Friday, 30 October 2015


“Opportunity Croydon” was set up by Croydon’s (pre-Corbyn) Labour Council. It has produced a somewhat milk-and-water interim report on tackling Croydon’s problems.

In many respects it gives good account of the range of burdens bearing on Croydon citizens. But its proposals are very weak, mainly because the Commission seems to take as gospel the Tory/Blairite narrative that, “we must live within our means” and that cuts in publics services are “inevitable".

(Where was this argument when we bailed out the banks with £350 billion?!).

Consequently the Commission's proposals tend to rely on community volunteerism; vague forms of “reaching out” and generally being nicer to each other.

They don’t match up to the scale of the problems Croydon faces.

Take housing. Around 2,500 families are living in temporary accommodation - a problem that’s been getting worse every year since 2009!

The report also tells us that, “the maximum payable in Housing Benefit is only sufficient to cover rents in the lowest 30% of of the private rented sector”. Leaving low and uncertain wages to cover the yawning gap!

But the impact the council could have, if it were to act and intervene decisively, as a Labour council should, is not addressed. The council is let off the hook!

The commission should demand that the council puts the needs of Croydon’s citizens first; not the needs of a Tory government.

Instead of looking for options to fit the Tory agenda, we should demand policies to strike at the heart of the crises affecting Croydon’s workers and youth.

On housing, here are just a few ideas being considered not only by TUSC but by everyone fighting for the interests of labour.

Any solution must have at its heart -
1. building more truly affordable housing;
2. ensuring that existing housing stock is proactively maintained and improved; and
3. ensuring that no houses, flats or buildings remain unused.

And to deliver this?

The council could bring all the independent social housing organisations back under their direct control.

Instead of leaving housing to the tender mercies of “the market”, this would re-establish local democratic control over the housing sector - fully involving tenants, landlords and the wider community.

The council could immediately identify, and if necessary take possession of ALL empty buildings in Croydon that could be used for housing.

The council could set up a "Housing Costs and Quality Agency”.

This agency could immediately cap rents at a much more affordable level. Thereafter it could establish a new rent regime for both private and public sectors going forward.

It could set housing quality standards and pro-actively monitor their implementation and maintenance.

It could ensure that the worst landlords, those failing in their responsibilities, are prosecuted. Tenants also would be expected to conform amenably with their agreed terms. At the same time, the agency would be on hand to help resolve disputes and hopefully avoid prosecutions.

And, not least, with new finance (see below) it could kick-off a new social housing building programme!

In these ways the council once again could become a direct housing services provider - and one that's democratically controlled.

It would no longer be a “facilitator”; no longer proffering inducements and incentives for private sector favours and co-operation. (Although no one would reject approaches from private builders with good ideas).

There is no escaping the fact, of course, that any council taking this road would come up against opposition from the government and its hangers-on.

So fighting hard for this ambitious programme would be crucial and unavoidable - but it would generate widespread community support for the council

Money would be needed. Additional funds could come from the council’s reserves (thats what they’re for) and from borrowing at the extremely competitive rates currently obtainable - especially for capital projects.

And an ambitious programme of work would put money back into the local economy!

We'll be looking at some of the Commissions other proposals - and the council's response.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


An important article in The Croydon Citizen has drawn attention to the continuation of service cuts that Croydon’s right-wing Labour Council is planning - cuts amounting to around £11 million so far.

If agreed, this will pile on more misery for Croydon residents.

We wait to see whether any Labour councillors will vote against - in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s stated strategy that Labour councils should fight back, not meekly pass on Tory policies!

Following Corbyn’s excellent campaign, there are now large numbers of people, both within and beyond the Labour Party, pressing for pro-worker policies and action.

Corbyn’s new Momentum organisation (see previous post) is a very positive development. Corbyn supporters within Labour have a major task to re-democratise the party and help turn it into a champion of the interests of working people.

The Croydon Assembly, meeting on 7th November, similarly has the chance now to help draw Croydon’s trade union movement into the No Cuts battle. Croydon desperately needs a united campaign not only to oppose service cuts, but also to put forward socialist policies that will turn the tide against the government’s pro-rich agenda.

Not unexpectedly, Croydon’s “Opportunity and Fairness Commission”, set up by Croydon Labour, is falling far short of what’s needed. Its interim report, just issued, highlights some of the dreadful conditions faced by so many Croydon residents; but it’s proposals fail to address any of the underlying causes of poverty, homelessness, unemployment.

Instead it offers a mishmash of volunteering and charity-based activity - with much Blair-style talk of “reaching out” and “working together”.

Behind every suggestion, between every line, is an impotent acceptance that, “there is no alternative” to austerity. That, “there is no money”, that, “cuts are unavoidable, and so on. It’s plain to see who sponsored the commission. Its approach overlaps substantially with Croydon Labour’s election manifesto.

Opportunity missed; fairness forsaken.

But in the new year, the council will be setting its new budget.

