Our Policies: The Socialist Party of England and Wales

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As the government slashes public spending and widens inequality, it claims only one defence: that there is simply no money left thanks to Labour’s reckless spending[1]. Interestingly however, in their early years Labour in fact managed to cut the deficit left to them by a Conservative government[2] and it was not uncontrolled and irresponsible public spending but expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that pillaged funds, which were backed by the Conservatives. We stand against imperialist wars like this that the capitalist class press upon us in the search of increasing profits and exploitable resources.

Of course, government debt skyrocketed due to the bailouts of the banks. To adopt a policy of leaving the banking crises to the market would have been disastrous, decimating the economy and peoples’ savings. We call for the nationalisation of the banking sector, and for it to be put into democratic control. Many parties speak of the hardship small business face in trying to borrow money, yet even the banks that have been plied with taxpayers’ money do not have even one government representative on their boards, let alone ordinary taxpayers. We say take control of all these banks, put an end to the speculative gambling that helped cause these problems, allow reasonable low interest loans to ordinary working people and small businesses, and allow taxpayers a say in how the banks operate and are run.

We call for nationalisation like this not only for the failing companies that go cap in hand to the government, but also for the top 250 companies that dominate around 80% of the British economy.  We say: take these into public ownership and reinvest the profits into public services that are being ripped apart. With this at the disposal of the government the bedroom tax could be scrapped, tuition fees could be scrapped and cuts across the public sector could be reversed. Labour may talk about controlling energy companies[3], but the reality is they have very little authority over them; they are massive corporations who could shut the countries energy supply down, unless there was mass action by the workers in the energy sector. Public ownership is the only true solution if we want to keep prices reasonable and affordable for the average working Briton and invest in sustainable energy resources.

Thousands wait for the most basic of human requirements, a home to live in, yet despite massive council waiting lists and the one million out-of-work builders currently unemployed. House building projects are practically non-existent. Even though developers are sitting on ‘land banks’ and have planning permission for over 400,000 homes[4], they are stalling and declining to start work as there isn’t a profitable margin on the housing market at this present time. If our party was in power we would build these houses and charge affordable rents whilst also introducing rent caps in the private sector so that no one has to pay an extortionate price for their home.

We would couple this with a rise in the minimum wage to £8 as a step towards raising it to £10, in an attempt to raise the standard of living. ‘How would small business survive?’ people often ask- well, by having nationalised big companies willing to deliver resources at lower prices and with new legislation on rent caps, small businesses would find it far easier to pay better wages. Of course if one company independently decided to raise its wages it would face severe consequence in the highly competitive market, but with all legally obliged to do so, all could reap the rewards of a happy and motivated work force without the risk of losing business to another company with lower overheads. With this, work could be shared out a lot more fairly by cutting the hours on many peoples’ working week to a maximum of 35 hours per week, without a reduction to their pay check.  Whilst at the minute all parties are intent on raising the retirement age, we believe it should be lowered to give young people a job and those who have worked hard a well-earned rest, with a decent standard of living guaranteed, both in the public and private sector.

Across the public sector profit-seeking private investors must go, scrap Private Finance Initiatives (PFI). We demand state investment into public services like the NHS, learning from the mistakes of the disastrous outsourcing of catering and cleaning to private tender which resulted in worse food, dirtier hospitals and a very worrying rise in superbugs like MRSA[5]. Many of the hospital trusts are now facing bankruptcy, and we say they needed to be brought back into house and given real investment in order to reinstate an NHS that works to help patients effectively and quickly.

The Conservative Party is riven with factions, with the hard right claiming that the EU is a left-wing ideal. This is simply not true, and while we are in favour of European cooperation we believe the EU merely serves to protect the interest of big business and neo-liberalism. Its bailouts come hand in hand with brutal attacks on the living standards of the working class and bitter austerity. We say come out of the EU, but protect the equality laws that the EU provides.

We stand for full employment rights for all workers. It is scandalous that companies can exploit a transient workforce by giving out zero-hour’s contracts for what is often a full time job, leaving the workers with no security or rights. We also demand the right to protest, asylum, abortion and the right to strike. We stand for repealing the Anti-Trade Union Laws to allow workers to democratically come together and legitimately negotiate grievances with employers.

We want to work alongside the trade unions that represent workers, community groups and a wide range of people committed to changing society. We stand for a new mass workers party committed to Socialism, which allows different factions to come together and challenge the big business, pro-austerity parties. This is why we stand as part of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)[6] with the RMT, other Socialists, individual trade unionists, young activist and community campaigners.

By Dan Celardi (Socialist Students Society), edited by Simon Renwick