Posts Tagged ‘labour’

A Tale of Three Cities

May 6, 2016


Picture: Nick Chaffey (Southampton Socialist Party)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Labour have, against the odds – after the Collins Review, which was based on the assumption that the electorate in the UK are right-wing and agree that austerity is a necessary evil; on the Blairite assumption that you have to moderate your demands to the very mildest squeaks of protests against the Tories to be “electable”; on the assumption that the Left and trade union movement were finished, so that it was now safe to open up the Labour leadership election to anyone who could stump up the price of a pint – elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. He stands against cuts, for peace and socialism and for a new kind of politics.

So why are the majority of the Labour Parliamentary Party and Labour councillors at odds with their own leader? He has been mandated with 6o% of the vote – their most popular Labour leader in decades. He has the potential to win over the mass of the electorate who don’t vote, because they have no-one who stands up for their interests. the only choice on offer is of three parties made up of professional politicians who see their calling as a career, not as a privilege, most of whom were educated at private schools and who would happily take backhanders from private companies, in addition to their generous pensions, expenses, second home allowances and Parliamentary salaries.

By way of example, I take you to the first of our cities – Coventry, in the heart of England – a once thriving beacon of industrialism, which was home to Britain’s engineering and transport industries. The factories stand idle – replaced with zero hour contracts and low paid jobs. There, the former socialist MP Dave Nellist (1983-92) stood and is still standing for a different vision, against Thatcher’s winner-take-all mentality, for community, socialism and a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage. He stood firmly against war and for basic principles of solidarity with ordinary people, that a representative in Parliament or on the council chamber is a shop steward for those who elected them, a voice for the dispossessed. Yet Labour still oppose the stand of TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and actively campaign against socialists – why do they not target Tory seats in the city?

We then travel to our second city, Southampton – where faced with the closure of a local swimming pool, two councillors, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas, opposed the ruling Labour council. For their principled position, they were kicked out of the Labour Party. They stood as Independent Councillors against Cuts and were comfortably re-elected. Yet Labour still stand in opposition to them. In last night’s local elections, the ward of Coxford gained another socialist, independent councillor, Tammy Thomas, the daughter of Don, who follows in his footsteps, fighting for a working-class political voice. Yet Labour campaigned hard against her.

Finally, in the town of Warrington, the former Labour councillor Kevin Bennett was forced out of Labour due to opposition to cuts. Yet the local Labour leaflet pleaded with voters not to indulge in gesture politics, but to stick with Labour councillors who were wielding the Tory axe to public services. Against a backdrop of boundary changes, a media blackout for TUSC, and a spirited campaign to keep his seat, he achieved a massively creditable 921 votes, just 76 short of being elected. Three Labour candidates, with a much larger national ‘machine’ behind them, unfortunately pipped him to the post. But why just one of them could not have stepped down, in order to make way for Kevin, is beyond me.

TUSC has the principle of bringing together all those who oppose cuts, whether in the Labour Party, or without, whether they come from different socialist traditions or not. We are trying, from a small base, to build a new mass workers’ party – to represent the interests of the 99%, not a tiny minority in society who own most of the wealth. We are not beholden to big business and support workers in struggle. We are glad that Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party and hope that it can be won over to the ideas of socialism. But would it be too much to ask, in the handful of seats where they have a real chance of winning, for the Labour Party to stand aside and not challenge socialists? This would be a hallmark of a party that is serious about transforming itself – after the dark days of Blairism – into a force that opposes all cuts, is truly democratic and casts aside any compromise with Tory austerity?

Instead, we have a Labour party at war with itself – plots to oust Corbyn, backbench rebellions and Labour councils which pass on Tory cuts. Corbyn should call a conference – with representatives of the 400,000 people who joined Labour to fight against cuts, of the trade unions and community campaigners. He should join with left forces outside the Labour Party, rather than fighting against those who share his aims.

