This is the full text of Arthur Scargill’s speech at the launch of the Socialist Labour Party‘s European Election campaign at Hay-on-Wye 23/5/2009.
GET BRITAIN BACK INTO THE WORLD
On 4th June the people of Britain have a chance to vote in one of the most important elections since the Second World War.
The Socialist Labour Party is committed to Britain’s complete withdrawal from the European Union which has been responsible for the destruction of our steel, coal, shipbuilding, engineering and motor car industries.
The European Union’s “free market” policy means the unrestricted movement of capital and labour, which has had dire consequences for people and jobs in Britain and throughout Europe.
Britain is now controlled by bureaucrats in Brussels whose policies have led to the privatization of our rail, electricity, gas and water, and now threaten to sell off our postal service.
The European Union, with its commitment to the “free market” has savagely attacked our National Health Service, education system and welfare provision, including care for the elderly.
The EU’s pursuit of globalization has caused economic chaos in Britain, resulting in two-and-a-half million being declared officially unemployed – The real figure is, in fact, over seven million.
The Socialist Labour Party deplores the Labour Government, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats who handed out £50 billion to the banks and financial institutions which – together with the European Union – are responsible for the economic, social and political crisis that is currently faced by millions of people.
What the Government should have done was to put those bankers into brass handcuffs and lock them away for creating this situation in which millions of people have lost millions of pounds.
It’s a disgrace that this hand-out came only months after the Government refused to give just £100 million to help save Rover, the British car manufacturer, and save thousands of jobs.
The Socialist Labour Party would have given that £50 billion to help the people who risk losing their homes pay their mortgage payments.
We would have given that money to people who are trapped by owing money, so that they could repay their debts and at the same time help stimulate a stagnating economy.
Our Party would take back into public and social ownership all the industries and services sold off by the Tory and Labour governments and would give help to our beleaguered fishing and farming industries.
We would help our farmers produce everything that we need plus additional food that could be sold on the world market – in exchange for those foods we do not produce here.
European Union policies have created a situation where, in addition to thousands losing their jobs, we are now importing 25% of our gas – including liquid gas – and oil from the most unstable areas in the world, at a cost of between £15 and £20 billion per year.
Over 90% of our coal industry has been closed, yet Britain imports 44 million tonnes of coal at a cost of £4 billion per year.
This policy is economic stupidity. We have sufficient coal reserves from which we could produce all the oil, gas and petrochemicals which Britain needs, while we develop renewable energy and help employ thousands of British workers who currently have no work.
I am an environmentalist, active long before ‘Guardian’ commentators and so-called experts could even spell the word. I say to all environmentalists: if you want to stop pollution, then you should demonstrate at all our ports and stop the import of filthy coal which produces far more CO2 than British deep-mine coal.
Demonstrate at the giant opencast coal sites which despoil our countryside. Demonstrate at the power stations that use some of the world’s dirtiest fuels like tar sand, shale oil and petcoke, which emit twice as much CO2 as Britain’s deep-mine coal.
We need to give proper funding to develop renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power. But we should also be campaigning for clean coal technology which would reduce CO2 emissions by 90%.
An expanding and developing deep-mine coal industry in Britain taken back into public ownership would enable us to extract all the oil, all the gas and petro-chemicals that Britain needs, without spending billions of taxpayers’ money importing those products primarily because of European Union Directives and their free-market philosophy.
Our steel industry which has been butchered by private enterprise (again in line with European Union policies) should be returned to public ownership. Our steel plants should be reopened, producing British steel using British deep-mine coal instead of imported or opencast coal.
We desperately need an integrated transport policy, with an efficient modern rail network. Why can’t we have trains of the quality of the French TGV, instead of the rubbish on our main lines where people are cramped, crowded and uncomfortable, traveling on a rail system that is not integrated, primarily because of privatization and European Union policies?
Our privatized rail network should also be taken back into public ownership – and rebuilt to cover all parts of Britain. It should be a service that meets the needs of people.
Our bus services should be taken back into local authority control. It’s time we hi-jacked Stagecoach and take back what they hi-jacked from us! Bus routes should cover all Britain’s communities, however remote.
