Archive for the ‘leicestershire against the cuts’ Category

On Mark Serwotka, socialism and why we need ECMO

November 20, 2016

I read a very moving article in the Guardian on the plight of the leader of the PCS union Mark Serwotka. One of the most militant trade union leaders in the UK, he started his working life as a benefits clerk in the civil service.

Whilst taking his black labrador for a walk, the dog rolled in mud. He washed it down, only to suffer what he thought was an allergic reaction. It turned out to be a life-threatening virus. Two weeks later, it caused his heart to start beating at 220bpm, and an MRI scan found scarring on his internal organs.

After life-saving surgery at Papworth Hospital, Serwotka has been given a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device), which uses similar technology  to the ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine, which keeps new-born babies who suffer from congenital heart problems alive. He had to keep himself plugged in to the briefcase-sized unit at all times, which did the work of his heart in pumping blood around his body. This technology was pioneered at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, which accounts for 50% of the country’s ECMO capacity.

Last Saturday, I attended a packed rally at Socialism 2016, where PCS Deputy General Secretary and Socialist Party member Chris Baugh spoke in Mark Serwotka’s place. Chris paid tribute to Mark’s struggle, but also alluded to the struggle we have under capitalism to combat climate change, the need to fight for socialism, as well as Tory government attacks on the PCS union. This included the right to facility time for representatives, and the removal of automatically deducted union subs from payslips. All this because the PCS had dared to stand up against pension cuts, staff losses and austerity, and been one of the most effective trade unions in the country. The union had succeeded in recruiting 152,000 union members, which the government had effectively disenfranchised  and removed from the union. Their intention, starting with the PCS union, is to destroy the trade union movement as a fighting force to stand up for workers’ rights.

The reason Mark Serwotka could not attend in person, was that he had developed a blood clot. He now has to be given a constant supply of blood thinning medication, through an intravenous drip, meaning he has been confined to Papworth Hospital, while awaiting a heart transplant.

Like Mark and the PCS union, the Glenfield Children’s Heart unit which pioneered the technology which is keeping him alive, also faces a fight for its survival. Leicester Socialist Party, Green Party, Momentum, Keep Our NHS Public, the UNITE union, and parents of children who had been treated at the Glenfield Hospital, organised a 1,500 strong demonstration through the streets of Leicester, chanting “Save Our Glenfield, Save Our Kids”.

There is an online petition to Parliament, which I urge you to sign. It calls for a public review into the threatened closure of the Children’s Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital, along with the Royal Brompton in London and Greater Manchester Children’s Heart Unit.

Let us keep the heart of trade unionism beating, let us keep children’s hearts beating and let us build a socialist society to protect a publicly-funded NHS and vital public services, without which Mark Serwotka would not be alive today.

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We need to keep our E C M O

August 29, 2016

Tories, closing our heart units down;
I said, Tories, they’re making us frown.
I said, Tories, vested interests abound.
We need to get very angry!

Children, born with holes in their hearts,
Fragile babies, who need the best start.
You can go there, and I’m sure you will find
Surgeons with skills to repair you.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygen,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Families, stay with their loved ones,
I said, families, we were all young once.
I said, families, with support and love,
We need to be there for one another.

No man, does it all by himself.
Don’t let Tories, put our hearts on the shelf,
We can go there, to the Glenfield Hospital.
I’m sure they can help you today.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Tories – when they make you feel blue
I said, Tories, pick yourself off the ground,
They don’t care, that children are kept alive
Their hypocrisy is so jive…

That’s why, we need our NHS Trusts,
We say, no more privatisation and cuts.
We have technology, called the E C M O
That can start you back on your way.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Tories, they come in both blue and red.
I said, Tories, they don’t care if we’re dead.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Young child, young child, you didn’t have a good start,
Young child, young child, with a hole in your heart.

There’s a petition, you can find it online,
A petition, it won’t take you much time:
To MPs, although they are mostly scum,
But it might, just, get something done.

