Report From the Croydon Communist Party

The Croydon Communist Party called for urgent action at its recent branch meeting to tackle the growing crisis in the British steel industry. It noted that the Tory Government was refusing to act, blaming the situation on Chinese ‘dumping’ and our membership of the EU whose competition and procurement rules, they say, prevents support for strategic industries. But, as the meeting noted, the UK imports seven times as much steel from other EU industries as it does from China; and EU members Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands were successfully supporting their steel industries, with or without EU endorsement.

The meeting concluded that steel was too important to the UK economy to be destroyed by government inaction. The government could do much more to save the steel industry, but is trapped in a neo-liberal mind-set which requires everything to be left to the self-correcting ‘magic of the markets’. Steel is a foundation industry without which we can’t have a successful manufacturing economy. Its loss will be a tragedy, both for the current workforce, other companies in the supply chain and the wider economy. Restoration of a viable manufacturing economy, including steel, requires fundamental changes, including development and implementation of a joined-up manufacturing and industrial strategy, reduction of high energy bills for the industry (themselves generated by the monopoly action of the privatised energy utilities), ensuring all government-backed contracts buy British-made steel, and a transfer of power away from big business to ordinary working people. This is only possible with a left exit from the EU.

If you are interested in joining the debate, why not join the Communist Party? Contact us via this blog for further information.

Chris Guiton

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Croydon’s Communist Party Sets Out Measures to Tackle Britain’s Housing Crisis

There are 5,000 people on the Croydon council housing list, many of them officially homeless. This is only likely to increase as people are being forced out of Lambeth and other neighbouring boroughs due to the increasing cost of housing. Many have been put in temporary accommodation. Across Britain, around two million families are stuck on council and housing association waiting lists, with the Tories spitefully striking off 113,000 people by changing the way in which people qualify.

Ben Stevenson, Communist Party general election candidate for Croydon North, said, “I think this is a scandal and is symptomatic of the Tory-Lib Dem Government’s refusal to tackle the country’s housing crisis. Britain has the seventh largest economy in the world. We should be building decent homes for all who need them. Instead, we are failing those least able to defend themselves, forcing them to squeeze in to B&Bs. Not only are the conditions often cramped and squalid, but children suffer as they have no place to play or do their homework. These are modern day slums; and this is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.”

House prices in London are continuing to spiral out of control. According to recent figures from the Land Registry, prices in Croydon have risen by 17% over the last year (against a London average of 11%). This is caused by a shortage of housing in the capital, the activities of ‘buy to let’ landlords and the Government’s fundamentally misconceived Funding for Lending scheme which fuels another speculative bubble.

The average property value in Croydon is now £324,000. According to ONS statistics, the average wage in Croydon is £24,336. As real wages have fallen for most people since the start of the recession, house prices in Croydon are now less affordable, compared to earnings, than ever before. It’s usually considered that a reasonable level for house prices is about three times that of earnings. But, for the first time, we are seeing average London house price which are thirteen times the average wage. People are being forced to take on absurd levels of debt to buy a home.

Mr Stevenson said, “Clearly, this isn’t sustainable. At some point the bubble will burst. Local politicians are failing to meet the housing needs of those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the vulnerable and the socially excluded. Meanwhile the number of new houses being built is falling to an all-time low. The only significant building projects that get the green light are those that promise yet more luxury apartments in an attempt to lure high earners away from Central London. The supply of social housing in Croydon is of course, woefully inadequate. Years of neglect by the local Tory council, along with central New Labour and Tory Government housing policies, has left Croydon with a smaller housing stock then almost any other London boroughs. Even the Council’s own Housing Strategy admits that Croydon is ill-equipped to meet housing need. An entire generation of people in Croydon are being systematically denied their right to decent affordable housing.

The communist party is absolutely clear. Having a decent place to live should be a basic human right. Labour has failed to take this issue seriously. Their policy on house building is opaque. Is it 200,000 or 250,000. Is that per year or just by 2020? Are those affordable homes or just more sky scrapers built to provide luxury apartments? How exactly is this meant to be achieved if not through a programme of council house building? In fact this policy commitment seems to be based on an expectation that the housing and construction market will itself magically deliver a solution.

We need, as a matter of urgency, to campaign for a significant council house building programme, an end to the bedroom tax, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. Our immediate priority has to be to tackle private landlords. Rather than vague commitments to cap rents at CPI, I want to see an immediate rental cap of 50 per cent of average local earnings, driving it down until it’s 25 per cent.

