Monday, 27 April 2015

PRESS FREEDOM?

One of the many different issues that General Election candidates are being questioned about is the issue of 'press freedom'. Here is Martin Powell-Davies' response (TUSC candidate Lewisham West and Penge) to the emails that he has received:

Thank you for getting in touch to publicise to Election candidates your concerns about the lack of real press freedom in Britain and the undue influence that press barons like Rupert Murdoch can exert.

I completely share your concerns. The 2015 World Press Freedom Index put the UK only in 34th place. The ‘Murdochgate’ scandal helped to expose the close links between David Cameron and News of the World editors but also between Tony Blair and Murdoch too. Just recently, Richard Desmond announced he was donating £1m to UKIP, a Party that likes to pretend it isn’t part of that establishment.

These links are designed to bind together the political parties with the interests of the wealthy super-rich. Their ranks have swelled by another 13 billionaires in the last year according to the latest Sunday Times rich-list – and they say ‘we’re all in it together’!

Of course, it is made very clear to those Party leaders that if they speak out against those big business interests, they can expect to be silenced or attacked in the press. TUSC, as a Party campaigning against the austerity policies of big business and their establishment parties, is itself a victim of the lack of genuine media freedom. With 135 candidates standing in the General Election, well over the legal threshold for ‘fair coverage’, we have been largely excluded from much of the media, opinion poll forecasts and, of course, the leadership debates.

Despite this, our 280 seconds of Party Political Broadcast, backed up by the campaigning we are doing in towns and cities across Britain, has already helped to break down the barriers put up to hide our alternative voice from voters. Our policies for decent homes, wages and services chime with people’s views and mean our support is growing all the time.

The pledge in our broadcast from TUSC candidates, including Dave Nellist and myself, to be a ‘workers’ MP on a worker’s wage’ also wins support. It is a policy that hopefully reassures voters that TUSC’s elected representatives will remain committed to the people that backed them, rather than being persuaded otherwise by the press barons.

TUSC would certainly support tighter rules on media ownership and legislation to support, at the very least, the full implementation of the Leveson report. However, I believe the fundamental problem is not one of poor regulation, but that the media is almost entirely owned by big business individuals and conglomerates. As a journalist once put it in a letter to Der Spiegel, ‘Press freedom is the freedom of 200 rich people to express their opinion’.

A genuinely free press requires substantial media resources to be made available for genuine public use, under public ownership, control and accountability. I would support all political parties and trends being granted access to the media, perhaps in proportion to their support in the population as shown in elections. Then we would start to have a media that can provide accurate information and quality investigative journalism, one that can be accessed by minority points of view not just those of the establishment political parties.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

SUTTON CAMPAIGN NOTES

Tousle-haired “ordinary person” Boris Johnson was on Sutton High Street today, hoping to boost the Tory campaign in this marginal seat. The LibDems repeat endlessly their mantra that only they can keep out the Tories.

As though that would make any material difference for working people in Sutton and Cheam. Tweedledum out, Tweedledee in.

But, as for keeping the Tories out, have not the LibDems actually been a Tory partner in the coalition government for the past five years! They haven’t kept the Tories out; they’ve kept them in!

As for New Labour (or is it “One Nation Labour”?) - the local party seeks to follow the “Croydon Line”. Like Croydon, Sutton Labour are also bereft of ideas and ambition. They too would set up a local “Fairness Commission” like the one in Croydon - which is chaired by the Bishop.

What an admission of defeat! The once mighty Labour Party reduced to scratching around for ideas. At least one of their MPs knows what the Labour Party is for, Rachel Reeves.

She said, “We are not the party of people on benefits”, or those out of work! Labour leaders themselves have repeated that they will continue austerity policies. Ed Balls has said he would not reverse any of Osborne’s cuts to public services.

There is one party standing in Sutton, though, that we do have much sympathy for - the National Health Action Party. There is nothing of substance that TUSC would disagree with in their analysis of what’s happening to the NHS.

They expose the wastefulness of privatisation and PFI. They expose the hypocrisy of the main parties in their posturing “defence” of the NHS - whilst in power, destroying it.

We especially like their exposure of Paul Burstow’s “brass neck” in pretending to support the NHS whilst supporting Tory legislation that undermines it.

TUSC agrees with what the NHA party says on the NHS. However, a party that seeks election of MPs must have policies that address all the key issues that affect working people and their families.

As the NHA develop a wider range of policies - which their website suggests they may be doing - we hope that in future we will be able to work more closely with them. Perhaps they could consider joining the TUSC coalition?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR US? 
   - asked Croydon’s “business leaders” last Friday.

