Party Logo

Party Logo

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Success Regime meeting protest

On Tuesday Carlisle Socialist Party, along with trade unionists and other community activists protested outside the Success Regime's public consultation in Carlisle.
We then went into the meeting to join campaigners from west Cumbria, Alston and Carlisle and elsewhere, who tackled the 5-member panel on the options for healthcare services presented in their document, all of which involve cuts to cottage hospital beds and the downgrading of services at the West Cumberland Hospital. Community activists highlighted the dangers of transferring women in labour by ambulance to the already overstretched Cumberland Infirmary, and campaigners from Alston repeatedly pointed out the impossibility of residents being treated at Penrith or Carlisle. Despite the panel trying to restrict the meeting to a meaningless question and answer session, activists successfully opened it up to longer contributions from the floor. Panel members were heckled when they attempted to deny the changes were caused by budget cuts, and told that none of their options were acceptable to the meeting. We put the matter to a vote, and every one of the hundreds of members present voted to reject all of the plans. Nevertheless, the chair of Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group intends to press ahead. The public were left in no doubt that this was a sham consultation designed merely to discharge the CCG's legal duty
Campaign groups will now organise the next stage in opposing these cuts, including building towards the national NHS demo on 4th March next year.

Friday, 18 November 2016

I, Daniel Blake showings

The Vue cinema put on showings of Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake that exposes the cruelty and bureaucratic harassment of Britain's dysfunctional benefits system on 17th November. Carlisle Socialists leafleted outside the venue recieving a positive response. Everyone got a copy of our Defend the NHS leaflet and 27 people bought a copy of the Socialist newspaper.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Petition Handover

Today, Wednesday 9th of Novemeber, members and supporters of Carlisle Socialist Party handed over our petition calling for maintaining the existing number of care beds in Cumbria. Our covering letter. A link to the write up in the News and Star.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Care Home Petition Handover

Tomorrow, Carlisle Socialist Party will be handing over the petition against the loss of care home beds at the Courts, Carlisle at 1pm (best to arrive a little sooner). Over five Saturdays we collected in the region of 1 300 signatures. We would welcome anyone to come along and show support.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Text of Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn on Care Bed Cuts

Dear Jeremy,

We were very pleased that you were re-elected and fended off the attempt to return the LP to “New Labour” and its programme of unfair cuts to public services. It’s clear that you have the support of hundreds of thousands of people who want to campaign against austerity. That’s the immediate gain for declaring Labour to be an “anti-austerity party” and points the way to winning mass support at a future general election.

So we are writing to you on behalf of 1,000 Cumbrians to ask you to use your influence on your members on Cumbria county council in the hope that they will scrap their plan to halve the number of care home beds under their direct control. 

The seven local authority owned care homes in Cumbria don’t meet statutory standards  and have to be replaced by new ones with better facilities – which we all support, of course. But the council has announced plans to halve the number of beds it will provide from 117 to 60 to save costs. Together with plans from the cynically misnamed “Success Regime” (sent into Cumbria by NHS bosses acting on behalf of the government) to close the beds in several cottage hospitals, these short-sighted cuts will inevitably lead to a crisis in social care and in the local NHS too. Respite care will become all but impossible; leaving old or frail people at home and relying on short home visits (which exclude shopping, cooking, housework etc) are a cop-out from social responsibility; and one consequence will be increased “bed-blocking” of hospital beds.

In recent years Blairite Labour county councillors have used coalitions with the Tories (yes, with the Tories!) and now with the Lib-Dems to dutifully implement Osborne’s deficit reduction plan, without any serious opposition. Now they are attacking the most vulnerable members of our community by implementing cuts to social care, public health and school nurses determined by Osborne’s last April budget – as part of a timetable now abandoned by Osborne and May as unachievable. The crisis in social care is having such an effect on the NHS that even Hammond may make concessions in his Autumn Statement.

We therefore ask you to set a clear signal of Labour’s new course by calling on your county councillors to stop these cuts. The new care homes must at least maintain if not improve the current provision, with the required number of staff.

This is an opportunity to show the public that Tory cuts are not aimed at “cutting waste” in a “bloated bureaucracy” but about permanently destroying historical social gains and vital, frontline services. Labour councillors should therefore make a public demand for the government to provide the necessary funds.

Jeremy, ordinary people here are outraged by this latest attack. Not one person has publicly defended it. Over 1,000 people have already come to our stall to sign our petition and express their anger. We’ve heard them call local councillors all sorts of names, but “heroes” wasn’t one of them. We know that you and your supporters are honest in opposing austerity and offering a clear alternative policy, but seeing “Labour” councillors just doing the Tories’ dirty work for them will damage the credibility of your message. Action speaks louder than words, and this planned action seems almost designed to sabotage the attempt by you and your activists to inspire and mobilise the poorest and most downtrodden to help you oust the Tories.

Please act now.

Yours fraternally,

Brent Kennedy,

Secretary, Carlisle Socialist Party

Care Home Stall - 29th October

On 29th we continued our campaign to save care home beds in Cumbria stressing to members of the public that we are not opposed to new facilities but that the number of beds available should be the same before closures. The stall was, again, very well supported.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Care Home Stall - 22nd October

 On 22nd October, Carlisle Socialist Party organised a stall in the town centre to continue it's campaign against care home closures. The County Council's plan to close seven care homes throughout Cumbria and replace it with newer facilities with half the number of beds, rationing out care and ending respite care, was met with anger and disaproval by residents who supplied hundreds of new signitures to our petition.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Junior Doctors Petition Handover

On Tuesday evening 14.06.16, members from the Trade Union and Socialists against Cuts (TUSC), met with representatives of the Junior Doctors at the Cumberland Infirmary, to hand over a petition in support of them. The petition contained over 500 signatures, collected over two weekends, at stalls in the town centre. The Junior Doctors were preparing to discuss their response to the latest Government proposals.