Ultimately, we need more council housing across Britain. Just 37 per cent of accommodation let privately meets decent homes association standards compared to all council properties. We urgently need an inspection team – with the power to actually force landlords to act and to take properties into democratically accountable hands when they don’t. Only the Communist Party offers these and other progressive policies which matter to ordinary working people.”

Communists in Croydon published a pamphlet in 2014 on the growing housing crisis in the borough, Decent Homes For All: End Croydon’s Housing Crisis Now! This publication seeks to explain the why and how of Croydon’s housing crisis. Copies are available on this blogsite or by contacting us direct.

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Ben Stevenson is 30 years old and National Organiser of the Communist Party. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election and the 2014 Bensham Manor local election.
3. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Ben Stevenson’s answers to Croydon Advertiser’s q&a

 

As part of their coverage of the election in Croydon North, the Croydon Advertiser sent a few round robin questions to all candidates. Here’s Communist candidate Ben Stevenson’s answers in full:

What would you do to improve the public image of Croydon North?

This is presumably a question for those parties that have lots of policies on cleaning up dog shit and street lamps. I’d start by improving Croydon North itself rather than worrying about its public image. We need jobs, we need investment, we need public facilities, we need democratic accountability, we don’t need image consultants. Croydon is not a tourist destination or a concept it’s a community of people. I’d concern myself with improving the lives of the people of Croydon North first – that would be an example worth fighting for and promoting across Croydon, London, England, Britain and the rest of the globe.


Name one thing you have done, or would do, to make Croydon North a better place.

Bring democracy back to the people. Set up local street level bodies and fighting for the transfer of real powers to them. We’d also fight for more powers for the local council, stop political parties from being able to pay companies to do their job for them. Introduce a spending limit on campaigns and donations to political parties. Fight for the introduction of single transferable vote in all elections in England. Campaign for a federal democratic Britain with separate economic, legislative and other powers for Scotland, Wales, London (and other regions of England where it is wanted). Withdraw from the bosses club of the EU (a policy we’ve had for more than sixty years by the way) and end our involvement in foreign wars and costly expenditure on useless nuclear weapons.

 
What would you do to diversify Croydon North’s high streets?

Support the development of local small businesses and co-operatives
Our manifesto commits us to closing all tax loopholes and going after monopoly corporations and the super rich who own the vast majority of Britain’s wealth so we can help support and develop small enterprises and the cooperative sector. Not only would this benefit employers, it would benefit workers as well as cooperatives in particular eliminate the need for bureaucratic middle management (the David Brent’s of this world would be a thing of the past). 
Getting rid of the betting shops, pay day loans and cash for gold shops plaguing our high street. And I’d also work with others to ensure all Croydon council contracts new and old are with local public companies – particularly those cooperatively owned and run.

  
Croydon North is seen as a foregone conclusion electorally. What would you say to people to reassure them their vote is still worthwhile?

All the mainstream parties (including the likes of UKiP who are just as much a part of the political establishment as the rest of them) are counting on your indifference in this election, none of them are putting any resources, campaigning or even bothering to turn up on your doorstep or in your communities to find out what you care about and what you’re interested in. That tells you all you need to know about what they’re interested in – your vote and that’s it. They don’t care about truly fighting for or representing you. I do. Whatever government is elected, the people of Croydon North need someone in parliament and on their streets who will fight for them. What’s more we won’t disappear after the elections over. Communists in Croydon will continue to fight on the other 364 days of the year for the interests of ordinary hard working people.

 
What would you do to reduce the burden on Croydon University Hospital and improve the NHS?

Reopen neighbouring hospitals, facilities and build more (not through PFI!) to ease the pressure on Croydon University Hospital. Transferring services to GPs has just lumped work onto already overworked surgeries and erected another barrier between people and proper medical care. Reverse the Tories health and social care act and kick the profiteers out of our NHS. I’ve had personal experience of just how overstretched, bureaucratised and obsessed with delivering the lowest quality of care for the cheapest amount of money the NHS trust has become. I’d kick out Virgin health and set up a board composed of unions, doctors, nurses, patients and local representatives to run our hospital. We’d also either scrap or pay the tuition fees of any person in Croydon North who wants to get a medical degree – providing they commit to spending 6 years practicing I’m the borough when they start practicing.

 
How would you tackle the housing crisis in Croydon North?

