Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Large turnout at South West Socialist Party conference

"It was amazing to learn from some brilliant and thinking people yesterday. I've buried my head in the sand for too long and it was inspiring. Capitalism must end and I'd like to learn a lot more about how I can go about bringing about that change".

That was the verdict from Chris, one of three young people who joined the Socialist Party at the end of its largest South West regional conference for a number of years.

On Saturday 25 May Socialist Party members and supporters from 19 different towns and cities packed into a room in Bristol to hear Socialist Party deputy secretary Hannah Sell deliver a thorough analysis of the volatile situation unfolding in Britain and Europe.

Over 20 members followed this up with contributions that dealt with attacks in the workplaces and how we are helping to organise the fightback; a programme for opposing the far-right; lessons from struggles in Greece and Spain and the over-arching question of capitalism's chronic inability to take humankind forward in the 21st century; and why therefore a socialist alternative is imperative.

Workshops on women, youth, and building in the workplaces followed. Each resulted in practical initiatives keenly being agreed, including the organising of a regional women's meeting early in July, the stepping up of the 'Sick of your Boss' campaign from Cornwall to Cheltenham, and a trade union meeting in Exeter in September where the building of the National Shop Stewards Network will be one of our priorities.

Recruitment and finance

Robin Clapp, South West regional secretary, introduced a closing session on the progress made in the last 12 months. The rate of recruitment in the region is up by 50% over 2012 and every area has enthusiastic new people eager to take on a role in helping us to build.

It was agreed we would set up a branch in Somerset where we'll trigger fast progress by organising a Saturday 'super stall' in June with the aim of selling 75 papers and getting new members.

This follows on from the highly successful initiative in Poole where we sold 82 papers in four hours, 10 'join' cards were filled in and £46 was raised in Fighting Fund.

Conference committed itself to smashing through the new paper sales targets. This shouldn't be too difficult, given that every branch has already exceeded these targets on at least one occasion since March.

Mid-week stalls are now the norm in Plymouth and Bristol, workplace sales take place at council offices in Gloucester, and sales outside Bristol Temple Meads rail station have yielded 10-12 sales in a single session.

At the beginning of the conference, Plymouth and Gloucester branches had each recruited eight new members since January. By the end of the day, the Devonians were ahead having signed up somebody in the meeting. They have three more knocking on the door, Bristol has five who have agreed to join and this welcome infection is spreading rapidly across every branch in the region.

The viciousness of the Con-Dem attacks is polarising society, making many of those who have previously spent their evenings screaming at the television decide it's time to stand up and seek out a party that is serious about fighting for change.

The mood of optimism suffusing through the conference was expressed concretely by a magnificent collection which yielded £1,125 for our party funds.

The excellent Gloucester branch 'catering company' raised £70 towards our funds from selling their delicious food and Bev Anderson's fairy cakes went down a treat and gave us another £20.

The last word must go to Matt Stabb from Trowbridge who is new to our ranks but a veteran in the struggles of disabled workers:

"Cheers for a brilliant South West congress yesterday, comrades! Thank you for making me so welcome. It was so good to meet other comrades and feel part of the good work that is going on".

Saturday, 25 May 2013

No to terrorism! No to racism! No to war!

Statement from Greenwich Socialist Party on the Woolwich killing
The unprovoked, barbaric and vicious murder of an unarmed soldier in Woolwich yesterday is a horrific event which must have been profoundly traumatic for the people who witnessed it, and, of course, an appalling tragedy for the victim, and the victim's family and friends.

Local residents showed incredible bravery in intervening to try and assist the victim.

The Socialist Party completely condemns this attack just as we condemned 7/7, 9/11, and all similar attacks aimed at indiscriminate slaughter.

This latest killing, while of one individual rather than many, appears to have been completely indiscriminate, with the victim selected possibly only because of the 'help for heroes' t-shirt he was wearing.

The attackers apparently claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, and in protest at the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the vast majority of Muslims will be as sickened and horrified by this attack as the rest of the population.

The brutal imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have resulted in the deaths of over one hundred thousand civilians, are not the responsibility of ordinary soldiers, but of the governments that took the decision to invade and then occupy.

New Labour went ahead with the invasion of Iraq despite opposition from a majority of the population, including the biggest demonstration in Britain's history, which theSocialist Party helped to organise.

Terrorism is a completely mistaken and counter-productive method of struggle. It was the mass terrorism of 9/11 which gave George Bush a 'justification' he could use to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq.

One of the attackers in Woolwich called on the people of Britain to overthrow the government. It is the same government which continues the occupation of Afghanistan, that is carrying out terrible austerity measures on the working class of Britain.

