Updated: May 15, 2021
Socialist Labour Party (UK)
l to r Arthur Scargill, present Leader of the SLP,
Des Bonass and James Connolly. This poster was
drawn up in Ireland following the death of Des Bonass.
The Socialist Labour Party (SLP) is a Socialist political party in the United Kingdom, established in 1996 following a series of meetings involving activists in the Labour and trade union movement, environmentalists and peace movement campaigners including women from Greenham Common. The SLP chose the same name as the party established by, among others, James Connolly, Arthur MacManus and Tom Bell in Scotland in 1903.
The Socialist Labour Party is fundamentally different from all other UK political parties or organisations whose policies are based on retention of the outdated, corrupt system under which we live. The SLP is not prepared to collaborate with any political organisation which supports the capitalist system.
The SLP wants an end to capitalism, a system which inevitably causes unemployment, zero-hours contracts, homelessness, cuts to – and privatisation of – our health and social welfare systems, education and pensions. Food banks which are now essential to survival in communities throughout Britain are a shameful reminder of the sort of society this is.
Just over 100 years ago, the legendary trade unionists and Socialists Jim Larkin and James Connolly warned that independence from an oppressor will fail unless that independence is based on replacing capitalism with a Socialist system where people own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange.
POLICIES OF THE SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY
National Health Service
The Socialist Labour Party is committed to a National Health Service available to all at the time of need, on demand and free of all charges – including prescriptions, dental care and eye care. The SLP wants all NHS workers to receive wages, terms and conditions that reflect the social importance of their jobs.
In the COVID Pandemic, the Government handed at least £25 billion to private companies such as Serco, Virgin Care, Priory Health Group, to other companies who made a complete mess of ‘Test and Trace’ and to pharmaceutical companies. Those billions should have been allocated to the National Health Service which came to the rescue of the people of Britain at the time of need – yet cutbacks over the past years have now resulted in nearly five million people waiting for NHS treatment in 2021.
It’s scandalous that between the years 2001 and 2021 there has been a continuing loss of hospital beds and closures of hospitals, while private health care has continued to flourish on the back of NHS resources. It’s scandalous that a person needs sufficient financial resources or private health insurance to obtain immediate appointments, diagnosis and treatment, using in many cases NHS consultants and doctors undertaking private work in private hospitals as well as fee-charging organisations like ‘Push Doctors’.
It is obscene that the NHS is paying between 50% and 100% more to employ agency doctors, consultants and nursing staff because the Health Service is understaffed and under-funded. The Socialist Labour Party would stop all private health care and all private work by consultants, doctors, nurses and care workers, in hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.
Alongside health care, welfare and social security should be held in public ownership and control. The dreadful COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the state of Britain’s care homes, 85% of which are in private hands – a scandal to shame any Westminster politician.
The SLP is also committed to public ownership of the pharmaceutical industry so that the provision of essential drugs is determined not by profits paid to shareholders – often in multi-national companies – but by the needs of all patients.
Affordable, adequate safe housing is a fundamental human right. We say that homelessness and housing unfit for habitation are products of the capitalist system. In our towns and cities, thousands of properties lie empty and unused – from derelict homes and flats to office blocks which have never been occupied.
Yet thousands of families try to cope day after day with hostel accommodation, while still more individuals are completely without shelter of any sort. It is the responsibility of government to provide and regulate housing on the basis of need.
We want a full programme of local authority housing, homes built and renovated, employing trade unionised building workers, using the capital receipts at present still held by local authorities from the sale of council housing. Such a programme would provide not only homes but jobs for the multitude of building workers currently unemployed.
The Socialist Labour Party’s policy is to provide a million new or refurbished empty homes over a two-year period, a policy which would eradicate homelessness and provide local authority homes at a truly ‘affordable’ rent. The cost of providing sufficient new or empty refurbished homes should be paid for out of the obscene profits of Britain’s major banks.
In Britain there are 12 million people of pensionable age, many growing old in poverty, unable to buy sufficient food or heat for their homes. Instead of allowing people to find new ways of engaging in and contributing to life around them, becoming old means that too many people must choose between whether to eat or to heat, depending on food banks and charities in order to exist. Pensioners are worse off in real terms than they were in 1978, nearly 45 years ago. To add insult to injury, the government 'steals' the savings, assets and homes of pensioners who have to go into care homes.
