[EDIT 13/11: The above is a photo from the actual protest. See the event with the link below for the rationale of replacing the original photo I used to advertise it.]
I’ve just created a Facebook event, publicising a call in today’s Daily Mirror for a lobby of Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday 12 November, 1pm) when Labour are putting forward a debate to abolish the bedroom tax (or “spare room subsidy” as the government calls it).
Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves “has booked a wheelchair accessible room in Portcullis House (Boothroyd Room) from 10am-12.30 on the morning of the debate – the idea is to orchestrate a mass lobby from there – and she’ll also be able to come and meet as many of you as possible” – according to this blog entry.
I’m planning to travel from Manchester, but won’t be able to make the morning meeting (due to extortionate train costs to get there in time). However, since I’m publicising the lobby at 1pm, I really want to get there and influence other protesters as well as MPs (I plan to print off relevant entries from this blog as “ThatcheroftheLeft Highlights 3”, and talk to people of course).
Here are a couple of old posts on my blog about the bedroom tax (although I’ve added some comments/thoughts to the first to bring it up-to-date):
[EDIT 11/11/13: As pointed out on the Money Saving Expert forum which I provided a link to at the end of this post, I got it wrong about interest rates offered by banks/building societies being based on inflation – there are a number of factors including the base rate set by the Bank of England (although this is partly based on government targets on inflation). The title wasn’t particularly good either in talking about “age discrimination” because it is only rational for lenders to discriminate against older people on the basis that they may die before they have repaid their mortgages. However, Watchdog reported that maximum age limits for mortgages to be repaid had been reduced by 10 years by many lenders after the credit crunch, irrespective of ability to pay back, but failed to explain why (which is what I gave an explanation of in this post). I have had very few views of this post in five days according to the blog statistics facility, despite it being the top item on the blog, possibly due to the bad headline. Laura Kuenssberg on ITV News at lunchtime today reported that 2,384 mortgages have been applied for using Help to Buy (there is a separate one for new build properties – search online if you want details) out of 60,000 in total – a drop in the ocean and certainly not worth risking the housing bubble which there is already evidence of.]
The following is a letter I am sending to the Weekly Worker, the newspaper of the CPGB (PCC). Although they have edited my letters, generally quite considerably, sometimes to fit their own agenda rather than for reasons of space or clarity, they have never distorted the meaning of them. This one is much longer than my usual letters, however, partly because there are important tangential points to make and because it’s also intended for this blog, so I certainly don’t mind them editing it quite severely!
The CPGB’s Mark Fischer and I went to the session on “What is the role and relevance of a revolutionary party today?” at Socialism 2013, an educational event organised by the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SP), on Saturday. I thought the title quite remarkable for an organisation that has generally shied away from the word “revolution”, but times have changed – if even the middle class comedian Russell Brand can talk about it in the pages of the New Statesman and on Newsnight where he brilliantly and wittily outwitted Jeremy Paxman, then obviously the Socialist Party has to too. Indeed, the current issue of their newspaper The Socialist at the event had a review of the Brand-Paxman debate (which now has nearly 9 million views on YouTube). It was particularly positive that the person speaking on the subject was the editor of The Socialist, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge.
Mark said some positive things about the SP, but accused it of operating on the basis of “bureaucratic centralism” rather than “democratic centralism” (which is how the SP claims it operates – a lot of democracy making decisions with a central leadership providing direction and the party intervening “as one” in campaigns/other organisations). I agree with many of the points made in various articles made in the pages of the Weekly Worker over the years about a large democratic deficit in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), entailing much more centralism than democracy, the bureaucracy on their central committee having too much power, and restricted rights for individual members and factions – and consequently “bureaucratic centralism” is a fair term for that organisation. This is a major reason, on top of the terrible handling of the allegations of rape by their former national secretary Martin Smith (Comrade Delta), for a split earlier in the year (to form the International Socialist Network) and the probable expulsion of another faction (Rebuilding the Party) after the SWP’s next conference in December. The first split is already involved in Left Unity (LU) and it seems to me, as a rank-and-file LU member, to be almost inevitable that the new faction will join LU too after its expulsion from the SWP.
I must disagree with Mark’s assertion that the SP operates in much the same way, based on my experience in that party (and its forerunners, the Militant Tendency and Militant Labour) from 1990-98.
The daily newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain, not to be confused with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) or the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), has a report on the higher education strike yesterday – completely ignored by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 early evening news bulletins. Somebody posted a link to it on Facebook, and there was lots of what appeared to be Latin next to it.
Well, perhaps the Star has gone highbrow, reflecting the new interest in Latin and “Classics” generally (a way of preventing the masses from understanding what the ruling class was talking about in olden times) in British universities! Read on!