Page 1

TAX THE RICH! TAKE THE POWER WITH PUBLIC OWNERSHIP 2015 COMMUNIST PARTY GENERAL ELECTION MANIFESTO

OTE COMMUNIST Communists fight for working class people and their families in the election and beyond. We support policies for the millions not the millionaires!

votecommunist.uk @CPBritain #votecommunist facebook.com/communistpartybritain Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon, CR0 1BD 0208 686 1659 oďŹƒce@communist-party.org.uk


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

TAX THE RICH! Invest in jobs, peace & public ownership This 2015 general election is being held against the background of open class warfare by the unelected ToryLibDem coalition government, on behalf of the monopoly capitalist class. Over the past five years, this regime has waged an enormous offensive against working people, their jobs and living standards, while at the same time boosting the fortunes of the super-rich, transnational corporations and the banks and financial institutions of the City of London. Taxes on wealthy individuals and big businesses have been reduced and, for them, tax avoidance has been encouraged – but working people have been expected to pay over and over again. The Tory-LibDem regime deserved to have been driven out of office well before the end of its five-year term. But mass opposition to its policies has been muted despite the efforts of trades unions, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and their supporting organisations, due to four main factors:

7 May 2015

“The unelected coalition government has waged an enormous offensive against working people”

1


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

1. Backed up by an incessant barrage in the mass Policies for the Millions media, the Coalition has been able to carry through a huge deception exercise, to convince not the Millionaires many people that ‘austerity’ is necessary to • Tax the rich, big business and combat the deficit in public finances and reduce City speculators the National Debt. 2. Trade union resistance has been hamstrung by • Plug tax avoidance loopholes and close down British-run tax anti-union legislation introduced under the havens around the world. Thatcher and Major Tory governments – legislation still on the statute book despite 13 • Invest in jobs, ‘green’ technology years of Labour administration from 1997 to and public services. 2010. • Use nationalised banks to lend 3. Dominated by its right-wing parliamentary to home-buyers, small leadership, and frightened of attracting hostile businesses and productive press publicity, the Labour Party has been industry. unwilling to challenge the basic logic of • Cut energy prices and take gas, government austerity policies and to expose their monopoly capitalist class-based nature. electricity, water, buses and rail 4. The undemocratic ‘first past the post’ electoral back into public ownership. system in the Westminster Parliament helps the • Scrap the Health & Social Care state and capitalist mass media to ensure that Act and return all privatised alternative left-wing perspectives are largely health services to public excluded from British political life. ownership. But we have arrived at the position where the • Enforce equal pay for women Tory-LibDem regime can now – at least and at and young workers. last – be removed through the ballot box. But this can only be done in current circumstances • Raise pensions and reinstate by electing a Labour government. benefits and student grants. Communists have no illusions about the nature • End privilege in education and of the Labour leadership. However, neither abolish fees. should anyone on the left view the return of the Conservatives to office with equanimity. The • Repeal the Bedroom Tax and election of a Labour government would at least build a million new public sector provide the opportunity to rebuild working class homes. self-confidence. • Extend democratic rights in a Even so, Labour’s ‘austerity-lite’ approach is not progressive and federal Britain. good enough. The Communist Party is therefore standing a limited number of candidates in this • Scrap Trident and plans for new election, in order to find ways to help place nuclear weapons. working class concerns at the centre of the • Challenge NATO expansion and election process and the working class at the EU big business policies – centre of politics. That’s why we make clear in standing up for popular this manifesto that: sovereignty. • Britain’s crisis is a capitalist crisis. • Austerity is working as intended – the rich are getting richer as workers and their families get poorer. • Britain’s structural economic, social and environmental crisis cannot be fully resolved within the framework of the capitalist system. • Mass struggle is needed to build resistance to austerity and privatisation policies. 7 May 2015

2


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

• New, left-wing policies can begin to unleash the creative power of Britain’s working people, opening up the road to socialism. • Big communist votes, and better still the election of a group of communist MPs, would have an enormous positive impact on the movement against austerity and the campaign for a progressive alternative.


7 May 2015

3


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

AUSTERITY IS WORKING! For the bankers and big business A bonanza for big business Under the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to 2010, the divide between rich and poor in society widened. Private interests gained more of a foothold in public services, while Britain engaged in imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. After the Great Financial Crash of 2008, the banks were bailed out to the tune of £1,350 million, but working people paid for the crash with job losses, pay and pension cuts, home repossessions and cutbacks in welfare benefits and public services. The list of City scandals grows ever longer – private pension and payment protection mis-selling, money laundering, tax dodging, the rigging of interest and currency exchange rates – yet no serious steps are taken to sweep out the crooks, spivs and speculators. Indeed, new plans to facilitate the selling of people’s occupational pension pots will provide fresh, happy hunting grounds for the pinstripe mafia. Over the past five years, the Tory-LibDem coalition government has driven through a massive attack on working people’s jobs and living standards, on public ownership and the welfare state and on democratic rights, all under the guise of combating the deficit in public finances and reducing the National Debt. ‘Austerity’ is a huge deception exercise, designed to boost the fortunes of the super-rich and the big banks, transnational corporations and private equity companies in the City of London – Britain’s monopoly capitalist ruling class. In 2013, the members of the Sunday Times ’Top 1000’ rich list saw their combined personal wealth rise by £69 billion to £519bn. In 1998, top bosses received 45 times the average