Our postal service should be entirely in public ownership, with no deliveries permitted by private companies whose only aim is profit, not providing basic communication between people and organizations. It would not be a major task to recover what has been taken away from us, restoring thousands of butchered postal workers’ jobs, and at least ensure two deliveries a day, one in early morning and one in the afternoon.
TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
We would withdraw all our troops that are still in Iraq where they have been involved for 6 years in an unlawful occupation that has brought about the death of over 1 million people, many of them young men and women from Britain.
We would get out of Afghanistan – which has to date cost thousands of lives – and tell the Americans to do the same.
We want to see the billions of pounds spent on war used instead on our National Health Service, Education system and to help our pensioners.
NATIONAL HEALTH SERVCE
The billions spent on war should be used to establish the kind of National Health Service envisaged by Aneurin Bevan. We would abolish hospital trusts and primary care trusts, and ban all private health care.
If people can get treated immediately in a private hospital with a private consultant, there is no reason why they can’t get that treatment in a first-class NHS hospital, where all the doctors should be working full-time for the NHS!
The Socialist Labour Party would really get its teeth into today’s deplorable dental system and ensure that all dentists were part of the NHS, providing free treatment.
We believe that all people have a basic right to free, high quality education from infancy through to old age. We want free pre-school social care for all children, and full-time, school-based, nursery provision from the age of three.
All fees and costs for student education should be the responsibility of the Government. We not only want an end to student loans but an end to repayment by those who have had to take out loans. It’s ironic that Government Ministers who benefited from a free education system now impose massive loans on young people and their families.
We would abolish all private schools and all faith schools, both of which deepen division within our society.
All education services and their assets must be returned to local public control. Education for children and adults is utterly incompatible with privatisation in any form, including competitive tendering.
CARE FOR THE ELDERLY
It is a national disgrace that the Tory Government and Labour Government, accept the policies of the European Union and have closed local authority homes which provided excellent care for the elderly, replacing them with private care homes whose primary purpose is making a profit.
Our pensioners should be given a State pension equal to the national average wage. After a lifetime of working – including work in the home – men and women have the right to receive a decent pension.
If a Member of Parliament can get an annual pension of £42,000, there’s no reason why their constituents should not receive an annual pension of £24,000.
Alongside taking industries and services into public and social ownership, we need a taxation policy that makes sense, not a short-sighted unfair system which increasingly has depended on VAT, helps the rich and harms the poor.
A tax system cannot be fair when anyone receiving an income of £250,000 per year pays exactly the same tax (VAT) for goods or services as a pensioner or someone who is unemployed and struggling to survive on £100 a week.
The Labour Government, which is indistinguishable from the previous Tory Government, has raised the highest tax level to 50% — a measure which will bring in peanuts, and do nothing to make those responsible for Britain’s financial, social and political crisis pay for that crisis.
We would abolish VAT and increase Corporation Tax. We would restore direct tax or income tax in a system which will make the rich pay. We would have sensible income tax bands, i.e.:
INCOME TAX BANDS
Income under £15,000 per year –No tax payable
Income between £15,000 and £25,000 — 20% tax payable
Income between £25,000 and £40,000 –30% tax payable
Income between £40,000 and £50,000 — 40% tax payable
Income between £50,000 and £100,000 —50% tax payable
Income between £100,000 and £200,000 — 60% tax payable
Income over £200,000 —70% tax payable
EUROPEAN UNION MOVEMENT OF CAPITAL AND LABOUR
EU membership has led to poverty and unemployment that breed racism and xenophobia.
We do not accept the so-called free movement of capital and labour imposed by the European Union which has created a “free market” for the movement of industries, services and workers, with increasing exploitation and chaos.
The resulting situation is a growing threat to the economic and social stability of sovereign states.
CAMPAIGN FOR A SOCIALIST BRITAIN
We hope people will support our policies which not only call for complete withdrawal from the European Union but call for a campaign for a Socialist Britain.
Some of our opponents – like UKIP – want to come out of the EU but maintain the capitalist system.
Other opponents who claim to be on the Left, like NO2EU, have to say the least, a tangled policy. One leading member in London wants Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, whilst another leading member in Scotland wants to join. NO2EU does not want Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
The only way to get withdrawal from the European Union and at the same time build the fight for an independent Socialist Britain is to cast your vote in the European Elections on 4 June for the Socialist Labour Party.
Socialist Labour Party