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…
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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

Croydon Communists At People’s Assembly

Croydon Communists turned out in strength to represent the party at Saturday’s People’s Assembly at Westminster Central Hall. Over 4,000 delegates from trade unions, political parties and anti-cuts groups gathered to hear a range of speakers including Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, the comedian Mark Steel and writer Owen Jones talk about the need to defend public services, challenge the Con-Dem Govrnment’s totally unnecessary austerity programme and support a progessive alternative.
 
Len McCluskey said, “If it is right to strike against austerity in Greece, in Spain, in France, then  it is right to strike against austerity here. When Unite members are ready and willing to take that industrial action to  make the politicians change course, then we will not let the anti-union laws get in our way”
 
Delegates participated in a range of workshops, including protecting the NHS, tackling the housing crisis, defending local democracy and developing tactics for the anti-austerity movement. The discussion was lively, the quality of debate was high and the sense of engagement by people was very strong.
 
Ben Stevenson, past parliamentary candidate in Croydon North, said, “It was inspiring to see people from across the trade union and labour movement building coalitions, networking with comrades and planning practical actions to fight this vicious, cynical Government. Contrary to what the bourgeios media tell us, there is an alternative, based on fair wages, decent homes, investment for jobs and taxing the super-rich and transnational corporations. This is the start of action to build a broad movement across Britain. We look forward to working with local progressive forces in Croydon to continue the fightback!”  
 
For more information, see the People’s Assembly reports on the CP website:  www.communist-party.org.uk or go to http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/ – where a full report will be posted shortly.
 

Crisis in NHS Enters New Phase

The looming crisis in the NHS is rapidly becoming clearer for everyone as the secondary legislation laid by Jeremy Hunt works its way through Parliament. If passed, this will effectively signal the death knell for the NHS as it will force doctors to open up virtually all health services to competition. And, under EU competition rules, once this has happened it’s virtually impossible to reverse the position.

The NHS was founded on three basic principles: that it’s universal, comprehensive and free at the point of delivery. These have been abolished by the Health and Social Care Act. Primary care trusts are no longer obliged to secure treatment for you when you are ill; unelected local bodies now have the power to close unprofitable local services; and the third becomes irrelevant given the damage inflicted by the first two.

With the fight to save Lewisham Hospital reaching a new phase, the threat to health services in Croydon is plain for all to see. As the founder of the NHS, Nye Bevan, said: ‘the NHS will only last if there are folks left to defend it’. Please sign the petition organised by 38 Degrees:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/nhs-section-75#petition

Chris Guiton

 

 

Ben Stevenson Reflects on the Croydon North By-election Result

The result of the Croydon North by-election was announced earlier this morning. Ben Stevenson, the Communist Party candidate, said, “I am pleased we increased our share of the vote at yesterday’s election. Although voter turnout was low, we secured a respectable proportion of votes.

But this is not just about turning up for occasional elections. The Communist Party in Croydon is here for the long-term. We have a good record of involvement in the fight against privatisation and for the protection of public services. We stand for jobs, investment in industry and green technologies, public ownership of the banks and major utilities, and progressive taxation.

Frankly, Britain can’t afford capitalism. The Communist Party offers the only authentic working class voice in Croydon and I look forward to continuing the fight against the cuts, the use of the economic crisis as cover to destroy the welfare state and the actions of this greedy, cynical and corrupt Government.”

 

Crunch Time Today in Croydon North By-election

Read the feature in today’s Morning Star on Ben Stevenson and the Croydon North by-election:

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/126623

Vote Communist for a people’s Britain not a bankers’ Britain!

Ben Stevenson Underlines his Support for the NHS

Ben Stevenson, Croydon North Communist Party candidate , spoke today about the pressing need to save the NHS. He said, “Despite the announcement that Croydon A&E will not face immediate closure, the cuts in health services across South London are going to place a massive amount of additional pressure on Croydon University Hospital (formerly Mayday Hospital).

Even without these cuts the coalition government is trying to sell-off our NHS through the back-door. Bizarrely, Virgin Care, better known for making eye-watering profits in the rail and communications industry while offering a terrible service to consumers, has been employed to run the Urgent Care Centre at Croydon University Hospital since the beginning of this year. What they know about health-care you could print on the back of a matchbox! This is the start of a slippery slope as large parts of the NHS are handed over to the private sector.”

Less than a year in, a damming report has been published on Virgin’s record which points to ‘a recent, sudden and sustained failure in performance’. This is inevitable, as Virgin rely heavily on agency staff, are currently under-staffed, and focus on making profit for shareholders rather than providing good quality patient care. Privatisation of the NHS is accelerating under the Government, with Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, ordering all Primary Care Trusts to put three chunks of their NHS out to tender. Rationing of services is already happening across the country, A&E waiting times are going up and a number of NHS Foundation Trusts are facing bankruptcy and possible closure because of the ill-judged Private Finance Initiative funding package forced on them by New Labour. Rather than address the problems caused by PFI, the Tory-led coalition is content to see hospitals merge or go to the wall. In the meantime, patient satisfaction levels are slumping and vast sums are being wasted on management consultants and the costs of needless restructuring and privatisation.

Mr Stevenson went on to say, “The NHS is the crown jewel in Britain’s post-war welfare state. Good quality healthcare, free at the point of access, from cradle to grave, is the hall mark of a civilised society. Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS, famously said, ‘The NHS will survive as long as there are folk left to fight for it.’ Well, the fight is on!

“After thirty years of privatisation – by both Tory and New Labour – it’s plain for all to see that the ‘private good, public bad’ mantra is total rubbish. The people who know best how to run the NHS, or any public service, are the dedicated, professional public sector workers who deliver that service. You can’t run a public service for profit without it costing more to the taxpayer and more to service users, along with an inevitable decline in quality and access to the service.

Vote Communist on 29 November. Vote for someone who actually has a record of fighting NHS privatisation and stands against cuts and closures”

Croydon Communists support and are involved in the “Croydon Alliance for Public Services”. If you’d like to get involved email croydonstopthecuts@gmail.com or contact Croydon Communists and we’ll pass on your details.

 

Croydon Communists and defence of National Health Service

John Eden

I am contributing a draft to a leaflet for the Croydon Communists, it is to be the basis of our intervention in the area by the party,it’s been many years since we have done this type of work.

In my previous blogs “Croydon and beyond” I have emphasised the world capitalist crisis as being the central driving force behind the “riots” in Britain and the “Arab spring”

In South West London including Croydon, a NHS review published this week says one of four accident and emergency departments and a maternity unit in the area will close, with the aim of saving £64.6million by the end of March 2013. How can you put a price on life  and health? but the capitalist system does. The NHS was part of the welfare state set up after the war, to prevent the  conditions that previously existed, where if you did not have the money, common diseases or accidents often meant death or being permanently disabled. In a civilised society health care should be an area of ever-increasing budgets as new cures are found.  In the last two or three decades with the acceptance of the neo-liberal agenda by all the main political parties including the Labour party, the NHS as become an internal market, where if you live in the wrong postcode, you may die because the local NHS trust as used up its budget, and now they are proposing to increase the internal market even further,which will drive down patient care, as lower tenders are excepted. It is said that nothing  exemplifies Britain like the NHS, all politicians have called it a national treasure, it’s what the people of Britain was prepared to accept in 1945, capitalism with a welfare state, Labour and the Con-dems all  say the NHS is save in their hands, but all agree on the need for market lead reforms. Andy Burnham Labour shadow Health secretary has criticised the present Tory-Lib coalition Health and social care bill, and if it helps to prevent it’s introduction good, but it should be remembered he  introduced GP commissioning in the NHS. His opposition as more to getting back in power and diverting attention from  Labours role previously of being the  main conduit for marketing of the NHS, just as they were for student tuition fees, they have become a stalking horse for the capitalist class. they are the means by which the profiteers get their foot in the door to public services. Here is what John Lister a leading campaigner in the defence of the NHS and against it’s privatisation, in an interview with Tomasz Pierscionek of the “London Progressive journal” 18th June 2010:

TP “There seems to have been a big expansion in PFI contracts (Private Finance initiative), in recent years, What is the reason for this?

JL: Well, PFI never happened under the Tories. The Tories devised the policy but they were never prepared to go as far as New Labour to placate the private sector and allow them to sign these deals with no risk to them whatsoever. The only piece of legislation New Labour passed in 1997 that pertained to the NHS, was short act : the National Health Service (Private Finance) Act 1997 which stipulated that in any PFI scheme that went broke, the debt would be picked up by the Secretary of State for Health” that is you and me the taxpayer, Labour bent over backwards to introduce the market to the advantage of the profiteers.