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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 November 2014

Owen Jones: no answers

Owen Jones, photo Senan

Owen Jones, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Ben Mayor, Leeds Socialist Party

Owen Jones, the celebrity, journalist and Labour member, spoke to a packed lecture theatre on 15 November. The meeting was organised by Leeds Labour Party and hosted by Alex Sobel, their parliamentary candidate for Leeds North West. Socialist Party members and TUSC supporters had many productive discussions with those attending.

It began full of anticipation. Jones's lively speech articulately explained the appalling situation facing the majority today.

You might have thought this would lead to a discussion filled with ideas and energy for the fightback. But contributions were mostly pre-vetted by the chair - with notable exceptions on the rise of Podemos in Spain and the role of the media.

We heard very little from the parliamentary candidate. And Jones was not able to give a conclusive answer to the final contribution, questioning the role of the modern Labour Party. He could only put an abstract position of "working together" and "hope".

Jones did speak of the failures and mistakes of the workers' movement. He also mentioned in passing, with no real detail, past betrayals by the leadership. But his only answer to Labour's political failings was "get on the streets" - and join Labour!

Cuts

If Socialist Party members and TUSC supporters had been allowed into the discussion, we would have outlined that Leeds Labour council is planning to cut, among other things, around 500 adult social care jobs. Neither Jones nor Sobel mentioned the attacks.

GMB representatives who organise council workers spoke to us beforehand. They are convinced these cuts can be fought, and it comes down to a matter of political will. The Labour Party has no desire to fight the cuts.

This attitude was summed up by a young worker and student who left proclaiming they want to stand for TUSC in the local elections. "If no one represents our ideas and what is best for us, then we have to, it's as simple as that."

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 19 November 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Workers unite to defend the NHS

Solidarity vital to defend trade union rights

Leaked document reveals union busting plan

Toxic mix in Rochester and Strood byelection

Rotten to the Greencore

Fraudster bankers couldn't give a Forex

The beautiful game looking ugly

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Unreported Nigeria: Class struggle and inequality

Israel/Palestine: Wave of rage answers new repression


Youth fight for jobs

We can defeat low pay and zero-hours!

Fighting for decent working conditions


Socialist Party workplace news

Labour councils attack organised workers

Campaigning against rail cuts and profiteering

Power station builders walkout over blacklisting

Local government unions accept shabby pay deal

Unison Wales FE strike ballot


Housing crisis

Raging tenants evict rich landlord

'We will not move!'

Students' victory in housing battle

Bedroom farce


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Teacher and health worker take fight to Oxford council

Bitterne walk-in's bitter win

NHS is going to the dogs


Readers' comments

Owen Jones: no answers

Socialism 2014


 

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