Friday, 29 August 2014

One Nation Labour - the Lesser Evil?

People will say to us, "We must keep out the Tories and UKIP. Therefore we must vote for the lesser evil - One Nation Labour!" Others will say, “If you stand, there is a danger of splitting the left vote".

These are the arguments of people with short term political memory loss! Have they forgotten what New Labour did?!  Wasn't it New Labour who got us to where we are today? 

This is what happened. New Labour was elected in a 1997 "landslide" - with fewer votes than John Major obtained in the previous election! Each subsequent election brought New Labour fewer and fewer votes until, in 2010, it lost the election, with 8.6 million votes - just 22% of the electorate and nearly the lowest vote since 1935. Is this the march of victory which One Nation Labour supporters anticipate? (The full results are at the bottom of this post).

As we reported in a recent post, at their completely powerless policy conference the party voted on a good motion which wanted to commit Labour to fighting against public expenditure cuts and for working class policies. It was rejected, overwhelmingly!

A vote for New Labour is NOT a vote for the left! They were war-mongers! They helped get us into the Iraq war on false pretences. They sold arms to the Indonesian government as it tried to suppress a local uprising. They supported Putin as he devastated Chechnya. In 2006 Labour offered unconditional support to Israel as it attacked Lebanon. (And what has Labour’s response been to the recent war on Gaza?)

It was New Labour who introduced “light touch” financial regulation. We know how that ended, in 2008! 

Britain used to be the “workshop of the world”. Under Thatcher the share of manufacturing in the economy fell from 26% to 22%. Under New Labour it fell further, to around 12%!

At the beginning of the 1990s the richest 1% owned 17% of total UK wealth. Under New Labour that share increased to 21%.

Under New Labour, Tory privatisation zeal continued. It was New Labour, for example, that sold off the London Tube network!

It was under New Labour that Tory NHS commercialisation and privatisation picked up more speed. According to Treasury figures, by 2009 over 900 PFI (privatisation) projects had been signed, worth around £72 billion. 

It was the 2000 NHS Act which set up an “internal market” within the NHS. By 2008 there were 13,000 fewer general and acute beds!

In 1998, Blunkett introduced tuition fees. New Labour introduced “faith schools” and "city academies”.

Do you remember the “cash for peerages” scandal of 2006-7?  Thatcher created on average 18 peers a year. John Major created 25 a year. Under Blair - it was 37. In relation to this, Blair became the first Prime Minister to be questioned by police in a criminal investigation.

As the New Left Review magazine said (which journal is responsible for much of the information above), “There is no reason why voters should be any more sentimental about the Labour Party than it has been about them”.

The Labour Party is decrepit and bankrupt; it is finished as a force in the interests of working people. It is not the lesser evil.

People may ask, “So what is the TUSC?” It would not be wrong for us to reply, “WE are Labour! We are what the best of Labour used to be!”.

Our next post will look at Croydon’s Labour Manifesto.

[The election figures mentioned above (in millions of votes) are - 1992, Tories 14.1: 1997, Labour 13.5: 2001, Labour 10.7: 2005, Labour 9.6: 2010, Labour loses with 8.6 million]

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Immigration - TUSC Answers the Lies!

This is the opener for an ongoing effort to supply labour movement answers to the lies and misinformation of the pro-business political parties, their corporate media friends and the Lords, Ladies and lickspittles of UKIP.

This will be particularly crucial if we are able to stand a local Parliamentary candidate (or two!) in the May General Election! 

If you have any particular issues you want us to cover, or questions you want answering, let us know.

“Divide and Rule” has been a core policy of the governing classes for hundreds of years. Getting working people to fight amongst themselves, damaging their social solidarity, and having them blame each other for what is happening, is one of the most important political strategies of the ruling class.

Something heard quite often is - "They take our jobs!"
But how can anyone “take” a job? A worker does not have the power to do that.

It is the employer who chooses who works and who does not!

An employer will often select an immigrant worker for a job, because desperate people are a source of cheap and pliable labour. Labour to be super-exploited!