Instead, sadly, Corbyn has sought to placate the right-wing of Labour – by suspending Ken Livingstone, by backing down on the EU, by not whipping MPs on Syria. Blairites need to be replaced with class fighters, otherwise Corbyn’s promises of equality and socialism will forever be a distant mirage.



Simple guide to the European elections

May 13, 2014

On May 22nd, we will be offered a choice of who to elect for the European Parliament and in many places there are also local elections.


No2EU Yes to Workers’ Rights


No to austerity. Oppose all cuts.

Will defend and restore trade union rights.

Renationalise the NHS, Post Office, and energy companies.

For a fully-integrated, publicly-owned transport network.

Exit left from the European Union. The EU cannot be reformed in the interests of workers.

No to the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

For a federal, socialist Europe.

No to racism and fascism.

For socialist policies to solve environmental catastrophe.

For an international struggle of all working people against capitalism.


Greens (mixture of soft-left, centre, soft-right). Green Left is an ecosocialist group within the Green Party.



For the environment and renewable energy.

For an increased income for poor workers.

No to the TTIP.

In power (Brighton Council), the Greens have still carried out cuts to services.

In power, the Greens have gone into coalition with mainstream parties, betraying their own principles (Ireland, Germany).

Greens tend to favour small business over large business, but have no strategy for getting rid of capitalism altogether.

The Green Party encapsulates a wide variety of political positions, from both left and right viewpoints. They have tried to portray themselves as neither left nor right wing, but purely environmentalists.


Labour / Conservatives / Liberal Democrats


All three main parties are in favour of cuts and privatisation.

Labour has done nothing to reverse Tory policies, Thatcher’s anti-trade union laws, or the privatisation of the railways under John Major, for example.

All three parties have already destroyed much of our NHS.

They are all in favour of academy schools or free schools and want to end comprehensive education.

They all back tuition fees for students (despite promises to scrap fees made by both Labour and Lib Dems in the past).

Labour, Lib Dems and Tories are all right-wing parties.

They are all officially pro-EU (to a greater or lesser extent) – however Tories and Labour are split on this issue.

None of them, in my opinion, are worth voting for. In local elections, a vote for TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) is an effective protest vote.


The far-right

UKIP are not a protest vote. They are part of the political establishment, being a right-wing split from the Tories. UKIP do not represent the interests of ordinary people. They are dangerous in seeking to blame immigrants for the nation’s woes, when in fact the real enemy is the banking sector, capitalist greed and financiers who were responsible for the banking crash of 2008. None of this was caused by poor immigrant workers, who actually contribute to our economy.

If you oppose Brussels and want to cast a protest vote, support No2EU Yes To Workers’ Rights.

Warning: Foundation Trusts are dangerous to your health

April 13, 2009

The Fairy Tale

The Trust’s New Clothes
(with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen)

Once upon a time the managers of a hospital were approached by some government ministers. They said they had developed a wonderful new gold thread, which was lightweight, easy to clean and would eliminate hospital-borne infections. They demonstrated their skills in tailoring, but the managers were completely perplexed, as they could see nothing at all! Seeing their anxious faces, the government was at pains to put them at ease.

The ministers said that if the wearer could not see the thread, it showed that they were incompetent and unfit for their job. Not wishing to appear foolish, one of the managers said, “Of course – I was just admiring the exquisite texture of the cloth”. The others nodded their heads in agreement.

When the new uniforms were ready, at great cost to the hospital which had to make cuts to staffing levels in order to make ends meet, the managers queued up excitedly to try them on. They commented on the fine texture of the cloth, how well the uniform fitted and how practical it was. Each of them in turn was astonished to find that they could see nothing at all, but, of course, they were all afraid to speak out, so instead they all joined in the chorus of admiration.

To gain approval for the new uniforms, the managers had to parade around the county, showing it to all and sundry. Questionnaires were provided to let the populace know about the plans for the new uniform. Word had spread that only those who were incompetent could not see the uniform and everyone filled in glowing praise on the forms for the new designs.

As the managers were parading themselves proudly in front of a public meeting, a solitary voice piped up at the back, “But they have got no clothes on!”

