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Unity!

The Midlands needs an alternative by Graham Stevenson The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that the 2012 budget cuts are ‘twice as big’ as those inflicted between 1975 and 1982. Continuing this course will mean ‘the longest sustained cuts in public spending since the Second World War’. From when the ConDem government took office to just December 2011, 232,000 jobs were lost in local government alone. And this is only the beginning. Osborne’s cuts will carry on at a rate of 3.7& annually for five more years. The only gainers are Tory backers in the City who want state cash to bail them out. Britain’s economy is now over 4% smaller than it was in 2007 and is still contracting. Here in the Midlands we know that all too well. There are 25,000 fewer jobs in local councils in the West Midlands since 2010. Whilst much of Britain’s hopes for a vibrant

and growing manufacturing sector will rest on the Midlands Alternative economic policies, based on active state intervention, are needed. The last couple of years have seen a transformation in attitudes to such intervention. In 2010 the TUC backed the People’s Charter. In 2011 it called for alternative economic policies based on expanding the public sector. Now, what we need now are specific demands that can unite trade unions and communities to campaign politically and add up to a coherent strategy for a way forward. The first demand is obvious: stop the cuts. This is the quickest way of restoring consumer demand. Also reverse the benefit cuts and end a wage freeze that is currently cutting real incomes by up to 3% a year. The second need is for the creation of real, well-paid jobs. This will boost state income as well as the demand for goods feeding into manufacturing job creation. It has not helped that manufacturing in the region has already

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taken a big hit, dropping from 575,500 in 1996 to 285,500 in 2010. There is desperate need to rebuild our stock of council housing. The private sector has failed – house building has collapsed from 180,000 in 2006 to 120,000 last year, the lowest since the 1920s. Building houses under local democratic control also makes it possible to introduce comprehensive energy saving with green technology – another key area for investment. Equally essential is the demand to take water, energy and transport back into public ownership, end extortionate pricing and stop the state subsidies to monopolist owners. Can this be paid for? Yes, easily – by imposing a tax on the City’s financial transactions, reclaiming the £100 billion lost through tax evasion, closing down Britain’s many tax havens and reversing Osborne’s tax cuts for the rich and on company profits. What’s needed is a mass movement that can remove this government of financial speculators and ensure the adoption of alternative policies needed save our productive economy – in the interests of the vast majority of the population. Graham Stevenson is secretary of the Communist Party Midlands district and a former national trade union leader


How the cuts affect women It’s time for the People’s Charter! by Bill Greenshields The People's Charter for Change is supported by the TUC, 16 trade unions and many trades unions councils up and down the country and it is included in the TUC's plan of work for the trades councils. It promotes a progressive alternative set of policies not only as an antidote to ConDem cuts, but also for the expansion of the economy through a programme of directed investment, control over the export of capital, public ownership, the development of sustainable industries, a reduction in working hours, and a programme of skills training and retraining. The Charter’s 6-point programme demands: H A fairer economy for a fairer Britain H More and better jobs H Decent homes for all H Protect and improve our public services – no cuts H Fairness and justice H A secure and sustainable future for all Impossible? Far from it! The Charter shows how these could be brought about through the implementation of an alternative economic strategy to bring about a fundamental shift in wealth and power in favour of the working class. The People’s Charter deals with the whole of society and aims to promote a positive alternative instead of just saying Stop the Cuts. The Charter six points are aspirations which any political party purporting to represent working people should be proud to put forward and demands that the Labour Party must adopt it as a winning alternative political strategy. Visit www.thepeoplescharter.org for more information and affiliation details or write to The Peoples Charter, PO Box 53091, London E12 9DA Bill Greenshields is national trade union officer of the People’s Charter, CPB national Chair, and member of the Derby Communist Party

by Joanne Stevenson The assault on the very existence of a Welfare State, now being pursued by the Con Dem government, has particularly placed women in the firing line. However, issues involving women are mostly of concern for the entire working class. Families, too, will bear the main brunt of these attacks. Serious cuts in maternity services led to a marked concern over the health of babies. A cut of 6% in health visitors and midwives has taken place this year alone, meaning that women are stopping breastfeeding much earlier in areas where there have been cuts. In Sandwell, 56% of new mothers start breastfeeding but two-thirds of these stop doing so in the first 6-8 weeks. Women’s health generally is seriously challenged by the cuts. Hysterectomy is now considered not a priority. Patients are being forced to endure pain, injury or disability arising from many conditions or illnesses because NHS primary care trusts aim simply to balance their books, with some surgical interventions deemed of low value despite a lack of evidence. Parents are facing childcare disaster, with costs rising at a time when pay is more or less static to an average of £100 a week. Support from government has been slashed and the number of places available has been diminishing rapidly; two-thirds of councils have insufficient provision. It costs almost an average salary for one child in full-time care whilst the mother works. The plain choice for most is to work, or to have a family, and the end result is that women are once again being forced back into the home by the system. Sure Start centres provide support for parents to when children go into reception classes. Most are now struggling badly to cope with budget cuts. One fifth of centres are charging for services which were formerly free. More than half no longer provide any onsite childcare. Cuts in women’s resource, advice, and health centres are damaging. Many vital local specialist domestic and sexual violence services are currently at risk. Domestic abuse services have been cut by 42%, and refuge spaces are being reduced. 72% of home-based domestic violence support services have no council funding. 60% of women are entitled to less than full basic state pension. Women have always been seen as the main carers in society but, now, an

