Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1117/31882

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 January 2021

London's May elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

Working class need an anti-austerity alternative

Sadiq Khan, London's new Blairite mayor, photo Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)

Sadiq Khan, London's Blairite mayor, photo Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, London Socialist Party secretary

London's population is heading for nine million and, partly because of its size, it is the most polluted city in the UK. An affordable, accessible, and green transport system is, therefore, a necessity for its inhabitants.

Since 2018, Transport for London (TfL) has mainly been funded though fares, and its entire government subsidy has been removed. Despite the recent eight-year period, when fares rose faster than wages, after Covid hit and people stayed home, TfL's income plummeted, sparking a financial crisis.

Since the Tories first announced plans to remove TfL's subsidy, trade unionists, transport campaigners, and socialists, have warned that funding TfL through fares alone would mean cuts to services and workers. The Socialist Party cautioned that a fight was needed to secure proper funding for transport in the city, including in City Hall.

Over the last few months there has been back-and-forth between right-wing Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Tory government, each blaming the other for the financial situation facing TfL. But in reality, both are to blame for a transport system which is expensive, and in normal times, loaded to bursting point.

Investment has been on the basis of vanity projects and expensive outsourcing. Neither the current right-wing Labour-run Greater London Authority (GLA) nor the Tories offer the kind of integrated system that is needed to ensure a safe and green transport system.

Khan's recently commissioned Independent Review looks towards "three groups to provide additional funding: residents, consumers, and drivers." In short, they expect working-class Londoners and transport workers to pay for the financial crisis facing TfL. This must be rejected.

The review openly refuses to make big business pay - either through an employment levy or business rates increase - as it would be too big a burden on business.

Yet a huge council tax hike, new charges to drive into the greater London area, and a full-frontal attack on the pay and pensions of transport workers, including huge redundancies, and removing more of the already shrunken workforce from the network, is on the cards.

Reducing gate-line workers and leaving stations and platforms unstaffed, will make the transport system less accessible and more dangerous to passengers. The review even highlights how it will be older people, disabled people, mothers, pregnant and BAME people, who will be hit hardest by removing services. They are also proposing axing up to 150 bus routes in outer London, where some of London's poorest communities live.

Even Khan's review is compelled to admit that these cuts will force up to 250 million journeys off public transport and into private cars. And this is just the beginning. It also floats the idea of a 25% increase on journeys into the central Zone 1, and removing the cycle hire scheme, as well as river services.

Working-class alternative

This review shows that Khan poses a huge threat to transport workers' jobs and the system as a whole. Equally, the Tories introduced the current broken TfL funding model, just before Boris Johnson left the office of mayor in 2016. But the lack of a real anti-austerity alternative from Khan will leave space for even the likes of Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate for mayor, to pose as pro-working class by opposing extra tax hikes.

Bailey has already shown how out of touch he is with ordinary people in London, by suggesting that homeless people could save 5,000 for a deposit on a house!

That's why we need a genuine anti-austerity political alternative to Khan. In 2016, the Socialist Party understood the huge desperation of Londoners to get rid of the Tories from the GLA. But we also warned that Khan was no 'Corbynista'. Instead, he would use his position to attack Corbyn and fail to stand up to the Tories to protect the living standards of working-class Londoners.

Covid impact

During the pandemic, the limits of Khan in relation to protecting transport workers' health and safety, has been clear. Despite a high Covid death toll among transport workers - 42 bus workers have died of the virus - he sided with bus companies for weeks instead of listening to the safety concerns of bus drivers and their trade unions. The companies wanted to carry on collecting fares and refused to close the front doors of the buses, which would have helped protect drivers' health.

Now, Khan has failed to stand up to the Tories on TfL funding, meaning transport workers will face more attacks.

In addition to the vital issue of funding the transport system are questions on housing shortages and costs, and widespread low pay. Just before the pandemic started it was reported that overcrowding was at a 40-year high: this social problem has helped spread Covid in the city.