However, this brutal killing will be used by Cameron to try and bolster support for this incredibly unpopular, weak and divided government.

In the wake of this killing the racist thugs of the EDL have already cynically tried to use the event to whip upracism against all Muslims.

Two attacks on mosques took place on the night of the Woolwich killing. The Socialist Party is totally opposed to the scapegoating of Muslims as a result of this tragic killing.

From whatever section of society mistaken and damaging methods of struggle arise, the only way to combat them is for all working people - from all backgrounds - to unite to build a movement against racism, against terrorism, but also against the endless austerity of capitalism.
Democratic rights

We must also resist any attempts by the government to use this as an excuse to attack our democratic rights.

Anti-terror legislation has been used to undermine anti austerity protests. Ordinary working class people have fought and died for these rights in the past.

This is not the first time working class people in Greenwich have had to stand firm in the face of attempts to divide.

Just a two minute walk up the same road is the Kings Arms pub which was bombed by the IRA in 1974. The community in Greenwich resisted those who tried to whip up anti-Irish hysteria at the time.

In 1993 Stephen Lawrence was murdered in Eltham just 20 minutes away. A mass campaign against racism was mobilised by members of the Socialist Party (then Militant) and others which resulted in the far-right BNP's headquarters in Welling being shut down.

It is important now, more than ever, that working class people in Woolwich and the country as a whole remember that history of solidarity and struggle.

We must stand united against any attempts to divide us in the wake of this tragic event.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Stop the cruel, ruthless bedroom tax!

From: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16669/13-05-2013/stop-the-cruel-ruthless-bedroom-tax
On Sunday 12 May the Sunday People broke the tragic story of the suicide of a 53 year old woman, Stephanie Bottrill, who killed herself because of the bedroom tax.

In a letter to her son she explained what had pushed her over the edge: "Don't blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the government."

Because of the Con-Dems' bedroom tax Stephanie was told she would lose £20 a week from her housing benefit.

Struggling to make ends meet, subsisting on tinned custard, it is reported that she told neighbours: "I can't afford to live anymore."

This is a tragedy made in Westminster by a government that wants to make working class people pay for the crisis of the bankers, the super-rich and the capitalist system they represent.

Her neighbour said: "There's no way Stephanie is going to be the last to die because of this bedroom tax.

"She's not going to be the only one" (for more about this horrific story, see Mirror article: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-suicide-grieving-son-1886058 )

Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the SocialistParty, said:

"The Socialist Party is utterly opposed to the bedroom tax and to all the government's austerity measures. We reject any attempt to make the working class pay for the crisis of the capitalist system.

"Labour has been attempting to present itself as opposing the bedroom tax but Ed Miliband could not bring himself to pledge that a future Labour government would repeal it. In Cardiff and Aberdeen councils Labour voted down motions against evictions.

"As well as dire misery for those affected, the bedroom tax has unleashed a fury - it is seen as totally unfair.

"What's more is that people all over the country are starting to organise themselves to stop it. The Socialist Party is part of this and is calling on councils to immediately refuse to evict and to refuse to implement the Tories' murderous policy.

"But we have no faith in any of the main political parties to make such a clear stand on the side of ordinary people - tied as they are to the 1% super-rich.

"The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which is calling for 'no cuts' candidates to stand in elections to give a voice to the millions who oppose the government's misery measures".

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Video: May Day 2013 in Bristol

Successful Bristol TUC Mayday demo and rally - with around 500 people from trade unions, parties and community campaigns taking part in a march around the city and a rally in Castle Park. Speakers included John McInally Vice President of PCS, Anne Lemon NEC NUT, Jane Taylor Unite, Richard Capps SWR TUC, Andy Robertson Bristol TUC, Selina Williams Unison, Tom Baldwin Bristol and District Anti Cuts Alliance.

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition election results in Bristol

Here are the TUSC results for the recent Bristol City Council elections. Some excellent results amongst them and overall it was a good campaign especially considering the low turnout and the limited nature of our resources compared to the main parties and parties such as UKIP. The important thing is that a clear working-class anti-cuts alternative was available on the ballot paper and that a marker has been laid down for future elections. Thanks again to all that took part and gave us support. Don't let the cutters get away with it!

