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For a socialist alternative
In Britain every year 200,000 babies - one third of all those born - are born into poverty.
In total 9.7 million people live below the poverty line.
Millions more struggle to get by, increasingly having to take two or more jobs just to make ends meet.
The Socialist Party's 2001 manifesto was produced as a booklet.
It remains an excellent introduction to the Socialist Party's policy and programme.
It is reproduced here.
As the world changes our policies are always being updated.
Click here to go to the Socialist Party Manifesto currently online (opens in new window)
Seven years ago, when New Labour was elected, there was widespread hope that working-class peoples’ lives would improve.
After 18 years of Tory privatisation, cuts and job losses, New Labour was expected to be different.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
New Labour, like the old Tories before, consistently takes measures that make life harder for working people.
Cuts and privatisation
In New Labour's Britain privatisation rules.
And privatisation of our public services is undermining our quality of life. The government claim that privatisation can offer good public services. This is baloney.
Private companies exist to make a profit. They will only invest if they think they can make money.
When they invest in our public services, their profits are coming from the taxes we've paid. That means money is being transferred directly from our services into the fat cats’ pockets.
Not just from our services, but from those of future generations.
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is mortgaging the future; it commits our children and grandchildren to continue paying the profiteers for many decades to come.
If you're denied a hospital bed, if your education services are cut, if your libraries are closed then chances are it's because big business has decided it can't make enough money.
Privatisation means massive risk-free profits for the fat cats and poor public services for us. Only 11% of people support privatisation, yet New Labour just keeps selling off the family silver.
Now even the army is being privatised - Halliburton, US vice-president Cheney’s favourite company, now employs and trains members of the British army!
At the same time as our services are being cut and privatised, we have to work longer hours, in more casual jobs, often for less pay.
The decimation of manufacturing industry has continued apace under New Labour – an average of 400 jobs a day have been lost over the last two years alone.
They are being replaced by lower-paid service jobs – for example, more than 400,000 people now work in call centres. But even these jobs are under threat as big business tries to lower wages by moving jobs abroad.
Nonetheless, while there are still pockets of severe unemployment in Britain, at the moment most working-class people can get work – but not work that pays us a living wage. Most of us get by only by relying on credit or, as it is otherwise known, debt.
The ratio of household debt to pre-tax income now stands at 120%, its highest ever level.
Recently research hit the headlines because it claimed that, taking all factors into account – such as levels of stress, standard of living and environmental hazards – 1976 was the best year of our lives!
Maybe that isn’t true, but it is true that in 1976 children were expected to have a better a life than their parents before them.
Today, by contrast, parents are worried about how their children will survive in a world without free education and with a crumbling health service.
A world where housing costs are extortionate, jobs are low paid and insecure, and any prospect of a decent pension seems to be disappearing down the plughole.
The last 30 years may have brought us a vast array of new technology, but they have left us more overworked and insecure about our future.
But it doesn’t have to be this way…
After decades of the drip, drip of ceaseless cut eating away at our living conditions like acid on metal, it could seem that we have no choice but to accept our lot.
After all every mainstream party – New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats – stand for the same diet of cuts and privatisation.
On a local level, where they run local councils they are all cutting our public services to the bone, often combined with dramatically increased rates of council tax.
Nationally, they are attempting to outbid each other for who can privatise most if they win the next general election.
In the privatisation race the Tories have a narrow lead, going even further than New Labour with their plans for the outright privatisation of health and education, but New Labour is not far behind.
And the Liberal Democrats, who previously posed as being ‘nicer’ than the other two big parties, are now neck and neck with New Labour with their plans to privatise prisons, the royal mint, and several other services that New Labour hasn’t got round to yet!
But we do not have to accept the meagre lot currently on offer.
Britain is officially the fourth richest country on the planet. And for a few at the top Britain is truly booming.
Executive pay rose by 23% in 2003, compared to an average of 3.6%.
Most people’s pension entitlement may be in crisis it is very different for the super-rich. Last year, for example, the chief executive of Aviva (Norwich Union) saw his pension pot rise to £5.6m; the top man at Legal & General saw his rise to £8.2m – on top of their £1m salaries.
A few years ago it was estimated that Britain’s 1,000 wealthiest men and women had over £108 billion stashed away!
It is not a lack of wealth that has resulted in 25 years of cuts. The policies of all the mainstream parties are dictated by the interests of the big corporations that dominate the British economy.