The only way to stop immigrant workers being used to undermine wages and conditions is to UNIONISE THEM and fight alongside them for a living wage and decent conditions.

The fight for £10 an hour minimum wage for ALL workers is one of the best ways of fighting racism and workers disunity. Ten pounds an hour across the board, no exceptions, no exclusions, would leave no room for employers to use immigrants to drive down wages!

To blame immigrants is to be on the same side as the worst employers. Workers’ disunity helps those employers exploit ALL workers.

Politically, the racist is the employers' little helper!

The people who are REALLY responsible for "taking jobs" are the employers!

It is employers (usually the largest of them) who are closing firms, reducing head counts, outsourcing work overseas!

Did immigration cause Nestl├ęs to move out of Croydon and cut jobs?

Morrisons announced 2,600 job losses in June this year. Did immigrants cause that?

Some Facts (from reliable sources!)

You are nearly twice as likely to be claiming benefits if you are NOT an Immigrant, than if you are.

Immigrants comprise 9% of the UK population. In Germany 13%, in the US 13%.

The Financial Times in its editorial (11 Jan, 2014) said, “Claims that immigrants as a whole are a burden on the state are wrong: the young people who predominate contribute more as taxpayers than they absorb in welfare.”

Of all immigrants arriving from the EU since 2010, 2% have claimed unemployment benefit, even though 6% were eligible.

Working people will always seek a better life; seek to escape war, violence and poverty, corrupt political systems. This is true for British people also, five million of whom live abroad.

Monday, 18 August 2014

St Helier & Single Issue campaigns; worthwhile?

This is a personal view from Steve Appleton. If you have comments, please post them.

In Sutton, during the May local election, there was a good campaign waged in defence of St Helier Hospital, whose future remains uncertain. Several individuals stood as “Save Our St Helier” candidates; many windows had posters. 

I’m not sure, though, that single issue campaigns and candidates is the right way forward. Is a single issue campaign, even one as important as this, the best way to achieve results? 

The issues affecting St Helier are no different from those affecting all hospitals - things like privatisation, tick box “performance measurement”, outsourcing, low wages, etc. 

Some people told us they wanted to keep the campaign non-political. They said that politics will put people off.

But it is politics - mainstream, pro-business politics - that’s the main cause of the problem! The policy of all main parties (including UKIP) is aimed at “Americanising” the NHS and selling whole parts of it to profit-seeking corporations - allowing them to exploit the NHS for profit. 

During 2013, more than £5 billion NHS contracts were put out to tender, and around 70% went to the private sector. 

The ultimate aim is getting clearer by the day. Private care for the richest (already in place), insurance-based health care for those who can afford the monthly fees, and a free but inevitably poorest quality service for the rest of us. And even that may become means-tested!

Can any campaign to save St Helier really ignore these wider issues? Can it treat St Helier in splendid isolation, as though it wasn’t part of the government’s pro-rich, anti-public sector agenda? 

Single issue campaigns can help raise awareness. But they can also let politicians off the hook - the very politicians whose parties are wrecking the NHS! All the main parties in Sutton “support” the St Helier campaign. They are hypocrites, and we shouldn’t hide that from the people of Sutton! They are part of the problem, not the solution!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Housing in Sutton

In a gushing report, Mike Murphy-Pyle, the “local” Guardian's ace reporter, revealed recently that Sutton council is to build some councils houses! This is something that has not occurred to Sutton’s councillors for 25 years!

However, there is even less to this than meets the eye. First, they will apparently pay for these new homes from the money made from council house sales. A hundred such houses have been sold in the last two years. So what they’re saying is they’ll sell council houses, then use the money to build council houses!

The Tories supported the proposals (which gives you an idea how “radical” they were). It was also reported that councillors took the time to stress, “the importance of making sure the buildings are of good quality”. No flies on these people; this is truly top quality thinking.