7 May 2015

4


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

pay – now they pay themselves 185 times the average. They make more in three months than most people earn in a lifetime! The richest 10% of households own £4.2 trillion, five times as much as the poorer half of society. Increased VAT, council tax and other payments mean that the poorest 10% in Britain pay 43% of their income in tax – an enormous burden. In contrast, the wealthiest 10% pay only 35% of their declared income – and there are many ways in which they can reduce what they declare. As the HSBC Geneva scandal indicates, Britain’s super-rich may have as much as £2trn stashed in secret bank accounts in tax havens around the world, primarily for the purpose of evading or avoiding taxation in Britain. Many such ‘offshore’ tax havens are in crown or overseas territories ultimately under British rule. Corporations can also avoid tax liabilities between jurisdictions in a myriad of ways, such as transfer-pricing between subsidiaries, and charging for the use of brands. Private equity executives are able to structure their huge incomes in such a way that they pay a much lower rate of tax than people on lesser incomes. Corporation tax has been cut four times by the Tory-LibDem regime, culminating in the current level of 20% – one of the lowest rates in Europe – and 5.25% for corporations opening a subsidiary in a tax haven. CT currently raises less than 8% of total tax receipts, but leading Tories want to cut the basic rate still further, to something approaching the 12.5% figure in Ireland. In effect, we now have a situation where the payment of tax by the super-rich and transnational corporations is largely voluntary, and where the likes of Apple, Google, Starbucks and Tesco appear to comply with Britain’s tax rules, but in reality pay tax as and when it suits them. Class war against workers and their families Coalition policies over the past five years represent open class war against working people and their families. In this war, the government has acted in the interests of the super-rich and the directors of the big banks and transnational corporations, slashing government spending in order to maximise profit levels through lower taxes on businesses and the wealthy, while at the same time driving down the general level of wages. Since 2009-10, day to day spending by government departments on public services has fallen from 21.2% of gross domestic product to 17.4% today, and it is projected to drop still further to 12.6% if the Tories get back. That’s an awful lot of misery already for workers and their families, and even more still to come. Around 300,000 public sector workers have lost their jobs since 2010, and one million more are expected to go by 2020. Throughout Britain, under the impact of deep cuts in central government support, local councils have been closing libraries, leisure amenities and Sure Start centres, and reducing spending on social care, fire and rescue, policing, refuse collection and street cleaning and lighting. Elderly people have been particularly badly affected by the reductions to social care budgets – the number receiving state-funded care at home has fallen by 28%. A whole raft of benefit cuts has targeted the most vulnerable in our society. Disabled people have been hard hit by the replacement of Incapacity Benefit by the Employment and Support Allowance and the introduction of so-called Work Capability Assessments. Some 700,000 terminally ill people are at risk of losing benefits – 400,000 completely. They will be forced to go to interviews for jobs that they will never get. People in poverty (20% of the population) are bearing 36% of the spending cuts, while poor disabled people (4%) and those who need help from social services (3%) are each bearing 13%. By 2015-16, people using social care will be £6,400 a year worse off on

7 May 2015

5


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

average. Already, the average difference in disability-free life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas is 17 years! These cuts will simply make the gap even wider. Official unemployment figures may be falling, but there has been a huge increase in lowpaid precarious employment and self-employment, the latter now totalling some 4.5 million, or 15% of the workforce. Also, unemployed people who are 'sanctioned' drop off the unemployment list till the sanction expires – over two million have had their benefit stopped in the last two years, often for trivial reasons such as arriving minutes late for an interview. Black and Asian workers are almost twice as likely as white workers to be out of work. Close to 2.3 million people ‘want a job’, significantly more than the official unemployment figure; and half of the 6.8 million people working part-time are doing so because they can’t find full-time work. Since the Coalition took office, the number of people stuck on zero hours contracts in their main or only job has quadrupled to 700,000, with women and young workers suffering disproportionately. More than a million other jobs have no guaranteed minimum hours. But rather than deal in these realities, most of the mass media collude with the Coalition’s near-monthly boast that ‘a record number of people are now in employment’ – a meaningless acclamation, since this has been the case almost every month (world wars aside) since the last bout of bubonic plague in 1666. The media happily provide a platform from which Tory leaders can proclaim the success of their ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, utterly failing to expose the fact – demonstrated on the Conservative Party’s own website – that this amounts to more than a brief list of right-wing slogans and aspirations, most of which have little or nothing to do with any kind of economic strategy at all. It is now being claimed that wages are rising faster than inflation; but the figures are invariably based not on the median wage but on the ‘average’ income, which means they are skewed upwards by the enormous salaries and other incomes enjoyed by those at the top. For most workers, any increases are small and don’t make up for past losses. One fifth of Britain’s workers are paid less than the ‘living wage’ of £7.65 an hour, the average worker is £2,000 worse off than six years ago, and one million people – many of them in work – are being forced to rely on food banks each year. Recent research finds that 21 million people are unable to heat their homes adequately as fuel price rises have vastly outstripped most incomes, 18 million can’t afford appropriate housing, 5.5 million go without clothes they need and four million don’t have the money to eat properly. More than three million workers – most of them with children – still need to have their low wages supplemented by tax credits. Coalition cuts and ‘reforms’ rather than a decrease in poverty have withdrawn this support for almost two million more since 2010. Women have been particularly disadvantaged by the public spending cuts. Almost a quarter of working women are in public sector jobs, accounting for some 65% of the total, so job losses and pay freezes in that sector affect women more than men. Furthermore, in their role as carers, women tend to be more dependent on public services and on welfare spending. The freeze in working tax credits is hitting the poorest members of the working population, particularly lone parents, 90% of whom are women. Three quarters of the £15 billion of welfare savings already implemented are coming from women's pockets. The slow progress towards women's equality is being reversed. As women are forced out of public sector jobs into the private sector, they face a wider pay gap (20% instead of 13%) and are much more likely than men to be in part-time work or self-employed, in both cases with lower rates of pay than women in full-time work. Compared with the end of 2007, there are 300,000 more women working part-time but who would like a fulltime job. 7 May 2015

