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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Flyer on how councils can resist the cuts

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Stop council cuts!
A People’s Budget for Cumbrians, not for bankers!
“For the Conservatives, the deficit is just an excuse to railroad through the same old Tory agenda: driving down wages, cutting taxes for the wealthiest...and attacking trade unions. You can’t cut your way to prosperity, you have to build it.” – Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn has made it clear that cutting jobs, living standards and public services are not an economic necessity but a political choice, and now he has a huge mandate against austerity.
The next big battleground against cuts will be local councils. In November Osborne will announce a further 25-40% cut in local government funding on top of the 38% cuts to services so far. Rather than meekly do the Tories’ dirty work for them, Corbyn has now called on Labour councillors to refuse to vote for cuts budgets. So far only a few Labour councillors have done the right thing and have been rewarded for sticking to their principles with expulsion by the Blairites, but now Corbyn has publicly pledged to “support Labour councillors who support their communities.”
The Tories were only elected by 24% of the electorate. A one-day general strike against austerity and the undemocratic  anti-union laws  - agreed this week by the TUC Conference – and a refusal to pass cuts budgets by a number of Labour led councils, backed by a mobilised local community,  would force the government to retreat.
Ironically, the 2011 Localism Act now gives councils a new “ power of competence” to do “anything apart from that which is specifically prohibited”. Councillors can legally use their discretionary powers to use reserves and “prudential borrowing” to refuse cuts, then mobilise pressure from below to force the government to pay up. This is now legally a “matter of judgement” which can overrule finance officers’ advice. Surcharge has been abolished. So “where there’s a will there’s a way!”
We want to discuss with anti-cuts councillors how to draw up a People’s Budget based on the needs of local people. If they agree, we’ll campaign to get them re-elected. If not, we’ll need to stand candidates against the cuts. To plan this strategy in more detail we invite you to a:
Public discussion meeting

Monday, 21st September, 7pm in Club Britannia, 35 Lowther St, Carlisle

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Tory Budget Letter

Letter published in News and Star

If you liked the Bedroom Tax you'll love the new £30 a week tax on the sick and disabled. George Osborne is slashing the ESA WRAG group to almost the level of the very miserly JSA.

One wonders what the advantage of jumping through the immense hoops to claim the benefit are, perhaps immunity from the rip-off "work for your benefit" schemes that the government says will help claimants fill out their CVs (can't paid work fill out a CV too?) although some on the WRAG have been hastled to join just such schemes.

People will wonder what they paid national insurance for all their life. Of course, unlike the rich that evade and avoid £120bn a year in tax, taxes on working people can't be ducked.

Other attacks include rent hikes for those in social housing, reductions in the benefit cap and unprecedented attacks on in-work benefits that subsidise employers who pay scandalously low wages.

If they really want to save the benefits bill they should raise wages to £10 an hour and introduce a rent cap, funny how austerity always seems to redistribute money upwards. The Sheriff of Nottingham would have been proud.

A £10 an hour minimum wage and co-ordinated strike action are official TUC policy so the unions should step up and initiate a serious fightback against the failed program of austerity.

Daniel Thorburn, Upperby

SYRIZA letter

Letter published in News and Star.

Well done Hazel and Stephen Grahame for showing solidarity from Carlisle in Athens, and well done the Greek people for rejecting austerity misery, despite Tsipras’s capitulation to EU blackmail. Greek debt wasn’t caused by lazy workers drinking ouzo and smashing plates – even before the world banking crash and mass unemployment (26%, over 50% for youth) they worked the longest hours in Europe for little pay. It was created by European banks recklessly lending corrupt Greek Tory and Labour governments money, for example to buy submarines, planes and weapon systems from Siemens, Mannesman etc, for what was the world’s fourth costliest military, International banks, corporations and EU politicians colluded in the corruption by the rich and powerful. Goldman Sachs helped the Greek conservative PM, Samaras, to fiddle the books to join the Euro, with the knowledge of the Eurozone leaders.

There was no bailout for the impoverished Greek people but for the European banks, offloading their unpayable loans onto state institutions. Now they are making Eurozone taxpayers and the Greek working and middle classes, especially pensioners, pay the bill. But the Thatcherite economics of austerity have resulted in 5 years of depression, crashing the  economy by 25%, halving living standards, throwing millions into destitution and despair  – yet worsening the debt level even further. Now even the IMF admits the country will be pushed deeper into permanent debt and decline without a partial write-off, yet they and the EU/ECB still oppose this demand from Syriza.

