Wednesday, April 22, 2015

‘Unreconstructed Communists’ Explain the Socialist Case

As we previously said, a general election is a time when the media offers ourselves an opportunity to express our ideas and we will readily take advantage of this window to present the case for socialism.

The Socialist Party’s candidate, Robert Cox, has given this personal report of an election hustings at the Centre for Health Service Studies, University of Kent. He wrote:

“This was my biggest event so far and all the other Canterbury parliamentary candidates attended.  I was very apprehensive about this one, and the questions we might get. I have now given up on speaking without notes (not being able to remember what to say!), especially to an audience like this. As it turned out other candidates were just as worried about this one and also spoke from notes.
I was surprised to get as much, if not more, applause for my opening statement and answers to some questions, than did other candidates, despite not having any supporters placed in the audience. The questions were not as technical as I had feared, and gave me lots of scope to explain how the world is run on behalf of the rich, and about how socialism will put need before profit, do away with rationing and buying and selling etc. It went down well when I gave “poverty and inequality” as being two “pressing issues” for the local health service. 
It also helped having some local stories and statistics to quote.
Unfortunately the Tory MP went and agreed with one of my remarks (about the need to sort out the causes of mental illness), but the UKIP candidate rounded the evening off nicely with his foot in his mouth again after referring to “normal people” in an answer to a disability question.

Here were my opening remarks:

“Last week the Kentish Gazette carried a survey of Kent voters, which identified the NHS as their second highest priority when deciding how to vote.

Most of us rely on the NHS and I think people are worried whether the funding will be there to meet the increased demands on the service in future years.

Promises are being made by the main parties to protect or increase health care services, but much seems dependant on “efficiency savings” which may just be a polite word for “cuts” elsewhere.

They also argue over whether there should be more or less private provision of NHS services.

As you will be aware, much of the NHS is already run by profit taking concerns, and with the exception of some wages and salaries, most of the money spent on the NHS is directed to suppliers of various commodities, who also make a profit from the health ‘business’.

Further, the government itself applies the profit motive to its funding of the NHS.

Rationing of health care provision, including spending on drugs, takes place every day on the basis of cost benefit analysis, where there is a ‘price’ on life.

The Socialist Party believes that the best way to ensure people have access to high quality health care is to change the economic system which the other parties either support or accept. Under this system, capitalism, making profit takes priority over meeting people’s needs.

Around the world many diseases and health conditions go without proper treatment because it is unprofitable for the pharmaceutical industry to develop cures, or more profitable to keep selling drugs which maintain ill health rather than cure.

The market system is hugely wasteful and inefficient and its abolition is urgently required.”

Meanwhile the Sussex Express requested a 200 word profile of our candidate standing in Brighton Kemptown; this is what was provided by our candidate Jacqueline Shodeke:

“I am not seeking votes for what I am but for what I stand for -- replacing today’s capitalist system of ownership by the few and production for profit by a system where the Earth’s resources are owned in common and used to directly produce what people need.

I became a socialist when I realised that capitalism could never be made to work for people like me, born with no wealth and so having to sell themselves on the jobs market to get the money to buy the things needed to live and never being paid enough to live decently.

Capitalism’s basic economic laws of “no profit, no production” and “can’t pay, can’t have” work to create problems for the vast majority of people because they mean that making profits always takes priority over meeting needs. In its pursuit of profit capitalism causes economic crises, the destruction of the environment, everything having a price and, on the world scale, wars, global warming and world poverty.

That’s why it must be replaced by a society where people have free access to what they need as of right and without having to work for an employer and without having to pay.
Jacqueline Shodeke,

The Socialist Party candidate
Brighton Kemptown

Being the Queens real birthday the campaign group Republic were soliciting the opinions of candidates. The Socialist Party candidate in Brighton PavilionHoward Pilott, received a long email but the relevant part was “Will you support a democratic alternative to the monarchy - or at the very least support an end to royal secrecy, royal power and royal abuse of taxpayers' money? I'm thinking about who to vote for on May 7 and want to know if you will support the Republic Manifesto, put together by the campaign group Republic.”

Howard Pilott replied: 

 “The real essence of democracy is that in some sense our views have equal value.  This means that the system we currently endure is not a democracy other than in some sham sense: we cast votes but the decisions are taken by others. In my view the monarchy is a keystone of the class system which sees privilege accorded to class and as such I am opposed to it.  However this fails to address the extent to which the monarchy is really just symbolic, wielding little power, and it exists more for ideological reasons rather than those of control: having a monarchy which is promoted within our society reinforces the idea of privilege and disparity of wealth.
The real power base of this society consists of those who have the most money: in our world money buys influence and most of it is utilised to the benefit of those with money. Until something is done about this power imbalance, the presence or otherwise of a monarchy is pretty much irrelevant - the United States has no monarch but it is not particularly more egalitarian than the UK.

Only by removing the power of money and thereby those with large fortunes will we see a difference: only by working for socialism are we moving in any direction which will effect meaningful change.  The rest, whilst nobly meant, is redundant.
Best wishes,
Howard Pilott
SPGB Candidate for Brighton Pavilion

Bill Martin our candidate for Islington North received a similar request for his views and his reply was:
“The Socialist Party is campaigning for the creation of a society based on common ownership of the wealth of the world, so that it can be directly administered in all our interests, rather than in the interest of the minority who currently own it.

Our core principles affirm that we intend to "overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic" [his emphasis] and that includes replacing the monarchy, and government, with the self-active democracy of the population. If our delegates find themselves serving as a minority in a parliament dominated by pro-capitalist parties, our membership will instruct them to vote (after a democratic debate) in the best interests of the working class.”

While our candidates in Oxford briefly responded:

“Yes, the socialist society we envisage is incompatible with the existence of the monarchy as well as with all other aristocratic and capitalist privilege but equally with the existence of the capitalist state, whether republic or monarchy.”

1 comment:

Danny Lambert said...

The point I'd like to make is that if we can be conditioned to accept and be untroubled by vast undeserved wealth, we can be conditioned to accept and be untroubled by vast undeserved poverty. Royalty is essentially common humans in an uncommon situation, it serves capitalism in that with its fetishisation we demean ourselves and so become resigned to our servitude.