A message for Mr Cable

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, likes to appear mildly progressive in his public utterances, no doubt in the vain hope that we will forget that he and his party will have kept the most rabid Tory government in living memory in power for five years. It was therefore somewhat surprising when, in response to a question from Labour in parliament last week, Mr Cable was largely dismissive of the mildly progressive idea put to him that publicly listed companies should be required to disclose in their accounts the number of employees who are paid less than the living wage. He said he would think about it but added that he was against “coercive measures because these would simply add to unemployment”. Massaging downward the headline figure for unemployment and disregarding the consequential increase in welfare costs – or better, capping them and making the recipients pay – is, of course, a key strategy for the Tories: a strategy that the Lib Dems have gone along with.

The living wage rate is currently £8.80 per hour in London, including Croydon, and £7.65 per hour elsewhere, compared with the minimum wage of £6.31 per hour for those aged 21 and over.

As I mentioned last week, Croydon TUC was calling on candidates in the forthcoming local government elections to commit to ten key policies if elected. One of these policies is that Croydon Council should pay the London Living wage to its staff and insist on its sub-contractors doing the same. While candidates from other parties appear to have ignored the call, Communist Party candidates in Croydon warmly took up this commitment. As communists hoping to be councillors, they recognise that the powers available to elected councils are limited, but a start can be made in the Council Chamber towards building a fairer society. Paying the London Living Wage for council employees, both direct and indirect, and removing such restrictions on employment terms under local government services as not paying carers for their travelling time, represent such a start. As communists, however, these candidates appreciate that tinkering with capitalism cannot bring about the fundamental change they seek. Fair pay for all is the objective, and it cannot, unfortunately, be achieved in the forthcoming local government elections on 22 May, whatever the results. Fair pay for all cannot be achieved without the “coercive measures” feared by Mr Cable, but it does not involve unemployment. It’s a system called socialism, Mr Cable. Try thinking about that!

Martin Graham

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Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Posted by John Eden
From: Dr. Peter Latham

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 5:12 AM

To: newsdesk@croydonadvertiser.co.uk

Subject: Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Dear Editor,

Please consider my letter below for publication in next Friday’s issue of the paper.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Latham

Lib Dem candidate’s ‘lunatic fringe’ comment politically illiterate

Lib Dem local election candidate John Jenkins, according to your report on 4 April, was furious that he would be speaking at Croydon Radio’s hustings programme on 6 April alongside Communist and National Front candidates he describes as the “lunatic fringe”.

In fact Ben Stevenson, Croydon Communist candidate for Bensham Manor ward, dropped out of the show immediately we learnt that a National Front candidate would be appearing. This follows our ‘no platform to racists or fascists’ policy, which is a matter of principle held not only by communists but also by trade unions and vast sections of the labour and progressive movement. We therefore applaud the decision by Andrew Pelling – who is also a Labour local election candidate – to resign from Croydon Radio because the NF were given a platform at the station’s hustings programme on 6 April.

John Jenkins is also politically illiterate when he equates communists with fascists because fascism is the last resort of a capitalist state in crisis. Moreover, the very first people Hitler sent to the gas chambers were the German communists as shown by Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous poem: ‘First they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist… Then they came for the Socialists…the trade unionists…the Jews… Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me’.

Capitalism is again in crisis today and this is why the Communist Party of Britain is part of the No2EU alliance (set up by the late Bob Crow) whose manifesto will go to all households urging voters on 22 May to support a non-racist socialist exit from the European Union with its austerity policies.

Similarly, Ben Stevenson, John Eden in Selhurst and Peter Latham in Broad Green are standing as Communist candidates in the local elections to show that there is an alternative to the austerity policies of the three main parties both nationally and locally. For, as noted in my forthcoming book on The imminent demise of local government, all of the cuts in welfare, health, education, housing and local authority services can be reversed and services massively increased by:

· a two per cent wealth tax on the richest 10 per cent of households who own an estimated 44 per cent of Britain’s wealth (revenue £90 billion a year)

· a 10 per cent ‘Robin Hood’ tax on City transac­tions (revenue £112 billion a year)

· ending tax dodging by the super-rich and big business (revenue £70 billion a year).

(Dr.) Peter Latham, Flat 8 Scoresdale, 13 Beulah Hill, London SE19 3LH

The Democratic Deficit in our Political System

It’s reported by Inside Croydon that the Conservative-run Council have been forced to concede that the management of Croydon’s soon-to-be privatised public libraries should be monitored monthly, rather than the annual reporting frequency originally proposed. This is a small step in the right direction. But, of course, there was no need to privatise the library service in the first place. This is an ideologically-driven move, part of the Tory-led Government’s plans to use the economic crisis as cover to dismantle the welfare state and sell-off public services. The contract, valued at £30 million over eight years, has been awarded to a subsidiary of John Laing plc, who reportedly came last out of three bidders.

