Wednesday, 1 April 2015

I'm your TUSC candidate in Lewisham West and Penge

The deposit has been paid and the official nomination forms submitted. I'm proud to be now officially standing as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Lewisham West and Penge on May 7.
Click on image to download leaflet

As my official election communication explains: 

“I’m Martin Powell-Davies, local teacher, trade unionist and socialist.

"I have been living - and actively campaigning - in Lewisham West and Penge for over 25 years. I was organiser of the Penge Anti-Poll Tax Union. As branch secretary of Lewisham NUT, I have led and supported many campaigns to defend schools, teachers and local services.

“Right now, I am helping to organise to ‘Stop Academies in Lewisham’. I want schools and our NHS to be funded properly and run under democratic local control, not ruined by cuts and privatisation.

“Elect me, and you’ll have an MP you can rely on to fight for your community. Together, we can fight to win decent jobs and housing and to improve living standards and services.

“Unlike careerist politicians, I pledge to take only my classroom teacher’s take-home pay and donate the rest of my MP’s salary to support the labour movement and anti-cuts campaigns”.



"Many Londoners will be only too pleased to see the back of the last Government. They spent five years helping the super-rich get richer while cutting our services and living standards. As housing costs rocket, London has become one of the most unequal cities on the planet.

But what’s the alternative? In January, 515 MPs voted for Osborne’s cuts, just 18 against! If elected, New Labour has said it will stick with the Coalition’s plans for even more cuts. But ‘austerity’ is only making things worse – unless, of course, you’re one of the wealthy 1%.

Thanks to TUSC’s stand in over 130 General Election seats, voters have a real choice. TUSC is the only party saying no to all cuts. TUSC will fight for a £10 an hour minimum wage and for genuinely affordable homes for all.

Don’t just vote for more of the same on 7 May.

If you’ve had enough of inequality, if you’re worried about the future of our NHS and schools, then vote for TUSC!"


Look out for the TUSC Party Political Broadcast on Friday 17 April

I helped to film it yesterday - hopefully, I make the final cut too!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Who says we can't afford to stop the cuts?

Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson
In 2013 the Economist ran a feature on tax havens that admitted: "Nobody really knows how much money is stashed away: estimates vary from way below to way above $20 trillion." And we won't know what money is out there until we gain access to the secretive accounts of big business. 

Corporate Watch has unearthed some interesting figures
But we know there are vast sums available. 2014's Sunday Times Rich List found that Britain's richest 1,000 people are wealthier than ever. They have a combined fortune of £518.975 billion. Meanwhile a million people had to queue at food banks, many of them because their employers did not pay them enough to feed their families.

In January only five Labour MPs voted against the Tories' proposal for another £30 billion of cuts over the next three years. But the top five UK entries to the 2015 Forbes rich list have a combined wealth of £35 billion. Taking the wealth off the 1%, or the 0.001%, could end all austerity today.

A democratic socialist plan for the economy would open the way to eliminating poverty, unemployment and want. Under capitalism there is enormous waste. Look at the human and material resources that are poured into nuclear weapons, for example. 




The annual operating costs of the Trident programme are well over £2 billion. Replacement will cost at least £100 billion. A socialist government would invest that technology and finance into solving humanity's problems. 


NHS

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has promised 20,000 more nurses by 2020. But we need them now. The RCN estimates that £980 million would pay for 28,155 permanent nursing staff. 




But Labour has not promised to scrap the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) robbery. There are 149 PFI hospitals valued at £12.27 billion for which the NHS is due to pay £70.5 billion! Refusing to pay back that excess of almost £60 billion to the privateers could easily fill the £30 billion funding black hole predicted by 2020, paying for many of the nurses, doctors and beds we need - and an end to the pay freeze in the NHS. 


Education

Young people have suffered under this vicious Tory-Liberal coalition. In the autumn of 2010 college students protested in their thousands against the cold cruelty of the ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance payments of up to £30 a week for 16 and 17 year old students. To restore it is estimated to cost a mere £680 million.

