Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Manchester Bombing - Unite Against Terror, War and Racism


Socialist Party statement on the Manchester bombing - by Judy Beishon, Socialist Party executive committee

Young people out enjoying themselves were instead faced with one of the worst kinds of horror imaginable on 22 May when a bomb was exploded in the foyer of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena. Twenty two people were killed and at least 59 injured by this blast at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

This atrocity, which the Socialist Party completely condemns, has echoes of the Bataclan concert attack in Paris in November 2015. In both, ordinary people from all walks of life were indiscriminately slaughtered, especially the young.

Early reports suggested the perpetrator was a suicide bomber who died at the scene. It is the worst terrorist attack in Britain since 52 people were killed in the July 2005 London bombings.

Manchester people reacted quickly to aid those fleeing the scene, tweeting offers of beds and lifts home, and taxi drivers gave free rides. Their response of solidarity and help - together with that of the emergency and hospital workers - has nothing in common with the hypocritical reaction of Tory government ministers who profess sympathy and sorrow while they stand four-square behind policies that lay down the breeding ground for such atrocities.

Terrorist attacks in European cities are becoming more frequent. In Britain, coming this time outside London, people throughout the country will now feel less safe. The reasons behind the attacks often appear to be multi-faceted and no two incidences are exactly the same. But a running feature has been links or ideological sympathy with the likes of Isis and anger at western imperialist interventions in the Middle East.

So as well as opposing reactionary organisations like Isis which support and perpetrate barbaric acts on ordinary people, it's essential to oppose imperialist wars and call for the immediate withdrawal of British military forces from the Middle East. We must also build unity of working people against scapegoating, racism and division, and argue for socialist ideas as the only alternative to this present system that can't and won't end poverty, war and terrorism.

Tories' inability to counter terrorism

Following the Manchester atrocity Theresa May will no doubt try to double and treble her 'strong and stable' posturing in order to appear as a firm 'anti-terrorist' law enforcer and boost her election prospects. However, there have been a number of rounds of so-called anti-terror legislation over the last two decades, and none of it is preventing new attacks such as March's killings in Westminster or this latest terrible event in Manchester - as the Socialist Party has repeatedly warned would be the case.

At the same time the Tories' unrelenting austerity drive is making people more vulnerable when attacks occur. After the Westminster attack we drew attention to the way in which cuts to the emergency services, hospitals and transport staff will inevitably reduce the speed of assistance for those needing urgent help.

It has been reported that eight hospitals in Greater Manchester have treated casualties of the bombing, while at the same time it's the case that some of these hospitals are facing cuts in which the loss of 24-hour emergency cover is being considered. The Manchester Arena attack, taking place in the late evening, exposes the potentially disastrous nature of such cuts, which the Tories want to push ahead with.

During the general election campaign so far the Tories' determination to continue with callous austerity measures has been clear and they met a major backlash to their plans to further penalise people who depend on social care. Now, following the Manchester attack, their self-portrayal as the defenders of ordinary working people needs to be further exposed and rejected in all its guises.

Popularity of anti-war policies

The 2004 Madrid train bombings in Spain, in which 191 people died, took place during a general election campaign and the ruling Popular Party tried to use the atrocities to boost their election prospects. Their strategy backfired; mass anger was directed at them after they tried to blame Basque nationalists for the attacks. Rather, it became clear that the perpetrators were acting in sympathy with Al-Qaida, and the mood of revulsion towards the government and its pro-Iraq war position led to the Spanish Socialist Party winning that election.

While it was a particular blunder by the Popular Party that helped to fuel that outcome, in Britain's present general election campaign Jeremy Corbyn's anti-war stance can gain even more resonance and have a strong impact. Corbyn has long been a consistent opponent of intervention by Britain and other western capitalist powers in the Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria wars. These have caused mass devastation and loss of life and have created the conditions for a horrific level of terrorist violence in those countries and beyond.


We in the Socialist Party have also strongly opposed those wars and have consistently warned that it would be ordinary working people in the Middle East and worldwide who will pay the price of them, both financially and as a result of the escalating instability they have caused. 

At the same time we condemn (as does Corbyn) the ideology and abhorrent methods of right-wing reactionary organisations like Isis and Al-Qaida that seek to build a highly repressive semi-feudal and capitalist caliphate, with no workers' democracy or basic rights.


It is the task of the working class in Iraq and Syria, through building trade unions, democratically-run non-sectarian defence bodies, etc, to lead a struggle against the likes of Isis, assisted by solidarity from workers internationally. The imperialist powers, on their part, are intervening for their own prestige and influence and in the interests of their top corporations.