Campaigners are rightly concerned about the impact of the privatisation on the quality of the library service and that the public libraries’ assets will be used to bail out the council’s troubled Urban Regeneration Vehicle (URV), which is effectively council-funded property speculation. Concerns are growing about the viability of the URV given the current state of the property market and the role of vested interests in its operation. Again, secrecy prevails, as the contracts for this publicly-funded enterprise, worth over £450 million, have not been published. Meanwhile, the council’s new headquarters building is estimated to be costing £150 million. But details remain a secret and it’s impossible to judge value-for-money. You have to ask whether this represents a good use of public money, given the very real problems around housing and joblessness in Croydon, or whether this is simply another council vanity project.

Attempts by the opposition or local residents to find out what’s going on at the Council are usually shouted down or ignored by the Conservative group in Council meetings. The lack of transparency and anti-democratic political culture that characterises Croydon Council should come as no surprise. The refusal of the Conservative leader of Croydon Council, Mike Fisher – who receives allowances of £53,223 per year plus expenses – to detail the hours that he spends on official business has also been noted recently. These developments all beg serious questions about the level of accountability and competence at the Council.

Such secretive practises and potential abuses of public resources are all too real example of the anti-democratic trend in Britain. Despite the Government’s rhetoric of ‘localism’ and decentralisation, democratic institutions have been steadily undermined as local authorities’ powers have been eroded and the interests of big business and the City have been advanced by the privatisation agenda. Voters rightly demand high standards of their public servants and elected politicians. But the recent MPs’ expenses scandal, as well as the exposure of close links between Government Ministers and corporate business interests and their lobbyists, demonstrate all too clearly that our political system is experiencing a significant ‘democratic deficit’.

This concentration of political power is aided by a media monopoly, owned by transnational corporations and tax-dodging millionaires, which represents their class interests in favour of privatisation and foreign wars, which is clearly hostile to the left and which distorts the news agenda towards a steady diet of celebrity trivia. The Leveson report into press ethics isn’t going to change this as the crucial issue of press ownership was excluded from the enquiry’s remit.

Deliberately fostered cynicism about the political process by the media plays, of course, to the right who are keen to encourage apathy about the scope for politics to change people’s lives for the better. As the recent Croydon North by-election demonstrated, small, serious, parties like the Communist Party, are fighting an unequal battle. Despite a low turnout, the party managed to increase its share of the vote. But while we secured some good local media exposure, with no national media coverage, no business finance to fund the campaign, and the refusal of the Council to honour their statutory obligation to make council premises available for election candidates, the constraints faced by the party in getting its message across are clear and the absence of real democracy is palpable. The by-election result was a vindication of working people’s dislike of the Coalition government rather than the vacuous, backbone-free, New Labourite Steve Reed, whose lack of any real political programme is plain for all to see.

The record low turnout demonstrates how disconnected ordinary people are becoming from politics. If we’re to build a real alternative to this government it can’t be done by being relying on the Labour Party being slightly less vilified than the Tories. Winning by default will not help the millions of unemployed young people, the millions of pensioners living in poverty or the millions of workers and their families struggling to make ends meet. We need a mass campaign for a real alternative in Croydon and the rest of Britain. If you would like to join the fight-back, get in touch with us via the tab at the top of this page.

Chris Guiton

 

Croydon and beyond, Boris Johnson and the Incinerator.

Boris’s objections are set-back for Beddington incinerator

Croydon’s Greens and other groups opposed to the £1 billion Beddington Lane waste incinerator scheme were in celebratory mood last night thanks to help from a most unexpected source: Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson: putting his words into action

The Greater London Authority has submitted a detailed report which found eight significant points under which the plan by waste management giants Viridor, the contractors selected by Sutton’s Liberal Democrat-run Sutton council and Conservative-run Croydon, can not progress under Boris’s London Plan.

Sutton Council issued a statement last night, which did not take much reading between the lines to sense the embarrassment at such weighty objections.

Ransford Stewart, Sutton’s interim executive head of planning and transportation, said: “The Mayor of London has provided a very detailed response to Viridor’s planning application for an Energy Recovery Facility in Beddington.” Ahhh. Still can’t bring themselves to call an incinerator an incinerator.

“It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to have their say on this important and complex proposal,” Stewart said, probably wishing that Boris Johnson hadn’t been one of those who decided to have their say.

“Sutton Council will continue carefully scrutinising the contents of the planning application, seeking expert technical advice where necessary, to ensure there is a sound basis on which to make a planning decision. We will also review all of the comments made by residents and public bodies.

“When this process has been completed, a report will go to the council’s Development Control Committee, who will decide whether permission should be granted, granted conditionally, or refused after considering all of the evidence and the comments received from residents and others.”

This, to paraphrase Churchill, is not even the beginning of the end for the incinerator saga: in all likelihood Viridor will now go away and modify their application in order to try to address the GLA’s objections. With contracts worth £1 billion over the next three decades at stake, they and the local councils who have backed this scheme are not going to let this drift away without some effort.

Yet there is a growing realisation about the health risks of waste incinerators, the contradictions over the use of proposed parkland near Mitcham Common, and increasing acknowledgement that the boroughs in the South West London Waste Partnership will be unable to generate enough waste to feed the incinerator – seeing local authorities from across southern England “export” their crap to this corner of London.

So any additional delays will not assist the incinerator’s cause, and objections from someone as influential as the Mayor of London’s office will be much more difficult to brush aside than those from “mere”, well-meaning action groups of ordinary people concerned about the health of their children and grandchildren.

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Croydon and Beyond

Council-changes-twitter-profile-at-inside-croydon-suggestion.

By John Eden.

Yesterday I read on the “Inside Croydon” blog that the Council are setting up Twitter account so Croydonians can air their views to the Council, the “inside” blog welcomed the idea, but seemed sceptical of the motives, I don’t feel we have to get into speculation, I welcome any furtherance of the democratic process, how can it be detrimental to the interests of the people of Croydon, I am pretty sure that “inside Croydon” understand that.

On the leaflet the Communist Party in Croydon have been circulating over the recent weeks, against the building of a giant incinerator on Beddington lane, we wrote about the hypocrisy of the local Labour Councillors being against it in Croydon, but their colleagues on Merton Council supporting it, (the plan to build is a joint venture  of four Councils Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Kingston).

Well the hypocrites are at it again, in a report in the “Croydon Advertiser” Friday August 24th page 7 entitled “Labour: “We will force firms to employ locals” Labour leader of the opposition Cllr Newman pledges to tackle the high unemployment in Croydon by forcing building Employers undertaking new work in the borough to take on 20% of the workers from Croydon, it would be welcome! but this is the same Councillor who as leader of the Council in 2006 closed down the Council run Local disabilities Factory (only days before the people of Croydon remove them from office in the local elections of May of that year) thus creating unemployment amongst already vunerable workers’, it is said only two of them have found employment so far, six years on. The factory had been opened by the then Conservative Council in 1961, when I challenge one of the Labour Councillors after their defeat, and said  “closing it, contributed to their losing control of the council”  the reply was, well the Conservative can restore it, but I replied ” you closed it and all the machinery as been removed”. No call me cynical but Cllr Newman remarks as more to do with electioneering.

Croydon Council a possible conumdrum

By John Eden.

We have been leafleting Croydon door to door since the end of  June, with the intention of standing candidates in the next local elections in 2014, without going into all the reasons why we are standing, I think Croydon is unusual, especially in the South of England in that it as only two parties on the Council,  Labour and Tory, there is no third-party such as the Lib-Dems or Independents (ie usually meaning Independent Tories).

The Tories control the Council which is divided 37 Tory 33 Labour, all the wards in the North of the Borough are labour, in the South all are Tory, the Centre is divided between the two.

The elections in 2014 might spring a very interesting situation, should the Labour party win two seats, the Council would be split 35 seats each, one party would have to supply the Mayor, who only as a casting vote, therefore the Mayor’s party, in the bipartisan politics of Croydon, would always be in a minority.This is a real possibility because of entrench positions in the North and South of the borough.

So no party would logically want to propose a Mayor from their own ranks, I was speaking to a labour Party member from Croydon about this, and he said, that if this did arise the most likely out come is that one councillor, lured by the possibility of becoming Mayor would jump ship, and join the opposition, most likely someone who would never have been considered having the possible qualities in normal times.

The only difference between the two parties in local politics nationally, is their enumeration for being part of the quite recent introduction of the cabinet system of local government, the leader of  cabinet of the ruling party might get £70k per year, other cabinet members less but still substantial, the Leader of the opposition cabinet a few thousand less, but the politics are the same, Labour in London Boroughs where they are in control have made cuts just as deep as the Tory boroughs. So Jumping ship can be very rewarding.

Time to elect Communists Councillors.