A Labour council COULD (and should!) be a people’s tribune. It could stand fast against austerity. It could lift spirits and hope by standing firm against service cuts.

At the budget session Labour councillors could announce, “NO! We are setting a budget designed to meet the needs of Croydon’s citizens - not a budget designed to meet Tory austerity!"

The budgeting period next year will offer an opportunity for a united, Croydon-wide campaign to influence councillors - some of whom may be feeling the sharp gusts of Corbyn's wind of change, and who in its wake may be willing to take a stand.

Many new Labour Party members, supporters of Corbyn, will be part of that fightback. We hope so.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Momentum’s first big campaign (we understand) will be on the issue of voter registration. Whilst we agree unambiguously about the importance of this issue, we seriously doubt that it was the reason those many tens of thousands of people joined the Corbyn campaign, or joined Labour.

Voter registration is important not least because those most likely not to vote are those most badly affected by Tory (and right-wing Labour) austerity policies.

In our view, though, Momentum should seek to help re-take Labour back from it’s Tory-lite majority MPs and councillors. Something Corbyn seems already to be backing away from, unfortunately.

If it was successful in doing that, and Labour was once again the Party that stood foursquare with workers struggling for jobs and a better life, there would be no need for a registration campaign.

Workers and young people would be banging on Labour’s doors! As they have recently - when Corbyn's campaign offered the prospect of Labour returning to its roots.

Labour would once again be a party worth registering to vote for - and joining and supporting!

Corbyn’s campaign for leadership has already outlined many policies that would, “tilt the balance of power in society back in favour of working people and their families”, (to quote a phrase from a pre-Blair Labour Party manifesto). Those policies should be emblazoned on Momentum’s banner!

Why not, instead, start with a campaign to support the UK steel industry? Closures and thousands of job losses are set for Teesside, Scotland and Scunthorpe! Labour’s policy should be unambiguous: re-nationalise the steel industry! Make it part of a democratically controlled new industrial plan for the UK.

At the rate we are going we may be looking at a future where the UK - once the “workshop of the world” - will cease to manufacture anything very much!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


A new left-wing organisation, Momentum, is being built. Tens of thousands have already indicated their support. A branch is being set up in Sutton - see below (nor sure about Croydon yet).

This is a very positive development which we unreservedly celebrate. Momentum’s purpose is to consolidate that enthusiasm and to build on the upsurge in political activity and interest.

Will Momentum help stop the pro-corporate avalanche of austerity and pro-elite policies? We very much hope so; and we will co-operate and participate in a friendly and positive way towards that end.

The enthusiasm of Corbyn's meetings and events arose not because the campaign was vague and “new”. On the contrary, it was because it started trail-blazing policies that at last offered a socialist alternative to Toryism and Blairism! Let’s not lose sight of that.

The campaign’s incredible success so far has been a direct consequence of speaking out about these policies. Policies which, for once, squarely support the interests of working people - such as the renationalisation of energy, the Post Office and the railways, the abolition of tuition fees, ending the privatisation of the NHS, controlling rents, opposing Trident, etc.

These and similar policies were the engine and the power of Corbyn’s campaign. TUSC supports them.

We hope this socialist core will remain at the forefront of Momentum. If so, we think it will deservedly grow in numbers and in influence.

But Momentum will also, we believe, face implacable opposition from the vast majority of existing Labour MPs and from 90% of Labour councillors too - many of the latter, with barely a whimper, are passing on Tory policies and cuts in social spending.

These MPs and councillors will seek to challenge Momentum. They will do it directly, or they will seek to subvert it and steer it well clear of radical politics. We are seeing this already!

TUSC will seek to stand against any right-wing Labour candidates in future elections who do not support Corbyn’s agenda. We cannot give them a free ride. We would encourage Momentum to take a similar view.

We look forward to helping.

Momentum's main website is >

Sutton Momentum’s Facebook page is

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dave Nellist on where now after Corbyn!

Here is an excellent and thoughtful speech by Dave Nellist, National Chair of TUSC, speaking at a meeting in Belfast about How Corbyn's victory is changing politics in the UK.

And the view from quite a different perspective lends weight to Dave's points.

Ross McKibbin is an Emeritus Fellow at Oxford University and takes a thoroghly mainstream view of politics. However, writing in the London Review of Books on Corbyn's victory he speaks about the "petulance" and "bewilderment" of the defeated Blairites, "people who believe they are entitled to rule".

Corbyn's support amongst his "colleagues" in the Parliamentary Labour Party, is, he rightly says, almost non-existent. Barely 10 MPs genuinely support him - although others will seek to ingratiate their way in.

McKibbin says, "I don't think they will accept their dethronement lightly. They and their mates in the media will seek continually to undermine Corbyn, and they will not be too scrupulous about it."

Corbyn's main support comes from the new Party members, and also from those like TUSC from outside the Party. He must, in our view, find ways of mobilising and organising that support for the longer haul.