6


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

Despite all the austerity, which millionaire Chancellor Osborne assured us in his first budget would eliminate the public spending deficit by this year, that deficit still stands at £91bn. In fact, Osborne and the Coalition have altogether borrowed £517bn – more than every past Labour government in Britain combined. As for the National Debt (the consolidated deficit), it is forecast to rise in cash terms until at least 2019-20. A major reason for the persisting deficit and expanding debt has been the lower income tax take, due to lower wages, lower corporation tax and the £50bn being lost each year through VAT evasion. But then the austerity programme was never really about ‘balancing the books’ – its intention was to reduce taxes for big business and the capitalist class and prepare public services for yet more privatisation, thereby shifting even more wealth towards finance capital and the super-rich. The housing crisis The housing market is failing millions of people. Around two million adults and families are on council or social housing lists, even after 113,000 people have been struck off or denied access to waiting lists by changes to the rules for qualification. Every year 80,000 young people experience homelessness. Housing costs – social and private rents as well as mortgages – is rising more rapidly than incomes. In many local authority areas, council houses are now virtually non-existent, social housing estates in London are being flogged off to private developers and private rented accommodation is often unregulated and poorly maintained. Council and housing association tenants who claim housing benefit have had that cut by as much as 25% if they are regarded as ‘under occupying’ – the iniquitous ‘Bedroom Tax’. Yet in most cases there is no alternative social housing available to which they could ‘downsize’. The number of private tenants being evicted is increasing – some to make room for luxury developments – as house possessions begin to rise again. While the 336 biggest landlords in England saw their profits grow by almost one quarter to £2.4bn last year, their tenants lack proper protection. Britain needs at least 250,000 new homes a year to end homelessness and provide decent quality housing for all those who will need it. That would require a level of new house completions not achieved since the Labour governments of the 1970s. Since then, local authority housebuilding has come almost to a halt and councils have been compelled to sell off much of their housing stock, while neither housing associations nor the private sector have come close to filling the gap. New build completions are little higher now than they were in 2010 at 129,000, although there was a small increase in building starts last year And in the midst of this housing crisis, we have more than one million empty or second homes in Britain and the Coalition allocates £2.1bn to its Help to Buy ISA scheme when that sum would build some 70,000 affordable new homes. When it comes to housing in Britain today, there could be no starker example of the failure of private enterprise and ‘market forces’ to meet people’s most basic human and social needs. Privatisation Government claims of protected funding for education and the National Health Service do not bear scrutiny when examined in detail, and in fact disguise the break-up and privatisation in both these services. The introduction of so-called 'free' schools and the promotion of academies, often with business sponsors, represents the first steps towards a market in education, with private companies running schools in future. It also makes it

7 May 2015

7


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

more difficult for teachers’ unions to defend the quality of education and the interests of their members, as they have to deal with hundreds of different employers. Further education (FE) provision in England, already in straitened circumstances as a result of cancelling Education Maintenance Allowances, is now facing an enormous 24% cutback in adult education, once funding for apprenticeships is excluded. Millions of the most vulnerable adults will be denied the opportunity to improve their education or retrain, and thousands of FE jobs will be put at risk. Meanwhile, in higher education (HE), the government has jacked up student fees to nearly £9,000 per annum, while allowing students at private, profit-making HE colleges also to access the loans to pay for the fees. The latter is purely and simply a public subsidy for the Tories’ friends in the private sector. Since the government’s Health & Social Care Act was introduced, one third of NHS contracts have been handed to private companies – amounting, from April 2013 to April 2014 alone, to over £9bn – more than two-thirds of the total. In Staffordshire, a massive £1.2bn contract for cancer care and end-of-life treatment is currently being sold off. Already 358 GP surgeries are being run by Virgin Care. Many aspects of emergency or urgent health care – including ambulance services – are now subject to competitive tendering. The recent crisis in accident and emergency care, with more than 16,000 people left on hospital trolleys for up to 12 hours in the first week in January, was a direct result of cuts in GP funding, the closure of NHS walk-in centres, and the replacement of NHS Direct by the part-privatised NHS 111. NHS England faces a £30bn per annum spending hole. Profits are being made behind the cloak of the respected NHS logo – but standards are falling and patient care is suffering. If private companies don’t make enough profit, they can simply walk away, as Circle Health did at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. Yet rather than address these issues, the Coalition and its compliant mass media have preferred to attack the NHS in Wales, emphasising its weaknesses while denying its strengths (which include a far more advanced strategy to integrate health services and social care). The reason is simple – the Welsh Labour government has chosen not to take the path of wholesale privatisation of NHS hospitals and services that is being imposed by stealth on England. The whole direction of the government's programme for public services has been towards increased and reinforced privatisation. That was the main driver behind the attack on public sector pensions – reducing costs for potential private providers of the services, even to the extent of nationalising the Royal Mail pension fund liabilities while privatising the company. Time and again, private ownership has been shown to fail Britain's people and the economy, but the government has pressed on. Lloyds Bank, Northern Rock and the whole financial system had to be rescued from collapse in 2008-9, National Express withdrew from the East Coast main rail line franchise, and ATOS ignominiously withdrew from administering the Work Programme. Poor standards of service to the traveling public seem almost to guarantee the continuation of a franchise in Britain’s highly subsidised, privatised railway system. Nonetheless, in all these cases private ownership has