A majority of pensioners have paid for their health and welfare costs by paying taxes and National Insurance throughout their working lives; all pensioners have contributed in myriad ways to their communities and our wider society. The SLP’s policy would give every pensioner an annual State pension equal to the national average wage, which in 2021 is £29,600. This should be payable at the age of 65 with a guarantee that future pension increases are in line with any increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI). The cost of this can be met easily out of the £16.1 trillion currently invested in private pension schemes.
The Socialist Labour Party is committed to all people’s basic right to free, high-quality education from infancy through to old age. We want free crèche, play group and nursery provision for all children, and full-time school-based nursery provision from the age of three.
The Government continues to destroy comprehensive schooling through public spending cuts and ideological opposition to providing a first-class education for all; Tory policy has meant second-or-third-rate education for the vast majority of children.
School selection by so-called ‘ability’ must end: that is, some schools creaming off the best performing pupils, which leads to other schools being earmarked as failures as they teach those that remain. Radical change is needed in the way education resources are distributed. The SLP is committed to abolishing all private (public) schools, ‘independent’ schools, faith schools and private colleges.
These institutions produce a class divide; pupils from public schools secure the majority of places at university, whilst faith schools by their very nature inculcate children with beliefs which too often result in intolerance and prejudice. If college and university students who are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, from other faiths or secular backgrounds can study together then they can do so in our State Infant, junior and secondary schools.
Age should be no barrier to acquiring education. All adults should have the right to planned study leave during their working lives – and effective campaigning by the Labour movement to reduce the working week can turn such an opportunity into reality for millions.
SLP policies cover the provision of free education, meeting the costs of accommodation at all colleges and universities, together with a system which pays students an income equal to 50% of the national average wage. Apprentices are paid a wage during their training period; all higher and further education students in training for their chosen fields should have the same consideration where income is concerned.
The present cost of education is £104 billion, a sum totally inadequate to pay for an education system capable of meeting the needs of children and young adults in the 21st Century. Our education system requires an immediate increase of £50 billion, with annual increases each year, in line with the increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI), in education expenditure. This can be paid for out of the obscene profits of industries and services privatised over the past 35/40 years.
The resurgence over the past year of Black Lives Matter is a response to racism and xenophobia in all forms – including the institutionalised racism within our police and armed forces – which continue to poison British society.
SLP policies are formulated on the basis that in Britain people of colour and everyone from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately in access to health care, education, housing, employment and in respect of ‘law and order’.
In the UK, Black and Asian people continue to be scapegoated by Government policies which are used by the far Right; forms of racial prejudice and hatred have become so legitimised that violence, including tragically murder particularly among the young, has become literally commonplace.
The SLP challenges racism and xenophobia in employment, education and training with our policies for full employment, for ending low pay and degrading conditions of work.
The SLP calls for an end to inequalities in housing, health care and welfare, directing resources into ethnic-minority communities in full consultation and co-operation with the people in those communities. This must involve the media, the police and the judicial system, exposing and ending all racist miscarriages of justice, including wrongful incarceration and deaths in custody.
Environment: respecting the planet
We’ve been warned that the future of the planet we live on will depend on what happens over the next few years to our air, water and forests. The fate of humanity and all forms of life depend, among other things, on how we develop and use energy or how we transport humans and goods in Britain and around the globe. Today, a variety of campaigns challenge the damage humanity has done during its time on Earth, but while the SLP supports the aims of these campaigns, we believe they don’t go far enough.
While evolutionary climate change is inevitable in the life of the planet, the SLP argues that much of the fundamental damage done by humans, especially over the past 250 years, is directly due to capitalism, which demands the exploitation of Earth’s resources, be they natural or human-made.
Our Party has consistently campaigned for environmental policies which challenge capitalism’s greedy need for profit: be it from energy use, waste disposal/recycling, transport or the supply - and the pollution – of water.
The SLP wants the proper development of energy sources: wave, barrage, hydro, geothermal, carbon-free coal and, above all, solar power. The air we breathe is if anything dirtier than it was 25 years ago: the political, anti-trade union decisions which by the end of 2015 had led to the closure of
Britain’s indigenous deep mine coal reserves haven’t led to cleaner air. On the contrary: given the ongoing use of oil and gas and the power-station burning of biomass from wood pellets harvested both in the UK and in US forests. According to a National Resources Defence Council report, the use of biomass produces 78% higher levels of emission than coal.
