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From: The Socialist issue 812, 28 May 2014: Con-Dems get a kicking

Search site for keywords: Labour Party - Labour - Energy - Tax - Socialist - NHS - Working class - PFI - Royal Mail - Public ownership - Democracy - Austerity - Bedroom tax - Trade unions

Why I didn't rejoin Labour

Carl Harper
Ed Miliband confronted by anti-bedroom tax protestors demanding that Labour councils refuse to collect the tax, photo Chris Moore

Ed Miliband confronted by anti-bedroom tax protestors demanding that Labour councils refuse to collect the tax, photo Chris Moore   (Click to enlarge)

The Labour Party recently sent me an email asking me to rejoin Labour. I sent back this response:

"Nothing would please me more than to join a workers' party which was socialist and represents the interests of the working class. However, I must ask questions about the leaflet you sent outlining Labour's policies.

It claims that Labour "will freeze gas and energy bills until 2017". Energy 'controller' Ofgem says that dual fuel prices rose by 24% between 2009 and 2012 and suppliers' retail profits from 233 million in 2009 to 1.1 billion in 2012, an increase of 372%.

Would "freezing bills until 2017" be an initial step to breaking up the 'Big Six' energy firms and creating a nationalised energy supplier with affordable prices for all after 2017?

On the NHS, the leaflet says Labour will "renew it for the 21st Century". Does this statement mean that the NHS will remain publicly owned, with all parts privatised under the Con-Dem government renationalised?

And does this statement include an end to all PFI schemes in the future? Would all debt created by past PFI schemes be written off? Will assets sold off also be brought into public ownership? Does this statement also include fully nationalised NHS council services for elderly care and children's services?

The leaflet says Labour will "help make work pay with a 10p rate of tax". Will you also commit to an increase in tax of the super-rich and the collection of the estimated 120 billion of tax uncollected mainly through evasion and avoidance?

Further to this, does the statement also propose introducing a Living Wage, a minimum of 8 an hour, a 50% increase in the state retirement pension and a 35-hour working week? Would Labour then also bring the top 150 or so companies, banks and energy companies into public ownership with democratic working class control and management?

The leaflet says Labour will "ban letting agents from charging rip-off fees". Does this mean a cap on rents with a nationalised and/or council run letting agency and a commitment to a programme of the mass building of affordable housing?

I welcome the claims that Labour will give working parents "25 hours of free childcare for kids aged 3 and 4" and that they will "scrap the bedroom tax". Would there also be a commitment to release funds to local councils for the running of children's centres?

The leaflet rightly condemns the government's austerity agenda which has led to the 'cost of living' increasing faster than wages. Does Labour therefore commit to a democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people and always use the RPI index rather than CPI as a fairer measurement tool to ensure wages match the 'cost of living'.

I originally joined the Labour party believing that as a member I would be able to influence and ultimately prevent the move to the right which has systematically taken place since at least the mid-90s. I believed that the socialist ideology upon which trade unions and socialists formed the party could be democratically reintroduced from 'the bottom up' and reach the forefront of party policy.

Unfortunately this belief was crushed by repeated neoliberal policy announcements, the commitment to remain imprisoned within the capitalist EU and the party distancing itself from the trade union movement in the Collins Report.

Labour conference saw the overwhelming call from delegates for Labour to renationalise the Royal Mail. Labour's leadership denounced this motion shortly after, making a mockery of the democracy of the party. Would you commit to supporting the motion and fully renationalising the Royal Mail?

Finally, would you also commit to reinstating Clause 4 of Labour's constitution, which was removed and paved the way for the transformation to a centre-right party?

As your leaflet claims, Labour would indeed be 'stronger' with people like me, working class socialists, on its side. For me to consider rejoining your party I look forward to a positive response to the issues I have raised."

My 'demands' went unanswered. In any case, I knew Labour would never meet them. It is a clear indictment of Labour's move to the right which led to me leaving and joining the Socialist Party.







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