7 May 2015

8


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

been, or is in the process of being, restored. And within a year of privatising the probation service, mass redundancies and service cuts are being announced. Industry, energy and the environment No modern advanced society can survive for long without an industrial base. Yet the Tory-LibDem coalition has had no industrial strategy. Whereas the Thatcher government sought to destroy manufacturing, in order to weaken trade unions as a prelude to attracting investment and rebuilding industry (largely unrealised), both the Labour and Coalition governments of the 21st century have placed the interests of the banking and finance sector first. Labour did at least have a strategy, even if it was very limited, based on Scottish, Welsh and Regional Development Agencies to attract inward funding. The present government scrapped them in favour of Local Enterprise Partnerships with much narrower remits and much less funding. It has sat on its hands as banks have advanced loans to private equity companies and transnational corporations, in order to leverage buyouts of British businesses, while smaller businesses have been deprived of essential pump-priming finance. All the while, business investment in Britain has slowed to halt, construction has nosedived, growth in the production and manufacturing sectors lags substantially behind financial and other commercial services and Britain’s balance of trade and payments with the rest of the world sinks deeper into the red. This is the reverse of the ‘rebalancing’ of the economy advocated by the three main parties after the 2008 crash. In fact, large sections of the British capitalist class are more interested in their operations overseas than in the health of the British economy. By investing almost as much capital abroad as in Britain for 25 years until the crash, British-based shareholders and corporations have amassed a foreign direct investment stock worth $1.9 trillion (£1.3tn) – a level of foreign investment surpassed only by US investments across the globe. The British capitalist class remains one of the wealthiest in the world, yet we are told that we cannot afford better public services, pensions and benefits while the British economy is starved of investment except for the foreign capital that can be lured here by all kinds of bribes and inducements. As it is, manufacturing in Britain is strongly skewed towards drug companies (‘Big Pharma’) and the state-subsidised, so-called ‘defence’ industries. The government almost pushed train manufacturer Bombardier in Derby into closure in 2012, by failing to award it the Thameslink project. It has refused help to keep open the last two British deep coalmines in private hands. The Coalition claims to have environmentally friendly policies but, instead of promoting carbon capture and storage in coal-fired power stations, it has encouraged hugely subsidised nuclear power, ‘fracking’ and underground coal gasification. By refusing to invest more in insulation and in solar and tidal power, while relying instead on ‘market forces’ and the energy monopolies, this government has knocked Britain off course from meeting 7 May 2015

9


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

its already modest 2020 and 2025 targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals for tidal lagoons in the Severn estuary off the south Wales coast would generate a substantial amount of renewable energy – but the project should be in public hands, not handed to private corporations along with massive state subsidies and guaranteed future profits from high prices. Democratic rights Starting under the last Labour governments, but increasingly over the last five years, our already inadequate democracy is being hollowed out. Local councils, denied funds for necessary services, are being merged into larger authorities and obliged to operate cabinet-style government or directly-elected mayors, most recently in the case of Greater Manchester. Rather than engage in genuine devolution to Wales and the English regions, the government’s response to the Scottish referendum outcome, and the promise of more powers to Scotland, has been to propose the exclusion of Scottish MPs at Westminster from voting on ‘English’ matters. Our civil liberties are being circumscribed by ill-defined ‘anti-terror’ legislation, surveillance of electronic media usage, increased police resources to control demonstrations and by the costs demanded of demonstration organisers to use public spaces. But the Coalition’s harshest measures have been directed against trade unions, which it sees as the main obstacle to its policies: in the civil service, facility time has been cut back and the ability to raise membership subscriptions attacked; the Lobbying Act has drastically limited the interventions which trades unions as well as charities and other voluntary bodies can make in the political sphere; and the Tories have made it explicit that, if they win the General Election, there will be even harsher anti-union laws, making it almost impossible for workers in ‘essential services’ to engage in lawful industrial action. Foreign and military policy The Coalition's aggressive support for big business policies domestically has been matched by a similar aggressiveness in foreign and so-called ‘defence’ policy. In seeking to advance the international interests of British-based transnational corporations and finance capital in the City of London, the government has acted as a junior partner to United States imperialism, collaborating in the military aggression against Libya, in the open support for anti-government forces in Syria's civil war and in propping up the former sectarian government in Iraq. However, it has done nothing to support the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people for statehood, and for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories. Prime Minister David Cameron refused to condemn Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza in summer 2014. Within Europe, the British government has given full support to the austerity policies of the ‘Troika’ (the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF), particularly against countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Cyprus. It is also backing the secretive EU-US trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which will threaten jobs, hard-won working conditions and environmental protections, as well as enforcing more privatisation of public services through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions. Prime Minister Cameron has promised renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU, and an in/out referendum, by 2017. This is largely posturing, designed on the one hand to mollify the extreme right of the Tories’ electoral base, and on the other to negotiate terms of protection from EU regulation – however feeble – for the City of London. It has nothing to do with the main issues over the EU – free movement of capital, and the 7 May 2015

10


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

surrender of democratically-controlled economic and fiscal powers to the unelected European Commission and ECB – since the Commission’s policies on austerity, privatisation and the independence of central banks from democratically elected member state governments are little different from the Coalition’s. In striking populist poses on the EU and immigration, the Tories are stoking the flames of xenophobia and racism. Attacks on asylum-seekers as ‘bogus’ reinforce the false notion that foreigners are flocking here to sponge off our Welfare State. Migrant workers become targeted in political circles and the media as responsible for social problems such as lack of jobs and housing, whereas in fact these problems are deep-rooted within the capitalist system itself. The NATO military alliance, of which Britain is a leading member, is the greatest threat to world peace today. Together with the EU, it increasingly seeks to assert hegemony in the world, expanding its sphere of operations in the interests of the monopoly capitalists of the leading Western powers, hemming in states such as Russia and China which are seen as a challenge to that hegemony. This was the background to recent events in the Ukraine, where NATO and EU circles collaborated with local nationalist and fascist forces to engineer a coup d’état, in order to shift the borders of NATO and the EU to the Russian frontier. The result for the peoples of Ukraine has been tragic. Anti-Russian and war-mongering statements by Tory politicians, NATO chiefs and the likes of Charles Windsor, arising from the situation in Ukraine, risk Britain being dragged into a dangerous European conflict with untold consequences. At the same time, the US-led drive to impose a new imperialist world order on the ‘Greater Middle East’ – from North Africa across to Afghanistan – has brought nothing but war, mass slaughter and forced migration on an unprecedented scale. Whole countries lie in ruins, fundamental human rights – not least those of women – are being trampled in the terror. US, British and NATO intervention has succeeded only in creating the conditions in which ISIS, Al Queda and other fundamentally reactionary sectarian forces can flourish. More intervention and continuing support for repressive state power in Israel, Saudi Arabia and other regimes in the region will worsen conditions still further, not ameliorate them. The massive arsenals of nuclear weapons held by the USA, Britain and France, far from being a defensive shield, are intended to dictate terms to the rest of the world. This underlines the Tories’ determination – shared by the Labour Party leadership – to renew Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons, despite the enormous cost and the fraught danger of the destruction of our civilisation.