A different danger lies in the extraction process known as fracking, which extracts gas for burning by drilling into the Earth. Dangerous both geologically and environmentally, fracking has not only caused earthquakes but releases dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere while contaminating our water.
The SLP also campaigns against the use of nuclear power, still pursued by the UK Government despite the terrible disasters over decades: Windscale (now Sellafield) in the UK, 1957; Three Mile Island, USA, 1979; Chernobyl, the Soviet Union, 1986 and Fukushima, Japan, 2011. These disasters, together with ongoing smaller accidents and the fact that nuclear power is 450% more expensive than carbon-free clean coal and even 400% more expensive than gas – all these have persuaded Germany, Italy and Japan among others to abandon nuclear power. In the UK, however, successive Governments have been determined to pursue its use at whatever cost; billions of taxpayers’ money has been spent in subsidising this deadly, unpredictable and costly force. Ever-rising electricity bills tell the story.
The SLP wants to see an end to both the civil nuclear power industry and fracking. All of Britain’s renewable energy sources, including carbon-capture clean coal, properly developed and in public ownership could provide jobs in line with strategies for full employment among British working people.
Another key reason why our environment has continued to suffer is the ongoing destruction of the planet’s rain-forests, particularly those in Latin America – vast swathes continue to be destroyed by logging companies bent only on profit. Trees are in themselves the planet’s strongest protection against the damage done by CO2 emissions, yet capitalism’s demand for more and more profit pushes on regardless.
The journal Nature Climate Change has reported that the deforested Amazon basin now emits nearly 20% more CO2 than it absorbs. At the same time, woodlands throughout Europe, the UK and the US have also been devastated by loggers bent only on profit – clearly with no concern for preserving Earth’s resources.
Access to water, essential to survival, is a right to which all forms of life including humans are entitled: it should be available to people in every society, every country round the world. In the UK, where water supply was privatised in 1989, access to water has been increasingly determined by capitalist greed instead of individual and social need.
The greed is obvious in what we now pay for the water we need to use. In 2019, the National Audit Office found that over the previous 30 years since privatisation water bills had risen at a rate of 40% above inflation.
In the UK, catastrophes such as flooding or draught have been rendered far worse due to the loss of our reservoirs. Since 1989, at least 25 reservoirs once in public ownership have been closed in South East England alone. Privately owned water companies must by definition put share-holders first: no way to meet a basic need.
Capitalism’s abuse and control of water supply prevails around the world. At a time when the planet’s sea levels are rising dramatically, resulting in flooding on a massive scale, little thought is given to that most obvious solution: desalinisation. The dreadful droughts which destroy life in sub-Saharan Africa could be resolved through massive desalinisation programmes such as those which supply the millionaires’ playgrounds of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The SLP argues for the use of the oceans’ waters through desalinisation, piping clean water into all lands suffering from lack of it – turning vast swathes of currently barren earth into vast gardens, literally making deserts bloom.
As for the dreadful pollution choking the life from both fresh and salt water everywhere, all of us can play a part in bringing to an end the discarding of plastic in all its forms, sadly by careless individuals as much as by greedy corporations. The resulting destruction of all forms of marine/freshwater life is one of the most shaming human activities of our age.
Air pollution caused by road traffic increasingly blights all forms of life on the planet. Yet, despite the incessant environmental warnings to drivers of the ‘need’ to acquire electric cars, manufacturers are still producing new petrol and diesel four-wheel drive vehicles. The British public is bombarded by companies advertising the use of batteries and the use of nitrogen in cars as well as in their homes. It’s claimed that nitrogen is carbon-free but this is untrue: nitrogen is produced from fossil fuels, including natural gas, oil and coal. When it comes to protecting the planet, we should all be aware of and reject the misleading information fed to us (on every front) by corporate greed.
Meanwhile, juggernaut lorries increasingly clog the motorways, damage small village roads and pump out pollution while bearing goods into Britain and out to the European Area. Polluting road traffic congestion continues on a frightening scale. Getting in and out of cities such as London or Birmingham is a nightmare to which speed limits of five mph, one-way-systems or congestion charges are not an answer.
