Vote for a socialist alternative in Leicester

April 19, 2019
The Socialist Party is standing in the local and mayoral elections in Leicester.

Read about our manifesto launch today:

https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/socialists-set-out-alternative-proposals-2778702

For a workers’ mayor on a worker’s wage.
For the council to set a legal, no-cuts budget.
The council should take over Leicester’s bus services.
For investment in public transport and schools.
To campaign to end cuts to the NHS and increase the capacity of our hospitals to meet rising demand.
To end privatisation and bring services back “in house”.
To build 1000 council houses a year, as a step towards ending the problem of homelessness in Leicester.
Build a mass movement, linking up with other councils, to force the government to give us money to properly fund public services.
For a referendum on whether Leicester should have an elected mayor with executive powers – we have never had a say in this!

Vote Steve Score as first choice for Mayor.

Vote for socialist candidates where we are standing:

Beaumont Leys – Alex Morgan
Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields – Tessa Warrington
Evington – Satinder Toor
                 Caroline Vincent
Knighton – Anna-Sofia Wiking
Saffron – Pete Bisson
Spinney Hills – Drew Walton
Stoneygate – Franklin O’Riordan
Thurncourt – Darren Baxter
Aylestone – Steve Score
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How can we get rid of the Tories?

February 2, 2019

The Socialist Party campaigned in the EU referendum to leave the EU. Our slogan was to “vote OUT the Tories”. Correctly, we predicted that a leave vote would cause a crisis for the ruling party of capitalism, and would undercut support for the far-right.

We also said that Jeremy Corbyn should use his position and authority to lead the Leave campaign, and, as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) applied to the Electoral Commission to be the official Leave campaign; for no taxpayers’ money to be given to the Tories or UKIP as the officially sanctioned campaign. We attempted, with our limited resources, to counter the racist rhetoric on both sides of the referendum campaign. We pointed out that international workers’ solidarity was needed against EU attacks on the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland. We explained that Corbyn would not be able to carry through socialist policies without coming into collision with the Lisbon Treaty.

The Leave vote caused Theresa May to lose a parliamentary vote by the greatest margin ever. She is clearly incapable of running the country. By any normal measure, she would have resigned by now, and there would be huge pressure to have a general election. So why is she still clinging to power?

The opposition is no longer (as it was under Blair) a “safe pair of hands” for the capitalists. They are terrified that a left-wing Labour government would raise expectations of working-class people (not that Corbyn’s manifesto is more than mild reformism, with only piecemeal renationalisation of the railways for example, not as we would demand, expropriation of the railway franchises under workers’ control, with no compensation for fat cats). The bosses are afraid of the latent power of the trade unions, if Corbyn were to repeal the Tory anti-trade union legislation. They are afraid for their profits. The last thing they want is for a Corbyn-led Labour Party to be pushed further to the left by mass pressure from below.

Yet, Labour too is split. There is a rump of Blairites, predominantly councillors and MPs who seek to sabotage Corbyn and his supporters. We are calling for them to be deselected. Instead, socialists have been expelled for the nebulous charge of “bringing the Labour Party into disrepute” and have attempted to smear Corbyn with false claims of antisemitism. The majority of Labour councils are still carrying through the Tories’ dirty work, cutting services and jobs without protest. However, there is a beacon of hope – Islwyn and Enfield North councils have voted to set no-cuts budgets and fight back (it remains to be seen how this works out in practice). The Socialist Party (as Socialist Alternative) will be standing against Blairite cutters in a number of seats across the country, to put forward an alternative to austerity.

What are the chances of democratising Labour into a fighting mass party of the working class? We would argue that Corbyn has been too timid in capitulating to and seeking reconciliation with the Blairites. We have asked to join Labour, but our requests have been rebuffed with the retort that we should not have stood against Labour in elections – we asked for a debate, to discuss co-operation and affiliation on a federal basis, but so far we have not been successful in re-joining Labour (our leading members were expelled in the early 1990s). There are some hopeful signs of change, however, with a new layer of activists coming through and a trickle of deselections.

One factor that has been absent in getting rid of the Tories is the organised working class. If Corbyn had campaigned energetically and the TUC had mobilised its members for the recent march against austerity, using it as a springboard for co-ordinated strike action; if there was mass, spontaneous civil disobedience (as is the case in France) – May’s government would face oblivion.