7 May 2015

11


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

‘CHOICE’ IN THIS ELECTION Are they all the same? The point has already been made, that the Parliamentary Labour Party and its leadership have been unwilling to challenge fundamentally the ToryLibDem austerity agenda, or to expose and attack its monopoly capitalist class character.Yet in many specific policy areas – e.g. returning the railways, Royal Mail and the energy utilities to public ownership, opposing privatisation in the NHS – most people in Britain actually stand to the left of Labour. Indeed, Labour’s refusal to put forward a bolder set of policies, especially on austerity, tax, public ownership and workers’ rights has made it very difficult to convince electors that it would be radically different from the Tories and Lib Dems. Disillusioned working class voters have drifted towards populist parties such as UKIP and the Scottish National Party. Some more left and progressive electors look to the Greens. All of this risks exclusion of the working class from the political scene in Britain for a long time to come. In many parts of England, UKIP is presenting itself as being to the left of Labour, but it is actually to the right of the Conservatives. Feeding on genuine popular discontent with the anti-democratic European Union, UKIP mobilises xenophobia to build its support while disguising the fact that it is backed by a number of wealthy former Tory donors, and that its policies are extremely neoliberal. It is, among other things, in favour of privatisation, massive tax cuts for big business and the super-rich, the destruction of what remains of the social safety net, legalising handguns, barring people who are HIV-positive from entering Britain and deporting migrants. UKIP’s claim to be a break with the political establishment is completely bogus. Despite his ‘ordinary bloke’ persona, UKIP leader Nigel Farage is a millionaire and a former City trader and Tory politician. Not surprisingly, his party – like the Tories – seeks to protect the largely unregulated City from EU attempts to create a regulatory level playing field across Frankfurt, Paris and London. For working people, a vote for UKIP is one of the worst possible protest choices, like turkeys voting for Christmas. In Scotland and Wales nationalist parties have been able to capitalise on the disillusionment of Labour supporters, by projecting austerity policies as an imposition by an English-led political establishment. This characterisation was strengthened in the recent Scottish referendum campaign, when Labour joined with its Tory and Lib Dem opponents in a ‘non-class’ British unionist campaign instead of urging working class unity on both sides of the border against austerity, privatisation and imperialist war. The mass media in Scotland now present the SNP as an anti-austerity party and Labour as pro-austerity, but there is lttle difference in their spending plans. In fact, had it won the referendum the SNP

7 May 2015

12


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

would have tied an ‘independent’ Scotland to the austerity policies of the European Union and to the nuclear weapons policy of NATO. While having a long history of supporting the national and democratic rights of the peoples of Scotland and Wales, the Communist Party also upholds the unity of the British labour movement. Among other reasons, this is vital if the Scottish and Welsh people are to share in any redistribution of the massive wealth currently concentrated in parts of south-east England, the City and overseas tax havens. In England, the Green Party has been attracting significant support among younger people and some socialists who have lost faith in Labour. The party has a number of progressive policies but it is not a coherent radical force. In January 2013, for example, Green and Conservative councillors in Brighton & Hove Council forced through a measure authorising council officers to implement a ‘modernised pay and conditions package’, which in practice meant substantial pay cuts for some of the lowest-paid staff. This set the scene for a long and bitter dispute with the GMB union, which ended only in February 2015. Labour councils of course have at times been at loggerheads with their workforces, but they often tend to be more sensitive to employment issues because of the organic link between the Labour Party and the biggest trade unions. The Green Party has no such link and indeed no conception of class, nor class struggle, hence its failure to call clearly for the repeal of all Britain’s repressive anti-trade union laws. Communists have no illusions about the right-wing nature of the Labour leadership and many of the Labour MPs. It was the right-wing policies of the Blair and Brown governments which led to defeat in 2010. In the absence of mass working class pressure, there is no reason to believe that an incoming Labour government under Ed Miliband would be fundamentally different. It might be ‘austerity-lite’, but it would still be carrying through further massive spending cuts in the interests of finance capital. Furthermore, Labour has drastically weakened the organic link with the trade unions, remains committed to NATO and the European Union, has no clear position of outright opposition to TTIP, and on social policy has caved in to anti-immigrant rhetoric. Nonetheless, a Tory victory on May 7 would be a severe defeat for the trade union movement and give the green light to a whole new round of attacks on trade union and employment rights, the Welfare State and whatever else still remains of the public sector. The election of a Labour government, on the other hand, would at least provide the opportunity to rebuild working class self-confidence, raising people’s expectations and demands that could be fulfilled if a militant mass movement is built against austerity, privatisation and militarism.

7 May 2015

13


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

WHAT DO WE STAND FOR? Putting people before profit The Communist Party therefore considers that a clear Labour victory on May 7 is essential. But it is hardly sufficient: the great majority of people in Britain need much more. Communists work within trades unions to win support for alternatives to the austerity policies of all the major parties. We are active in the broad and trade union-based People’s Assembly Against Austerity, which also opposes all proposals to ‘solve’ the crisis by discrimination or scapegoating on grounds of disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity. We endorse the People’s Manifesto issued by the People’s Assembly, but only as a first step towards a complete transformation of society. We consider that the crisis affecting working people and their families cannot be resolved within the scope of monopoly capitalism and Britain’s membership of the European Union. The ruling finance capitalist circles in Britain, the EU and the USA will always seek to prevent any steps in a progressive direction, as recent events involving Greece have shown. The only alternative is to put people before profit, to embark on building socialism.

