail and other privatised industries – profits, huge handouts for the bosses and shareholders, and peanuts and worsening conditions for workers – is replicated throughout big business and the economy as a whole.

We’re living in a broken system that can’t be patched up. To have the wage rises we need, services we can afford, quality health, education, social care and childcare that meets our needs and those of the workers who deliver those services, we have to fight for an alternative to the failed capitalist profit system.

If all the major companies were publicly owned, working people could democratically plan where investment should go and what the priorities for spending should be. By doing away with a system based on maximising the profits of a few, we could run society in the interests of the majority. This is the socialist society that we are fighting for here and internationally. Join us in that fight – we can’t go on like this anymore.

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