The Con-Dems trebled tuition fees to £9,000 so going to university is a pricy business. But the wealth exists to fully fund high-quality free education (far better than Labour's £6,000 fees). Labour has priced its cut at £1.7 billion. It's estimated that re-introducing the grant and scrapping fees altogether would cost £12-£15 billion a year. That sounds like a lot of money but York university research found that £14 billion was paid out in grants and subsidies to big business in 2011-12. For example, the Department of Business provided £5 billion of coaching and marketing and advocacy services for big business.

Austerity is an attempt to steal away the gains of the past - like our libraries. But the Robin Hood tax campaign group estimates that only £110,000 would save 350 of those at risk of closure. 


Decent jobs not cash piles

£375 billion has been pumped into the economy via quantitative easing (QE). That money has gone to the richest in society. The biggest share of this has gone to the top 1% or even 0.1%. If this had been handed over to the British public, it would have meant an extra £24,000 per family.

Instead much of it is being hoarded. In March 2012 it was revealed that UK companies were sitting on £750 billion worth of cash piles. The Financial Times reports those piles are growing. They refuse to invest in factories and jobs. Why? Because of the weakened state of British capitalism they see no profitable outlet. Between 2007 and 2014, over 350,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared leaving 350,000 families without that income.

While Tory Osborne boasts that unemployment is no longer increasing, low pay and precarious working conditions mean the share of wealth going to workers continues to shrink. The Socialist Party campaigns for a £10 an hour minimum wage - now the official policy of the TUC. A campaign to win that demand is urgently needed.

The successful socialist-led campaign for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle in the US shows what a struggle can achieve. It's estimated that in this city, the size of Glasgow, 100,000 workers will be lifted out of poverty over the next ten years, as $3 billion is transferred from the bosses to the workers.

The figures on this page pose the question - if the capitalist system can't use the resources that exist in a rational way to meet the needs of the population, 'what is the alternative?' The Socialist Party advocates going much further in order to fully transform the lives of the 99% - including nationalisation, under democratic workers' control and management, of the key sectors of the economy with compensation paid on the basis of proven need.


Thanks to 'The Socialist for the facts and arguments - original article taken from http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/20387/25-03-2015/reject-the-austerity-lies

Monday, 30 March 2015

TUSC candidates - we're people at the sharp end of austerity like you!

I've been replying tonight to RCN members lobbying prospective candidates over their 'Nursing Counts' priorities. Here's what I've let them know about TUSC and what we stand for:

Thanks for getting in touch with me, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Lewisham West and Penge. TUSC aren't the same as the other parties that you're rightly lobbying. Like you, we're public service workers, trade unionists, ordinary people at the sharp end of the austerity that's ruining people's lives - and we're determined to do something about it by offering people a real alternative to cuts and privatisation in this election.

I am a teacher, rather than a health worker, but know from my colleagues - including TUSC candidates who are nurses (see below) - how we both face the same pressures of long hours, low pay and insufficient resources to properly meet needs. Our 'goodwill' is taken for granted while the big businesses that want to leach profits from our public services just want to cutback even further - and it will be patients, or in my case young people, and their families who will suffer.

Other candidates may give you assurances (or maybe not!) but what we are trying to do in TUSC is to build a new party that can make sure that our voices are directly represented in Parliament - by having trade union colleagues there in the House of Commons to say things as they really are, rather than us having to rely on just lobbying establishment politicians in the hope that they may listen to us (but they usually don't!).

TUSC are standing over 130 Westminster candidates, making us the sixth largest stand on May 7th - but the media don't want to publicise our stand (I wonder why not?!). Like many TUSC candidates, I'm also standing as a "workers' MP on a worker's wage" - pledged to stay on my teacher's salary if elected, using the rest of the MP's bloated salary to help support trade union and community campaigns.

So I certainly will be standing up for nursing and patient care in this election care and hope that you, in turn, can let people know about TUSC's stand. You can read more about me, my policies and my campaign on my blog .