Presumably the existing stock of housing managed by the Sutton Housing “Partnership” is already, “of good quality”…

In government, the very same parties as those running Sutton’s lamentable council, are actively slashing the financial support that councils get (see earlier posts). They say “we” cannot afford public services.

However, we can afford to pay, for example,
- £ 1 billion a year subsidy to the privatised railway companies, and
- nearly £3 billion a year in subsidy to the privatised bus companies!

But we can’t afford to subsidise affordable housing!

The unpaid tax reportedly owed by companies like Boots, Vodaphone and others, to say nothing of the billions squirrelled away in tax havens by “hard working” billionaires, could, if it was collected, pay for housing - and very much more!

It’s all about priorities. Now, if you were a banker…

Thursday, 14 August 2014

TUSC Parliamentary Candidates in Croydon, Sutton, Next May?

The major issue we agreed on 13th August was that our next meeting (on 10th September) should focus entirely on discussing, and deciding, about standing candidates in Croydon and Sutton at the May General Election!

Our initial thoughts were that we should (and probably could) stand a candidate in Croydon (possibly North) and that, if possible, we should try to do the same in Sutton.

There would be substantial cost and work involved. However, we took the view that it is about time working people in the boroughs are given a real choice, and can vote for someone who will be a tribune for ALL workers and young people. The mainstream candidates have had a free ride for too long.

Unfortunately “One Nation Labour” offers nothing that would shift the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people. It is now a pale and waning shadow of what it once was - even though there may be one or two honourable exceptions amongst its MPs and potential candidates. Trade unions themselves have now virtually no collective power within what was once their party.

We will be calling upon the Trades Councils of Sutton and Merton, and Croydon, and their constituent unions, to consider whether they too should enter the fray with us. Unions such as the RMT have, of course, already started down this road - having, with others, set up the TUSC!

In furtherance of this, the annual conference of trades councils, held in Cardiff this summer, passed an important resolution on political representation. This called on unions, “to begin an urgent debate about political representation for trade unionists and working class people, including whether we need a new, mass workers’ party and how such a party might come about”.

Here in Sutton and Croydon we could make a real start, now, by standing candidates committed to the basic TUSC platform. Candidates for the millions, not the millionaires!

If not here, where? If not now, when? If not us, who?

Will you join us?

Watch this space…

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Liberals' Lament

Sutton's Liberals complain most bitterly, in a leaflet recently pushed through doors, about, “unprecedented reductions in our funding”, which means they will be “forced” to make cuts in services. They don’t seems to have noticed that they, the Liberals, are part of the very government about which they complain! And strange, they made no mention of this prior to the May local elections! 

Their leaflet implies the issue has appeared quite unexpectedly, out of the blue! With much wailing and gnashing of teeth they lament the need for this dreadful austerity (austerity for most, that is). On a new, purpose-built website you can almost hear the sound of their many wringing hands! They have, it says, “taken a careful and measured approach” in these “difficult circumstances”. Undoubtedly many tears will have been shed.

However, they are making the people of Sutton a very generous offer - the opportunity to participate in choosing which of their services will be cut! This is the equivalent of holiday-makers on the Titanic being asked to suggest who should be selected for the few remaining lifeboats. (The first class passengers having already sailed away on theirs…). 

We can expect precisely nothing from these inveterate cynics, as they mourn these "difficult times".

The Liberals and Tories, UKIP lick-spittles and, regretably, "One Nation Labour", all sing from the same hymn sheet. That hymn would have us believe, much as Thatcher did, that There Is No Alternative. We must make savings. We can no longer afford public services and the welfare state. We can only afford to bail out the richest; to subsidise with public money the great captains of industry.

They all of them take for granted something TUSC does not. That working people (regrettably of course) must bear the burden of the crisis. A crisis they didn't cause, but which they are expected to pay for.

There is an alternative, of course. But it means putting the democratic forces of organised labour and working people at the helm of government, local and national. It means breaking the power of big business and banks - whose interests are privileged ahead of all others. It means running the economy in the interests of those who create the wealth; not those who destroy it, squander it or hide it in tax havens!

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