Friday 24 April 2015

TUSC - trying to fill the "roaring silence at the centre of this campaign"

If there had still been a hustings meeting going ahead in Forest Hill and Sydenham tonight (regrettably it has been cancelled – along with next week’s Penge Forum event too), I was hoping to quote from a Guardian journalist. That might seem an unusual angle to take for a TUSC candidate, but we’re people willing to listen to a range of opinions, particularly when Aditya Chakrabortty is raising questions that others should be raising too.

Listen to the "roaring silence" from the establishment politicians

On Monday, the Guardian’s senior economics commentator made a telling point: “Elections have but one iron law: listen for what the politicos are not saying. Follow it, and you hear a roaring silence at the centre of this campaign. For all that Dave and Ed have jousted with interviewers and made pledges on platforms, there are three big questions that neither would-be prime minister will talk about. Yet the questions are existential, and the answers to them will matter not merely for the next parliament, but far beyond. The three questions can be summed up as: How are we meant to live? Where are we meant to live? And who is meant to live here?

By “How are we meant to live?”, Chakrabortty points to the very first pledge of Labour’s manifesto: to “cut the deficit every year” but asks what is being done about growth?! He refers to IMF data pointing out that “British households had proportionately the biggest debt mountain of all major capitalist economies – more than the Americans, more than the Greeks”. To emphasise the point about falling living standards, in a further article today he points out that “our GDP per head remains almost 7% below where it was at the start of 2008. The Britons of 2014 are as poor as they were in 2005”. More to the point, the serious economic forecasters don't think that things are going to get any better.

Housing promises: "just as certain not to happen"

On the issue of “where are we meant to live?” Chakrabortty is even blunter: “Both Dave and Ed accept that there’s a housing crisis; neither have any actual solutions to offer. Labour promises that 200,000 houses will be built every year – without providing any detail on how they’ll be paid for or built or whether they’ll be social, private or (that toxic euphemism) affordable. This is more modest than the 230,000 homes a year promised by Gordon Brown, but just as vague and just as certain not to happen. The Tories merely want to privatise more social housing – this time, property they don’t even own, but which belongs to housing associations. What either plan adds up to for anyone under 35 and either living at home or paying over the odds for a crap flat-share is basically: get stuffed”.

Dissolving the people to elect another

Finally, on “Who is meant to live here?”, he comments that “Brecht jokingly called on the government to dissolve the people and elect another. Our politicians are actually doing it. We know which voters they like: the squeezed middle (Ed); alarm-clock Britain (Nick), the strivers (Dave). The voters who don’t pass muster are those on benefits and immigrants. Labour flogs a racist mug, while the Tories send a racist van round London. The divide is not just rhetorical: the coalition has smacked working-age families on benefits. People with disabilities – and therefore with limited access to the jobs market – have been hit worst of all

TUSC - a party that is boldly raising these issues

These are indeed some of the fundamental issues that are being ignored by what Chakrabortty calls the “professional political elite”. I wrote to the Guardian to point out that TUSC candidates were challenging this elite and addressing the key issues that he rightly points to. Here’s what I had to say:

Aditya Chakrabortty is absolutely right in his General Election comment that there is “a roaring silence at the centre of this campaign”. However, there is a growing Party that is boldly raising the issues that others prefer to keep silent about, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

On the doorsteps and streets of Lewisham, TUSC’s demands for rent controls and a mass programme to build council homes are welcomed by Londoners being priced out of their city. So is our call for the idle wealth of the super-rich to be used to build an economy to meet the needs of society, in contrast to the permanent diet of austerity being promised by all the main parties.

Establishment politicians and their politics of inequality are despised by an increasing proportion of the electorate. Voters are looking for an alternative – and if they seek out TUSC, they shall find it

If you are looking for that alternative, then seek out TUSC locally – at our meeting in the Crooked Billet in Penge, 7.30 pm on Thursday April 30th and our final pre-election meeting upstairs in the Hob in Forest Hill, 7.30 pm on Tuesday 5th May.

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