The public saw through the ministers’ plans and fought back against them. They managed to repair their old uniforms, which had grown very threadbare of late, as the cloth had been stretched thinner and thinner to pay for the gold material. They protested and organised themselves to fight to protect the founding principles of their hospital – that care should be made freely available to all at the point of need, and that no-one should profit from the illness of others. They all lived happily every after.

The reality

A report by the Healthcare Commission into Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust found that receptionists were assessing patients in A&E, thirsty patients had to drink from flower vases, blood was left on seats in the waiting area and patients were left to lie in their own urine and faeces. This was due to staff shortages as managers cut services to the absolute minimum in order to pave the way for Foundation Trust Status.

Mid Staffs NHS Trust has been described as a “third world” hospital. Yet this is in one of New Labour’s “flagship” NHS Trusts. Foundation Trusts mean privatisation, more bureaucracy and meaningless targets rather than decent patient care for all. We need to campaign to scrap PFI and Foundation Trusts and end the parasitical role of the private sector in the NHS once and for all.

The NHS is not safe in New Labour’s hands

We need to fight to save the NHS. Anyone who is reading this who is a member of a hospital applying for FT status – please send them a letter saying you have changed your mind and want to leave. This awful policy can’t happen if we don’t sign up to it. Join campaigning groups such as Keep Our NHS Public and support political parties such as the Socialist Party and the health trade unions, who are campaigning to keep the founding principles of the NHS intact.


Can you taste the difference?

April 12, 2009

We have three main flavours on offer at election time – all saccharine, bitter-tasting and guaranteed to leave a nasty aftertaste.

New Labour Cola

This is marketed as dependable, traditional and in touch with ordinary people. When Labour Cola it was launched 100 years ago, it was bottled by the trade unions, to give a different taste to the other drinks on offer – the Tories and the Liberals, which were strictly for the middle classes. However, Kinnock got hold of Thatcher’s recipe for Tory Pepsi and shamelessly ripped it off. Since then drinkers have commented that it lacks the bite of the original recipe as it has been watered-down. When the new recipe was tried out on a large scale across the country, the result was promising at first, as people thought it couldn’t possibly taste as bad as Tory Pepsi but after the novelty wore off, they soon realised that it left a horrible, saccharine aftertaste. Blair and Brown have stuck rigidly to the “New” recipe ever since, despite it becoming increasingly unpopular.

Tory Pepsi

Enjoyed by the rich, who invest in huge private stores of the stuff. This is an expensive tipple,  which promises much but ultimately fails miserably to deliver. Prolonged drinking leaves you soulless and greedy for more. Those who haven’t tried it before may be attracted by the glossy advertising, but in blind taste tests, people were disappointed to find that it tasted exactly the same as New Labour Cola.


The perennial third-placed drink on the market, it has never taken off. It is wishy-washy in flavour, and people are never sure exactly what it is supposed to taste like. Although it is marketed as being made with real lemons, it tastes like lemon substitute and in practice it rots your teeth just as effectively as New Labour Cola or Tory Pepsi. Pretty revolting by all accounts.

So what is the answer?

In 1906, with the launch of Labour Cola, the unions decided that working people needed a drink of their own. They promised to make a flavour that people actually enjoyed rather than one which was cheap to make and produced lots of profit. Now the bottling plant has been closed, the factory sold off and workers have lost their jobs. The only thing on offer is three shameless interpretations of the same horrible brew.

We need a new drink – a drink that is satisfying and good for you. One that lives up to its promises and won’t let you down. A draught that is refreshingly different, which has been formulated to meet the needs of ordinary people. A drink made by the trade unions, who are in touch with what people want from a beverage. If people are unhappy with the drink, they should be able to pass comments on to quality control and change the formula. Those who are in charge of the factory should not be careerists, who are only out for themselves. Their objective should be only to refresh those who voted for them.

We need a new party to represent ordinary drinkers. Join the campaign for a new workers’ party today.