One Tory backbencher commenting on May’s leadership said “stamina is not a strategy”, recognising the desperate situation she is in. On the one hand remainers are demanding a soft Brexit, or to remain, on the other, Eurosceptics want to break with the EU, and the DUP are threatening to withdraw support over the border in Northern Ireland. The situation has reached a critical impasse, and evidently there is no Plan B. The EU has said its deal is non-negotiable, so May is scuttling round Labour Leave MPs offering cash bribes for their support (just as she did with the DUP).

This shows, as we have argued consistently, that the money is there in society to fund public services. The Tories are carrying out an ideological attack, affecting the most vulnerable disproportionately. Yet, this is also an extremely weak and wobbly government – all that is lacking is the political will to bring it crashing down.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the coming weeks and months. One possibility is that the Blairite left and Tory right will split, to form an SDP Mark II-style party, but holding them back is the likelihood of electoral oblivion.

A no-deal Brexit is still possible, despite the vote in Parliament to the contrary, if a deal cannot be brokered. This would be a blow to ordinary people, with uncertainty around jobs, increased inflation and chaos around our ports.

The right wing of Labour and the Lib Dems are calling for a second referendum, a “People’s Vote” – we say that a real people’s vote is a general election. The Lib Dems would certainly use this as a bargaining chip in return for support for a coalition government, should we have a hung Parliament in the event of an election. To go down the road of calling another referendum would alienate the majority of the working class, drive up support for UKIP and result in a backlash against immigrants. It would be a disastrous climbdown for Corbyn, who has rightly said that he would honour the referendum result.

Any companies under threat of going under should be nationalised under workers’ control, to protect jobs. We would use Brexit to launch an appeal to workers across Europe, to rise up against the rotten capitalist system which enslaves us. We point out the racist nature of EU legislation – the withdrawal of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, the razor-wire border fence erected in Hungary. We do not blame immigrants, we blame the bosses. We would close tax loopholes and use the revenue generated to invest in our public services which have long been starved of resources. If there was a flight of capital, we would take control over the money supply.

Although this may sound like a socialist flight of fancy, meanwhile in Tory Britain homeless people are freezing to death, the disabled are suffering under Universal Credit, people are in insecure jobs and on zero hour contracts. It doesn’t have to be this way! We cannot afford to wait until 2022 for another general election.

During the election campaign in 2017, with the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto, this resulted in a huge groundswell of support. May’s gamble (on a snap election to pave the way for a majority for her version of Brexit) failed disastrously for the Tories. Despite a huge lead in the opinion polls at the beginning of the campaign, she has barely clung to power since. If we forced another general election now, the Tories could easily be defeated, if Labour were to pose a bold, socialist programme.

The Socialist Party, at this stage, is a small party, but we have a track record of winning gains for the working class. Locally, we played a central role in the campaign to save the Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre. We won millions of pounds of concessions from Thatcher for Liverpool, building council houses, leisure centres and schools. We led the mass non-payment campaign that led to the downfall of Thatcher and defeated the poll tax. Central to our strategy is the belief that workers are the most powerful force in society. We are the ones who create wealth for the capitalists. By withholding our labour, this can be stopped at its source, and they would have no choice but to capitulate. We are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to run society. We can build a new socialist society, based on equality and solidarity rather than profit and greed. We are part of an international movement seeking to overthrow capitalism, worldwide. If you agree with our ideas then – join us!

(Speech to Leicester Socialist Party meeting – 2/2/19)

Tories out. General Election now.

November 17, 2018

Theresa, Theresa. Fly away home.
Your party is dead and your majority’s gone.
All except one,
And his name is Gove,
And he hid under the kitchen stove.

Here, if I had the skills, I would have drawn a witty, topical cartoon of a ladybird taking flight, with Theresa May’s head and six faux leopard-print shoes on its feet, but I am afraid you will have to use your imagination!

Melting

October 19, 2018

The Cenotaph stood in the park, silent.
Amidst the frost, we exchanged glances, quiet
Unsaid, we shared our thoughts.

