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Perspectives for Britain 2016

Socialist Party documents

Perspectives for Britain 2016

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Different flashpoints

52. There are a whole series of other issues around which movements could develop. In London and the South, the housing crisis is extremely acute.

Evictions have reached a record 170 a day, with far more being evicted by private landlords without going through the courts.

The cost of housing is one of the central factors radicalising more middle class young people. Drawn to London in order to get better paid work, they find that they are living in penury while they struggle to pay the rent on a tiny shoddy living space.

On average, London renters hand 72% of their income to their landlords. Nationally the figure is 50%.

Over the last eighteen months we have seen the beginning of a movement of private renters particularly in London, alongside a series of determined struggles to defend social housing and stop social cleansing.

We have played an important role in most of the individual struggles, as well as campaigning to coordinate them in a united campaign for genuinely affordable social housing for all.

The Tories housing bill threatens the end of social housing which could open up the possibility of a widespread campaign.

53. The Junior Doctors struggle has also illustrated the support and also anger people feel for a) workers in struggle b) the piecemeal destruction of the NHS.

The huge deficit in the NHS of 2.3 billion is a ticking time bomb under its foundations forcing local NHS Trusts to push through closures, cuts and privatisation.

Over the next 2 years the closure programme will intensify leaving every town and city with options to downgrade, close or privatise local hospitals.

The NHS remains dear to the vast majority of the population and where attacked can galvanise huge protest movements as we have seen in Mid Staffs, Lewisham and more recently in Huddersfield.

The protest movement in Huddersfield has been explosive and unprecedented and if repeated in other parts of the country will present huge opportunities for mass struggle and resistance.

As we have seen in the past, struggles around the NHS presents opportunities to unite and mobilise thousands and where led effectively can result in victories which can lift the overall mood of the class.

54. The mobilisations of young people against the bombing of Syria that took place before Christmas, also give an indication of the possibilities for young people - especially school students - to take to the streets against imperialist wars.

The only national demonstration since the bombing began was small, partially reflecting the diminished authority of the Stop the War Coalition, but also the feeling that demonstrating could not achieve much once the bombing had begun.

However, there can be new waves of protests around this issue in response to particular outrages carried out by imperialist forces in the Middle East or in defence of Jeremy Corbyn if he comes under further attack for taking an anti-war or anti-Trident stance.

Linked to an anti-war stance, there can also be renewed movements of young people in defence of refugees fleeing the Middle East.

55. We could also see new mass movements among school students and students over issues relating to education.

In schools, the government's 'fair funding' proposals, due to be implemented in 2017, will actually mean huge cuts in school funding in most areas.

At the same time, the government's green paper on higher education launches a new massive attack on the sector.

It opens the road to new fee hikes, without them even having to be agreed by parliament. It also puts forward more marketization and privatisation, narrows university curriculums and curtails the rights of student unions to organise.

More generally, we have to be prepared for new Occupy-style movements in Britain. Such movements would be likely to take place on a bigger scale and a higher political level than the previous Occupy movement.

However, particularly if such movements were to develop following the retreat by or defeat of Corbyn, they might still have quite a strong 'anti-party' strand to them.

We would have to intervene sympathetically and energetically to put forward a socialist programme as the only way to build a society for the 99%, whilst explaining that this will not be achieved without being organised.

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