The SLP argues that goods currently hauled by road should be moved onto Britain’s railways and waterways. One train transporting goods would remove 700 juggernauts from Britain’s roads. Regenerated use of our extensive, historical inland waterways network would further dramatically cut both pollution and the traffic congestion on Britain’s roads.
As for general electric car production and use by 2030: if the Government is serious, it should offer car-owners the exchange of their petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles for electric ones – free of charge. The multiple energy companies which have dominated our lives since energy was privatised in the 1980s/1990s should be paying the costs of conversion, not the car-owner/taxpayer.
National Minimum Wage
Workers female and male, old and young, are ruthlessly exploited in Britain’s so-called service industries, and child labour is back with a vengeance. In Britain today, over 10 million people live on or below the poverty line. The Socialist Labour Party demands the introduction of a minimum wage equal to the 2021 national average wage of £29,600, which just in today’s terms would give workers £569 for a 40-hour week. The SLP is committed to equal pay for all women and economic justice for young workers.
Repeal all Anti-Trade Union Laws
From 1979, the Tory Government introduced anti-trade union laws aimed at emasculating Britain’s trade unions to prevent workers taking industrial or strike action.
The object was to create a compliant workforce, removing rights which trade unionists had first won in 1906. Anti-trade union laws are designed to allow high unemployment and low pay which is now embodied in zero-hours contracts and companies organised by gang masters.
The Socialist Labour Party is committed to totally scrapping these laws which have been a weapon used to frighten workers and their unions, designed to stop them taking action to protect jobs, decent wages and good conditions – including hours of work, holidays, sick pay and pensions.
We believe that trade unions, controlled democratically by their members, are vital for a free and just society. British workers are being denied their human rights set out in the United Nations Charter and the International Labour Organisation conventions. Trade union activity has become in many cases a criminal offence. Workers are denied the right to effectively defend themselves or other workers without facing prosecution. Two decades into the 21st century, workers still have no legal right to strike in Britain.
The President of the United States (no Socialist) has from sheer social necessity proposed a $2.3 billion plan to create trade union jobs in construction, energy and other fields – yet Britain’s government continues with policies forcing workers back to the late 18th Century. Tragically, too many trade union leaders are failing to defend their members – let alone lead them to take industrial action against exploitation, abuse and loss of jobs.
From its inception, the SLP has called for trade unions to adopt a policy of non-compliance with unjust laws. Our forebears’ defiance was what brought about trade union recognition, decent wages and working conditions, just as non-compliance by the suffragettes over 100 years ago secured women the right to vote.
Defiance by the British trade union movement as a whole would render government anti-trade union legislation totally ineffective – as it did when workers brought Birmingham to a halt in order to support the miners in the legendary Battle of Saltley Gate in February 1972 and, in July of that same year when thousands of workers came out on strike and demonstrated outside London’s Pentonville Prison, securing the release of five dockworkers imprisoned for trade union action.
The Socialist Labour Party’s policy is for a programme of positive trade union rights in line with the United Nation’s Charter and the Convention of the International Labour Organisation to which Britain is a signatory.
Privatisation and Outsourcing
The privatising of Britain’s key industries and services, telecommunications, gas, water, electricity, coal and railways has devastated our economy which has been in poor shape for over 50 years. The capitalist system and its ‘free market’ policy on which Britain’s economy operates is not only corrupt but fundamentally incapable of meeting the needs of the British people.
Energy, water, transport, gas, electricity and telecommunications are all vital to any society’s welfare. Like health care, they are services on which we all depend: they belong to all, and they must be returned to public ownership.
They must also be properly managed, so that they are controlled by the people for the people. The SLP is firmly committed to taking all privatised industries and services back into public ownership.
Ninety percent of the British people support taking the entire rail system into public ownership, together with municipal ownership of buses and trams which should be at the heart of an integrated transport system. Experience has shown that privatisation results in chaos and disaster.
Since the end of the Second World War, the people of Britain have been fed a monumental lie. They have been told that globalisation of the capitalist system is the only solution to the economic problems facing an increasingly competitive world.
The billionaires and politicians meeting each year at the Davos Summit have revealed that the richest 10% of the world’s population own 90% of the world’s wealth. This fact begins to explain the cause of austerity. Austerity can be consigned to the dustbin of history by using the wealth owned and controlled by just 10% of the world’s population to finance the policies essential for a fair and just society. This would spell the end of unemployment in Britain and enable our youth to have free education, from primary school to a university degree.
