As part of a series of meetings organised by the London Region of the Socialist Labour Party in the run-up to the London local elections on 4 May, Cde Arthur Scargill, the General Secretary of that Party, addressed one such meeting at the Shalom Centre in Newham, East London on 25 April.
During his speech, Cde Scargill explained the Party’s policy on a wide range of issues, including health, education, transport, refugees and asylum seekers, etc. The Health Service, he said, was in a dreadful state because of lack of funding, which in turn was a deliberate policy on the part of the government to push people into private healthcare provision. “
It’s criminal that if you can pay for an operation you can have it tomorrow and if you can’t you have to wait for 9 months even if your condition is life threatening. It is even more criminal that billions can be spent bombing Yugoslavia and Iraq and killing human beings, rather than spending money saving human lives
“, said Cde Scargill, to loud applause. The SLP would, he said, put in an extra £11 billion a year to solve the crisis in health, and the money would come from the £25 billion a year profits that the privatised utilities are making every year. The SLP would also spend an extra £4 billion a year on education, put an end to private schools and institute a truly comprehensive education system. It would abolish tuition fees for those in higher education and restore grants. The money for this would come from cutting the defence budget.
On the question of asylum seekers, Cde Scargill said that an attempt was being made by bourgeois parties to scapegoat the unfortunate victims of imperialist wars and famine instead of blaming the cause of these ills, i.e., capitalism.
Referring to Zimbabwe, he said that our only criticism of the government of that country was that they had not redistributed land to the millions of black farmers 20 years ago. In the same vein, he referred to South Africa, and to his meeting with the late Cde Chris Hani of South Africa, literally days before he was murdered. During this meeting, said Cde Scargill, Hani had said that he wanted a South Africa fundamentally different from what others wanted. Whereas others wanted an end to apartheid and white rule, he wanted the end of capitalist exploitation. That is why, said Scargill, he was number one on the assassination list; that is why he was killed.
said Scargill, “
has a Marxist approach and we firmly believe that one has to understand this world in order to be able to change it. The SLP is the only Party putting forward a socialist programme in these elections, which it is fighting to achieve three main objectives:
To get maximum votes for the SLP;
To win recruits for the SLP because we want to become a mass party with a Marxist programme to change society; and
To put an end to the despair produced by this society by getting rid of capitalism and bringing in socialism.”
He concluded by saying that we know only too well from experience how the great achievements of the Soviet people have been undone and mass misery imposed upon them since the restoration of capitalism in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Answering a question from the floor, he rejected the idea of supporting the so-called Socialist Alliance, which was, in effect, supporting capitalist candidates in these elections. To ringing applause he asked: “
How can you support someone who supports the free market and capitalism, and only yesterday was cheering the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia?”
It was a very successful meeting, and Cde Scargill is addressing several other meetings, including one at Saklatvala Hall in Southall on Saturday 29 April and another at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn in central London on 2 May both at 7 p.m.