Winter Newsletter

TIME TO STRIKE TOGETHER, ALL OUT NOVEMBER 30TH

One year ago over 50,000 students marched through the streets of London. That march set off a mass movement of hundreds of thousands of young people against the rises in tuition fees and the abolition of the EMA allowance for college students. Then we had the 26th March TUC mass demonstration and the fantastic strike of 750,000 civil servants, teachers and lecturers on 30 June. Now we’re just days away from 30 November (N30), when up to three million public sector workers will be striking to defend their pensions. This will be an overwhelmingly popular strike because all those who have suffered from these cuts want someone to stand up for them. A Guardian poll found 77% of respondents thought public sector workers were justified in going on strike.

The grievances about all the cutsand attacks, the anger and frustrations, have been transferred into the battle over pensions. From the 250,000 job losses in the public sector this year to the thousands of pounds lost by many because councils of all pro-big business parties have attacked contracts. Workers are very practical. They’ll say: “We might not have stopped all the cuts and saved all the jobs but on pensions we can win!” The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was initiated in 2006 by the transport union RMT but we were created for times like this. The NSSN will always give support and solidarity to workers in struggle.

We’ll always bring together rank and file stewards and activists to learn from each other. But in times like this, we act as a lever on the official union structures and leaders to push them to act, popularising the idea of coordinated strike action. We’ve given out well over 100,000 leaflets this year, with “For a 24-hour public sector general strike” on them. Isn’t that what we’ve got on 30 November?

We lobbied the TUC last year, calling for a national demonstration against the cuts, which we think played a part in getting the 26 March demo organised. And on 11 September over 700 shop stewards came to our rally and then marched and lobbied the TUC, calling for a coordinated strike against the Con-Dems’ attacks on pensions. The NSSN appeals to everyone to make sure that on N30 there’s a demonstration in your town that reaches out to everyone who has suffered from this government’s attacks.

We also need to involve workers in the private sector. The magnificent protests of the construction electricians at 6.30am every Wednesday for the last three months show that a united front of all workers can be built against the government and the employers. The Jarrow March for Jobs has re-tied the knot of history. Now we’re writing our own history with one of the biggest workers’ marches this year and the biggest strike for 85 years on N30. We can succeed in the present by defeating the attacks on pensions and forcing this government out.

Youth Fight for Jobs Public Meeting

Support the Strikes, Fight for Our Future’

Wednesday 30th November – 12 midday

The Old Post Office,

55 Winding Road

Halifax

HX1 1SJ

Speakers include:

A Jarrow Marcher

UNITE youth officer

Everyone Welcome

For information contact Rob: 07837 534 438

Youth Fight for Jobs Public Meeting

Support the Strikes, Fight for Our Future’

Wednesday 30th November

1.00pm, straight after demo

Huddersfield Irish Centre

Speakers include:

Monique Hirst

Mike Forster

Everyone Welcome

Programme of MEETINGS AND events

November – December

Wed Nov 19th – Crisis in the Eurozone and beyond

Three years ago capitalism ground to a halt as markets tumbled all over the world in response to the debt crisis. Despite pumping trillions into the economy, the contagion has erupted again and is set to destabilise the Eurozone and plunge the economy into a double dip recession. This will be an analysis and update of the situation.

Wed Nov 23rd – The Occupy Movement

The last few weeks have seen an explosion of occupations and protests all over the world in opposition to the bankers’ greed. Christening themselves ‘the 99%’, they have captured the mood of millions of working people and youth who are having to pay for the financial worlds’ profligacy. This meeting will debate how this movement can tie in with the struggle to transform society

Wed Nov 30thThe Day of the General Strike

This day will go down as the most momentous day of action in the history of British Trade Unionism! We will be holding two public meetings during the day after the protest marches and picket lines in Halifax and Huddersfield. The Huddersfield meeting will be in the Irish Centre around 1.00pm; the Halifax meeting will be at 12 midday at The Old Post Office

Wed 7th Dec – Socialism and Sport

With less than a year to go to the Olympics, already the people of London and the taxpayer are being asked to foot the bill, complete with air to surface missiles!! The sporting event will be a great spectacle , but ultimately at whose expense?