This includes British imperialism, whether represented by the Tories or the Blairites before them. It was a fitting coincidence that the Guardian's 'morning briefing' following the Manchester Arena attack, after beginning on the bombing, immediately followed it with a second section on the "unprecedented support for the fossil fuel industry" in the Tory election manifesto. Oil industry bosses have promised over £390,000 to May's campaign as a result, it explained.

The general election on 8 June provides a much-needed opportunity to kick the Tories out and take forward the struggle in the labour movement against the Blairites by bringing Jeremy Corbyn in as prime minister. This would be a very important step on the road towards ending the austerity, poverty and war inherent in capitalism, that underlies division, racism and terrorism.

Thousands March in Bristol to Defend Education


On Saturday 20th May around 5000 people took to the streets of Bristol to oppose devastating education cuts.

The demonstration, organised by the National Union of Teachers brought in people from across the local area. Tory spending plans will see 98% of schools worse off by 2020. In Bristol that means schools will lose more than £32m, the equivalent of 1000 teachers.
Pupils, parents and teachers alike were chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!” Anger toward Tory cuts is rising as some schools in the area are now sending out letters warning what the impact will be. Increasing class sizes, shortening the school day, cutting subjects from the curriculum, cutting support for children with additional needs and firing teachers and other staff are all being considered to cover the huge shortfall schools will face.

This government are willing to cause this damage the future of a whole generation of children just to pay for tax cuts for their super-rich friends. It’s no wonder that most people at the protest saw the need to kick the Tories out of power in order to protect education. The Socialist Party’s message was very well received on the demonstration and we sold over 100 copies of the Socialist newspaper. 

See below for pictures of the demonstration. See our Facebook page for more photos.  





How the Bristol Post covered the demonstration. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Kshama Sawant to Speak at Socialism 2017


Socialism 2017 is an unmissable weekend of rallies, discussions and debates, organised by the Socialist Party in November. We will be discussing all the most important issues of the day as well as marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

We are pleased to announce that Kshama Sawant has been confirmed as a speaker for the event. Kshama caused waves across the world when she was elected as a Socialist Alternative councillor in Seattle, USA. She has been a staunch fighter for working-class people and a leading campaigner against Trump. See www.socialistalternative.org for more information about her.

Please see www.socialism2017.net for tickets and more information about the event.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

June 8th - Chance to Kick Out the Tories!

Corbyn and May - who will be the next Prime Minister?

Defeat the Millionaires' Tory Government

Corbyn Must Fight the Election With Socialist Policies

Socialist Party statement

Theresa May has called a general election for one reason - not the reason she gave - but because of the government's weakness in face of a rising tide of anger in British society.

Workers are suffering the most prolonged squeeze on wages since the start of the nineteenth century. Benefits cuts are leaving millions without enough money to feed themselves and their families. Last year a record 200,000 people were admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition. Education and the NHS are facing life-threatening cuts. The housing crisis is acute. The new ultra-draconian anti-trade union laws are creating bitterness and frustration among trade unionists.

Far from being a strong government, May fears that, given the Tories' wafer-thin majority in parliament, she could be overwhelmed by forced u-turns. In the first year of the government alone there were eleven, now - in order to try to prevent more - May has made the biggest u-turn yet. Having pledged not to call a snap election she has gone ahead and done so. This shows how capitalist politicians change the rules whenever it suits them.

Cameron and Clegg introduced the Fixed Term Parliament Act in order to try to shore up the Coalition government for five years, now May is over-riding it to try to strengthen a weak Tory government. She is gambling, based on current opinion polls, that she will win the general election with an increased majority and will then be more able to carry out her real programme - not the warm words about helping the 'just managing', but vicious austerity.

photo: Paul Mattsson

High risk for Tories

Her gamble is high-risk. The real poll will take place on 8 June, and a lot can happen between now and then. She is partly posing the election as a referendum on Brexit, hoping that the third of Tory voters who supported 'remain' will reluctantly continue to support her government. This is not guaranteed however - some may well switch to the pro-remain Liberal Democrats.
Moreover, the hated Tories are very unlikely to make significant inroads in Scotland. The Scottish National Party is not yet fully exposed and is likely to largely maintain its electoral base. Winning the Copeland byelection has probably given May hope that theTories can improve their position in the North of England. However, in both the Copeland and Stoke byelections the Tory vote actually fell in absolute terms. The Tories only scraped victory in Copeland because the Tory vote held up better than the Labour vote.

Globally the lesson of recent elections - from the US, to France, to the Netherlands - is that voters want to punish the capitalist establishment; and those parties and candidates that claim to be anti-establishment can have a mass appeal. Look at Melenchon in France, who by standing on a left programme, has soared to 19% in the opinion polls with a possibility that he will even go through to the second round. Jeremy Corbyn has already stated that Labour will not oppose the general election going ahead. Now he needs to launch an election campaign based on socialist policies that are relevant to working class people's lives.