Why? Because they are using their unelected power to blackmail and sabotage the democratically elected Syriza government, force regime change and impose their bureaucratic will firstly on the Greek voters and, by example, on the coming elections in Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Anyone in the Labour Party or trade unions here who thinks the EU is somehow “social” needs to check this brutal reality.

Carlisle Socialist Party believes that Syriza must now cancel the debt and determinedly lead the people out of the undemocratic EU and Euro. The constitution, which exempts the billionaire owners of the world’s biggest shipping fleet from paying taxes, must be scrapped and the fleet, along with the banks and corrupt corporations, nationalised. Democratic control and planning by the Greek workers would then allow the economy to be rebuilt in their interests.

Brent Kennedy

Carlisle Socialist Party

Corbyn campaign

Letter published in News and Star

The Labour party establishment just can’t understand the enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist policies. They claim that the British people support globalisation, cuts to jobs, services and living standards, privatisation and attacking the welfare state. They say that Labour lost the election because it was too different from the Tories, therefore it has to become even more like the Tories.

They ignore their wipeout in their traditional heartlands of Scotland, where their working class bedrock shifted to a party claiming to be anti-cuts, anti-Trident and further left. But a poll published in the Independent this week shows that the public are much farther left than Labour, with a majority agreeing with Corbyn on the following issues (figures exclude “don’t knows”): rail nationalisation (60% for, 20% against); for a 75% tax rate on incomes over £1m (56-31);  banning nuclear weapons (64-21); rent controls on landlords (59-7); for a legal (real) living wage (60-31); scrap tuition fees (49-31); condemn the Iraq war (43-37); and to oppose bombing Syria (60-24).

In other words, it’s not the public that are subservient to the rich and powerful, it’s Burnham, Cooper and Kendal. But now Blair has shown the true face of the Labour machine, admitting “I wouldn’t want to win [a general election] on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.” How disloyal is that? This traitor would rather see the Tories win again than his own party! Why shouldn’t he be expelled instead of real socialists?

The Socialist Party wishes Jeremy Corbyn well. But win or lose, he’ll need to unite the whole left and the unions against inevitable attacks by the Labour right, to build a real socialist party for workers. Anyone interested in this is welcome to attend our meetings every Monday at 7pm in Club Britannia, Lowther St.

Brent Kennedy,

Carlisle Socialist Party

Monday, 16 February 2015

HSBC Tax Evasion Scandal

Press release for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in advance of it's protest over HSBC in Carlisle. The write up in the News and Star is here.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

If you’re desperately poor and get caught stealing food you’ll have your name and photo published and thrown into jail, if you’re a millionaire tax fraudster you just pay HMRC a fine of 10% of the tax due and in return get immunity from prosecution and your name remains hidden.

For five years the government has sat on proof that HSBC bank has facilitated evasion of British taxation on an industrial scale, as well as laundering money for terrorists, dictators and murderous drug cartels from Mexico and Colombia to Paris.

Yet in that time only one out of 6,000 British millionaires committing tax evasion from secret Swiss accounts has been jailed, and he was already being investigated. The Guardian mentions the example of clothing tycoon Richard Caring walking out of HSBC Geneva with a suitcase full of £2.25m in used notes. Coincidentally, he also donated £413,000 to the Tories and loaned £2m to Labour.

Why hasn’t HSBC been prosecuted? Instead of throwing the Executive Chairman, Stephen Green, into jail, David Cameron brought him into his government as Trade and Investment Minister! Then the head of HMRC took a new job with...HSBC!

The problem isn’t individual corruption, the entire economic and political system is criminally corrupt. The establishment parties are beholden to their super-rich backers and run the state in their interests, not ours. Tax avoidance is facilitated by government legislation like the notorious non-dom status. The wealthy and big business are allowed to get away with £120bn tax fiddles every year – a sum which dwarfs the budget deficit used as the excuse for austerity for the rest of us.

TUSC demands the nationalisation of the banks – not under the control of the old boys’ network as at RBS and Lloyds, but under the democratic control of ordinary bank staff and the public to ensure transparency and accountability.

Tax havens under British jurisdiction should be closed down and all hidden foreign bank accounts should be confiscated the way the police seize money from the proceeds of crime. TUSC Carlisle invites the public to join a protest outside HSBC bank in English St, Carlisle, this Saturday at 11am, with a stall, leaflets and petition – placards and banners welcome. This will be followed up by a public meeting at 7pm on Monday in

Club Britannia, Lowther St.

Brent Kennedy