Brent Kennedy, branch secretary of TUSC, stated, “irrespective of the outcome of the meeting, this petition shows the level of the support for the Doctors, and the fight continues against PFI, cuts to jobs and services, and the privatisation of the NHS”. The Junior Doctors present, offered their thanks for the support offered by TUSC.

Monday, 29 February 2016

No NHS Sell-off

On Friday 26th the group No NHS Sell-off supported by Carlisle Socialist Party and other local groups held a protest outside Carlisle MP John Stevenson's constituency office in defence of the NHS and opposed to the undemocratic TTIP treaty which threatens the basis of a publicly funded health service free at the point of use. Despite numerous attempts to arrange the handover of legal advice on the issue, in the end no one answered the door! We will continue to campaign on this issue along with members of various unions and campaign groups.

Monday, 22 February 2016

County Council budget meeting protest

On Thursday 18th February members of Carlisle Socialist Party, along members of Unison, protested outside Cumbria County Council's budget setting meeting in Kendal. The council was intending to make £25m cuts to services, with up to 2,000 jobs being at risk. Councillors entering the building were asked whether they would be voting for cuts, and if not, what else they intended to do to oppose the vicious attacks on local government by the Tories. Some declined to comment, whilst others vociferously argued that they had 'no choice' and told us to go and protest outside the houses of parliament instead!

Several Unison members expressed dismay that councillors who were trade unionists and also members of Momentum in Cumbria were intending to vote in favour of a cuts budget. Most were agreed that such a stance was a self-fulfilling prophecy; cuts this year would lead to ever more cuts in the future, as has been shown over the last 5 years. The Tories have made it clear that they plan to abolish central government contributions long before 2020, leaving poorer areas unable to provide much-needed services, and taking local government back to the 1920s. Councillors voting for cuts have walked into a trap.

At the start of the meeting Brent Kennedy read out a statement from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) calling on the council to set a needs-based (no cuts) budget, a position now supported by the main public sector unions Unite and Unison. We suggested using reserves and prudential borrowing powers to make up the shortfall. This would be a temporary measure to buy time to mobilise workers to demand that the government provide the necessary funding permanently. We pointed out that the government deficit of £70bn could easily be paid off by collecting the estimated £120bn unpaid taxes of wealthy individuals and corporations, illustrating Jeremy Corbyn's statement that "austerity is not an economic necessity but a political choice".
We urged those councillors who disagreed with the cuts ideology to have the courage of their convictions and start the fight back by passing a no-cuts budget.
The Labour party has now officially declared itself an 'anti-austerity party'. We warned that they are unlikely to have much credibility with existing voters, nor to enthuse alienated non-voters, if they say one thing nationally but do completely the opposite locally.

In his reply, council leader Stuart Young tried to muddy the waters by talking about an 'illegal budget', even though he knew that this was irrelevant, as our statement made clear in advance. Brent Kennedy had to interject, to the annoyance of the chair, that this was not the case, and Mr Young conceded the point. So why did he bring this up in the first place?
His only real argument was that the use of reserves for one year alone would mean worse cuts in the following years, and that he therefore 'had no choice'. This gained several murmurs of approval from other councillors. In other words, they have no concept of using the time this signal would give to actively campaign on the issue of austerity and mobilise the working class against the government.
Mr Young correctly described the Tories as having "declared war on local government". Unfortunately it's a completely one-sided war, as the Labour Party in Cumbria has hoisted the white flag without firing a shot.

It should be noted that in the recent coverage of the meeting in the Cumberland News, no mention was made of either our call to use prudential borrowing in addition to reserves, nor that we accept this as only a temporary measure, and merely the first part of a campaign to secure the funding. The media debate is thus being framed to suggest that what we are proposing is fantasy, whereas in fact it is councillors who are living in a fantasy world by continuing to believe that slashing ever more from our public services will satisfy this rapacious government. A line must be drawn sometime. If not now, then when?

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Council petition handover

On Thursday 11th members of Carlisle Socialist Party handed in a petition opposing cuts to local County Council services including the loss of 2000 jobs. Our petition, calling on Labour councillors to refuse to carry out the Tory cuts and the gradual destruction of local government, will be presented by our spokesperson as the first item of discussion at the Council meeting on Thursday 18th February in Kendal.

Doctor's picket line

Last Wednesday we gave support to the junior doctors striking against Jeremy Hunt's attempt to force onto them a new contract requiring them to work longer hours for less pay and undermining patient care. This is the thin end of the wedge and represents the government's desire to open up the NHS for privatisation and the end of publicly funded health care free at the point of use.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Alternative Burns Night

Last week Carlisle Socialist Party hosted an Alternative Burns night in the Milbourne Arms.
As Brent Kennedy summed up in the Immortal Memory toast "this will definitely not be the tired, old, conservative ritual of Burns' Nights but will be another free and easy drink, laugh and scran that Burns himself would have enjoyed. The stuffy British establishment has always felt uncomfortable with this farm labourer and genius who showed up their own mediocrity. And he stepped on their toes big time, opposing their profitable slavery, bigotry and racism, especially when he supported the Rights of Man and the French and American Revolutions. All the more reason to celebrate."

Music was provided by Johnny Foster of Hardwike Circus, John Chambers and The Now and Again Band with individuals reading poems. Around forty people turned out in total in what was generally regarded as a good night out. All proceeds went to the Socialist Party fighting fund.