Build more council housing rather than another yet another glass tower block with luxury apartments and shopping complexes. End the selling off of council housing stock. Introduce a rental cap of 50% of average earnings locally – reducing it each year until it’s at 25%. Scrap the bedroom tax. Provide a grant for all working families to enable them to meet the ridiculously high cost of private renting. Set up a dedicated private sector inspection team to look at the quality and overcrowding in existing private rental accommodation (only 37% of those owned by private landlords, meet the decent homes association standards whereas 100% of council housing does). All this and a hell of a lot more is in our pamphlet produced in 2010 to deal with the housing crisis in Croydon – when nobody else was talking about the issue.

 
What effect do you think immigration has had on Croydon North?
What would you do to improve the public image of Croydon North?
This  economic, legislative and other powers l

Croydon North is an incredibly contradictory constituency, it’s one of the most diverse parts of our borough – something that we should celebrate and fight to protect from racists, fascists and xenophobes. But it’s also one of the most deprived parts of London, immigration isn’t the cause of this it’s a symptom. In the 1950s immigrants from the west Indies and Indian subcontinent were blamed for the economic problems faced by white workers, it’s classic divide and rule tactics. The interests of working class people are the same whatever country they come from and whatever ethnicity they are. We are of course in favour of leaving the EU and NATO – and establishing proper mutually beneficial economic, diplomatic and friendly relationships between countries in Europe and the rest of the world. Investing in other countries (and other parts of Britain) and developing their infrastructure is the only way to reduce the level of immigration – people migrate because they’re looking for work and better lives. Britain is the sixth richest country in the globe it is a crime that has been perpetrated by a tiny minority (less than 1%) of the population on the majority. Austerity has actually made the rich richer and the poor poorer we’d end that trend and much more…

Croydon North communist candidate Ben Stevenson calls for revolution in our democracy

 

Croydon North Communist candidate Ben Stevenson spoke to assembled national and international media at an event in Westminster today organised to promote the CPs election manifesto.


Whatever government manages to be formed come may 8th 9th – whether it’s blue and purple; red and orange; green, pink, black, gold or yellow 

What’s clear is that what we wont get is a government that will break the neoliberal consensus which has dominated our politics for the last 35 years. We won’t get a government that will represent the interests of ordinary working people over that of the city spivs, big business or any other section of the top 1% who own and control nearly all of Britain’s wealth. Why is this, well over the last 35 years we’ve seen a sustained and gradual selling off, erosion and rolling back and of our democracy by Tory, new labour government and now this unelected coalition government.

What we need is a revolution in our democracy. If we’re serious about tackling tax havens why don’t we start with the 2nd largest one in the world – the city of London – that resides just a couple of miles down the road. A revolution in our democracy that challenges the power of the city and punctures through the Westminster bubble

That’s why the Communist Party puts forwards the creation of a truly democratic relationship between the nations and peoples of this country. A truly federal Britain, which will include extensive economic, financial and law-making powers for Scotland, Wales and the regions of England (where it is wanted).

To those that say regional government in England doesn’t work, just look at London even with a blithering idiot like Boris Johnson as mayor – public transport in London (despite its many faults) is streets ahead of other cities and regions of Britain.

Of course as a communist MP I would go even further in my constituency setting up local street level bodies and fighting to transfer power back to the people.

What’s more all three nations would benefit from Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and NATO, enabling us to pursue domestic, foreign and non-nuclear defence policies free from pro-big business diktat and aggressive foreign wars. These are the kind of policies that the Communist Party is putting forward at this election and that we will be fighting for whatever government is formed on May 8th.

85th Anniversary of the Morning Star

This year marks the 85th anniversary of the Morning Star. The paper first came out on 1 January 1930 under the title, the Daily Worker. It changed its name to the Morning Star in 1966. The paper is the voice of organised labour. It’s the only paper that reports on the industrial and political issues that matter to ordinary people. And it will play a crucial role in this general election year as the political debate sharpens and we fight to get rid of the Con-Dems in May.

We need more people to buy the Morning Star to cover production costs and ensure the voice of socialism is heard. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to buy the paper by placing an order at your local newsagent or buying a subscription to the e-edition: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/subscribe

PUBLIC SERVICES AND HOMES FOR ALL

The National Audit office reported in April that the privatisation of Royal Mail short-changed taxpayers by £1 billion. If that were not bad enough, 16 institutional investors given priority by the government in the queue for shares sold them within weeks despite having led the government to believe that they would hold their investments for the ‘long term’. As if! Such is the culture of short termism pervading capitalism in general and the City of London in particular, such understandings are worthless. Nothing gets in the way of making a quick buck.

Given this blatant rip off at the time that ‘our’ Royal Mail was sold off, who can now be surprised to learn that one of the jewels in the crown of Royal Mail, the former Mount Pleasant sorting office, is to be sold for an estimated £1 billion for luxury housing. This helps explain some, but of course not all, the jump in share price immediately following the flotation. The flotation price was supposed to reflect property development value, but the ruthless way in which this asset is to be exploited could not have been fully reflected in this price.

At a time when Londoners are being priced out of the property market, the Mount Pleasant site could have made a small but significant contribution to London’s stock of genuinely affordable properties. Royal Mail has, however, as a public company, only one overriding objective, enshrined in statute, which is to maximise shareholder value. This means minimising the proportion of affordable homes in the development – fewer than a quarter of the homes fall into this category, reflecting the minimum needed to secure Mayor Boris Johnson’s approval of the development – and maximising the interpretation of what is meant by “affordable”. A two bedroom “affordable” home in this development is currently expected to cost around £1,700 a month, or £20,400 a year. Assuming renters/mortgage payers can afford to pay no more than a third of their pre-tax income on accommodation, a couple would need a combined income of £60,000 per year to afford this “affordable” home. A couple both working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for £8.85 per hour, the London Living Wage, which is better than many earn on the statutory minimum wage of £6.50 per hour, would together earn only £35,400 a year. Their mortgage or rent would consume 58% of their combined income – clearly unaffordable.

The solution? Simple! Re-nationalise our public services at no more than the prices they were sold off for; and public investment in decent homes for all.

Stern Stuff

In a significant but little reported letter published in the Financial Times last week (7 August), Lord Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service between 2003 and 2007, revealed that, in addition to his celebrated reports on climate change and for the Commission for Africa, he had been responsible for a report on tax reform. This report had, however, gathered dust in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s in tray and even its existence has been kept secret. What did it contain that so scared the government?

Enquiries under the Freedom of Information Act may now enable the report to be extracted from the government. Whether the effort will be worthwhile remains to be seen. According to Lord Stern, his report called for:

a. value added tax to be applied at the standard rate to a wider range of goods, including food and energy. The poorest could (Stern’s word) be compensated;

b. higher taxes on congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions – again with a suggestion that the poorest losers could be compensated;

c. more tax on the financial sector; and

d. reform of property taxes with a tentative endorsement of Land Value Tax.

Some of these proposals may be contained in the forthcoming report from the Communist Party on taxation, but it’s hard to believe that the Communist Party would endorse higher direct taxes without much firmer protection for workers and their families than Stern appears to think necessary. The surprising fact, however, is what the report does not contain. Stern makes no mention of the need for a return to progressive taxation of income and capital.

The recent book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century, has deservedly attracted much attention for demonstrating that inequality of income and wealth is even worse than we had suspected. His data show that we are returning to levels of inequality not seen since the early 1900s. While his analysis lacks the clarity of Marx, his conclusion echoes that of Marx in predicting that inequality will continue to grow under capitalism. We are rapidly heading for, or have already become, a plutocracy in which the bottom half of the population subsist and the top 1% are super-rich. Piketty sees a return to progressive taxation of income and wealth as essential if capitalism is to survive. Communists would support this but would conclude that capitalism won’t survive. It won’t, however, fall by itself. This will take organisation and political work.

Morning Star Marks World War 1 with Unique International Collaboration

Get your copy of today’s Morning Star, which has published an international pullout this weekend to mark the centenary of World War 1 with views and analysis which break with the establishment consensus and a socialist perspective on the bloodshed, which puts the record straight. It is a unique collaboration with three socialist newspapers: Arbejderen of Denmark, junge Welt of Germany and Zeitung vum Letzebuerger Vollek of Luxembourg. The pullout will be published in all four countries during the centenary week.

The special edition has eight pages of hard-hitting feature pieces and pictures on “the war that didn’t end all wars”, led to slaughter on an industrial scale and a legacy of imperialism and conflict which continues to this day.

As Prime Minister David Cameron eyes “The Great War” as a PR opportunity for the election of the Conservatives in 2015, and with the mainstream media slavishly following his lead, the Morning Star supplement tells it like it is, from the Left.

Acting Editor Ben Chacko said:

“I know of no newspaper in Britain which is joining hands with others in Europe, and especially Germany, to tell the truth about the carnage of the first world war, why it happened, and who profited from it.

“We were then, as in many respects we are now, a nation of lions led by donkeys. We will not let David Cameron and his media cronies hijack history and portray this centenary as a patriotic exercise for the election of a Tory Government.”

The special souvenir edition offers analysis and historical insight on a range of issues related to the war, from how it affected women and their position in society, to those voices of courage from the Left who opposed it to their personal cost.

Writers from the four publications will appear in the pullout. They include:

– Andrew Murray, deputy president of the Stop The War coalition, applying the lessons of the war to today’s conflicts;

– Selina Todd of Oxford University on the women who emerged from the munitions factories and elsewhere to build new lives and help elect the ’45 Labour Government in a land fit for heroes;

– Martin Hedlund Fink from Denmark looking at war profiteering in his own country, capitalist opportunism and the so-called “goulash barons”;

– Arnold Scholzel from Germany on how workers and their organisations across Europe reacted to the inexorable move to conflict; and,

– Wayne David, Labour MP for Caerphilly, on how his forerunner, Morgan Jones, opposed the war to his huge personal cost, with imprisonment.

Ben Chacko added:

“This is a unique and fruitful collaboration between four major newspapers of the European Left. It is not a one-off, and we intend to come together again to offer working people of our countries a socialist perspective on the issues that matter to us all.”

The souvenir edition is free in today’s 32-page weekend Morning Star (Saturday and Sunday 2/3 August), which sells for £1. It is available at all key retail outlets. Or you can subscribe at: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk. After that you can buy copies of the souvenir edition from the Morning Star online shop or by calling 020 8510 0815.

Communist Party Candidate Gives Good Account of Himself in Local Election Hustings

Dr Peter Latham, Communist Party candidate for Broad Green gave a good account of himself at the local election hustings in Broad Green on 15 May. There was a healthy turnout and a good debate.

Dr Latham said, “London is the capital of the world’s super-rich with 72 billionaires. None of them, however, live in the five wards of the central north area of Croydon: Broad Green, Bensham Manor; Thornton Heath; West Thornton and Selhurst. According to the GLA, parts of Broad Green are amongst the 10% most deprived in the UK. Councils are currently half way through a scheduled 40 per cent cut in funding from central government. As a result of these cuts councils in many areas will not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities. The current formula for local government funding is putting councils – quite needlessly – in danger of bankruptcy.”

“An alternative political and economic strategy is needed. But Labour’s leadership are committed to maintaining the public sector pay freeze, abiding by Tory-led Coalition Government’s spending plans for one year after the general election and sticking to a welfare spending cap for the entire parliamentary term. Labour need to be bolder and offer a genuine, socialist alternative to endless austerity.”

The Communist Party’s proposals are modest:
• Repeal of the Localism Act (except the provisions giving councils the right to return to the committee system and all councillors the right to make policy again in England and Wales; those protecting private tenants’ deposits; and the “general power of competence” to expand their functions).
• Abolition of US-style directly elected executive mayors and the cabinet system which under New Labour’s Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 created indirectly elected mayors by giving council leaders virtually the same powers as US-style directly executive mayors.
• No councillors should be paid more than average annual full-time earnings in their locality. For example, the London Borough of Croydon has a cabinet system and a leader who in 2013/14 received £65,466 – 5.8 times greater than the basic allowance of £11,239 received by backbench councillors with no special responsibility allowance. The total cost of the basic and special responsibility allowances in 2013/14 was £1,617,706. The total cost of SRAs was £830,976 for the seven cabinet members, the 10 deputy cabinet members, the 10 committee vice-chairs and the seven shadow cabinet members. Annual mean full-time gross earnings (excluding overtime) in Croydon in 2012 were £29,481. The prospect of fewer SRAs may be the major reason why only nine councils have opted for the committee system since the Localism Act. If in May 2014 Labour wins control of Croydon Council – where the current leadership controls the allocation of 43 out 55 SRAs (the other 12 are allocated by the Labour Group) – the Labour Group’s material interests will ensure the status quo continues: unless the Left in the forthcoming period builds a broad alliance able to win a return to the committee system.
• De-privatisation and the direct provision of local authority and other public services.
• A statutory living wage, abolition of zero hour contracts and an end to the wage freeze.
• A mass programme of council housing built by direct labour with proper apprenticeships to cut mass youth unemployment, rent control and abolition of the Bedroom Tax.
• Investment to create green jobs, which would also cut unemployment.
• Increasing social benefits and pensions in line with inflation.
• Stopping the scapegoating of immigrants and welfare claimants.
This could easily be paid for by:
• a two per cent wealth tax on the richest 10 per cent of the population – who own 41 per cent of Britain’s wealth estimated to be £4.5 trillion (revenue £90 billion a year)
• ending tax dodging by the super-rich and big business (revenue £70 billion a year)
• a 20 per cent tax on the super-profits of banking, energy, retail, arms and drug monopolies (revenue £16 billion a year)
• a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on City transactions (revenue £7.5 to £112 billion a year)
• a rise in the threshold for income tax to £30,000 by introducing a new 60 per cent rate of tax for incomes over £60,000
• a new system of local authority finance based on abolishing the regressive council tax, stamp duty land tax and business rates and their replacement by a new system of annual land value taxation (LVT). Local authorities would retain up to a third of the revenue collected, with the rest going to central government (or the devolved governments in the case of Scotland and Wales), which is then redistributed back to local authorities on a per capita basis. Only freeholders and landlords would pay LVT and buildings tax; and the owners of large estates would pay more because their acreage is greater than a semi and they often own valuable sites in town and city centres. Tenants would no longer be liable to property taxes. LVT would also avoid the main shortcomings of a local income tax (LIT), which would be more complex and costly to collect, especially if it included unearned income not covered by PAYE, due to so many people living in a local jurisdiction different from where they work; and LIT would also be inequitable because of the large difference between mean or average income in more affluent areas and in poor areas.

Dr Latham concluded, “Austerity is unnecessary because we are a rich society. Today only parties to the left of Labour (i.e. the Greens, TUSC and the Communist Party) advocate genuine change: which indicates the scale of the crisis of working class political representation locally and nationally. This is why Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey in April warned Labour to drop its austerity policies or face election defeat and the possible establishment of a new workers’ party. Vote for a socialist alternative. Vote Communist on 22 May!”

Croydon Communists Speak Out on the Demise of Local Government

Press Release

Dr Peter Latham, Communist Party local election candidate for Broad Green, said today, “As the local election campaign picks up, it’s noteworthy how little comment there is by candidates on the effective emasculation of local government under the Con-Dem Government. Unless present policies are reversed we face the prospect of what the leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore, calls the ‘end of local government as we know it’. The current formula for local government funding is presenting councils with impossible choices about which services to support and which services to cut. In some cases, major cities such as Liverpool are facing bankruptcy and being forced into a situation where they cannot even afford to pay for statutory social care services.”

“The Localism Act 2011 is the key mechanism used by the Con-Dems to erode local government. Of, course it is doing anything but promote local democracy and should really be called the ‘Centralism Act’! Its provisions underpin a creeping centralisation of many policy areas previously under local authority control. It has removed powers from councils under the guise of enabling ‘Big Society’ charitable organisations to play a greater role at the local level. The real agenda is to shrink the state, slash public expenditure and accelerate out-sourcing of public services.”

The Communist Party supports a range of measures to re-invigorate local government, including:

• Smaller councils and more councillors because England, Wales and Scotland now have fewer and larger ‘local’ authorities than any other Western advanced capitalist country except Ireland
• Repeal of the Localism Act (except the provisions giving councils the right to return to the committee system and all councillors the right to make policy again in England and Wales; those protecting private tenants’ deposits; and the “general power of competence” to expand their functions)
• Abolition of US-style directly-elected local authority mayors.
• The ending of all forms of marketisation, privatisation and profiteering in central and local government.
• Direct provision by councils of locally administered services to revive and develop community participation, accountability and self-government in areas such as council housing and management of schools.
• Capping of councillors’ pay at the average annual full-time earnings in their locality.

Dr Latham said, “Town halls are the lifeblood of local democracy, empowering communities, providing a practical demonstration of direct democracy and offering accountability to constituents. Local government needs rescuing from this wretched Government. The replacement of the traditional committee system with leaders and cabinets or US-style directly-elected mayors has created a brigade of full-time career politicians, which has removed the working class from this layer of local democracy. While over a third of local government services are now marketised or privatised. We need a radical reorganisation of the way local government is financed, based on the needs of each individual town and city; and genuine decentralisation from Whitehall. Vote Communist in the local election to support the fight for local democracy!”

Local residents will be able to hear Dr Latham speak at the hustings organised in Broad Green on Thursday May 15, at 7.30pm at the Oshwal Centre, Campbell Road, Croydon CR0 2SQ.

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party local election candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ ( Manifesto Press, 2011) and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
3. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. He is the Communist Party candidate for Bensham Manor. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
4. John Eden is the Communist Party local election candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
5. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.