Sign the official Parliamentary petition here for a review into the closure of Children’s Heart Units, at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, in Manchester and at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

 

 

 

SUPPORT JUNIOR DOCTORS, SAVE OUR NHS!

April 10, 2016

 

nhs

Our NHS is under attack like never before, and we must act now to save it. As a worker in the NHS and a UNISON member, I chaired a protest organised by Leicestershire Against The Cuts last Saturday. Itbrought together campaigners from groups such as TUSC, the Socialist Party, Momentum, and Keep Our NHS Public, alongside trade unionists including the NUT, Unite Community and junior doctors from the BMA. We had a lively rally and march through Leicester city centre, with many students and young people raising their voices – we need our public health service to still be there for future generations.

People were angry that cuts are being made to local NHS services – the nearby Hinckley and Bosworth Community Hospital is earmarked  for closure and 400 beds are under threat at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, under the so-called “Better Care Together” programme. Health bosses say inpatient services will transfer into community care. However, community health resources are already paper-thin.  In reality, the NHS is being run down and privatised.

Junior doctors are striking to defend their terms and conditions, because they see the government’s attack on their terms and conditions as an attack on the whole of the NHS. A doctor on a picket line at Leicester General Hospital said that junior doctors are seen as an easy target, as their contract is up for renewal. Jeremy Hunt is seeking to impose a new contract, without any meaningful negotiation. Doctors do not want to go on strike, but when patient  care and the future of the NHS is at stake, they have no other choice.

Peter Flack, from the NUT union, mentioned the need for co-ordinated industrial action – teachers are currently being balloted for ongoing strike action, because of education cuts and the enforced academisation of schools. We believe that the big health unions, UNISON and Unite, should also beballoting their members. NHS pay has been frozen in real terms  for the last six years. Unite estimates that NHS staff have had a 13-19% pay cut as a result. Contrast this with the tax avoidance of the super-rich, exposed in the Panama Papers leak. The PCS union estimates that around £130bn a year is lost through  tax evasion – that is more than the entire NHS budget for England and Wales! Who does the most useful work in society, David Cameron or NHS staff?

Sally Ruane, of Keep Our NHS Public, pointed out the lack of resources put into public healthcare in the UK compared to other wealthy economies. The government wants to make the NHS a “24/7 service”, but are refusing to pay for this! The result is that if they get their way, doctors, nurses and admin staff will be forcedto work longer hours, for less reward. If you go to hospital,  you do not want to be treated by exhausted staff, who have to make life-or-death decisions.

Mark Gawthorpe, of Unite Community, spoke about the strain on the disabled and unemployed. The government’s cuts to disability benefit, are resulting in mental health problems and, tragically, suicides.  It is all right for tax-avoiding MPs, who can simply “go private”. What about the rest of us? The NHS is there for all, not just for those who can afford it.

It was good to see supporters of Jeremy Corbyn from Momentum on the demonstration – however, Corbyn faces an uphill struggle to reform the Labour Party, given that it was Labour who introduced Foundation Trusts, privatising  the health service, with increased spending on PFI. Unfortunately, Blairites are still in control of the Labour Party machine. Corbyn should look outwards to the 100,000s of people who joined Labour and were enthused by his socialist principles. His words  need to turn into action. Right-wing MPs and councillors need to be deselected and the Labour Party needs to be made more democratic. Labour should be opposing all cuts to services, rather than merely wield the axe for the Tories, which is what Labour-controlled  councils up and down the country are sadly doing.

Dr Jon Dale, a Unite member, concluded the rally by putting forward the Socialist Party’s alternative. We stand for investment into our healthcare service. We would scrap extortionate PFI deals, where health trusts owe private companies £billions. We would kick out the fat cats from our health  service by abolishing the Health and Social Care Act, which has opened NHS services up to tender to “any willing provider”. Richard Branson’s Virgin Health, for example, has taken over Wiltshire Childrens’ Services for £64m. We would nationalise  the pharmaceutical companies, which rip off the NHS by overcharging for medicine. We demand a publicly-owned, properly funded National Health Service, as envisaged by the Welsh socialist Nye Bevan, almost 70 years ago. The Tories want to get rid of the  NHS. If you want to protect our health service, join the socialists!

