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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tony Benn and Bob Crow

The following is a readers letter submitted to the News and Star:

Bob Crow and Tony Benn will be laid to rest this week, but their fight for workers' interests and for a better - a socialist - society is being taken up by a new generation.

Bob's determined, uncompromising leadership gave his union members confidence they could successfully defeat employers' attacks on their living standards and conditions of employment. The recent London Underground strike forced the arrogant Boris Johnstone to back down from sacking tube station staff and endangering passenger safety. Passengers also support his RMT's call for the nationalisation of the chaotic privatised railways.

Bob proved in the figures of jobs saved and £s gained (a 22% rise for poverty waged cleaners) that fighting trade unionism wins - hence the increase in membership from 50,000 to 80,000. No wonder members of some other unions whose living standards have slumped due to their officials' belief in 'social partnership' with public and private employers wish they had leaders like him.

Bob fought for all members of the working class, getting a vote carried by the TUC conference for a one day general strike against austerity and cuts (the TUC leaders are still sitting on it!) and setting up the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to fight for a new workers' party when New Labour expelled the RMT. At the coming council elections TUSC will field the largest list of candidates to the left of Labour for 70 years.

Tony Benn became a socialist after experiencing first hand the ability of working people to efficiently and democratically run their workplaces when the Glasgow shipyard workers occupied their yards, threatened with closure, and completed the production of ships under workers' control. He saw in practise that socialism could work, for the benefit of all. He subsequently supported the miners' fight for jobs and the socialists of Liverpool council who refused to carry out Tory cuts.

In his heart Tony had left Labour (or rather, Labour left him) and appeared in an election broadcast for Bob Crow's 'No2EU-yes to workers' rights' list, but didn't leave formally to avoid a family split in old age (his son is a Labour MP), but his belief was clear: "New Labour has come out more violently anti-union and anti-left than for many, many years. Constituency parties are no longer on the left because all the decent socialists have left, so its a Blairite rump."

Miliband even refused to attend the Durham Miners' Gala with Bob Crow or Tony Benn, but the Socialist Party was proud to fight alongside these two men of principle and will carry on their fight.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Terminal Care Privatisation

In 2012 when Andrew Lansey's Health and Social Care Bill was being brought in, Carlisle Socialist Party protested it vigorously leafleting the hospital and getting signitures on a petition. We warned that this wasn't privatisation through the back door but a full frontal assault on the priniple of health care as a service free at the point of use. At the very least it oppened the door to reduced quality of services and private companies scooping up public money. We presented a 500 signiture petition to Carlisle's MP calling for the Bill's repeal.

Lansley denied in Parliament that the bill would lead to a transfer of services to private companies but it was clear at the time that is was untrue. Now, care for terminally ill people and treatment for cancer will be tendered out to for-profit business across the county of  Staffordshire if the Tory governemnt get their way.

The Socialists favour an end to privatisation of public services and for a fully funded healthcare system free at the point of use and an end to cuts, closures and the demolition of the NHS. Enough with the Tory agenda of fragmentation and profiteering!

Friday, 7 March 2014

St Patrick's Night Social

Following their successful Alternative Burns Night, Carlisle Socialist
Party continues its programme of cultural and social events with a St
Patrick's Night. The public event takes place from 7.30pm on Friday,
14th March in the Royal Scot, Morton, Carlisle.

The main attraction of the evening will be the band of accomplished
local musicians, Now and Again, who will be playing two sets of
traditional Irish music.

The band consists of Robert Charlesworth on fiddle, Frank Devine on
guitar, Stuart Loynes on banjo, Tony Brydon on flute and whistle,
joined by Hazel Lauchberry on concertina. They specialise in
traditional reels and jigs, so it promises to be a lively evening.
There will also be time for an open mic session, where anyone can play
their own styles.

A buffet will also be laid on, and no doubt the Guinness will be
flowing just fine. No entrance fee will be charged, if people have had
a good night they can make a donation to cover costs.

The Socialists and The Labour Party

The following is a letter submitted to the News and Star:

A recent reader's letter praised the Carlisle Socialist Party for consistently fighting the bedroom tax and all the cuts to jobs and public services, but said we should join the Labour Party. Yet it was Labour which introduced the bedroom tax in the private rented sector and which is now going to destroy another 600 jobs in Cumbria, cut living standards further, take bus money from 16 year old students, effectively isolate the poorest and in Carlisle even snatch away our bairns' playgrounds.

Whether governing alone or in bed with the Lib-Dems or even with the Tories (!), apart from the rhetoric there is no longer any substantial difference between Labour and the older parties of the rich. That's why people are leaving Labour to join the Socialist Party.

And it will be no better under a Labour government than now. Balls and Milliband have repeatedly made clear they will not reverse Osborne's austerity attacks on working class people but have pledged to carry on his policies. What part of that pledge do LP members not understand?

The LP is not a vehicle for the poorest to fight the unfair cuts, nor for workers fighting to regain lost living standards nor for the lost generation of young people facing a future of debt, low pay or unemployment. Why would any public sector worker join a party committed to cutting her pay, pension or job? Why would any young private sector worker fighting against exploitation and inequality join a party which is firmly on the side of big business by maintaining a low investment, low wage, deregulated and globalised economy with the longest hours, worst employment rights and worst anti-union laws in Europe?

Anyway, Miliband won't tolerate any democratic and effectively organised opposition from socialists in the party. The few councillors who have stood up for socialist values and refused to meekly carry out Osborne's and Pickles' cuts are being expelled. And its impossible to go back to the democratic rules which allowed working class people to influence policy, since the Blair-Brown-Miliband corporate takeover. Even the biggest workers' organisation in the country, Unite, was publicly humiliated and bogusly reported to the police for the "crime" of recruiting workers to the party to let them have a democratic say.

On March 1st this abusive relationship will be cemented when a stitched up party conference lasting just 2 hours will formally destroy the collective, class voice of the trade unions which built the party in the first place. Democratic conferences have already been replaced by American style fan club conventions and "Policy Forums" undemocratically selected by a self-perpetuating careerist elite who have never worked in a factory in their lives.

Trade unionists will be atomised and isolated under "one member one vote", getting their information about party leadership candidates from the millionaire media moguls, with MPs having an effective veto over the shortlist to prevent any socialist or workers' champion getting a voice. As from next week "Labour" will completely cease being a workers' party in any sense, its relationship to trade unions being that of the Democrats in America - they hand over their members' money over but have zilch influence on policy.
We therefore need to build a new, mass workers' party based on unions, anti-cuts campaigns and socialist parties to represent the majority of society. As such the Carlisle Socialist Party will be supporting candidates for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (led by the railway workers' Bob Crow) in the coming local elections, and I urge those who support the traditions of the real Labour Party to join us.