We set out in the Communist Party’s programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism, a strategy for achieving socialism, based on building a broad popular, democratic alliance around leftwing policies which promote working class interests and target the stranglehold of finance capital and the big monopolistic corporations on the economy. As those left-wing policies 7 May 2015

14


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

will be resisted by the ruling class, they will need to be fought for by mass working class struggle, ultimately resulting in the election of a left-wing government committed to carrying out those policies. A LEFT WING PROGRAMME FOR BRITAIN The Communist Party is standing a limited number of candidates in this election, in order to: •Win support for mass struggle against austerity and privatisation. •Help find ways to place working class concerns at the centre of the election process and the working class at the centre of politics. •Argue that there needs to be a government that puts people before profit, peace before war and democracy before the European Union and NATO. A big vote for the Communist Party candidates, and indeed the election of a group of Communist MPs, will enormously help build the struggle against austerity and be a strong signal that workers and their families demand a government committed to new domestic and foreign policies. We argue that such a government must, in the immediate term, have the following policy framework, the key points of which have been listed above in the Summary: Taxing the rich and the big corporations To reverse austerity policies, it is essential that the wealthy and the big corporations should now start to pay their full share of taxation. This is not just a moral question: wealth is being salted away in property and in tax havens, instead of being used to fund services, create necessary employment, raise public sector wages, restore the value of pensions and reduce the VAT burden on working people and small and cooperative enterprises. Here are just some of the ways in which that idle wealth can be productively mobilised: • Levy a 1 per cent Wealth Tax on the richest 10 per cent of the population. Revenue: around £42 billion a year. • Close down British-run tax havens around the world, and introduce a robust, broadlybased general tax avoidance and evasion rule which includes serious financial or other penalties for those found to be evading tax or assisting evasion. Revenue: at least £70 billion. • Increase corporation tax on big business profits, especially those made from overseas operations, to 33%. Revenue: around £16 billion a year. • Levy a 20 per cent windfall tax on the super-profits of British-based banks, oil corporations, energy utilities and retail monopolies. Revenue: about £16 billion. • Impose a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on speculative trading in currencies, commodities, derivatives and bond markets in the City of London and other financial markets under British jurisdiction. Revenue: around £30 billion a year. • Impose an empty property tax on long-term vacant premises. Revenue: at least £3 billion a year. These measures alone would raise ‘one-off’ revenues of £86 billion and recurring annual revenues of around £91 billion. This would provide substantial funds for investment in public services, housing, public transport, green technology the NHS, Welfare State and productive industry, while also – alongside a reinvigorated economy – reducing the public finance deficit, borrowing costs and the National Debt. 7 May 2015

15


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

Taking control of Britain’s economy – for sustainable development Britain needs a strategy to defend and rebuild manufacturing, infrastructure and services and to provide quality jobs. The following policies put the working class and peoples of Britain first, and would enable the development of a modern, diverse and productive domestic economy: • Compel large and profitable companies to reinvest in British industry and take steps towards a 35-hour week with no loss of pay. • Outlaw mass redundancies in profitable companies. • Restrict the export of jobs to super-exploited labour markets abroad by enforcing international labour standards and penalising imports. • Support strategic industries and enterprises including by import tariffs and quotas where necessary. • Nationalise the major arms manufacturers and shift production, research and development to socially useful products. • Take the pharmaceutical industry into public ownership so that its priorities are shifted from aggressive marketing and profiteering to much needed research, development and production in the interests of the NHS and its patients. • With failing private companies, take a public shareholding in return for subsidies. • Bring the privatised utilities, telecoms and public transport back into public ownership to ensure that their pricing and investment policies are planned to meet the needs of users, workers, the economy and the environment – not those of big corporate shareholders. • Use public ownership to invest in renewable energy resources such as tidal, solar and offshore wind power, and to revive the deep-mined coal industry, utilising clean coal technology with carbon capture and storage, until the ‘green’ energy resources can be developed. • Introduce public sector procurement policies to protect and extend skilled employment, including in research and development, and the productive capacity necessary for a diverse industrial economy. • Restore government control over the Bank of England, and take the banking, insurance and mortgage monopolies fully into democratic public ownership, directing their operations towards investment in productive industry, small and cooperative enterprises and first-time home ownership. • Stop City speculation in commodities and derivatives, hostile takeovers, assetstripping and pension fund theft. • Compel employers to help fund high-quality vocational training for young people and the long-term unemployed. • Expand mutually beneficial trade relations with the People’s Republic of China and other developing and less developed countries. Public services for all The immediate priority must be to halt and reverse the cuts in public services, cancel all Private Finance Initiative schemes and bring all privatised services back in-house, under popular democratic control. The Communist Party calls for: • The repeal of the Health & Social Care Act, the scrapping of ‘foundation trust’ status for hospitals and the restoration of co-operation rather than competition as the ethos of the NHS.

7 May 2015

16


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

• • •

Vote Communist

Ending council house sales, reversing housing stock transfers and providing councils with the necessary funds for repairs and for building one million new council homes. Scrapping the programmes for academy schools and so-called ‘free’ schools, and ending privilege in education by integrating all religious, private, trust and academy schools into a unified secular education system under democratic local control, providing all with the current level of public funding that the academies currently enjoy. Restoring the funds cut from further education, scrapping fees in both FE and HE, and phasing in student grants. Returning the privatised probation service, privately run prisons and all contracted-out areas of the civil service to public control. Restoration of central levels of support to local authorities, so that fire and rescue, policing, social services, street cleaning, waste collection and other local services can be maintained at satisfactory levels, and contracted-out services brought back.

