In Britain last month a socialist electoral alliance was launched to fight this year's general election.
It's called the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and its a coalition of various left wing parties and groups. All the participating organisations have signed up to TUSC's core policies.
It is another attempt to stake out territory on the left of the British political spectrum in the hope of attracting support from disillusioned former Labour Party supporters and who can't another face another four years of neoliberalism.
I'm not sure what impact it is having (although its early days) but, from 12000 miles away, it seems to be a positive intervention in British politics. As one writer noted, the new coalition increases the number of constituencies in which there will be a candidate who is a socialist. That can't be a bad thing.
Its policy platform certainly makes for refreshing and inspiring reading. After wading through the myopic and turgid speech of Phil Goff last week, here is something that does speak of a different way of organising society.
The policy platform reads:
Public Ownership, Not Privatised Profit Stop all privatisation, including “PFI” & “PPP” – privatisation just rakes off our money into their pockets, for worse services. Bring public services and utilities back into public ownership under democratic control.
No Cuts - Quality Public Services Take rail back into public ownership and build integrated, low-pollution public transport. Quality, free National Health Service under democratic public ownership and control. Stop council house sell-offs and build eco-friendly, affordable public housing. Good, free education for all under democratic local control, plus student grants not fees. Keep Royal Mail as a publicly owned service, not a privatised cash cow.
Stop Global Warming Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions – otherwise climate change, caused by capitalism, will destroy us. Invest in publicly owned and controlled renewable energy – not nuclear or dirty fossil fuel.
Jobs, Not Handouts to Bankers and Billionaires Bring banks and finance into true public ownership and democratic control, instead of huge handouts to the very capitalists who caused the crisis. Tax the rich. Progressive tax on rich corporations and individuals, with a crackdown on tax avoidance. Massive investment in environmental projects, for jobs and survival.
Employment and Trade Union Rights Repeal the anti-trade union laws. A minimum wage set at half average adult male earnings, with no exemptions. Invest to create and protect jobs, especially for young people. Solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, public services and trade unions.
Protect Our Environment Recognise that we depend on our environment for survival. Move to sustainable, low-pollution industry & farming – stop the pollution that is destroying our environment. Recognise that many of our planet’s resources are limited and that capitalism fritters them away for profit. Produce for need, not profit, and design goods for reuse and recycling.
Decent Pensions and Benefits Restore the pre-Thatcher real value of pensions and link them to the higher of wages & earnings. Protect entitlement to benefits and their value; end child poverty. This needs a clear stand against Welfare Reform and Workfare to be added.
Democracy, Diversity and Justice Welcome diversity and oppose racism, fascism and discrimination. Ensure women have genuinely equal rights and pay. Defend our liberties and make police and security democratically accountable. For a democratic socialist society run in the interests of people not millionaires. For bringing into democratic public ownership the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment.
Solidarity Not War Bring home all British troops from Afghanistan immediately – no more wars for resources. No more spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons, huge aircraft carriers or irrelevant eurofighters – convert arms spending to socially useful products and services. An independent foreign policy, based on international solidarity – no more US poodle, no moves to a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe, no Lisbon Treaty.
It certainly puts Phil Goff's dreary conservative policies into perspective.
I say right here and now that if Phil Goff stood up and advocated these kind of policies then I would immediately rejoin the Labour Party. That is my offer to Phil Goff.
It's also worth noting that something may also be afoot in the British Labour Party itself with 40 Labour MPs putting their names to a list of policy demands which includes:
'A clean break must be made with market fundamentalism – deregulation and privatisation. Public provision should be expanded – in health care, education, housing, pensions, energy and transport...'