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The socialist manifesto

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Issue 1748

Sick of New Labour? Hate the Tories?

The socialist manifesto

THE MAIN parties standing in the general election have far more which unites them than divides them. They all agree with privatisation, and putting the interests of the rich and big business first. The Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party are different. We want people to come before profit, nurses to matter more than nuclear weapons. Tony Blair’s first term has bitterly disappointed millions of Labour voters. New Labour’s manifesto makes it clear that the second term will be even more business friendly. That is why we urge you to vote socialist and to help build the campaign. Below are the pledges at the core of the socialist campaign.

The socialists say 
Stop privatisation-renationalise the railways

PRIVATISATION HAS meant riches for a few, and misery and unsafe journeys for the majority. The government is spending three times as much on subsidies to private rail firms as it did on subsidising a publicly owned and safer system. Rail should be renationalised immediately.

We support the London tube workers striking against the effects of privatisation on safety and jobs.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Leave railways in the hands of private firms. It wants firms like Balfour Beatty, responsible for maintaining the track which lethally shattered at Hatfield, running a privatised London Underground. New Labour wants to sell off air traffic control and allow businesses to make millions from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in schools and hospitals.

The socialists say 
Tax the rich and big business to rebuild the welfare state

UNDER NEW Labour the top rate of tax is 40 percent. For much of the time under Tory Margaret Thatcher it was 63 percent. Corporation tax on profits has fallen from 52 percent under Thatcher to 30 percent now. For some companies it is just 10 percent.

Taxing individual fat cats and companies at a decent level would raise 36 billion a year for schools and hospitals. 
NEW LABOUR SAYS: Freeze tax rates for the rich, lower taxes on big business.

The socialists say 
For the right to work: 35-hour week now

THE GOVERNMENT says we are on the way back to full employment. But a TUC study last month showed there are 2.27 million people who want to work but are not included in the unemployment figures. This means the real jobless total is 3.8 million. Yet British workers suffer the longest working hours in Europe.

A maximum 35-hour working week without loss of pay would tackle the pain of working long hours and create up to two million jobs.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: More “flexibility” and short term contracts. Continue to block or allow widespread exemptions from the mildest European regulations on working hours.

New Labour will also harass the unemployed off benefit into low paid, insecure jobs by tougher regulations.

The socialists say 
Defend asylum seekers

WE ARE for the right of people fleeing torture, repression and poverty to come to Britain. They should be allowed to work. Refugees should be able to claim full cash benefits, not poverty level vouchers.

New Labour and Tory attacks on asylum seekers have fostered racism and opened the door to the far right.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: More restrictions on asylum, abolish the 1951 UN convention on refugees, give in to Tory demands for more deportations.

The socialists say 
End discrimination. Against racism, sexism and homophobia

WHEN POLITICIANS play the “race card” to try to win votes, black and Asian people face abuse and violence. Racism, sexism and homophobia divide us and divert attention from society’s real problems-the rich and the power of big business.

We want real action to tackle discrimination against women whose pay is still on average only 70 percent of what men get. They suffer discrimination in every aspect of life. We want the immediate abolition of the anti-gay Section 28 law.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Make statements about multi-culturalism and ending discrimination but refuse to implement policies that make a difference. New Labour always backs the police, yet their institutionalised racism is a major centre of racist discrimination.

The socialists say 
A fully funded NHS, and an end to privatisation and cuts

THE NHS needs a massive injection of funds and staff. PFI hospitals have, on average, a quarter less beds than the ones they replace. We want hospitals under public control, publicly accountable and properly resourced.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Its target for recruiting nurses means only a 6 percent rise in staff over the next five years. Some 33 percent of nurses in Britain say they are planning to resign over the next year because of high workload. There is no pledge to reduce waiting lists.

The socialists say 
Raise pensions and restore the link with earnings

IF NEW Labour had restored the link between pensions and earnings that the Tories broke, a single pensioner would get 102.65 (instead of the present 72.50) and a couple would receive 166.48 (instead of the present 115.90). We want the link restored and pensions raised to the 1979 level at today’s prices.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Only raise pensions in line with inflation, do not restore the link with earnings, and make more people rely on means tested benefits. It is encouraging “stakeholder pensions” which mean individuals are supposed to fork out for a private pension.

The socialists say 
Stop the sell-off of council homes-for an end to homelessness

NEW LABOUR privatised more council housing in its first three years than the Tories did in their last ten. Homelessness is at record levels, yet over 750,000 homes are empty in Britain. We want a major programme of renovation and new council house building.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: In its second term New Labour wants to hand council homes over to private organisations. These transfers mean higher rents and less security of tenure.

The socialists say 
Fully funded comprehensive education-no selection

OUR CHILDREN need fully resourced schools which are not dominated by testing, league tables and business interests. The government should value teachers with decent pay and conditions, not scapegoat them.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: It will only increase teaching staff by around 2.4 percent-10,000 teachers. Yet teachers’ unions say at least 30,000 more teachers are needed, and many more are planning to leave teaching. New Labour attacks “bog-standard” comprehensives and wants more selection so a minority of schools can cream off a few pupils. Most children will be sentenced to overcrowded, understaffed schools.

The socialists say 
Repeal anti trade union laws-strengthen rights at work

WE BELIEVE unions should be free to take their own decisions about when to strike. Why should there be laws shackling workers who want to fight job losses? We demand workers’ rights against discrimination and unfair dismissal from day one at work.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Tony Blair boasts Britain has “a more restrictive trade union legislative framework than any country in the Western world, including the USA”. Blair’s first term offered a few improvements in rights at work. The second term would give nothing.

The Socialists Say 
Raise the minimum wage to 7.40 an hour-the European Union Decency Threshold

A MINIMUM wage of at least 6.30 an hour is needed for a basic existence, according to extensive research by the TELCO campaign in London.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: A key pledge is to raise the minimum wage from 4.10 an hour, starting in October, to 4.20 an hour-within five years! The worst paid workers in Britain are guaranteed an extra 2p an hour a year.

The socialists say 
Save the planet-we want tough action on pollution and food safety

PROFIT ALWAYS comes before people for firms which pollute our planet. The most important way to tackle global warming is to cut car use through massive investment in a publicly owned, integrated transport system. We are against the commercial use of GM foods and crop trials until there is further scientific research.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Build more roads, make concessions to big haulage operators and give companies exemptions from some of the minor anti-pollution regulations that do exist.

The socialists say 
Stop the onslaught on civil rights

WE DON’T want more laws to snoop on us, imprison us and restrict us. On May Day in London the police, backed by Blair, held up thousands of people for around nine hours without any reason.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: More laws to strengthen police powers over us and to lock up younger children.

The socialists say 
Cancel Third World debt

EVERY YEAR seven million children die because money goes on debt repayments rather than health and education. We are for the immediate cancellation of all Third World debt.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: It refuses to support cancelling the biggest debts owed by the poorest countries, those to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The socialists say 
Scrap tuition fees-free high quality education for all

TUITION FEES and student loans mean many young people cannot afford to go to university. We support free education and demand increased taxes on the rich to fund a living grant for students.

NEW LABOUR SAYS: Tuition fees for students, no grant, and ramming more students into underfunded, poorly staffed universities and colleges.

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