Save Our Services in Leicester

May 10, 2014

On Thursday 8th May, the public gallery was full as the scrutiny committee of Leicester Council met to discuss cuts to voluntary services in the city. Leicester Race Equality Centre (TREC) and Leicester Council of Faiths were both allowed to submit a response (although they were limited to just 5 minutes each to put their case).

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TREC argued that it provided a unique service, responsive to the needs of diverse communities in the city, often working with extremely deprived and vulnerable people, and had worked to improve relations between communities in the face of far-right attempts to increase racial tension, as has happened in Thurnby Lodge and with the EDL protests. In both these cases, TREC have been involved in combating racist ideas and developing dialogue between different ethnic groups.

The council’s response to TREC’s demands for an Equality Impact Assessment amounted to just 144 words, which was completely inadequate, and contrary to the council’s legal responsibility under the 2010 Equality Act. The council’s consultation exercise was itself discriminatory, by being on-line, it excluding people without access to the internet, whether due to poverty or to disability. Only 136 people responded, and only 78 attended public meetings, with overlap between the two groups. This failed to do justice to the vast number of people across Leicester City affected by the service cuts.

Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester, acknowledged the good work done by voluntary services in the city. However, he sought to blame the Tories for the cuts, rather than taking any responsibility himself for their implementation. He said that services had to go out to tender, as this was “the way of the world”, and that the council had no choice except to cut the overall funding pot. He failed completely to address the points relating to the failings of the council’s own report. Rather patronisingly, the groups were reminded that they could also apply for external funding and were offered assistance with this.

The response from both the Council of Faiths and TREC was that they already routinely approach external sources of funding, and that TREC had exceeded the council’s own agreement as to the services it provides, with a 98% satisfaction rate from users of the service. In the past year, TREC had dealt with 794 enquiries, and faced a 70% increase in cases of harrassment. Since 1967, an estimated 150,000 people had benefited from their support.

Mayor Soulsby went on to admit that a total of 18 other services were having to go through similar reviews, such as children and adult services. It is obvious therefore, that the cuts being made by the council are widespread and affect the most vulnerable people in our society disproportionately – in the case of TREC, asylum seekers, refugees and people experiencing discrimination or harrassment. TREC works with all communities in the city.

However, Soulsby offers no strategy to stop cuts to services. We were left wondering – what was the point of voting in a Labour Mayor, or 52 Labour councillors, if they then fail to provide any meaningful opposition? In the 2015 elections in Leicester, the Socialist Party as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), will provide such a principled opposition. If any Labour councillors are prepared to break ranks and vote against cuts, then we will support them in their stand. However, we are seeking to put forward as many candidates as possible against councillors who cut services. We will also look to stand against Soulsby in the mayoral elections, in order to save jobs and vital services in the city.

The Socialist Party would scrap the tendering process, it merely adds bureaucracy and opens up public services to the private sector. Instead of wasting resources in drawing up tender documents and having to justify themselves to the council, services should simply be able to get on with the job they are supposed to do.

We point out that the council has a choice – it could refuse to implement cuts and use its £150 million reserves to buy time to build a campaign to force the government to back down on its austerity agenda. If Leicester united with other Labour councils across the country, and built support amongst council trade unions for united strike action, the government would face massive opposition and could be forced into a position where it had to back down. However, if Labour councillors are not prepared to fight, and the overwhelming evidence is that the vast majority of them will do nothing – then they should stand aside for others who will.

The Socialist Party has a long track record of fighting successful battles against cuts – for example Liverpool Council’s fight against Thatcher from 1983 to 1987 and the mass non-payment of the Poll Tax in 1990. We will continue to fight against all cuts to services, whichever party is implementing them.