Reported in the Advertiser, the two “main candidates" gave  (judging by the report) an deeply underwhelming performance!

In relation to the so-called Business Improvement District, both tweedledum and tweedledee said they would - wait for it - contact the minister about, and would seek to ensure that “disruption is minimised”. Blimey!

Barwell drew attention to a profound insight. “You don’t solve unemployment by giving things away”, he said.

A moment previously, though, he had said he WAS going to give things away - but to corporations, so that’s different. This giveaway was in the form of further reductions in corporation tax.

Sarah Jones from New Labour (or is it One Nation Labour?) said she would like an extra 100 police officers - but said there was no funding for that.

Other issues raised were things like better parking and better “marketing” to encourage visitors.

What an utter lack of vision and ambition for Croydon! Tuppence here, a penny there; and a word in the minister’s ear.

For policies that WILL begin to transform the lives of Croydon people (and beyond) you will have to look elsewhere. See HERE!


HOUSING - THE TUSC VIEW

Cameron tells it as it is… “Because of the damage done in the financial crash, the banks were no longer lending 90, 95% loan-to-value mortgages. Because the banks weren't lending, the buyers wouldn't buy, so the builders wouldn't build, and the market was stuck.”

Cameron’s view? “Very unfair”.

TUSC’s view? If the banks won’t loan money take them into national ownership and run them as a public service. If builders won’t build, they too should be taken into public ownership. If the market’s “stuck”, lets get rid of the market!


HOMES: 400.000 PLANNED - BUT NOT BUILT!

Planning permission has been granted for around 400,000 houses across the UK - where builders have still not started work. These include sites in Sutton – Victoria House, High Street – and Croydon - which has almost 4,000 potential homes not yet built.

In 2013, New Labour promised to confiscate developers’ land that was laying idle. Remember Miliband’s - “Use it or lose it”?  We’ve not heard much of that since!

TUSC would nationalise building land, so that the benefits of planning permission would come to the nation, not the landowner. We would nationalise building companies who are refusing to build.

And we would nationalise banks and Building Societies who won’t lend the money needed to enable people to buy homes. Moreover we’d require Councils to build homes, to make homelessness a thing of the past.

As more homes were built, prices and rent levels would fall, making homes more affordable for all.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

CAMPAIGNING IN SUTTON!

And don't forget the national TUSC election TV broadcast tomorrow - Friday 17th!

Times of the broadcasts are as follows (all PM) - 

BBC2 - 5.55
ITV - 6.25
BBC1 - 6.55
C5 - 6.55
C4 - 7.55




Sunday, 5 April 2015

TRADE UNION RIGHTS AND ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS

The TUC’s general secretary supported Labour’s extremely weak proposals for zero-hour contracts. Our candidate Glen Hart, had this to say -

Celebrating Ed Miliband's proposals, Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said:
“Zero-hours workers are often too afraid to speak up for their rights for fear of losing work.
We need a fairer system that guarantees zero-hours workers decent rights at work and stops them from being treated like second-class employees.”

Missed amongst the fanfare of Labour’s announcement is that the plans fall very short indeed of what is necessary. They are not far reaching enough to tackle the exploitation of workers. Also, they lack provision to strengthen the position for trade unions.

In its ‘Equality and Employment Rights Department’ document, (March 2014), the suggestion was made by the TUC that employment status rules should be reformed to ensure that not only zero-hours contract workers, but also casual workers, agency workers and freelancers, are protected from mistreatment at work.

The report said that rules on continuity of employment should be reformed to ensure casual workers who experience breaks in employment could still qualify of employment rights.

The proposed three-month delay before protection of full employers status, has raised concerns from some employment law specialists that unscrupulous bosses will use this period to terminate contracts, prior to full employment contract entitlements.

Instead of cautious reforms, we call for the repealing of all anti-trade unions legislation.

This will ensure that statutory rights apply to ALL workers once they enter the workplace. It will ensure the imbalance between the powers of the employers against workers is redressed.

After all, putting right that imbalance was precisely how trade unions secured employment rights, that helped establish employment law in the first place.

Friday, 3 April 2015

HOUSING CRISIS!

Unite Union Housing Workers have produced a manifesto to end the housing crisis (see link HERE) - which TUSC wholeheartedly endorses!

Amongst other things -
It calls for a an end to the cuts and a massive injection of public funds into building council housing.

It call for rent controls and a national register of private landlords.

It calls for an end to the privatisation of social housing. They should be accountable to the local community - not private profit and commercial companies.

Would Labour endorse this manifesto?