Waging war on poverty and the high cost of living The chief causes of poverty are unemployment, low wages, inadequate benefits, and the recent huge price rises for gas, electricity and staple foods. The remedies are straightforward. Workers and carers need higher benefits, higher wages, price controls and better access to employment, training and childcare facilities. Together with pensioners, they would benefit substantially from decent housing, better public services and a move away from means-testing of benefits and pensions. But with the Con-Dem attacks on public sector pensions, and the decisions by both the Labour and Coalition governments of the past decade to increase the state retirement age, a whole ageist, anti-pensioner agenda has been adopted – that Britain has too many old people and we cannot afford to pay for their comfort and dignity in retirement. Pensioners are not a drag on the economy. For decades, governments built up a massive pension surplus in the National Insurance fund by taking workers’ contributions and then paying them low pensions after they retired. That money should be given back to yesterday’s workers, not used to fund armaments and war. Extending the compulsory working age also denies jobs to young and first-time workers. The Communist Party endorses the Pensioners’ Manifesto from the National Pensioners Convention, which demands: • A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week. • Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%. • Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over-75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means testing. • A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation. • A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people. But the Communist Party would go further in a war on poverty, including: • An immediate increase in the national minimum wage to the level of the Living Wage, irrespective of age, rising to two-thirds of male median earnings (currently £13.59/ hour). • Boosting the wages of public sector workers to make up for the years of belowinflation pay increases. 7 May 2015

17


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

• The outlawing of zero-hours contracts, and the enforcement of equal pay for young workers. • Cancellation of the Work Programme and Work Capability Assessments, and restoration of the value of benefits for those in work and without, the long-term sick and people with disabilities. • Repealing the Bedroom Tax. • Deep cuts in household fuel prices, a reduction in VAT to 15% and the imposition of selective price controls on essential goods and services. • Restoration of 65 as the state pension age and the reinstatement of all public sector pension scheme benefits as a step towards provision of a second state pension for all workers, with compulsory employer as well as state contributions. Real equality for women A decade ago the Communist Party launched the Charter for Women, which has the support of more than 12 national trade unions. In order to achieve equality for women in society, at work and in the labour movement, its policies include: • Greater support for lone mothers, carers and women subjected to domestic violence. • Improved rights and access to abortion. • Equal state pensions and pension rights for all women. • Reducing the gender pay gap, including through statutory pay audits and more trade union equal value claims. • Ending job segregation by improving training and opportunities for women. • Full-time rights for part-time workers. • Ending the oppression of lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women. • Rooting out bullying and sexual harassment. • Affordable childcare including pre-school, after-school and holiday provision. Fighting racism and fascism In this 70th anniversary year of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two, the Communist Party calls for a renewed popular struggle against racism and fascism. It is a scandal that fascism has been allowed to establish itself as a major force in European countries like France and Ukraine, and that ultra-right organisations in Britain such as the English Defence League, Britain First and the National Front have been allowed to spread racist hatred. We believe that every person should be entitled to equal treatment regardless of race, culture, religion or national origin. We call for immediate measures to root out racism, including: • The repeal of all racist asylum, immigration and nationality laws and their replacement by measures which reflect our international and humanitarian commitments – including the right for asylum seekers to work; 7 May 2015

18


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

• An amnesty for all illegal immigrants and overstayers and their integration into the economy, employment rights and the tax and national insurance system; • The closure of repressive prison-like facilities for asylum seekers; • No platform for fascists to peddle their poison, whether on public platforms or in the mass media. The scale and impact of migration is commonly exaggerated in the media. In fact, the proportion of migrants in Britain is not very different from the European average and they make a significant positive contribution to the economy. Problems arise, however, when employers bring in migrants as a source of cheap labour, undercutting local wages, terms and conditions. That has to be dealt with by tackling the employers, not persecuting the migrant workers. We make no apology for arguing that Britain should be an ‘anti-fascist state’, with no pretence at political neutrality in such matters. Popular campaigning and official action are necessary to rid our society of organised fascists, in the interests of community peace and solidarity. Extending democratic rights in a progressive and federal Britain. The Communist Party supports the right of nations to self-determination. We were among the first to call for national parliaments for Scotland and Wales, and we support the demand that the British government act as a persuader for unity within the island of Ireland, so that the Irish people can collectively determine their own independent future. However, we opposed the separation call in the Scottish referendum, because we considered that it would divide and weaken working class and labour movement unity in the struggle against the British ruling capitalist class. Nonetheless, a major democratic deficit remains throughout the whole of Britain, made toxic by the corrupting influence of big business in British politics. That’s why the Communist Party calls for an end to corporate donations to political parties and an end to the payment of MPs as consultants or directors. Rather than an unhealthy and undemocratic dependence on company and state cash, parties should have to rely on their members and supporters for financial support which is openly and freely given. To establish real organic accountability in between five-yearly General Elections, electors must have the right to petition for the recall of their MP and the holding of a parliamentary by-election. The Tory-LibDem coalition’s reform, with its qualifications and restrictions, is a sham which further deepens widespread cynicism about the establishment parties and their politicians. Britain’s electoral system reinforces the alienation of people from politics, and thus from decisions affecting their lives. Thus the Communist Party advocates a national parliament for Wales as well as Scotland, regional assemblies in England where popular demand exists and a federal parliament at Westminster, with all these bodies being elected by single transferable vote (STV) in multi-member constituencies. Abolishing the House of Lords and establishing an English chamber to legislate on England-only matters would further enhance democracy. This call for progressive federalism recognises the integral link between constitutional change and the overall struggle for economic and social democracy against monopoly capital. Democracy has to be a process which can be used collectively by the working class to advance its interests. STV will maximise the opportunity for those interests to be articulated and advanced. A federal parliament is necessary in order to secure a united focus for struggle against finance capital in Britain. Such a parliament would require powers over social security, the currency, interest rates, banking, trade, foreign policy, defence and substantial taxation powers. Economically, its primary role should be redistribution – both overall from rich

