In recent weeks and months a “People’s Charter” has been elaborated by a commission involving a number of leaders of the trade unions and the left, notably the leadership of the RMT railworkers’ union but also John McDonnell MP, leading officials in other broadly radical trade unions such as the FBU and NUT, and prominent members of Respect and the Communist Party of Britain. This “charter for change” has not yet been finalised, but it appears that its text will be decided upon and then launched at a rally, rather than openly and democratically discussed across wider layers of our movement. We disapprove of the manner in which this project has been carried out, and do not think much of the current raft of “programmes for government action” issued by left groups which say little about what action we ourselves must take and what movement we need to do it.
However, we publish this draft of the document (see below) in the hope that it will provoke discussion and allow dissenting voices in the labour movement like our own to be heard: as always, feel free to post comments and replies. A more thoroughgoing analysis and critique appears in the second issue of The Commune.
Britain is in the grip of an economic crisis. So is the world.
Every time there is a slump the politicians and financiers seem mystified as to how the system has failed. But boom and bust is the way it works. It’s not stable.
When the economy grows, banks, corporations and speculators, driven only by greed, gamble other people’s money in their global casino. When they lose ‘confidence’ in their profit making schemes and panic, the bubble bursts and we pay the price.
Redundancies throw hundreds of thousands on to the dole. Savings are lost. Homes are repossessed. Pensions lose value. Workers are put on short time. Wages and conditions are cut. Public services are slashed.
Government is spending billions of pounds of our money bailing the banks and big business out of their crisis.
Its not right and we didn’t vote for it.
Those £billions are our money. And our children’s. We want that money better spent.
We have launched a People’s Charter. It sets out what must be done to get out of this crisis and put the people first, before the interests of bankers and speculators.
We need one million signatures to show we mean business. So sign and support the Charter – on line, at work, in your community.
Together we can get the changes we need. Can we do it? Yes we can!
1. A fair economy for a fairer Britain. Take the leading banking, insurance and mortgage industries fully into democratic public ownership run for the benefit of all. Regain control of the Bank of England and keep interest rates low. Tightly regulate the City markets to facilitate lending and to stop speculation and takeovers against the public interest. Ban hedge funds, raids on pension funds, asset-stripping and corporate tax loopholes. Restructure the tax system so big business and the wealthy pay more and ordinary people pay less.
2. More and better jobs. Existing jobs must be protected. Public and private investment must create new jobs paying decent money. In particular in manufacturing, construction and green technology. More jobs mean more spending power to stimulate the economy, increased tax revenue and fewer people on benefit. Build full employment. Reduce hours, not pay, to create more jobs. Raise the minimum wage to half national median earnings and end the lower rate for young workers.
3. Decent homes for all. Stop the repossessions and keep people in their homes. Offer ‘no interest’ loans. Control rents. We need 3 million new homes. Give local government the power and money to build and renovate affordable quality homes and buy empty ones, ending the housing shortage, and creating jobs.
4. Protect and improve our public services – no cuts. Save public money: bring energy, transport, water, post and telecommunications back into public ownership. End corporate profiteering in health, education, social and other public services. Stop the EU privatisation Directives.
5. Fairness and Justice. Free heating and transport for every pensioner. Link state pensions and benefits to average earnings. Protect pension schemes and restore the lost value of private pensions. End child poverty by increasing child benefits and tax credits and providing free nurseries and crèches. Enforce equal pay for women. End racism and discrimination in all its forms. No scape-goating of migrant workers. Invest in young people and give them a real stake in the future. Provide youth, community, arts and cultural centres, sports facilities, and clubs for all. Guarantee training, apprenticeships and education with grants for everyone and no fees. Restore union rights to allow them the freedom to fight the crisis and to protect workers.
6. Build a secure and sustainable future for all
End the cost of war in blood and money. Bring our troops home. Don’t waste £billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons. And beyond the current economic disaster, climate change threatens us all. Our future must be based on massive investment for a greener, safer world now. Debt is crushing millions of people forcing them to move and producing war, famine and misery. Get rid of the debt economy in Britain and cancel the debts of the poor of the planet. A better future for all the people of the world.