One-in-five Londoners earn less than the London living wage of 10.85 an hour, and many are on zero-hour or similar exploitative work contracts. This has also meant that many workers during the pandemic have been unable to properly isolate and protect their and their fellow workers health, or have been forced to work in dangerous environments.

Khan's approach to the TfL funding crisis shows he will again fail to challenge the Tories on these other important issues, and it is working-class Londoners who will pay the price.

Currently, the approval ratings of Khan and the Tories have maintained a consistent gap, with Khan on a 20+ percentage point lead. But that can change if he continues to put forward that the working class must pay for the crisis.

Because the mayoral election in London are on the basis of a 'supplementary' voting system (ie candidates are ranked in preference), an anti-austerity candidate can send a message to Khan about the anger at his austerity policies while also being able to keep the Tories out.

An online meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will bebe taking place on 20 January to discuss possibilities of a working class stand against Khan and the Tories.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 20 January 2021:


News

Make the super-rich pay, not the poorest

Bosses profit out of 'starvation' food parcels

Teachers: On the front line, in their own words

Peace and Justice Project - no way forward for socialism

Millionaire tendency regains control of Scottish Labour

News in Brief


Covid-19

The Tory blame game: scapegoating the working class - 100% pay for all now

Covid: Bosses chase profit and put workers in danger

Vaccine confidence - a worker's response

Life in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard


NHS

On the NHS front line


Black Lives Matter

Justice for Mohamud Hassan!

Police use Covid laws to intimidate BLM protesters

New Cross Gate fire 40 years ago


International News

USA in crisis - the need for a socialist alternative

Trump Twitter ban: only independent workers' voice can defeat right


Workplace

PCS Broad Left Network conference

Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick factory future secured following strike action

Morrisons - 10/hr headline hides divisive pay offer

A day in the life of an agency worker

British Gas strike continues


Students

Refund student rent and fees

Plymouth rent strike continues

Scrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant


Campaigns

London's May elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

Socialist Party national women's meeting

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Christmas Crossword Competition


Readers' Opinion

Books that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier


Obituary

Obituary - Jeff Edwards


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 January 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

London:

triangleHillingdon Socialist Party: The ideas of Leon Trotsky

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The legacy of the collapse of Stalinism

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Youth demand a future

triangleCamden Socialist Party: The economy - will inflation become a problem again?

Tories:

trianglePublic spending under further threat from Tories

triangleTory climate plans set to fail - socialist planning needed

triangleTories to blame for GP crisis

triangleHousing crisis: Tories and Labour are not on our side

Working class:

triangle10 years since Occupy

triangleWorking class under attack

triangleSocialist Party: Solely funded by the working class

Public services:

triangleTories keep bailing out bosses, while piling pain on workers and public services

triangleSave our square: we need social housing and public services

Elections:

trianglePeople's Budgets - a socialist answer to cruel cuts

Labour:

triangleSouthampton People's budget Building an alternative to Tory and Labour austerity

Anti-austerity:

triangleEaling People's Budget - cuts can be resisted

Transport:

triangleRailway bosses cook the books in another capitalist market failure

Workers:

triangleMilitary coup in Sudan - Defiant masses take to the streets

TUSC:

triangleNorthampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

27/10/21

Climate change

COP26: protest for Socialist change to reverse climate chaos

27/10/21

NHS

Tory NHS funding won't fix staff shortage

27/10/21

Tories

Public spending under further threat from Tories

27/10/21

Budget

TORY BUDGET CON

27/10/21

Pay

Public sector pay thaw - union fight is on for a real rise and funding

27/10/21

Climate change

Tory climate plans set to fail - socialist planning needed

27/10/21

Sexism

Fighting sexism and harassment, and for a safe night out

27/10/21

News

News in brief

27/10/21

News

Workplace news in brief

25/10/21

Analysis and editorials

How to save the planet

20/10/21

Austerity

People's Budgets - a socialist answer to cruel cuts

20/10/21

Climate change

COP26: Trade unions must fight for a socialist transition to renewables

20/10/21

Socialist

Fight for a socialist recovery

20/10/21

NHS

Tories to blame for GP crisis

20/10/21

Planning

Container delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999