Following the May Day march last Wednesday, 1st May, the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists, held a lively meeting in Covent Garden.
Chairman Jonty Leff, Editor of the News Line, drew attention to the thousands of workers marching for socialist revolution on this day, throughout the world.
Joshua Ogunleye, National Secretary of the Young Socialists, said that workers and young people were in the eye of the storm.
‘Young workers are suffering zero-hours contracts, with no holiday and sick pay and lack of job security, making it difficult to pay the rent. Youth centres have been shut down. The cost of higher education is pricing young people out.
‘Lecturers are also are on zero-hours contracts. This week, there have been strikes by college lecturers, which have been supported by students.’
He said young people were defiant.
‘We see this in Palestine where youth rose up in the Marches to Return, and in France where the young people are shot at by the state forces and injured in struggles approaching civil war.
‘Our generation has to change the course of history. We’re not all in it together. As we saw at Davos, the rich are exponentially richer and the poor getting poorer. This class struggle is being fought out across the world.
‘It’s not enough to get a Labour government. We need to bring down this government and get a socialist Britain.
‘We need more jobs, more youth clubs. Scrap tuition fees. Nationalise the industries and defend the NHS.
‘This means replacing treacherous leaders and building the Young Socialists as the revolutionary leadership for youth. We need to bring down capitalism.’
Jacqui Haynes spoke about the struggle of the Grenfell survivors.
She said: ‘We need justice. Those responsible should be jailed.
‘I come from no political party. I was there when people were dying. There was nothing we could do at the time.
‘Politics, Brexit or not, they are doing nothing about Grenfell.
‘We need to mobilise so we are not the victims. We have been fighting for justice, both legal and social. Everything is a battle and struggle. The authorities just work for damage limitation.
‘We have to fight for the money that has been given to be used for us, and to shame them.
‘We were promised alternative housing within one month and to get back secure tenancies. We are only being offered five-year tenancies.
‘Our trauma will not be cured while we are still dealing with the reality that the government is doing nothing for us, and still oppress us and don’t care.
‘We have to make a system that governs people well.
‘Many youth have been expelled from school. Nothing has been done for our youth. There are no extra services for the vulnerable. They are just cared for by neighbours.
‘The message from the top down is disregard and disrespect for people like us.
‘We will do this. We need this and will use the money that has been donated. We went to every public meeting and take officials to task. We demand to get procurement of services and induction of new people. We want transparency and valid participation.
‘They tried to divide residents from the bereaved but we stuck together as a community. United we are the power.
‘They were going to sell it off. They are currently looking at refurbishment.
‘We are dead people walking. The soil is toxic. We had to get our own independent person. We ingrain ourselves into their system and keep banging on the door.
‘We set up our own lettings policy. We fought for our own in-house services to do repairs.
‘We have become political experts, and housing experts, and mental health experts. We learnt ourselves.
‘Be involved in any consultations, meetings and decisions. We have to take this country by storm because it’s ours.
‘We need to change this government.
‘I’m here because I want justice for Grenfell and beyond.’
Carolina Graterol, a journalist from Venezuela, spoke about the situation there.
She said: ‘Nicholas Maduro has full support. The Guaido coup failed. Trump wants a war and is hungry to invade and steal the oil.
‘Chavez gave opportunities for workers and people with brown skin to do things like study, which used to be just for rich people. He honoured justice, solidarity and fraternity and helped people from the barios and favelas. Maduro has deepened ties with these people.
‘We, in the Americas are subject to racism and fascism. In 2017, fascist groups burned Chavistas alive.
‘Venezuela has 200 years of oil supplies and much gold. It is on a border with Colombia and the military and civilians defend the border.
‘The oil revenue has been used for social programmes. 70% of GDP went on this. 2.6 million houses have been built in the last few years. We don’t see homelessness. Everyone has a house.
‘Four million children live in poverty in the UK. One million elderly are cold and hungry in winter in one of the richest countries in the world. I live in Muswell Hill and people come from Southgate to use the food banks.
‘Seven pounds an hour is not enough. Companies make money from staff getting stressed from working long hours. Young peoples’ lives are being destroyed. Fascism spreads hatred and fear. Money is more important for them.
‘The Extinction Rebellion came to the fore. We should support them.
‘We must take the example from Grenfell and learn how to govern ourselves.
‘They have money. If we exercise power they will run. We definitely can do it.’
Dr Bob Gill, GP, said: ‘They are trying to privatise the NHS and convert it to a profit-driven private health system.
‘For 30 years they have been doing this by stealth, and are nearly there. They use consecutive legislation.
‘They are also privatising education and housing. They are replacing doctors and nurses with bloated top management.
