Thursday, 20 April 2017

Why I Am Standing For Parliament

Did you want a General Election this year? No, neither did I. The official line is that Jeremy Corbyn would have been hammered at any time. In which case, why now?

Perhaps it is about that fraud case, but mostly it is because Theresa May does not understand how Parliament works, or is supposed to work. She thinks that it is supposed to be "united", which is a fluffy way of saying that she thinks that there ought to be no Opposition.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have been giving her grief, so she has called a General Election in order to crush them into silence, which in any case even the most abject defeat would not do. I am starting to wish that they had voted against her yesterday. That would have denied her the necessary two thirds majority.
But hey ho, here we are. Pat Glass is certainly retiring, and she will be missed. Therefore, I shall certainly be contesting North West Durham, funds permitting. That is a big caveat. But it is the only one.
Whether Mrs May is Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, then she will need to be held, not least against much or most of her own party, to her stated commitments to workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, to shareholders' control over executive pay, to restrictions on pay differentials within companies, to an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, to greatly increased housebuilding, to action against tax avoidance, to a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, to a cap on energy prices, to banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, and to a ban on unpaid internships.

And whether Mr Corbyn is Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, then he will need to held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to all of the above, which he originated, and to protecting the Triple Lock up to 2025, to compensating the WASPI women, to protecting the pensions of British citizens living abroad, and to keeping the Winter Fuel Allowance and the free bus passes for pensioners.

He will need to be held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to cancelling the inheritance tax cut in order to spend the money on paying carers properly, to scrapping the VAT exemption on private school fees in order to spend the money on free school meals for all state primary pupils, and to introducing a minimum wage of £10 per hour for all, which is more than Durham County Council proposes to pay its Teaching Assistants.

And he will need to be held, not least against powerfully well-connected sections of his own party, to ending the public sector pay freeze, to renationalising the railways for free as each franchise came up for renewal, to banning late payments to small and medium-sized enterprises, to reversing the hike in Business Rates, to banning zero hours contracts for workers with regular hours, and to saving five billion pounds by renationalising the NHS in England, which is the only part of the United Kingdom where any such renationalisation is necessary.

This is the work of probably a small, but certainly a dedicated, band of MPs, such as George Galloway at Manchester Gorton, and, if you will have me, such as David Lindsay at North West Durham. I can think of others whom I very much hope will give it a go.

For what it is worth, I feel that they ought to do as I shall be doing, and eschew even the word "Independent", since we are members of numerous overlapping networks of political interdependence and accountability, once such network being each other. That network is defined by very clear principles.

We hold that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. That identity issues must be located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. And that the leading role in the defence of universal public services belongs to those (the working class, and not least the almost universally ignored rural working class) who would otherwise lack basic amenities, while the leading role in the promotion of peace belongs those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars (the workers again, and also the youth, who were right about the First World War, right about the Vietnam War, and right about the Iraq War).

We understand that the decision of the EU referendum by people and places that ordinarily vote Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru means that the concerns of those poeple and places ought now to be the focus of attention. We have been opposed from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, we have always been opposed to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to the United Kingdom's immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, to military alliance with Turkey, and to the demonisation of Russia.

We reject any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. We seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And we refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

I want to be among the MPs who were constant in bearing witness to these principles, regardless of who was or was not the Leader of any given party at any given time. Therefore, I shall certainly be contesting North West Durham, funds permitting. That is a big caveat. But it is the only one.

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