Wed Dec 14th – Post Invasion Iraq

US and British troops are now being withdrawn to barracks and the Iraqi people left to ‘fend for themselves’. In reality this has been an army of occupation which has wreaked havoc on the people of Iraq, and destroyed its economy and infrastructure from which the country will never recover. We will draw up a balance sheet of the dangerous compromises US imperialism has made to effect a withdrawal and discuss how Iraq will develop over the next few years.


Meetings take place every Wednesday in the Huddersfield Irish Centre, Fitzwilliam Street

 If you need a lift or further information, please ring Mike on 01484 461730 / 07887 668 740

 If you are interested, but can’t make Wednesday evenings give us a call and we can arrange times to meet up.

 You can also visit the national and local Socialist Party websites: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk,

 Or email — Contacts@socialistparty.org.uk. Or look us up on Facebook: Halifax Socialist

 

NHS and the Health and Social Care Bill

The State of the NHS

On 5th July we start together, the new National Health Service. It has not had an altogether trouble-free gestation! There have been understandable anxieties, inevitable in so great and novel an undertaking. Nor will there be overnight any miraculous removal of our more serious shortages of nurses and others and of modern replanned buildings and equipment. But the sooner we start, the sooner we can try together to see to these things and to secure the improvements we all want . . . My job is to give you all the facilities, resources and help I can, and then to leave you alone as professional men and women to use your skill and judgement without hindrance. Let us try to develop that partnership from now on.

Aneurin Bevan in a message to the medical profession, 1948.

History

The National Health Service (NHS) first opened its doors to the general public on 5th July 1948. Spearheaded by the Labour Minister for Health, Aneurin Bevan, it was based on principles unlike anything seen before in health care the world over. Financed almost entirely from central taxation, with contributions based on how much each individual could afford to give, the NHS provided the same level of care for everyone no matter what their socio-economic status. Anyone could be referred to any hospital in the country, whether it be local or more distant. Crucially it was entirely free at the point of access. It was a fantastic socialist experiment that few countries outside of the Soviet bloc have since tried to copy.

Sadly some concessions were made over the following years, such as charging for dental and eye care. Surgeons and doctors were also still permitted to work privately outside of their normal working hours, a policy that has come back to bite us in the behind today with NHS surgeons working in the private sector, making them unavailable for overtime within the NHS.

Prior to its establishment, health care in the UK was very hit and miss and the level of care a person received was largely down to where they lived and more importantly, how much money they had in the bank.

The previous century had seen an increasingly popular argument in favour of health care being a basic right for all people and not something that should be dependent on wealth or the whims of charity. There was also a belief among junior medical professionals that there was a better way of doing things and that the disjointed, disorganised infrastructure of existing health care was neither sufficiently competent nor adequately available to suit the needs of an optimistic post-war society.

On the appointed day 1,143 voluntary hospitals with some 90,000 beds and 1,545 municipal hospitals with about 390,000 beds were taken over by the NHS in England and Wales. That day didn’t bring with it one extra doctor or nurse but what it did do was change the way in which people could obtain and pay for care. They ceased to pay for medical attention when they needed it, and paid instead, as taxpayers, collectively. This is a principle that should be defended to the very end to ensure the most vulnerable in society can always access the health care they require.

Over the years treatments and techniques improved, people started to live longer and needed better and more frequent medical attention and so obviously costs started to increase. As the 1980’s beckoned there were the first signs that the health service was being underfunded by central government, coinciding with the winter of discontent, the oil crisis and the election of the Tory Witch.

By 1987 health authorities throughout the country were in debt, waiting lists were growing and hospital wards were being closed. Neither the public nor the health care professions were satisfied and the service was increasingly subjected to scrutiny in the media. There was a huge lack of funding which was carried on throughout successive governments. A 2001 report concluded that Britain had spent £267 billion less on health care than the European average between 1972 and 1998.

Internal Market

Instead of investment, in 1989 the Tory government introduced the idea of the internal market to the NHS. It was designed to “increase the responsiveness of the service to the consumer, to foster innovation and to challenge the monopolistic influence of the hospitals on a health service in which community based services were increasingly important.”

What it actually led to was a deteriorating service for patients as hospitals had to compete against each other and ensure they were as profitable as possible. Far from leading to innovation, competition led to unnecessary duplication of services and the deepening of a two-tier system. It saw the humble beginnings of the postcode lottery, with the less profitable health authorities not being able to offer the same range of services as those provided in more profitable areas of the country.

New Labour swept to power in 1997, promising to abolish the internal market and return the NHS to something more resemblant of Bevan’s original idea. They did increase the NHS budget but this was coupled with the increase in privatisation meaning net spend wasn’t much different. The internal market expanded from 2001 onwards and privatisation was rampant. (More on that later).

Arguments for top up fees started to emerge, with British Medical Association suggesting certain expensive treatments would have to incur a fee. This would have opened up the opportunity for US style health insurance companies though fortunately it wasn’t implemented. Those of you who have seen the Michael Moore documentary Sicko will know the consequences for people who can’t afford health insurance under such a system.

An example of the problems of an underfunded NHS can be seen in the cancer drug Herceptin. Some local health authorities were refusing to offer the potentially life saving drug as at £30,000 per course of treatment, it was deemed too expensive. Thankfully the high court ruled in favour of the patient and the drug was made available.

By 2000 there were over a million people waiting for treatment on the NHS. New Labour had pledged to cut waiting lists by 100,00 when they came to power in the late 90’s but in reality the lists increased rather than decreased.

Around this time the number of patients being treated on the NHS in private hospitals was also on the increase at additional costs to the taxpayer due to the inability of the public service to fulfil the demands placed on it.

Private Finance Initiatives

Since the mid-90’s we’ve also seen the rise of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), whereby private sector money is used to build hospitals and other buildings in an attempt to cut public sector spending. These privately funded hospitals so far have 28% fewer beds than the ones they replaced and are estimated to cost the general public half a billion pounds more per year than public funded builds.

Of the 133 new hospitals built since New Labour came to power, 101 were financed under PFI. There are 149 PFI hospitals in Britain, valued at £12.27 billion. But a recent report by University of Edinburgh academics shows that the NHS will pay £70.5 billion for them. That’s a huge waste of nearly £60 billion which has found its way from the public to the private sector. Costs for building a private hospital are estimated to be up to 4% higher due to the additional cost of borrowing for the contractor at higher interest rates as opposed to borrowing from public funds.

Repaying the debt of PFI financing eats up well over £8 out of every £100 of a hospital’s budget in London, as against a 5.8% debt rate for conventionally built hospitals. Half the larger PFI-financed hospitals are in financial difficulties compared with a quarter of non-PFI hospitals.

Health and Social Care Bill

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, summed up the proposals: “From a major public service with a million employees, [the NHS] will have become a central fund with a minimal workforce, commissioning services from a string of private companies in a fully-fledged healthcare market.” He reported that Kingsley Manning of the health firm Tribal is looking forward to the “denationalisation of healthcare services in England”. I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest he is more excited by the potential increase in his company’s profit margin than he is in any potential improvement to the provision of health for the working class.

When the Con-Dem government came to power last year we were told that savings had to be made in the NHS and that the necessary reforms will bring power to the people with control switching to “family” doctors. £20 billion was said to be needed to be shaved off the budget by 2015.

Andrew Lansley’s (Minister for Health) Health and Social Care Bill see’s the abolition of the Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) and see’s senior managers being made redundant (it is true that the NHS has become too bureaucratic, but the costs of several large redundancy fee’s must be taken into account).

“Choice is an illusion created by people to sell you something”

What we will see with Lansley’s Bill is the transfer of the majority of power to private health care corporations. It proposes that 80% of the NHS budget be controlled by consortia of GP’s and is using the fact that the general public trust their family doctor to sell the idea.

The reality is that GP’s don’t have the experience or the time to be deciding how to spend billions of pounds and being primarily concerned with seeing patients, will likely turn to the private sector and corporations such as BUPA for advice. Private health care companies are the same as any capitalist organisation in that their primary goal is to make a profit. This is in direct conflict with the true primary aim of any health care provider, which should be the treatment of patients.

Private interference in the health care system will lead to a service that only provides treatments with the highest profits, a service where staff are overworked and underpaid and above all, a service that is ran for profit rather than for the needs of society. If you can’t pay, you can’t get treatment.

David Cameron has intervened in Libya in order to uphold the values of democracy, but the way this Bill – designed to turn the NHS into a market, despite the evidence that healthcare is unsuitable for market mechanisms – has been managed is anything but democratic.

In June there was a ten week “listening exercise” with a view to reviewing the Bill after considerable opposition from the press and the general public. Sadly YouGov research suggested nobody had a clue how to have their voices heard when the MP’s were apparently listening with only 5% of the population saying they knew how to be involved in the forum. It was also revealed that the discussion group set up to hear the concerns, the Futures Forum, had no union representation or any of the GP’s who remained critical of the proposals. Experts were appointed to the forum on the basis of them being supporters of the idea.

As you can imagine this listening exercise was originally hailed as a retreat by the Con-Dem government but the truth is that the proposed waves of privatisation were still in place. Token gesture were made, such as deadlines being extended and more involvement from front line staff but a clearer idea of the effectiveness of the listening period can be gleamed from the fact that during the 10 weeks, three psychiatric hospital’s closed in Liverpool.

Within weeks the Bill passed through the commons with a majority of 65. The Liberal Democrats, who were trying to prove they weren’t just the poor, neglected younger sibling of the coalition and squeaked a few objections to the Bill, voted en masse in support. Only 4 of them stuck to their principles to defy their leader and voted against.

The Bill then passed to the House of Lords. There was some form of a fight back from Lords Owen and Hennesey who said they would like the third part of the Bill, the bit relating to competition, to be sent to a select committee for further consideration. This could have derailed the Bill and led to it being thrown out. There was also justifiable discussion in the Lords around the fact that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats had such drastic measures in their manifesto’s and so it was their duty to block the Bill. Sadly any opposition was defeated and the Bill passed through this second phase unchallenged. Maybe it was foolish to believe that a group of over-privileged, unelected career politicians would be the ones to stand up for the general public after their elected peers chose to sell us down the river.

Public outrage at the decision was seen through protests that closed Westminster Bridge last Sunday and a petition set up by the website 38 degrees urging the Lords to throw out the Bill, which collected 160,000 signatures in just 36 hours. 250 Health Experts also wrote to the Lords to warn of the impact of the cuts presenting more cases like that of Baby P who “died because too many unco-ordinated and fragmented services, staffed by too few and inexpert staff, were involved in his care. The current proposals, designed to increase provider plurality, will amplify these deficits,” the letter said. “Children and young people are especially susceptible to the heightened degree of commercialisation and marketisation ushered in by this bill.”

Andrew Lansley’s office has received donations from private health care companies during his time as the Shadow Health Secretary. Care UK alone donated £21,000. Surely there is a conflict of interest in the changes he is trying to steamroller through. Can the judgement of a man who has employed the help of Pepsi, McDonalds, KFS, Mars, Unilever and Diageo to write policies on obesity, alcohol and diet related diseases really be trusted?

We have already had a taste of the type of problems a private health care system will bring us with the recent demise of Southern Cross and the problems caused to residents of their care homes when it went into administration. Do you want to live in a country where the most needy and vulnerable amongst us are no longer able to access our health services? Where certain treatments that could greatly benefit you and your family are not provided as they are too expensive? Where money that should be going into funding services is instead channelled into the bank accounts of the rich elite? I know I certainly don’t.

Demands

  • Bring the NHS into public ownership. Rebuild it as a publicly funded service, free at the point of use, with immediate cash to end the underfunding crisis.
  • Bring all trusts and foundation hospitals into a democratically run NHS.
  • Representatives of NHS workers, trade unions and health service users should make decisions about how the NHS is run and what its priorities are.
  • A living wage and good working conditions for all NHS workers.
  • Abolish the internal market. Abandon the Private Finance Initiative. All new hospitals to be built with public funding, not for private profit.
  • Nationalise the pharmaceutical industry under democratic working-class control and management.
  • A socialist programme to eliminate poverty – the biggest killer and cause of ill-health.

August Newsletter and Branch Program for the coming weeks.

TIME TO STRIKE TOGETHER!

If there is one phrase that should hang around this government like a concrete necklace, it is Tory chancellor George Osborne’s “We’re all in this together”. Figures published by the TUC just before its 2011 Congress show that top UK bosses saw a 70% rise in their pension pots in less than a decade. What a difference to the vast majority of ordinary families, where the average rise over the same period was 30%. But the gap becomes more obscene when actual numbers are talked about. The Independent says the five biggest pension pots of top company directors are now worth more than £84 million. Four of those five business leaders, the bosses of Shell, Barclays, BG Group and AstraZeneca, could all retire on pensions of over £1 million a year! Compare that with those on a state pension. Currently a single person gets £102.15 a week. According to the TUC, the average pension in local government is around £4,000 a year, and just £2,000 for women. In the civil service, the average is £6,500. The average pension for a female NHS worker is £5,000 but even that statistic is misleading. In fact, half of all women pensioners who have worked in the NHS get a yearly pension of less than £3,500!

Tory/Lib Dem proposals mean public servants would lose tens of thousands of pounds over their careers in increased contributions, reduced pay-outs, and penalties for retiring when they had originally expected to. The bankers, whose gambling and speculation triggered the economic crisis, still get their bonuses. But ordinary people have to pay more, work longer and get smaller pensions. In the private sector, the position for those on low or average earnings is even worse. Only one in five private sector employees earning between £100 and £200 a week are in an employer-sponsored pension scheme, compared to 70% in the same pay range in the public sector. The real gold-plated pensions again go to the bosses. The High Pay Commission says directors of the top hundred firms in the private sector receive average pensions of £175,000 – up to 29 times the rest of the workforce. Twenty years ago the average chief executive of a top FTSE 100 company earned 17 times the average employee’s pay. Today (and after 13 years of Labour government) it is more than 75 times!

Workers ARE all in this together – we need to strike together!

Forthcoming main attractions!


Saturday 8th October

Join the Leeds regional demo in support of Youth March for Jobs from Jarrow to London, assemble 12 midday, Art Gallery, Leeds.

Or join the Harrogate to Leeds leg, Fri 7thOct or the Leeds to Wakefield leg Monday 10thOct

5th and 6th November

Combine two events for the price of one! Meet the marchers on final London leg, rally at Embankment 12 midday

Followed…. by Socialism 2011

A weekend of discussion, debate and major national rallies, plus Saturday night social. Tickets now on sale, coach and cars available to get there, plus overnight accommodation. Make sure you come along

Ring Mike for details – 07887 668 740

Programme of Meetings and Events

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER

Wed Sept 14th – Crisis in the Eurozone and beyond

Three years ago capitalism ground to a halt as markets tumbled all over the world in response to the debt crisis. Despite pumping trillions into the economy, the contagion has erupted again and is set to destabilise the Eurozone and plunge the economy into a double dip recession. This will be an analysis and update of the situation.

Wed Sept 21st – The Aftermath of 9/11

The10th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers has produced an avalanche of commemorative articles, programmes and testimonials. Bush promised a safer world when attacks were launched on Afghanistan and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have since been slaughtered in endless conflict and the world is now more unstable and insecure than ever. What will the next decade hold?

Wed 28th September – Broke Britain

The recent riots highlighted a number unanswered questions, what dries so many young people to engage in acts of seemingly mindless violence. In reality, they are a reflection of a much deeper malaise in British society, poverty, unemployment, and despair amongst mainly young people. How has this come about and what are the answers?

Wed 5th October – The Pension Crisis

The coalition is intending to force through policies which will see us all work longer, for less pension which will cost us more. This is a direct tax funnelling money from working people straight into the government’s coffers. Further strike action is planned for November, can the coalition be defeated?

Wed 12th October – Crisis in the NHS

The coalition is forcing through the most radical reforms of the NHS since its inception which will result in widespread privatisation. The entire medical professional establishment is opposed to the Bill, but can Landsley be stopped?

Wed 19th October – Socialism, what will it look like?

A glimpse into the socialist future, attempting to outline how a socialist society would work. Bring you r crystal balls!

Wed 26th October – France 1968

Always worth another look at the tremendous events of May 1968. 10 million workers in France took strike action and stood poised to seize power. Yet 2 months later De Gaulle was returned to power in the elections. How could events turn around so quickly? A celebration and analysis of these heady times

What We Stand For:

The Socialist Party fights for socialist change – a democratic society run for the needs of all and not the profits of a few. We also fight, in our day-to-day campaigning, for every possible improvement for working-class people. As capitalism dominates the globe, the struggle for genuine socialism must be international. The Socialist Party is part of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), a democratic, socialist international that organises in over 40 countries.
Our demands include:

All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment.

Scrap the anti-trade union laws! For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members. Full-time union officials to be regularly elected and receive no more than a worker’s wage.

No to privatisation and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Renationalise all privatised utilities and services, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.

Fully fund all services and run them under accountable, democratic committees that include representatives of service workers and users.

Free, publicly run, good quality education, available to all at any age. Abolish university tuition fees now and introduce a living grant. No to academies!

Major research and investment into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and into ending the problems of early obsolescence and un-recycled waste.

Oppose discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age, and all other forms of prejudice.

No to imperialist wars and occupations. Withdraw troops immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan!

Tax the super-rich! For a socialist government to take into public ownership the top 150 companies and banks that dominate the British economy, and run them under democratic working-class control and management. Compensation to be paid only on the basis of proven need.

A democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, and in a way that safeguards the environment.

Report: Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly Launched

The launch meeting of the Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly (CKSA) took place on Sunday 30th January in Halifax. The Assembly opened by hearing from several speakers, the first of whom was Sam Garrett a student who took part in the occupation of Leeds Trinity as a member of Leeds Trinity Students Against Cuts. She reported on their first ever occupation on campus, and that their demands of no staff or student victimisation and for an office on campus were met. Next was Mike Forster, an activist in Kirklees UNISON speaking in a personal capacity, who report on the preparations for the March 26th TUC demo in London, particularly around the expectation of job losses totaling 800 000 jobs in the public sector and 900 000 in the private sector. In Kirklees, Unison have threatened 5 days of strike action. As a result, sick leave will not be taken into account when redundancies are considered, there will be no cuts in redundancy pay and there will be no compulsory redundancies. Tom Walpole, an activist in CKSA reported on what we’d done so far in taking part and organising demonstrations in Huddersfield and Halifax, as well as on our contingent on the 29th January demo in Manchester.
The meeting then moved on to discuss some more practical issues, including an upcoming demonstration in Halifax on Saturday 12th January which we plan on organising a feeder march to as well as holding a CKSA meeting afterwards to discuss what to do next. We also discussed how we could link up with others in the fight against cuts and we will be sending representatives to the local anti-cuts campaigns – Save Our Services both in Calderdale and Kirklees as well as seeking affiliation with them and the Youth Fight for Jobs and Education campaign too. We will also be getting in touch with local trade union branches about getting transport down to the TUC demonstration in London on the 26th March too.

Katie Bates, Secretary Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly

For more info about CKSA check out their blog @http://caldrdalekirkleesstudentassembly.wordpress.com

Report: Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly to be founded

Students from two schools and one college met in Halifax on Sunday 16th January to discuss where next to take campaigning against fees and cuts in the area. Over the past few months there have been walkouts and demonstrations on 5 or 6 occasions, each time involving fresh layers of students taking part for the first time, but often not always at the same time as each other. This meeting was a further step towards helping to bring together activists from the area.

Iain Dalton, Youth Fight for Jobs & Education – Yorkshire Organiser

After a brief discussion around where the student movement is now, and the alternatives to the cuts and fees hike, the meeting proceeded to lay out plans for a wider Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly meeting on Sunday 30th January, to hopefully draw in not just other students that have participated in the movement so far, but also others travelling to the 29th January demonstration in Manchester which they are mobilising to.

In the area only Huddersfield University and a few of the colleges have any form of Students’ Union and therefore the assembly will play a vital role in helping students in being able to organise themselves. It was decided that, although trade unionists and parents are encouraged to attend, only students will have the vote so they can organise themselves. A series of interim officers were also elected to publicise and prepare for the assembly.

Calderdale & Kirklees Student Assembly – 12.30pm, Sunday 30th January, Halifax Irish Catholic Club

Report: Halifax Students March Against EMA Cuts

Around 40 college and school students marched in Halifax on Tuesday 11th January to protest against the Con-Dem coalitions plans to scrap EMA, the weekly payment that some college students receive to enable them to get to college.

Iain Dalton, Youth Fight for Jobs & Education Yorkshire Organiser

Protesters marched through Halifax chanting “David Cameron hear us ssay, EMA is here to stay” and “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” as we made our way firstly to the Town Hall, to demand that should the government force through its cuts that Halifax’s Labour council should campaign for the funds to be able to continue administering it as well as other public services it is currently planning to cut.

We then moved on to the Halifax bank headquarters where we protested against the obscene bonuses that the bankers are yet again giving themselves and called for the wealth of the banks to be used to benefit all in society, not just an elite. As a few speakers explained, this would require nationalising the banks, not by giving them huge bailouts like the previous Labour government did, but by taking them under the democratic workers control.

We will be having an organising meeting at the weekend to plan further steps for the campaign.

Report: Halifax Students March on the Banks

Over 150 people turned up to the protest outside Halifax Town Hall called by the newly formed Halifax Save our Services campaign. Alternating drumming, chanting and a brass band gave the protest an unusual atmosphere, as did the fire-eaters who performed half way through.

Halifax Socialist Party reporters

Unfortunately the protest only heard one speaker, local Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan who said she opposed all cuts to jobs and services to great cheers from the crowd. However, several people thought this was a little hollow given that Calderdale is a Labour controlled council who will be implementing the Tory cuts Labour claim to be opposing. Moreover the lack of other speakers furstrated many as there was no room to hear the voices of the workers whose jobs are under threat, nor the college students who turned up in their dozens who had walked out of college and even marched to Sheffield recently in protest against edcation cuts.

At the end of the protest when one person got up to say entry to the council chambers was by ticket only and everyone else should go home, a group of students got up and announced their intent to march on the banks, who they described as the “real cause behind the cuts”. Around 25 then march along the road for a short protest outside Halifax bank headquarters with lively chanting.

The protest closed with a speech from Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs & Education Organiser, Iain Dalton, outlining the need to, instead of nationalising the losses of the banks like Halifax which the previosu New Labour government did, fight for real public ownership under workers control so the wealth of the banks can be used to benefit all, particularly by investing in public services rather than the savage destruction been wrought by the government to protect the profits and bonuses of bankers and the rich.

We will be holding an organising meeting the new year for college and sixth form students across Halifax to plan further youth protests in the town.

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