The Socialist

The Socialist 29 August 2018

NHS: Mass fightback is needed

The Socialist issue 1007

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Tony Blair, Tory infiltrator into Labour, photo Chatham House (Creative Commons)

Tony Blair, Tory infiltrator into Labour, photo Chatham House (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Blairite lies

Bog-standard Blairites like Alistair Campbell are on the BBC seemingly every day advocating a second referendum on the EU. If they succeeded in getting a second referendum and the vote went in favour of the EU, this would be construed as a victory for the EU policies of austerity and privatisation.

For Blairites, this is preferable to a general election because they are too busy fighting the Labour Party's current leadership to be bothered fighting against the Tories. An election would place before the voters a clear choice between austerity and privatisation and a Labour alternative. That is a choice the Blairites do not want to be presented with.

In the event of a second referendum, they can rely on the BBC to help them present their own 'dodgy dossier' of 'facts' on Brexit. Threats like 'you will all be starving', 'there will be troops on the streets to quell social unrest and keep essential supplies moving', and so on. If that is the BBC 'fact check' on Radio Four then I wonder what their fiction department is like. Project Fear with knobs on!

Their stock-in-trade is lies.

The fight to bring down this ramshackle government is one which will have to take place without the help or hindrance of bog-standard Blairites. They are good for nothing.

Derek McMillan, Worthing, Sussex

BT pensions

I received the annual funding report of the British Telecom (BT) pension scheme recently and it was mentioned that the old (ie better) scheme covering older workers was closed to benefit accrual from 30 June and that the unions had agreed to that. It also pointed out that this will have "no material effect on the funding of the scheme". If that is the case, why did BT propose it and why did the unions agree to it?

Reasons given for cuts to pensions include that low interest rates cause investments to perform worse than originally predicted.

So if workers don't get crucified with high mortgage repayments and credit card charges which increase investment income, they will often end up with a worse pension. Under capitalism, workers' pensions are at the mercy of the spivs and speculators.

Workers deserve better than that - pay and pensions should be the most important priorities. With a democratically planned and publicly owned economy these things would be provided, not dependent on the fortunes of a few wealthy 'investors'.

It's funny how senior executives are never in the same pension scheme as their workers. Under capitalism the rich look after themselves and rarely pay for their own mistakes.

We need a Corbyn government prepared to take the economy over and guarantee a decent retirement income for all workers. Unions should start by campaigning against all attacks on pensions.

Clive Walder, Birmingham

Muddled thinking

Capitalist Labour MPs like Liz Kendall just can't keep themselves from plotting and scheming against socialists. Earlier this month Kendall retweeted a vile anti-Corbyn attack piece that had been published in the Evening Standard by her right-wing Blairite friend, Ian Austin, the Labour MP for Dudley North.

Austin, in a fit of capitalist rage, alleged that Jeremy Corbyn "has spent his entire political career mixing with or defending all manner of extremists, in some cases, antisemites."

And as if this wasn't bad enough he moaned that Corbyn's years of engagement with socialist ideas had muddled his mental capacity too: "Thirty years in protest movements making the same speech to people who agree with him means Jeremy has never had to answer a tough question, or think about complex problems and difficult solutions."

But it would seem more likely that Austin's own embrace of New Labour's capitalist approach to politics has stultified his thinking. Austin feels it necessary to attack Corbyn because, shock horror, Labour's socialist leader had previously played a leading role in founding the Stop the War Coalition.

This is not to say that Corbyn or the Stop the War Coalition are beyond criticism.

Austin and Kendall, however, are only capable of critiquing Corbyn from a capitalist perspective, always acting to undermine both Corbyn and all mass movements for socialist change, by privileging the needs of big business over the working class.

Marxists, by contrast, provide comradely criticism of Corbyn. Not because we idolise the man, but because we hope to see Corbyn fight for the type of socialist policies needed to empower the working class in each and every fight against our capitalist foes.

Mike Barker, Leicester

Soulsby sell off

You know how it is: you've got a few bob lying around in bank accounts earning a measly 0.5% interest. If only it could be put to better use and earn a decent rate of return. Suddenly you have a light-bulb moment - give a helping hand to big business!

Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester's lord mayor, has persuaded his 'fiefdom' - the overwhelmingly Labour city council - to agree a 10 million leasehold arrangement with Travelodge to create a 67-room hotel above the Haymarket shopping centre.

In a debate prompted by some Labour councillors' discontent, Sir Peter's rebuff relished the 'lucrative potential' of his proposal: the council's rate of return would supposedly be 9.7 million over 25 years and, potentially, 27.7 million over 50 years. Ah, the Blairite dream of long-term capitalist enterprise! As councillor Ross Wilmott pointed out: "Travelodge could disappear in 25 years and still owe 2 million".

Sir Peter knows a lot about long-term loan arrangements. As an MP he supported New Labour private finance initiative schemes which lumbered schools and hospitals with long-term debt, as well as backing the introduction of tuition fees.

But as a pro-big business Labour lord mayor, his leasehold agreement with Travelodge is far more favourable to the loanee. He boasted it would benefit the city's regeneration, its economy and "bring jobs to the city". But, as always, the devil is in the detail. The Haymarket shopping centre is at one end of the High Street and, at the other end... there's another similar-sized Travelodge hotel! This one was built during New Labour's push for 'super casinos' and sits next to a casino. Is it already counting its future losses to the 'new kid on the block'?

So goes the sorry tale of a supposedly cash-strapped Labour council which apparently can't afford a no-cuts budget or investment in housing, but which seemingly does have enough spare cash to make a substantial loan to a major private company.

John Merrell, Leicester

In this issue

What we think

Capitalism is a chaotic, irrational system - we need socialist change

International socialist news and analysis

Trump ally prosecutions

Venezuela: How can reaction and imperialism be defeated?

China: Solidarity with Jasic Technology workers


Working families 50 a week short of paying for kids

Nationalise the energy giants to combat global warming

Them & us


Restaurant tips walkout: "Hold the burgers, hold the fries, TGI are telling lies"

Sunderland: Resolute Liebherr workers in pay strike

Merseyside fire authority forced to postpone night closures

Northern Rail guards continue fight against driver-only operation

East Dunbartonshire council workers back further strikes

Youth and students

Exam factories, cuts and violence - Fight for our future!

CWI School 2018

The ongoing capitalist crisis and the struggle for a socialist world

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

NHS: Mass fightback is needed

Battle growing against Loch Lomond area big business sell-off

Leicester lobby calls for consultation on NHS closure plans

Socialist sales success in Cardiff

EDL sent packing in Worcester

Huddersfield Socialist Party organise counter-protest against EDL

Fracking companies backed by government and courts

Leeds protest against NHS treatment cuts

1918 police strikes

100 years since police went on strike: "never nearer to Bolshevism"


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29 August 2018