Why we should get rid of the Mayoral system- From the Leicester Mercury

April 22, 2014

Save our Services- Sack Mayor Soulsby

First Person: The electorate should finally have its say on Leicester’s mayoral system

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: April 22, 2014

Leicester Against The Cuts protestor Steve Score

Leicester Against The Cuts protestor Steve Score

 Leicester Against The Cuts protestor Steve Score says we should get a vote on whether to keep the city’s mayoral system.

In 2011, Leicester elected an executive mayor. Today, this one person has more power over council services than all of the 54 equally democratically elected councillors. The previous system, where the councillors elected their own leadership and had more power to make decisions, was replaced without asking the people of Leicester.

In other cities, a referendum was held to decide on the change, most deciding against. In Leicester, we did not get the opportunity to vote.

Yes, the executive mayor is an elected position, but in his four-year term of office he can do virtually what he wants.

Councillors are…

View original post 375 more words

Busk For Socialism

November 26, 2013

open mic2

Save Our Adventure Playgrounds

November 19, 2013

Over 100 children, parents and members of the community surrounded the entrance to Leicester Town Hall last night, chanting, “No to cuts!”. Leicester Council is shamefully considering cutting its funding to adventure playgrounds by 40%, putting nine adventure playgrounds across the city at risk as a result. These are sited in areas of deprivation, and allow children the freedom to play safely in supervised surroundings. They have been a feature of growing up in Leicester since the nineteen-sixties and seventies. The council’s actions have been announced, without even the usual pretense of consultation.

More protests are planned, and the campaign will not give up. As the Labour council in Leicester has a huge majority, with only one councillor in opposition, it is not surprising that people are asking themselves why can they not stand up against Tory cuts to the budget?

I am a member of Leicestershire Against The Cuts, a body which seeks to unite opposition to all cuts to services across the city and county. The principle we must apply is “an injury to one is an injury to all” – that if one service is threatened, the whole community must gather round to protect it, whether they themselves are affected or not. Organised at very short notice, the protest drew together groups of people from across the city – this must be replicated wherever cuts are made.

Leicestershire Against The Cuts and the Socialist Party, instead of capitulating to Tory cuts to council budgets, would put forward a fighting programme – of building opposition to the council’s plans in every estate in the city, of linking up with other councils willing to fight, and of putting forwards a needs budget, to win necessary resources back from central government. We believe that there is no need to make cuts to any services.

These cuts are on top of the council passing on the Tories’ bedroom tax, and cutting council tax benefit, both of which are hurting the disabled and the poor disproportionately. We are also organising campaigns, together with Unite Community, to blockade people’s houses if anyone is in danger of eviction. We must resist all cuts and in elections, we stand as part of TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), standing against privatisation and cuts to services.
However, Labour councils up and down the country have shown themselves to be unwilling to participate in this struggle, shrugging their shoulders in apology, but still adhering slavishly to Cameron’s austerity programme. It is because they can see no alternative to austerity, and are wedded to this system of capitalism. However, just as PASOK (the equivalent of New Labour) has lost much of its support in Greece because of its capitulation to the demands of the EU, and Socialist Alternative is challenging the Democrats in the US, on the back of the Occupy movement and the shutdown of government caused by the impasse around the budget deficit, in Britain too, people will look for an alternative.

For socialists, that alternative is democratic planning and decision making, bringing companies into public ownership, and an equal distribution of the wealth which is in society.

It wasn’t ordinary people who created this economic crisis, it was speculation by bankers, gambling on mortgages, which were paid with money people simply didn’t have. We should not be the ones who have to pay the price.

Patiently explain . . . thoughts on the local election results

May 5, 2013

If you want to see what Britain will be like in a few years’ time, if the trend of the Con-Dem’s planned spending cuts, continued wholesale privatisation of our NHS and further erosion of our living standards is not overthrown by mass strike action on the part of the labour movement, then look at Greece.