Tony Blair recently boasted that the World Bank had described Britain as being among the most "lightly regulated" countries in the world.
In other words big business can do pretty much whatever it likes.
And big business in the 21st century is driven more completely than ever by the short-term desire for the maximum possible profits – so for them public services can never be too paltry, or wages too low – because the less we have, the more profits they make.
So while the government has no problem spending money (for example, it has already put aside £5 billion for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and is likely to spend far more, current costs are running at £5 million a day) it does everything it can to resist spending money on improving our living conditions – because it is not in the interests of big business.
This is the brutal logic of the system we live under, capitalism.
But we do not have to accept that logic.
Across Britain workers – such as benefit and job centre workers and the nursery nurses in Scotland – have been forced to take strike action over pay.
The Socialist Party stands in solidarity with all those workers fighting to defend or improve their pay and conditions.
Within the trade unions our members, including the 18 currently serving on trade union national executives, campaign for union leaderships who are prepared to fight on their members’ behalf.
The Socialist Party also campaigns as part of local communities against cuts and closures in our services.
If we put up a fight it is possible to win victories, like, to give just one example amongst many, the campaigners in Southampton who have just saved their local leisure centre.
For a socialist alternative
The Socialist Party is fighting for every possible improvement in working-class people’s lives, but we recognise that under this profit-hungry capitalist system, we will always face a constant struggle to defend our living conditions.
That is why we are fighting for socialist change.
We don't want the kind of regimes that existed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe which, while they were based on a planned economy, were completely undemocratic. Socialism can only work with the fullest democracy.
We want real socialism – a democratic society and economy run to meet the needs of all instead of the profits of a few. Based on co-operation and equality, socialism would lay the basis for an end to poverty and all forms of discrimination and oppression.
Build a new party
Since New Labour was elected the number voting in elections have gone into sharp decline.
They have tried all kind of gimmicks to reverse the trend – including postal or even internet voting.
However, even if Blair goes as far as Putin in Russia - who offered free cinema tickets to people if they voted in the last election! - it will not solve the problem.
People aren’t voting because there is no-one they want to vote for.
But not voting will not stop our public services being butchered.
Nor will it stop our government supporting US imperialism’s barbaric war and occupation for oil. What is needed is someone working people can vote for - a completely different kind of political party - a party that is made up of ordinary working-class people and which fights for their interests.
Today, more than ever before, working-class people need a party that will stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
That will fight to defend them against the billionaires who run this society for profit instead of people's needs.
Wherever we are able the Socialist Party contests elections to provide working people with a socialist alternative.
Our party has a long and proud record of struggling to defend working class people. For example, in 1990 we led the battle against the poll tax which successfully brought down Thatcher and defeated the tax.
We are involved in hundreds of campaigns up and down the country, including the fight against privatisation, for better pay, to stop council house sell-offs, for free education, against the war in Iraq and to stop the pollution of our environment.
As well as these day-to-day struggles, we also fight for socialist change.
In the last three years we have had Socialist Party councillors elected in Coventry and Lewisham, in London.
We also support other genuine socialists and anti-cuts and anti-privatisation candidates.
At the same time we campaign for the founding of a new party – that brings together forces such as socialists, trade unionists and the anti-war movement – and puts forward a programme for the millions instead of the millionaires.
The trade unions in Britain donate millions of pounds to New Labour every year – yet it doesn’t buy them one penny’s worth of influence with the government.
We argue it would be far better to use that money to begin to build a new party.
For a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage
But we don’t want a new party that ends up the same way as New Labour – putting the interests of big business first.
We would campaign for any new party to adopt a genuine socialist programme.
We would also argue that it adopt a policy that its elected representatives taken only the average wage of a skilled worker in the area they represent, so that they remain in touch with ordinary working people.
In the past, when we had three socialist MPs, they took only the average wage of a skilled worker.
Today, in Ireland, Socialist Party MP Joe Higgins also takes the average wage of a worker.
Even the tabloid press has felt compelled to describe him as a socialist ‘that money can’t buy’.
He recently proved his principles again when, along with thousands of local activists, he organised a campaign against the introduction of an unfair tax, the bin tax.
As a result of standing up for his principles and taking part in a peaceful protest, he and Socialist Party Councillor Clare Daly were sent to prison for a month by the Irish courts.
If you vote for a socialist candidate in this election, it will send a message to all three 'Tory' parties that you are not prepared to accept their diet of cuts and privatisation any longer.