THE conference called tomorrow by the West London Council of Action and the All Trades Unions Alliance has come at a critical time.
This week it has been announced that the NHS hospital Addenbrooke’s, renowned throughout the world for its medical excellence, has been placed in special measures due entirely to staffing shortages caused by the chronic underfunding inflicted by the Tory cuts.
Addenbrooke’s is just the latest in the line of NHS hospitals up and down the country that have been placed in special measures – since 2013 24 hospital trusts, one in seven of England’s 160 trusts, have suffered the same fate.
In every case, the failures are down to the year-on-year cuts to health funding insisted upon by successive Tory health ministers. Addenbrooke’s, whose staff were praised in the report for their dedication and hard work on behalf of patients, is overspending by £1.2 million a week!
The entire policy pursued by first the coalition and now being ramped up by the Tory government is to systematically smash up the NHS through ward and hospital closures while at the same time suffocating trusts through cuts, forcing hospitals into bankruptcy and ‘special measures’ as a prelude to full-blooded privatisation.
The war being waged against the NHS is part and parcel of the war being waged by the Tories against the whole of the welfare state and is faithfully following Cameron and Osborne’s pledge to ‘shrink the state’ back to the size of the 1930s, the period when there was no free health service and what benefits existed were below subsistence level.
Not for nothing was this decade known and reviled by workers as the ‘hungry thirties’. This is what the Tories are determined to inflict on workers and youth in the 21st century – a society where the unemployed are ‘conscripted’ onto cheap labour schemes; where young people are denied the right to housing benefit, forcing them onto the streets; where millions of families exist today thanks only to the charity of food banks; where disabled people are pronounced ‘fit for work’ and are driven to suicide.
The welfare state, introduced in 1947, was hailed as creating a ‘land fit for heroes’. Today the Tories are intent on creating a land fit only for the bankers, bosses and property speculators who are happily employing goons to evict the poor in London to cleanse the capital for the rich.
At the same time, this essentially weak Tory government, ruling with a wafer-thin majority of twelve and torn apart with bitter in-fighting, is trying to turn the clock back even further to the start of the 19th century with anti-union laws designed to make it illegal for workers to strike or even protest.
Driving the Tory war on the working class is not some ideologically motivated desire, as the TUC claim, but the very real bankruptcy of British capitalism which in order to pay off the huge national debt run up by the banks must try and take it out of the very backs of workers.
They cannot be persuaded to change their minds and hold back on their attacks. The very survival of capitalism depends on dumping the crisis on workers and youth. The role of the leadership of the trade unions has been at every step to try and divert the working class away from confronting the Tories – the most blatant example being the way the TUC has thrown all its organisational energies into calling for a march and rally at the Tory party conference to beg for relief.
It is not a question of begging the Tories for anything but of organising the massive strength of the working class in a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government. Those leaders who refuse to call a general strike must be sacked immediately and replaced by a leadership prepared to defend every gain of the welfare state by calling a general strike and going forward to a workers government and socialism.
Sunday’s conference is vital for the building of this leadership and we call on every worker and young person to attend and join this fight.
Join the WRP and the YS!
Organise the General Strike!
Bring down the Tories!
Forward to a workers government and the socialist revolution!