With wages stagnating, and workers simply not being given the money to enable us to buy back what we make, the economy will continue to bottom-out, or go into another nose-dive into recession. Without any jobs being created for young people, without the prospect of a decent, free education, then it is not surprising if people look to blame each other for their situation, rather than the real culprits – the super-rich who made money speculating on loans which people could not afford to pay back (the reason for the financial crisis in 2008), and tax avoidance by large companies to the tune of £120 billion a year. Combined with the constant coverage of UKIP in the media, and the usual barrage of anti-immigrant propaganda in the right wing press, the rise in vote for UKIP in the local elections last Thursday is not surprising, as this was an easy way for voters to voice their discontent with the government. Labour hardly benefited at all, and the Lib Dems face political oblivion.

However, when the 147 newly-elected UKIP councillors are actually put to the test, voters will inevitably find an odious, corrupt party of the establishment, with racist undertones. This will hopefully in turn be rejected, just as the BNP have been wiped out in these elections. The question then is, where are protest votes going to be channelled? Without a mass, left-wing opposition, this could develop into far-right, neo-fascist sympathies, as has happened to some extent in Greece with a rise in support for Golden Dawn, an openly neo-Nazi party.

A major difference between Greece and the UK, apart from the savage depth of the cuts – leading to malnutrition amongst children, for example – there is a party called Syriza, which has opposed austerity measures. It has been the vessel into which much of the intense anger against the main parties has poured (particularly PASOK, their equivalent of New Labour). Syriza is now jointly in the lead with New Democracy, the Conservative party of government (both on 20% in the opinion polls). Rewind back a few years, before the cuts impacted on Greek society, when PASOK was the main opposition – then Syriza’s vote could be counted in terms of 5-6%.

I support TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Like Syriza, it is the beginning, I think, of something much bigger, as the cuts continue to bite. What direction and character such a mass party of the working class will have is yet to be determined. One thing is clear – all the other parties, from the Greens on the soft-left, to New Labour on the centre-right, to Tories on the right wing, to UKIP on the far-right – they all stand for cuts. Only TUSC is opposed to all cuts in services, for a decent, living minimum wage for all, to investing in and renationalising our NHS and rebuilding a comprehensive, publicly funded education system, free for all, from nursery to University. Another similar vision is Ken Loach’s Left Unity project, and I hope that the two can work together to provide an alternative to cuts.

Visit TUSC’s website for the election results.
TUSC’s election results 2013
These elections were held under difficult circumstances for the hard-left. There has been the usual lack of coverage of our campaign, and Labour were much more visible in opposition to the Tories. However, our 120 candidates achieved some remarkable results in this context. As cuts start to bite even further, the need for a co-ordinated, left-wing challenge to the austerity agenda is ever greater.

Having completed writing this, I am just off now to canvass for TUSC in a by-election in Abbey Ward, Leicester, where the political landscape is somewhat different, with 52 Labour councillors and just two others – 1 Lib Dem and 1 Tory in the council. Yet the lack of opposition to cuts is still overwhelming. Labour are carrying through the bedroom tax, axing homeless places and council-funded care homes. If a TUSC councillor were to be elected, this would be a massive step forward for the people of the city. We are standing to provide, in a small way at this stage, opposition to the mantra that the poor, the disabled, those on benefits must pay for the economic crisis.

Just as has happened in Greece and throughout Southern Europe, opposition to cuts will definitely grow. We urgently need a mass party of the left to be there for ordinary people. The choice is between socialism or barbarism.

Update – Election results Abbey Ward by-election 9th May
Labour (Vijay Riyait) 1190 elected 47.9% (+0.9%)
Conservatives (Dipak Joshi) 562 22.6% (+9%)
Independent (Terry McGreal) 352 14.8% – this was a NIMBYist campaign against traveller sites
Lib Dem Focus Team (John Taylor) 212 8.6% (In 2011, the Lib Dems and Liberals got a combined total of 602 votes)
TUSC (Tessa Warrington) 165 6.65%

This result gives us a good base, in an area of Leicester where we have not stood before, to build real opposition to cuts and to the bedroom tax.

