Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1118/31930
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Isai Priya, Socialist Party national treasurer
With the fourth highest death rate in the world, and the worst in Europe, it is no secret that the Tory government's handling of the pandemic has been terrible. But that is not the only cause of the current suffering. It is also a consequence of years of our public services being cut and privatised by both Tory and New Labour governments.
For example, the total number of NHS hospital beds has more than halved over the past 30 years, leaving the UK with fewer hospital beds per person than other European countries - 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared with an EU average of 4.6. In February 2020, 81% of critical care beds were already occupied.
We entered the Covid-19 pandemic with healthcare and services already at breaking point. Many deaths could have been avoided if the NHS hadn't been starved of vital funding during years of austerity.
Austerity is a political choice, and the pro-capitalist politicians that carry it through are not acting in the interests of working-class or young people.
The election of Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader means there is no longer an anti-austerity voice in the leadership of the Labour Party. Starmer has consistently defended the interests of the capitalist elite. The urgent task facing working-class and young people is the question of political representation - to be able to elect MPs and councillors who vote against cuts and put forward a socialist programme.
This year, as a result of the postponement of last year's elections, there will be the most local authority elections ever to take place on one day, alongside elections to the Scottish parliament and the Welsh Senedd. They will represent an important opportunity for the working class to voice its anger at everything we have suffered during the pandemic.
The Socialist Party has a proud record of fighting alongside working-class and young people in struggle. We have campaigned against the closure of hospitals, against evictions, job losses and much more. We are involved in workers' struggles in our workplaces and communities.
We have also been campaigning for political representation for these workers' struggles in elections. We participate in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), an electoral coalition with the RMT transport workers' union, ex-Labour MP Chris Williamson and others.
The Socialist Party will be participating in TUSC's electoral challenge to offer a real choice at the ballot box. To offer a chance for workers to vote against cuts, and as an opportunity to put forward a socialist programme. This is as part of the task to develop a new mass party of the working class.
Every quarter we have a fighting fund target of £25,000 to help finance our campaigning work. We have decided that we will use a large part of the fighting fund raised this quarter to help finance the election campaign.
If you agree we need a socialist electoral challenge, and support the Socialist Party to stand in the election as part of TUSC, then donate to us today!
In The Socialist 27 January 2021:
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