Policies for socialist change

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme - for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class - he could win the general election.

The policies that first thrust him into the leadership of the Labour Party would be a good beginning - an immediate introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education for all, mass council house building and nationalisation of the rail and energy companies. These should be combined with policies such as an immediate end to all cuts in public services and a pledge to immediately renationalise Royal Mail.

Jeremy should make clear that he would kick the privateers out of public services and education. He should pledge to introduce a real socialist NHS - a well-funded, comprehensive, high quality NHS, under democratic control, with care free at the point of use. These demands should be linked to the need for fundamental socialist change - for a society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few.

Such an election campaign should not be limited to speeches and election broadcasts. The campaign to defend the NHS should be linked to the mass movement which began with the national demonstration on 4 March. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at that demonstration. Now he, together with the trade union movement and health campaigners, should call a second demonstration, during the election campaign, mobilising millions onto the streets against the Tories and in defence of the NHS.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Bristol Socialist Party Shows Solidarity With Jobstown Protesters

Members of the Bristol North/East branch of the Socialist Party showing support for Jobstown protesters.

Members of the Socialist Party in Bristol have added their support to an international campaign of solidarity with protesters in Ireland who face kidnap charges for their participation in a sit-down protest that kept the then Deputy Prime Minister delayed in her car. 

The arrest and trial of these protesters (due to start on April 24th) have shown the police and judicial system playing a nakedly political role. This is an anti-democratic attack on the right to protest and it must be opposed by campaigners across the world. 

See www.jobstownnotguilty.com for more information. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Council Security BITE Anti-Cuts Protester


Bristol City Council Block Entry to Public as They Vote For £33m Cuts

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees addressed the Bristol City Council budget meeting yesterday, claiming “transparency is a key commitment”. Minutes later the public gallery was cleared by security staff, leaving councillors to discuss the city’s budget behind closed doors. In an unprecedented move members of the public were then cleared from City Hall altogether.

Unaccountable private security staff were again deployed by the council as an anti-cuts protest gathered outside City Hall from 5pm. Members of the public were physically blocked from entering, first at the bottom of the access ramp and then again at the door.

In a shocking incident, Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA) campaigner Mike Luff was bitten by security staff as he tried to gain access to the meeting. The violent attack drew blood and the victim was later treated in hospital. 

Complaints will be followed up against the council. This attempt to undermine the democratic right to protest will not be tolerated.

BADACA spokesperson Tom Baldwin said:
We saw disgraceful behaviour from Bristol City Council last night. This was not just a vicious assault on one individual, it was an attack on local democracy and on the right to protest. Councillors and the mayor are supposed to represent the people of this city, it is our right to witness the discussions and decisions that they are making. If Marvin Rees claims that he must make these cuts then he should be upfront and honest about the process, not hiding behind closed doors and hired thugs.
Disgusting as the biting incident was, the most violent act committed that night took place inside the council chamber itself. The budget passed contains £33m cuts, as part of over £100m being cut in the next few years. Councillors have voted to devastate services that many Bristolians rely on.”

BADACA Pledges That 'The Fight Goes On' as Bristol City Council pass cuts budget.
The huge cuts laid out in the budget passed last night (Tuesday 21st February) by Bristol City Council are not acceptable to the people of Bristol. We hear the excuses from the Labour Party that they have no alternative and the Tory government made them do it. But if this is really true, then why do we even bother electing local politicians?

As we set out in our petition, signed by 456 people, which we presented to the budget meeting yesterday, Labour councils could legally choose to use reserves & prudential borrowing to suspend the cuts and joint the fight for more money. A united campaign of ordinary people, anti-austerity groups, the trade unions and Labour councils would put huge pressure on the Tory government to capitulate and properly fund local government. Surrey County Council have proved that central government can be pressurised into providing more money and we will continue to campaign for the Labour Party to adopt this policy rather than destroying the services that hold our city together.

BADACA Organising Secretary, Matthew Carey said, “It is a tragedy that the Labour Party has chosen to pass this budget enabling them to move towards huge cuts to vital services in Bristol. But for BADACA, the fight goes on! We will fight every step of the way to defend voluntary sector services, bus services, libraries, Neighbourhood Partnerships, public toilets, Customer Service Points, meals on wheels, care services, children's centres, leisure centres and all other threatened services as detailed proposals are put forward by the council.”



200 March Against Bristol Council Cuts


200 people marched through Bristol in a demonstration called by the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA). They were out to defend jobs and services and oppose the draconian cuts being made by Bristol City Council. 

Socialist Party members Tom, Sheila, Sue and Roger addressed the demonstration, see their speeches below. 










For more photos and videos of the demonstration go to the BADACA facebook page. www.facebook.com/BristolAntiCuts 

See other recent posts on this site for more about the cuts and how they can be stopped.