Homeless

March 6, 2013

Two hundred hostel places cut
The headline screams.
Two hundred lives shut down.
Wasted dreams

Of a job and a flat of your own
Instead we are thrown
Out on to the streets
Faceless, alone, deadbeats.

We shiver in the cold
As we struggle to hold
On to dignity and hope
That we can cope

With the boredom and pain,
Feeling tired and brittle,
Getting drenched in the rain
Facing insults and spittle

Dripping onto our cheeks
From the loud-mouthed gob
Of a lout, who reeks
Of alcohol. Just lost his job.

Don’t be too quick to condemn.
A few pints help to stem
The misery, being on the dole;
The stresses of life take their toll.

Isn’t this the 21st century?
Tomorrow’s World said we’d be
Riding round on rocket cars
Not sleeping rough ‘neath uncaring stars.

Note: Leicester’s 51 Labour councillors are considering cutting 200 homeless places. With the loss of yet more jobs, the future for homeless people in the city looks bleak. Yet the council could stop the cuts. They could fight the government, rather than doing the Tories’ dirty work for them. However, the homeless are fighting back – a 200-strong protest outside the recent budget-setting meeting won a reprieve, while the Lord Mayor (on a £60,000/year salary) considers what to do. I can tell him what to do – instead of spending the council’s reserves on making its employees redundant, build a campaign to protect jobs and services. That’s the programme put forward by TUSC and Leicestershire Against The Cuts.

Local elections in Leicester – results for TUSC

May 7, 2011

Vote Against Cuts in Leicester local election results:

TUSC – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
UPS – Unity for Peace and Socialism

Braunstone Park & Rowley Fields
Fiona NEVILLE TUSC 181 5.3%
Debbie STOKES TUSC 146 4.3%
Stephen SCORE TUSC 113 3.3%

Castle
Alex MOORE TUSC 232 5.6%

Coleman
Avtar SINGH UPS 229 4.9%
Ashvin VYAS UPS 122 2.6%

Evington
Mohinder FARMA UPS 205 4.8%
Haridev DASANJH UPS 142 3.3%

Knighton
Paul O’CONNELL TUSC 156 2.3%

Rushy Mead
Suraj SHAH TUSC 272 4.9%

Stoneygate
Becci HEAGNEY TUSC 190 2.7%
Drew WALTON TUSC 176 2.5%

Westcotes
Dean KAVANAGH TUSC 71 3.5%

Thanks to all those who supported TUSC, but we still face Labour cuts to hospitals, schools and libraries. The overwhelming vote for Labour indicates that the people of Leicester are not prepared to put up with Con-Dem cuts. However, we can’t rely on Labour to defend jobs and services. As part of TUSC, the Socialist Party will continue to campaign against ALL cuts to services. Unlike the main parties, we are not just there at election time, but campaign all year round.

Come to our public meeting: Turkey Cafe (Granby St), Tuesday 10th May, 7.30pm – How can we defeat cuts in Leicester?

Vicious cuts to public services are NOT necessary. The money is there in society, but we need a mass party which stands up for ordinary people, not big business and fat cat bankers. Come and hear about the socialist alternative to cuts and closures.

TUSC will continue to fight back and help build a massive opposition to cutbacks. We are campaigning for a no cuts budget based on the needs of people in Leicester. It can be done! Liverpool city council fought back in the 1980’s and won £60 million back from Margaret Thatcher’s government.

To stop the cuts, we need people to get involved . . .

If you would like more information about our campaigns or to join our party, contact Steve on 0773798057 or email: stephen.score@ntlword.com

Follow us on facebook – Vote Against Cuts in Leicester