7 May 2015

19


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

to poor and, contrary to the basis of the current ‘Barnett Formula’, across the nations and regions of Britain on the basis of social need. The national parliaments and regional assemblies would require powers of social and economic intervention that can advance the interests of working people, including developing public ownership and intervening economically to prevent industrial closure, reduce unemployment and provide strategic aid to industry. For this reason, these bodies should have their own powers to raise tax and to borrow. Along with this, the Communist Party calls for: • Repeal of the anti-trade union laws by a Trade Union Freedom Act which guarantees positive rights and free collective bargaining, while also imposing severe penalties on employers and other organisations which seek to victimise trade union activists. • Extended rights and powers for accredited trade union health and safety, equalities return to learn and pension representatives at work. • Full restoration of the rights of assembly, protest and free speech. • An extension of democratic control over Britain’s police and intelligence services. • The break-up of the millionaire media monopolies in Britain, with measures to ensure genuinely free, diverse and inclusive mass media. • Restoration of powers and resources to local government, abolition of the cabinet system and directly-elected mayors, unfreezing the business rate for big corporations and linking local taxation more closely to the ability to pay. Challenging the European Union Protection of jobs and public services in Britain demands outright rejection of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the EU and the USA. But in fact, carrying out the programme outlined in this Manifesto would inevitably put Britain in conflict with the European Union in any case. The chief purpose of the EU is to promote the common interests of monopoly capitalists across Europe, to maximise profit and suppress collective action by workers and their trade unions. As recent events confirm, the EU: • Enshrines ‘free market’ competition in its treaties, effectively outlawing public ownership and promoting privatisation of public services. • Enforces austerity policies on national governments, while requiring free, unfettered movement of capital. • Removes democratic control over national economies and places them in the hands of the unelected European Commission. EU propaganda about the ‘Social Chapter’, a ‘Social Europe’ and ‘social partnership’ is part of a strategy to get workers to place their confidence in supposedly benevolent supranational European institutions, while their collective rights are progressively eroded. Communists argue that the EU cannot be reformed from within because its treaties and institutions have been designed and entrenched to prevent real democratisation and block or undermine progressive policies. The peoples of Britain should exert their popular sovereignty against EU monopoly capitalist policies and prepare to withdraw from the EU in favour of free and equal relations with all nations around the globe. As the world’s sixth biggest economy, and in a trade deficit with the rest of the EU, it is nonsense 7 May 2015

20


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

to suggest that Britain outside the EU could not negotiate mutually beneficial commercial arrangements with Europe as well as with the rising BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and other countries across the globe. An independent foreign policy for Britain. The foreign policy of successive British governments has long reflected the predominant interests of British finance capital. These are to protect and promote its extensive investments and operations around the world, especially through the use of British state power. The subservient political and military alliance with US imperialism reflects this approach, as does Britain’s qualified involvement in the European Union. But, while British-owned oil, minerals, armaments and financial monopolies have benefited from these alliances, the peoples of Britain and the Third World have paid a heavy price. The Communist Party still believes that solving humanity’s fundamental problems is more important than squandering precious resources on militarism and war. That is why, while accepting the case for conventional defence forces, we continue to argue for: • The unilateral abolition of Britain’s nuclear weapons, with no replacement for the Trident missile system. • The reduction of British military expenditure to the average European share of GDP. • Major restrictions on British arms exports, especially to reactionary and repressive regimes. • The redirection of arms production capacity to research and the development of socially useful products for domestic use and export. • British withdrawal from NATO and the closure of all US military bases in Britain. • Support for a sovereign Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, in accordance with UN resolutions and backed by sanctions against Israel if no immediate progress is made.

7 May 2015

21


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

MAY 8TH AND BEYOND What happens next? Whatever the outcome of the General Election – a Tory or a Labour victory, or a hung Parliament – there will need to be mass struggle to resist austerity and privatisation policies. The Communist Party fights for socialism. We are fundamentally opposed to this immoral and bankrupt capitalist system which allows enormous wealth to be made by the few at the expense of the many. Communist MPs would work full-time for their electors, supporting them in their struggles – and not taking any paid positions outside Parliament or embezzling nonincurred expenses while carrying out their political duties. Our aim is to achieve a socialist Britain in which the major means of production, distribution and exchange will be socially owned, to be utilised in a democratic planned way for the benefit of all. In this Manifesto, the Communist Party has put forward the policies that would advance the real interests of the working class and peoples of Britain. It is a Manifesto for a real alternative to a Britain dominated by big business and the bankers. It is a Manifesto for a socialist Britain as part of the world-wide struggle for peace and progressive and sustainable change. We are the real internationalists in this General Election, an integral part of the resurgent international communist movement whose aim is no less than the liberation of humanity.

7 May 2015

22


2015 CP General Election Manifesto

Vote Communist

OUR CANDIDATES

Birmingham Hodge Hill Andy Chaffer

Croydon North Ben Stevenson

Devon North Gerrard Sables

Glasgow North West Zoe Hennessey

Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney

Newcastle Upon Tyne East

Robert Griffiths

Mollie Stevenson

Plymouth Sutton & Devonport

Sheffield Central Steve Andrew

Torfaen Mark Griffiths

Laura-Jane Rossington

Printed and published by the Communist Party, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd, London CR0 1BD

CP Election Manifesto  

The Communist Party's Manifesto for the 2015 UK General Election campaign

CP Election Manifesto  

The Communist Party's Manifesto for the 2015 UK General Election campaign

Advertisement