Martin Powell-Davies, TUSC prospective candidate for Lewisham West and Penge

 PS As Jacqui Berry, nurse and TUSC candidate, puts it on her blog, "I was really chuffed to see the RCN have started lobbying candidates because frankly, if politicians had any idea what it is actually like being a nurse, health care assistant or allied health professional, well, we probably wouldn't have endured a 5 year pay freeze for starters. We keep people alive. We give people dignity. We teach. No-one ever became a nurse for the money, but for a third of the pay of one lazy-arse back-bencher you start to think, maybe we don't have effective advocates.That's why I'm standing. We can't rely on politicians with their corporate interests and privileged lifestyles to have any idea what we need to provide a decent service without totally losing our minds. We deserve £30k starting pay. We deserve double time for unsocial hours. We need a regulator that is democratically run by us, not an outside body which charges us ever increasing fees for the pleasure. We need more staff, more beds and more time. We need a system which doesn't pit hospital against hospital, practice against practice. We need one NHS not hundreds of competing trusts and providers . We need a social care system that publicly owned, run and accountable".

Now the campaign starts for real....so spread the word about TUSC!

That's it, the Con-Dem Coalition Government is now officially over - but whatever new Coalition the main parties cobble together after May 7, we know that it is guaranteed to still be one that continues with cuts and austerity. That's why TUSC is standing in over 130 different Westminster constituencies to offer a real alternative to the establishment parties. YOU can help us build that support in Lewisham West and Penge.

The nomination papers are all ready to hand in this week and then we will be going all out to spread the support for TUSC's stand. We have got thousands of leaflets to distribute, so, if you can help leaflet streets near where you live, please get in touch so we can get some leaflets to you.

Help make sure that your friends and neighbours know about TUSC - ask for leaflets so that you can spread our campaign up until May 7!


TUSC say bring back academies so that all schools belong to democratic Local Authorities. Sadly, the main parties don't!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

TUSC's five pledges in Lewisham West and Penge


TUSC got an excellent response on the streets of Lewisham West and Penge yesterday with our new campaign leaflet:


It's clear that most local voters are sick of this Coalition Government - but they're also fed up with a Labour Party that has become just another establishment party. 

Our five campaign pledges got tremendous support - and that's why we are winning backing across Lewisham West and Penge:

1. £10 an hour minimum wage now. End zero hour contracts

2. No to privatisation of services. Stop Academies in Lewisham.

3. Save the NHS. Stop cuts and privatisation.

4. A mass council house building programme and rent controls.

5. Not in it for the money. A workers’ MP on a worker’s wage.

Speaking out against cuts in Lewisham West and Penge
 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Dave Nellist explains TUSC's stand on RT's Going Underground


Dave Nellist speaks for TUSC on being the 6th largest party on the ballot paper, fighting austerity, the Greens, standing on a worker's wage, TTIP and the NHS, public support for renationalisation, organising against council cuts and on trade union backing for Labour.

For the full programme, click here

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Marching to Stop Academies in Lewisham



Students bring their messages to the march

The battle over the future of the three schools in the Prendergast Federation is now having to step up another gear. The Governing Board have announced that their 'formal consultation' starts tomorrow, to end by May 18th.

They clearly hope to have the legal processes done and dusted in time for a new Government to sign-off the Funding Agreement and, as long as they can also resolve PFI funding issues, complete the conversion. 


All safely self-stewarded - no police in attendance at all!

The consultation announcement was answered with a demonstration through Lewisham and Ladywell yesterday lunchtime. Organised at short notice, around three hundred staff, students and parents gathered at Lewisham Clock Tower to march to a rally on Hilly Fields, next to Prendergast School.

TUSC members were there to support the demonstration and the pink 'No to Academies, Hands Off Our Schools' placards were well-received.

On the way through Ladywell

Saturday's demonstration will be followed by a joint two-day strike across the three schools on Tuesday and Wednesday. Striking staff will be distributing leaflets explaining why local parents and residents should say NO to academies. 


Chairing the closing rally
 UPDATE: Pictures from the two-day strike action: