Our candidate in Oxford West & Abingdon, Mike Foster, was asked various questions by a political website. Here are his replies.
1. In your opinion, is austerity working? What should we take from the state of the economy during this Government's tenure?
Austerity measures, such as reducing staff and funding to public services, have taken place in order to safeguard the financial viability of companies and the state. Therefore they have been carried out to benefit those who own society's infrastructure. Those who rely on these institutions for their income or well-being suffer when cuts are made. This doesn't mean that the government can control the economy through legislation such as austerity measures. Periods of recession and growth
occur when markets become more or less profitable. Legislation has to fit in with the way the economy is running. So, reversing austerity measures wouldn't work if the economy couldn't support it. The economic system itself is the problem because it doesn't work in the interests of the
2. Does (legal) immigration need more limitations or is it vital for the UK?
Problems associated with immigration are really caused by the way the world is divided into different nations. Countries, as the borders of different states, represent the ruling class who own land and resources. The vast majority of us have very little influence in how the country we
happen to live in is run. For some, a new start elsewhere may be the best option. Other people become refugees when disagreements between those in power turn into wars. Prejudice against immigrants distracts people from understanding the economic reasons behind immigration.
The Socialist Party aims for a world without any national borders. Then, people could move freely anywhere, without being forced to by economic and political pressures. The artificial divisions between us which come with our nationality would no longer apply. If the world was owned in common, then we would live and work co-operatively for the benefit of everyone.
3. Many people are concerned about the cost of living in the UK, with wages having failed to rise in line with the price of food, energy and rent in recent years. How can this be corrected?
Politicians and economists have been unable to find a balance between our incomes and the cost of commodities which benefits everyone. This is because our interests aren't compatible with those of the minority who own society's resources. Society is run to make wealth for the ruling class, so wages and prices will tend to be whatever makes most profit. This system doesn't work in favour of the majority who struggle to pay the bills with meagre wages. The Socialist Party wants everyone to work together to replace this society with one of common ownership and free access. If society's
resources were owned and democratically managed by the community as a whole, then we could ensure that enough goods and services are produced. Everyone would have free access to whatever they need and want, without payment. If all work was voluntary, there would be no need for wages or money.
4. How would you like to see the NHS change in the future in order to become more successful?
In our current society, the NHS is limited by what funding it can attract. Regardless of whether this funding comes from the state or from private companies, the NHS still has to survive in the same economic market as any other business. Keeping costs low is one way to remain financially viable,
so the health service will always tend to be under-staffed and under-resourced. The Socialist Party aims for a health service which has all the trained staff and resources it needs. The only way this could happen is if it was part of a society where all resources are owned and democratically run by
the community as a whole. Then, we could work directly to benefit ourselves and others.
5. What measures do you think need to be taken to decrease unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and those who have never been employed?
The Socialist Party advocates zero employment! Employment is inherently exploitative. We sell our time and energy to an employer in return for money to buy what we need. But, the amount we collectively receive in wages is less than the value of the work we contribute. This is because the employer needs to make a surplus or a profit, and this wealth stays with them. As well as financially exploiting us, this arrangement means we often feel powerless in an unfulfilling job. The Socialist Party aims for a world where work is voluntary and co-operative, without employers or employed. If society's infrastructure was owned in common, rather than by a minority, we could run it to benefit everyone. We could work sustainably with all the resources we need, without the market system holding us back. The reasons for the stress and frustration of being employed - and unemployed - won't exist.
6. If an EU Referendum were to take place, how would you encourage your constituents to vote
It doesn't really matter whether our laws are decided within the UK or in Brussels. Wherever they're decided, laws and trade deals will aim to protect the interests of states and corporations. These organisations are owned by a minority in order to make more wealth for themselves. The problem is that laws and trade deals benefit a minority, rather than where that minority lives. So, the Socialist Party would encourage people to vote neither 'yes' nor 'no' in an EU referendum, but to instead support world socialism. In this society, decisions which affect large areas like Europe would be made democratically, either through elected, accountable representatives or by direct voting. This could only happen if society was owned and managed by the community as a whole.