A full breakdown of the nationwide results and some analysis can be found here: http://www.tusc.org.uk/pdfs/2013/TUSCElectionReport2013.pdf

Ashley - Tom Baldwin 49 (1.38%)
Avonmouth - Patrick Hulme 28 (1.03%)
Bishopston - Chris Farrell 32 (0.92%)
Cotham - Caroline Vincent 34 (1.49%)
Eastville -  Mark Baker 84 (3.25%)
Frome Vale -  Phil Bishop 36 (1.36%)
Hillfields -  Matt Gordon 188 (9.14%) 

Horfield - John Yeandle 35 (1.39%)
Kingweston - Roger Thomas 40 (1.78%)
Lawrence Hill - Fiona Joyce 66 (2.62%)
Redland - Martyn Ahmet 30 (1.12%)
St. George East - Mike Luff 110 (5.21%)
St. George West -  Bernie Lyons 54 (2.40%)
Southmead - Domenico Hill 81 (4.14%)

Total - 867 1.48%

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Vote Trade Unionists & Socialists Cuts in Bristol tomorrow! Vote NO TO ALL CUTS

Trade Unionists & Socialists Againsts Cuts are once again standing in tomorow's Bristol City Council elections - Thursday May 2nd. 

It has been an excellent campaign so far, with two public meetings, numerous hustings, two radio interviews and countless stalls, activities and public events - sincere thanks to all those who have helped with the campaign, nominated us to stand or helped in any way. 

Vote TUSC Against Cuts for councillors who fight the cuts! Vote NO TO ALL CUTS!

Its not too late to spread the word....

Here is our Bristol Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/TUSCBristol

Here is the list of candidates for Bristol: http://www.tusc.org.uk/candidates.php

Here is the article about us on the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22350097

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition policy platform:

Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services.

Reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.

Vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.

Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government polices which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.

When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing them on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.

Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition policies

The working class and peoples of Britain face a ruling class offensive which will intensify over the coming period.

It is an offensive against public services, incomes, living standards and trade union rights in order to boost monopoly profit. Not content with the banks receiving the biggest bail-out in the history of British capitalism, big business aims to make workers and their families pay to serve the interests, first and foremost, of the City of London's financial institutions.

It is also an offensive which will be stepped up regardless of which party wins the forthcoming General Election. The likelihood is that a Tory government will make earlier and deeper cuts in public spending than a New Labour one. A Labour government may also be more vulnerable to trade union pressure not to outlaw industrial action in 'essential' services.

But both main parties intend to prolong the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan and to maintain the expansion of nuclear power and a new generation of British nuclear weapons.

Therefore this coalition is contesting the General Election to show that there is a clear left-wing alternative to policies of public sector cuts, privatisation, militarism and environmental degradation.

We recognise that there will be Labour and non-Labour candidates standing in the general election who agree with our policies, who share our socialist aspirations and who will be supported by left and labour movement organisations participating in our coalition.

We also recognise that there are different strategic views about the way forward for the left in Britain, whether the Labour Party can be reclaimed by the labour movement, or whether a new workers' party needs to be established.

But our coalition is united on the need for mass resistance to the ruling class offensive, and for an alternative programme of left-wing policies to help inspire and direct such resistance. These are the policies which we therefore propose to put before the people:


Stop all privatisation, including the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), and the immoral privatisation of prisons. Bring privatised public services and utilities back into public ownership under democratic control.


Take rail back into public ownership and build an integrated, low-pollution public transport system.

For a high-quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control.

Stop council estate sell-offs and build eco-friendly, affordable public housing.

Good, free education for all, under democratic local authority control; student grants not fees.

Keep Royal Mail as a publicly-owned service, not a privatised cash cow.


Bring banks and finance institutions into genuine public ownership under democratic control, instead of giving huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis.

Tax the rich. For progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals, with a crackdown on tax avoidance.

For massive investment in environmental projects.


Repeal the anti-trade union laws.

A minimum wage set at half average adult male earnings, with no exemptions.

Invest to create and protect jobs, including for young people.

Solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions. Reinstate full trade union rights to prison officers.


Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions - otherwise climate change, caused by capitalism, will destroy us.

Invest in publicly-owned and controlled renewable energy.

Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry and farming - stop the pollution that is destroying our environment.

Recognise that many of our planet's resources are limited and that capitalism fritters them away for profit.

Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.


Restore the pre-Thatcher real value of pensions. Reinstate the link with average earnings.

Protect entitlement to benefits; for living benefits; end child poverty.


Welcome diversity and oppose racism, fascism and discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age and all other forms of prejudice.

Defend the right to asylum. No scapegoating of migrant workers.

Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay.

Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable.


Bring home all British troops from Afghanistan immediately - no more wars for resources.

No more spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons, huge aircraft carriers or irrelevant eurofighters - convert arms spending into socially useful products and services.

An independent foreign policy, based on international solidarity – no more being a US poodle, no moves towards a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe, no Lisbon Treaty.


For a democratic socialist society run in the interests of the people not the millionaires. For democratic public ownership of the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment.