Friday, 13 March 2015

TUSC backs 38 Degrees campaign: No to TTIP, tax the rich, and save our NHS

Helping the 38 degrees stall in Penge
Across the country, members of 38 Degrees have been contacting TUSC parliamentary candidates to ask their views on various questions. As a supporter of their campaigns, I was out in Penge a fortnight ago, petitioning myself - and other candidates -  to Save Our NHS.

There are now over 120 TUSC candidiates standing in the General Election, meaning that TUSC will have the sixth biggest presence on the ballot papers in May.

Yesterday, on the TUSC website, a statement was posted on three of the main issues raised by 38 degrees. I fully back these points and have copied it below for information:

Q1. Do TUSC candidates oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? What will we do to stop this deal and protect our public services?

Unlike the three major parties, which all support TTIP, TUSC is completely opposed to it. At our 2015 national conference we agreed our general election platform which included: "No to TTIP and all secret austerity treaties". No wonder TTIP has been devised behind closed doors, it aims to further open up our public services (particularly the NHS) to be privatised and run in the interests of profit, rather than the public.

TTIP would further deregulate finance, genetically modified organisms and fracking. But probably the most dangerous aspect of TTIP is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). This would allow corporations to bring claims against states whenever they feel that their business interests have been adversely affected by national laws or policies. It would give, for example, governments an excuse to further accelerate privatisation of the NHS as US private healthcare companies could demand access to run NHS services and be entitled to legally claim against a government if denied.

TUSC opposes all privatisation of public services. We resolutely oppose TTIP now, and would continue to do so if elected. TUSC MPs would help mobilise opposition to TTIP, both through raising awareness but also supporting protests, demonstrations and strikes which can force positive change. We believe TTIP is yet another example of how we need to change the type of society we live in - which is run in the interests of the 1% not the 99%. We will continue to campaign for a democratic socialist society. 

Q2. Do TUSC candidates support a crackdown on tax dodging by the big companies?

Yes! While public spending is being cut to the bone, big companies are not even paying the very low levels of corporation tax demanded of them. A National Audit Office report showed that more than 400 of the 800 largest businesses paid less than £10 million in tax in 2012/13 and around 160 paid no corporation tax at all. Imagine how many public services that have been closed - including libraries, community centres and youth centres - could have been saved if these big companies had paid up what they owed.

It is little surprise that big business has got away with this when successive governments have assisted them in doing so. At least 14 of the top 20 donors to the Tory party are linked to 'tax havens'. But with Labour recently declaring that it is "furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business" it cannot be trusted to act either.

TUSC's general election platform states: "Tax the rich. For progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals and an end to tax avoidance". We also campaign for the cutbacks in Revenue and Customs to be reversed to enable rich tax dodgers to be pursued. However, we think there are also wider issues here. The whole banking system is rotten, based on gambling and speculation. It needs reorganising and rationally planning. But you can't plan what you don't control, and you don't control what you don't own. Large amounts of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland are in public ownership, but not under democratic control. Nationalisation should be extended to the whole banking system and tight regulation then enforced in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.

Britain is not a poor country. The problem is we have an economic system, backed up by the main establishment parties, which means vast wealth is concentrated at the very top. The key point is that the minority at the top own and control this wealth, whilst most of us struggle to get by. We think we need a radical change, whereby ownership and control of the main resources in society are put in the hands of ordinary people, and human need (such as the NHS, decent housing and free education) are put before private greed. 

Q3. Do TUSC candidates campaign to defend the NHS by opposing NHS cuts and privatisation?

Yes. Historically the NHS has been one of the most important gains made by working class people in Britain. We need a massive campaign to stop it being destroyed; which would leave workers in Britain facing the nightmare of a profit-driven US-style 'Breaking Bad' health service. If the Tories win the election they will accelerate the destruction of the NHS. Labour has said it will repeal the Tories Health and Social Care Act, but it has not pledged to reverse privatisation, much of which took place under Labour governments. TUSC campaigns for all the profiteers to be kicked out of the NHS. We demand an end to Profit From Illness (PFI) and for the massive debts it has created to be written off. We oppose all cuts, closures and job losses in the NHS.

We also go further, calling for the expansion of the NHS with free and accessible dental care for all and the abolition of the prescription charges. We call for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy chains and medical supply industry and integrate them into a democratically controlled NHS.

We demand a minimum of at least £10 per hour and a 35-hour week for all health workers.

We also campaign for a democratic socialist society where poverty - the biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health - could become a problem of the past.