army of them are being ejected from the workforce. Fully one quarter of women in their 50s have caring responsibilities despite having already spent many years juggling caring for their own children with work. Massive youth services cuts all over the country have seen responsibilities unrealistically transferred to housing associations, the police, religious groups and residents’ associations but mostly simply the cancellation of much needed services. Leisure centres, public swimming baths, and sports centres are all being closed, rationalised, or privatised, hardly creating the impression that future British Olympic (let lone paralympic!) sporting prowess amongst working class people is to be expected. Or that the rise in youthful obesity among the poor is to be tackled. In many cases, it will be mothers who will pick up the slack but working class families that will bear the brunt. Even as we see a massive rise in challenges as regards housing, rents, and mortgages, it is evident that women’s homelessness is worse than previously believed. Some three-quarters of homeless households in priority need are women, with 45% being female lone parent applicant households with dependent children. Of single homeless people with support needs, some 30% will be women. Many young people already experience hidden homelessness, staying on the floors of friends and relatives, living in overcrowded or squalid housing, or staying in violent relationships. But it is now becoming clearer that the numbers of women and girls who are hidden homeless are great. For all these reasons and more, the movement need to mobilise more effective campaigning and publicity on welfare issues, recognising the special concerns of women, but understanding these matters to be the concerns of the whole working class. Joanne Stevenson is the Midlands Communist Party Women’s Organiser


expressed their clear opposition to EU austerity and privatisation policies in their votes for socialist, Communist, and other left candidates. Yet both François Hollande and the Greek Euro-leftist Syrzia coalition remain committed to the EU and the single currency. It is impossible to separate rejection of the austerity programme from the institutions that crafted it or to discard policies created solely to sustain those same institutions. Trades unionists have a duty to say enough is enough: we want to get out. In March, the ETUC unequivocally condemned the Treaty, which imposes even more deflationary budget controls. In April this year the Scottish TUC annual conference accepted a motion condemning the antidemocratic and deflationary character of the EU and calling for national powers to again be able to invest in the productive economy and provide public services. Most significant was the call to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on a most favoured nation trade agreement on the same basis as Norway but outside the provisions of the Single Market. While the STUC executive did not endorse the call for withdrawal it stressed the critical threat the EU now posed to democracy and trade union rights. And things get worse! Double dip is here to stay for a while now. Only some 40% of small and medium sized firms in the Midlands this August said they have experienced an increase in enquiries on orders, compared with 62% saying so six months previously. Anita Halpin is the Communist Party’s trade union coordinator

Stop the EU, we want to get off by Anita Halpin As the capitalist crisis deepens and the myth of the ‘social’ chapter lies shattered. Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is the only way to recover democratic control over the economy, save manufacturing, restore employment rights and rescue our welfare state. The EU serves the interests of big business and the banks. No wonder Cameron, Clegg, and Cable support the Single Market as it

enables the City of London to continue to dominate EU finance and banking. The anti-democratic and pro-big business character of the EU is now fully exposed as it replaces elected governments. The European Central Bank – with its partners in crime the International Monetary Fund and the World Central Bank – impose drastic deflationary policies. In the USA, even Obama’s economic stimulus package creates some new jobs but such investment programmes are outlawed in the EU. The peoples of France and Greece have

New edition of the key pamphlet below available from www.communistparty.org.uk


Our history

‘ Our History’ is the recently relaunched journal of the Communist Party’s History Group. A range of attractive, well-illustrated, and easy to read accounts of historical events that celebrate our movement, the first seven are now available to buy and sell from the CPB at £1.50 each (plus 50p postage). Three have a Midlands theme:

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“From Handsworth to the Soviet Union – the tanks that stopped Hitler” “The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Chesterfield” “Rouse Ye The Greater Midlands Region of the Women” – Cradley Communist Party of Britain was Heath Chain established in early 2008 as a Makers” constitutional district of the Party covering the area of the Midlands There’s also regional TUC, plus Oxfordshire and pamphlets on Berkshire. Kinder Scout, There are established branches, which meet Cardiff, and regularly and are engaged in local political Tolpuddle, and the activity, in the following towns and cities: Pentonville 5. Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Coventry, For more Wolverhampton, Oxford, and Nottingham. information, We are currently seeking to re-establish contact: such activity in Shrewsbury & Telford, and Worcester – which has its own public meeting history@communist-party.org,uk due on Novemebr 3rd. There are Communist activists involved in the progressive movements in Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country, Mansfield, and Chesterfield.

H

Morning Star daily paper of the left

£1 from your newsagent www.morningstaronlene.co.uk

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Towns where we would like to develop more local support include Lincoln, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Rugby, Leamington, Midlands Communists are deeply involved in trade unions and well known for supplying large numbers of full-time officials to the movement, from the local, through national and even international level. Our members are involved in a nonsectarian way in most local trade union, community, anti-racist, and anti-cuts groups. We actively support Stop the War, Cuba Solidarity, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and many other progressive organisations where we can. Our branches work closely with others in local and regional Morning Star ‘Readers and Supporters’ groups, raising funds for the paper and selling it at trade union events and on street stalls. Contact us now on: midlands@communist-party.org.uk

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return to CPB Ruskin House 23 Coombe Road Croydon CR0 1BD

Unity Midlands Special  

Unity bulletin published by the Midlands district of the CP for the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham

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