Archive for the ‘socialist alternative’ Category

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.

Socialist Alternative: Challenging the Democrats

November 8, 2013

In the US, the Democratic Party was once supposed to represent working people. Yet many of the labour unions in America are closely tied to the interests of the bosses rather than the workers. The Democrats are funded largely by large donations from corporations and Obama has continued an aggressive foreign policy, has failed to introduce even the modest reform of Medicare and there has been no let up in the agenda of austerity, with many thousands of homeowners facing the nightmare of repossession, in the richest country in the world.

It is clear, I think, that we need a new party to challenge for power, and to stand up for the interests of ordinary Americans. In Seattle and in Minnesota, and with branches growing across the US, Socialist Alternative has been able to do this in two recent elections.

Ty Moore, standing for Socialist Alternative in Minneapolis, is just 130 votes behind the Democratic candidate, with second and third preference votes yet to be counted. See – for more details of his campaign.

Just as exciting is the battle in Seattle, with Kshama Sawant on 48% and rising, again with many ballots still to be counted. This is likely to be neck-and-neck, as the Sawant campaign gathered momentum in the final days leading up to the election. See for updates.

Both socialist candidates stood on a programme of a $15 minimum wage, for investment in real jobs, against cuts to public services and to support fighting trade unions. Both stood against foreclosures to people’s homes and for tax rises for millionaires to take people out of poverty.

These campaigns show that where they are seen as posing a viable alternative to capitalist cuts, socialists can achieve victory. However, while these are massively important and inspirational victories, whatever the final result, for working class representation in politics, the fact remains that these are just two seats. We still need to challenge the entire system of capitalism. However, the working class make up the vast majority of society and are the producers of the world’s wealth – we hold the power to make the world stop.

Support Socialist Alternative in the US. Support TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, in the UK in order to help build a similar alternative – against cuts and austerity and for working-class representatives on a workers’ wage.

Update – as I write, the final result in Minneapolis is in: 42% for Ty and 47% for the Democrat – this is an incredible achievement for our small party in America, which just lost by 229 votes, after second and third preference votes were counted.

Update – Kshama Sawant is on course for a probable narrow victory, with a likely recount. Ballots in Seattle are counted in the order they are received, and there is a tendency for more conservative voters to vote early, while more impulsive, radical voters tend to vote later. This has certainly held true in this election with the first batch of ballot papers being 46% to 54% in favour of the Democrat, Richard Conlin, while in later batches Kshama Sawant led by 56% to 44%. It also shows the grassroots support for the socialist campaign, with hundreds of volunteers knocking doors to win support in the days running up to the election. This is despite Sawant’s challenger having one of the best-funded Democratic campaigns in the region (thanks, of course, to largely corporate donations).