‘This market bureaucratic corporate structure is used to impose top-down change. Doctors and nurses have no power. They are told there are not enough beds, and they must discharge patients too soon.
‘It started with “Britain’s Biggest Enterprise” written by John Redwood and Oliver Letwin. These called for public-private enterprises, private finance initiatives and outsourcing. The public pays the bill and the private company takes the profit. The taxpayer is fleeced and the standard of care goes down.
‘They brought in the internal market in 1998 and Foundation Trusts five years later. These were stand-alone businesses with boards of directors and requirements to balance the books.
‘£11bn pounds worth of PFI hospitals were built, requiring £88bn to pay back the debt with interest and the NHS does not own the building at the end. Labour’s Tony Blair ran with this idea from John Major’s government. That PFI debt was used to close down NHS hospitals which did not have PFI debts.
‘They have to silence the workforce. They create an environment where staff are afraid to speak up.
‘The head of NHS England is Simon Stevens who was the president of Global Health, the US’s biggest health insurer. He is taking us to the US system: Medicare for the poor and elderly, and top-up insurance for the rest. They are shrinking the universal service, and rationing operations and letting waiting lists get longer.
‘Now general practice is being attacked via a new GP contract, which coerces GP practices to sign up to a new Network Contract. This ties GPs to becoming part of Primary Care Networks attached to new “integrated care providers” leading to private sector monopolies of clinical care, making profit out of the NHS.
‘We have to restore the NHS as a public provided service.’
Frank Sweeney from the Central Committee of the WRP concluded the speakers from the platform. He said, ‘May Day is the day that workers unite against imperialist war, barbarism and austerity.
‘We send special greetings to Palestinians in the 60-year fight against Zionism, for the return of their homeland; to the brave Syrian people who have battled imperialist-inspired terrorism to overthrow their legitimate government; and the people of Yemen, who endure daily bombings which have led to destruction of infrastructure leading to starvation and famine.
‘We extend a warm hand to the people of Venezuela.
‘There have been struggles also in North Africa by the people of Sudan and Algeria.
‘The capitalist world is in a huge economic and political crisis which is fuelling all these wars. Trump is stepping up his trade wars with the EU and China.
‘This capitalist crisis has reached the point where the US is threatening war to steal resources in Venezuela, Libya and Iran.
‘This is creating the conditions where living standards are intolerable for the working class, who are rising up. The imperialists are divided and fighting each other.
‘History brought us the Russian revolution in 1917 and the Chinese revolution after the war. We are now in the historic period where it is capitalist barbarism or a world socialist economy.
‘The British ruling class is the most decrepit in the capitalist world, incapable of making a decision.
‘They can’t compete with Europe or elsewhere. Living standards of the working class are driven down. Most of the people using food banks are working families.
‘Since the referendum in 2016, the two party system has come to an end in convulsions. Parliament has spent three years trying to sabotage and undo the decision of the people in the referendum.
‘All the unions supported remain, but ASLEF, RMT and the Bakers’ union were for Brexit. Union and Labour Party officials supported Remain.
‘The EU position is to force privatisation, which was used to privatise the Post Office and EU competition law has been introduced into the NHS.
‘The working class has stood firm, become angry and is becoming revolutionary.
‘All the gains of the working class were won through bitter struggles to increase living standards and rights. Nothing has been given without a struggle.
‘The Tory Party is in a shambles and Labour is split.
‘There is a farcical situation with the advent of the European elections on the 23rd May. The Tories cannot produce a manifesto for these elections.
‘100 Labour MPs are demanding a second referendum.
‘Workers voted to leave because they were fed up with services cut and privatised and mass sackings. It is the Tories who promote racism with their “hostile environment”.
‘For three weeks, Tories and Labour have been having discussions to get a deal.
‘Our position is to leave the EU, and hold out our hand to the workers of Europe to unite to build a United Socialist States of Europe.
‘We’re never going to convince capitalists not to be capitalists, or not to privatise. They have got to be overthrown, so that we can put an end to these attacks.
‘We need a certain type of party. The Labour Party is not going to do it. We need a revolutionary party, trained in dialectical materialism, and the art of taking power.
‘They say we are too small. We do have to grow. We have a daily paper and a weekly youth paper.
‘We have to turn into this situation and build, to be the best fighters against austerity and racism.
‘To build a revolutionary party is not an easy thing. It’s a daily struggle. We have to do better tomorrow than we have today.
‘You can’t destroy capitalism with constitutions to benefit the people, while the laws, judiciary and police keep the people oppressed.
‘Leon Trotsky founded the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution.
‘There is no place for us in any of the “people’s fronts” tied to the apron strings of the bourgeoisie. Our method is the socialist revolution.’