Or so it seemed to me.
I cannot say what was going on in your head.
Winter sun slanted through hoar frost, red.

Around us, people went about their business
Time stood. Motionless. Frozen, as icicles
Festooned green blades, contained within a germ.
Spark of life, now dormant, hidden gem.

Winter casts everything in hush.
I remember your hand, the final touch.
The rattle and dying away of your breath.
You lay imprisoned between four legs of the hospital bed.

In the world outside, time raced by.
The last short, all too short days of wintertide.
I remember that night, we shared a last meal.
Jollity, slightly forced, spilled beer on tablecloth.

Little did I know then, you would never leave the flat again.
To be confined, as cancer ran its fatal course.
Germ of life, trapped in frosty core.

I wish we had the time again.
Memories are all I have, no more.

 

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my collections, “Little Green Poetry” is  available from Lulu  – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Advice for Jackie Doyle Price (Suicide Prevention Minister) on her first day at work

October 11, 2018

It shouldn’t be too hard. I will even give you a few tips.

Causes of suicide:
Drug and alcohol misuse, history of trauma or abuse, unemployment, social isolation, poverty, poor social conditions, imprisonment, violence, and family breakdown.

Invest in services (women’s refuges, LGBT services, ESOL provision, etc.) which vulnerable people rely on.

Allow asylum seekers to have jobs.

End benefit sanctions.

Increase welfare so that it acts as a genuine safety net for the unemployed.

Provide meaningful and well-rewarded employment.

Get rid of academy schools, SATs and league tables, which stress our children needlessly.

Invest in mental health provision.

Stop criminalising street drugs – instead control and license their use.

Cut the prison population, by giving the mentally ill support and help, rather than “punishing” them (around 50% of the male prisoners in the US and 73% of female prisoners are mentally ill – I haven’t been able to find figures for the UK).

End austerity, so that millions no longer have to rely on food banks.

Make decent maternity and paternity leave compulsory.

Start building council houses, to begin to end homelessness and give people a secure place to live.

Renationalise the NHS.

Reduce loneliness and isolation for the elderly.

Oh wait, you are a Tory, whose policies are largely responsible for suicides in the first place. The best thing you could do would be to resign. Preferably now.

But we can do something ourselves.

None of this is going to happen under the Tories (red or blue).
Bring on Corbyn. Get rid of the Blairites.
Join a trade union and demand leadership from those who should be leading the struggle.
Join a political party (I am a member of the Socialist Party) and fight for a more humane, just, socialist society.

Save Intensive Care beds at the Leicester General. No more cuts to our NHS.

September 22, 2018

Public Meeting – Saturday 29th September 2018, 2.00pm, Hansom Hall
Leicester Adult Education Centre, Wellington Street

Leicester Socialist Party, as part of Save Our NHS Leicestershire, is protesting against plans to cut intensive care beds at the General Hospital. Across the country, the amount of NHS land being sold off has increased dramatically – 718 sites have been deemed “surplus to requirement”, compared to just 418 two years ago. As services are cut, hospitals are selling off land to private developers to make ends meet.

These one-off payments are not going to be adequate to ensure our NHS is funded properly. The NHS continues to be funded at lower than the rate of inflation, as the Tories have restricted budget rises to just 1% since 2010. The fire-sale of public land creates serious problems for any future expansion of NHS services. As Health Campaigns Together argue, “Retaining public sector land for future use is far better value for money than selling it only to replace it at a higher price later.”

The biggest financial problem facing the NHS is PFI – Profit From Illness, as Dave Nellist has called it – but more commonly known as the Private Finance Initiative, which gave private companies the opportunity to take over the running of NHS hospitals. Cleaning and catering were sold off first, resulting in an increase in “superbugs” as private companies cut corners, regardless of the hygiene risks to patients. NHS privatisation has gathered pace since, with the introduction of the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act, selling off NHS services to “any willing provider”. All NHS services are now up for grabs. Just one company, Richard Branson’s Virgin Care (registered in a tax haven, the British Virgin Islands) has been awarded £2bn of NHS contracts.

In Leicestershire, the so-called STP (Sustainability and Transformation Partnership) is the blueprint for local NHS services over the next five years. It includes Plans for reconfiguration of Leicester City Hospitals from three to two acute sites”.

