London bus workers protesting outside City Hall, 29.8.19, photo Isai Priya (Click to enlarge)
We need socialists in London's City Hall
A socialist mayor could spearhead the fight to stop the Tories
by London Socialist Party
- Organise with trade unions to plan action to defend public services, the environment, benefits and workers' rights against Johnson's attacks; fight racism, and fight for the housing, jobs and services we need in London.
- No retreat from socialist policies - it was the Blairites who undermined Corbyn
Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan has joined the front ranks of the right-wing Labour Blairites attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the policies that marked out his leadership. This poses the question sharply: who will fight for those policies in May's London elections if Sadiq Khan goes unchallenged by socialists and trade unionists?
Sadiq Khan has not actively fought austerity in any shape or form. He has not used his powers to fight for council housing and he has not supported workers fighting to improve their lives in the various strikes across London. He is known as 'the property developers' man', as well as saying things like "London needs more billionaires". We don't, we need socialist policies that will make London work for the people who work and live in London.
London is seen as a 'Labour city', but so was Scotland, so was the north of England. The same conditions - the housing crisis, the struggle on poverty pay, etc, exist here and the same potential for disillusionment is here. It is the failure to fight by right-wing councils and Blairites that is responsible for undermining support for Labour, not the fight for socialist policies.
The Corbyn movement has been the first stages of the working class trying to find a formation and organisation that truly represents them and fights to improve their lives. Corbyn's policies have signaled a new thirst, especially amongst young people, for socialist ideas as they search for answers for the miserable conditions which they face.
GLA elections 2020
In 2020 the Greater London Authority, made up of the London mayor and Greater London Assembly, is up for election. The mayor is elected on a 1st and 2nd preference basis; the assembly through a form of PR. The Socialist Party believes it is vital that there is a stand for socialist policies in this election. And with the preference vote system, there is no risk of letting the Tories in by using your first preference vote to send a message to Sadiq Khan.
We are prepared to put forward Socialist Party member and long-standing campaigner Nancy Taaffe as a potential candidate for mayor, and other socialist candidates for the assembly.
But we want to discuss with any other forces - trade unionists, socialists and anti-austerity campaigners inside and outside the Labour Party - to ensure the type of policies we outline below are fought for in this election, including potential candidates. The Socialist Party has, for example, been part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) alongside transport union RMT since 2010.
Instead of taking the mayor's salary of almost £153,000, the Socialist Party would advocate that a workers' representative stand on a worker's wage, and donate the rest back to the workers' movement.
Financial Appeal: Donate to our fund to help the fight for socialist policies in the London elections
These elections cost money. It is £20,000 to stand for mayor and appear in the booklet. It is £5,000 to stand a list. It is £1,000 to stand as a constituency candidate.
Please donate to the Socialist Party's fund to enable a socialist programme to be fought in the London elections. However much we raise, we will use the money to assist the fight for a socialist manifesto in these elections.
go to www.socialistparty.org.uk/donate and mark your donation 'Socialists into City Hall'
A socialist manifesto for London
Housing: London faces an historic housing crisis with an estimated need for 800,000 extra homes. There are record levels of street homelessness and families in temporary accommodation. 170,000 people are homeless in London, and almost 9,000 sleep rough - three and a half times what it was in 2005.
House prices are unaffordable and people have to pay up to 70% of their income in private rents. Tens of thousands of families have been forced out of London and many more suffer overcrowding.
Yet Sadiq Khan's London plan involves building high density blocks of expensive flats at transport hubs and town centres around London, with a general aim of only 30% 'affordable', handing public land over to private property developers.
There will only be 116,000 "affordable" starts by 2022, and "private developers will continue to build most of London's new homes".
An immediate moratorium on 'social cleansing' schemes. Stop the demolitions.
No to Sadiq Khan’s London plan. In place of handing public land to private developers to build blocks of expensive flats, build council houses on social rent, with secure tenancies, and take over empty speculative property. 100% council housing on public land.
Set a London rent cap.
Low Pay: Still over 700,000 workers are paid less than the London Living Wage in London, and only 19 of 33 London councils are London Living Wage employers.
The London living wage has risen to £10.75 an hour but that doesn't take people up to a decent minimum income - four in ten Londoners don't reach the Minimum Income Standard - that's 3.6 million people.
End zero hour contracts in all GLA jobs and call on all London councils to do the same.
- End poverty pay - set £15 an hour as the London Living Wage and campaign for it to be the minimum wage.
Cuts: London councils have lost 50% of their funding, losing libraries, nurseries, social care, jobs and pay
Not one more cut passed down from central government by the GLA. Enough is enough!
Call on all Labour councils in London to stop passing on cuts and support any socialist councillors who refuse to implement these cuts.
Transport cuts: Sadiq Khan is passing on Department of Transport cuts to the tune of £1 billion a year. Tube ticket offices were closed by Boris Johnson and not reopened by Khan.
Immediately end and reverse the devastating Transport for London cuts passed on by Sadiq Khan.
- Re-open tube ticket offices. Cut fares.
Young people: A terrible 149 people were killed in London in 2019, 46 under the age of 25.
Give all young people a chance. In addition to the above vital policies, we say:
Reopen all youth clubs, recruit more youth workers. Refuse to implement cuts to schools.
Establish a grant to enable young people to stay in Further and Higher Education.
Specialist housing and support for vulnerable young adults. Campaign to reinstate housing benefit for 16-17 year olds and establish support in the meantime.
Boris Johnson closed 10 fire stations and cut 14 fire engines and 552 firefighters. Sadiq Khan has not reinstated them.
Reopen fire stations and reinstate the fire engines and jobs cut by Boris Johnson.
This article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 December 2019 and a similar version was subsequently printed in The Socialist. Additional points were added to the article on the website on 27.1.20.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 27 January 2020 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.