What does this mean for Leicester General Hospital and why are intensive care beds being targeted as part of the cuts? The loss of intensive care beds will be the first step toward downgrading the General Hospital as an acute hospital, with other services, such as renal and urology services, also removed. Leicestershire NHS Trust are going ahead with these cuts, without even going through the motions of holding a public consultation, such is the pressure they are under to cut services. Hospital managers claim that these plans are necessary because of duplication, and sometimes triplication, of services across Leicester’s three sites, leading to “inefficiencies”. We agree that there is much that can, and should, be done to improve the provision of local services, but the plans currently put forward by the Trust are far from satisfactory and should be subject to full public consultation.

The threat to Leicester General Hospital is part of a wider process of privatisation, underfunding, fragmentation and cuts which has affected every part of the NHS, over the last forty years. We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement that he would end private involvement in the NHS. Hospitals would no longer be awarded PFI contracts, and existing contracts would be bought out. The Socialist Party would go further – we say the unions urgently need to mobilise their members to protect our NHS, and we would renationalise the NHS, with no compensation for fat cats like Richard Branson, after all they have stolen enough of our public resources already! However, Corbyn’s plans are a vital step towards taking back control of our national health service.

An edited version of this article is in this week’s Socialist newspaper.

I do not like the Daily Mail

August 27, 2018

I do not read the Daily Mail;
Against its views, I rant and rail.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

I do not want a trial subscription;
I’d rather get an ear infection.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

I do not care for your free gift.
I’d much prefer being stuck in a lift
than have to read the Daily Mail.

What it lacks in news, it makes up in puff,
I do not care for that sort of stuff.
I never read the Daily Mail.

Against Corbyn, it runs a personal vendetta.
I feel like writing a strongly-worded letter
to the editor of the Daily Mail.

Headlines attack, divide the working class;
As racist scroungers who never get off their arse.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

With a few billionaires in charge of our press,
No wonder British journalism is in such a mess.
And then there is the Daily Express.

Brexit Blues

August 7, 2018

Tories they are in meltdown, they’re going round the bend
The Tories are in meltdown, they’re going round the bend
When we voted for Brexit, seismic shockwave we did send.

It was felt all the way to Dublin, and far-off Athens too
It was felt all the way to Dublin, far-off Athens too
Syriza caved in to Brussels, and the Greeks were feeling blue.

That damned Lisbon Treaty, Thatcher’s proudest boast
I said, that damned Lisbon Treaty, Thatcher’s proudest boast
It privatised our railways, and privatised our post.

Their flag may be blue in colour, but it ain’t got no soul.
Their flag is blue in colour, but it ain’t got no soul.
The posted workers’ directive, chucked thousands on the dole.

I ain’t gonna be no hamster, ain’t nobody’s guinea pig.
I ain’t gonna be no hamster, ain’t nobody’s guinea pig.
Sinking deep in Eton mess, this problem’s way too big.

There’s one man who can pull us out, and he is called J C
I said, there’s one man who can help us, his name it is J C
But this ain’t no second coming, it ain’t no epiphany.

Let’s chuck out Blairite turncoats, they are not our friend.
Get rid of Blairite traitors, they’ve never been our friend.
We need a socialist Europe, we need austerity to end.

All around the Clocktower (apologies to Bob Dylan)

July 8, 2018

“There must be some kind of a way outta here”, said Sir Soulsby to the thief.
“There’s way too much crosstown traffic, I’ve got to build me a relief
road through Aylestone Meadows. JCBs dig my earth.
None of our fifty Labour councillors, have any idea what its worth”.

“No reason to get excited”. The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us, who think you are but a joke.
But you and I, we know the score, and this is not our fate.
Here is a shiny £1 coin, payment for Braunstone Gate.”

All around the Clocktower – the homeless slept right through
buskers endlessly busking, and street preachers too.
Outside, by cold Welford Road, the Tigers they did roar.
Two riders were approaching, Leicester rain began to pour.

Study of a Girl in Blue

June 28, 2018

In this hitherto undiscovered artwork, we see the transition between Picasso’s blue period and his move away from direct representation. The face of the girl is simplified in a clear break with artistic norms.

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