Britain’s military expenditure is stated as £63 billion per year. The government is deliberately misleading the British people by withholding costs spent in different parts of the world. For example, Britain has bases in Cyprus, Germany, the Falklands and other countries – all costing billions each year.
The so-called ‘peacekeeping’ operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East cost Britain £10 billion per year.
The real extent of military expenditure is hidden from the British people. For example, the replacement and maintenance of Trident nuclear missiles will cost £200 billion, plus a further £30 billion for aircraft carriers and £10 billion annual maintenance costs: a total of £250 billion of taxpayers’ money. On top of the published expenditure, this amounts to a total of £313 billion, which can only be described as insanity.
Military madness also commits Britain to be part of NATO which insists that Britain increases the amount it spends on weapons of war. This policy has already cost hundreds of young British lives through conflicts and occupations in countries which have nothing whatsoever to do with the defence of Britain.
The unlawful war inflicted on Iraq by Tony Blair alongside George W. Bush resulted in over 500,000 deaths, with thousands more men, women and children suffering severe injuries. The invasion of Iraq was a war crime; Tony Blair and those government ministers who supported him should be charged by the International Criminal Court as war criminals.
Furthermore, the UK Government alongside the United States has supported Saudi Arabia and Israel by providing weapons and funds which have been used against the people of Palestine, Yemen and Syria. This war-mongering was central to the creation of Islamic State (ISIS) which drew supporters from countries around the world.
The UK does nothing to stop the ‘neo-fascist’ state of Israel occupying land which belongs to the people of Palestine and refuses to condemn Israeli bombing and slaughtering of men, women and children in Gaza, on-going action which is condemned by a majority of people throughout the world.
Nor does the UK challenge the US in its constant use of a veto to block resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly which time and again have called for Israel to withdraw from all the Palestinian and Syrian territories it has illegally occupied since 1967.
In Eastern Europe, Western intervention in Ukraine promoted a coup which overthrew a democratically elected government, replacing it with forces acting in the same way as the fascist forces did during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in the Second World War.
Alongside the US, the UK Government publicly preaches that countries should not occupy the sovereign territory of any nation, yet the UK is silent on the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay which is a sovereign part of Cuba. For 20 years, Guantanamo has been used as a prison on Cuba’s sovereign land to hold people from all over the world who have not even been charged with any offence.
And, again in collusion with the US, the UK continues to support the unlawful occupation of Taiwan, and the islands surrounding it, by the successors of political forces driven from China in 1949 - despite the fact that these islands are historically an integral part of China.
Britain’s deplorable foreign policies are inextricably linked to what it spends in supporting dictatorships or fuelling ethnic/religious conflicts around the world.
The Socialist Labour Party is committed to the introduction of a completely new tax system. Our Party would increase corporation tax from 19% to 40%: this would produce £126.4 billion. This measure would ensure that the ‘fat cats’ and all those on very high incomes pay income tax in accordance with the income they themselves receive.
The SLP would abolish the iniquitous Value Added Tax (VAT) of which UK taxpayers pay £131 billion per year. This is a tax system for the rich, exploiting the poor. VAT means that multi-millionaires receiving in excess of £200,000 per year pay exactly the same rate of VAT for goods or services as people who are unemployed and those including pensioners who struggle on low incomes.
These tax calculations do not include national insurance contributions or other forms of income which are not specifically tax.
A 1% increase in income tax would produce £6 billion per year. The SLP’s tax bands are similar to the tax bands in force in Britain from 1945 to 1951. The SLP’s tax bands would produce an annual tax income sufficient to meet the costs of all the policies of the SLP.
The SLP proposes the following fair tax bands:
There are those who would suggest that our policies are revolutionary, and they would be right. Compromise with crooks is no solution: what’s needed is the removal of the small elite who control Britain’s economy, employment, health service, education system, pensions and social care systems. The mad obsession with the production of nuclear and conventional weapons of war, designed to destroy life, should be replaced by a commitment to save and improve the quality of life for people everywhere.
The Socialist Labour Party wants to see a world free from war, free from want and free from oppression. The SLP supports the right to freedom of assembly, speech and association in a Britain which promotes and protects the environment and the earth’s resources, not just for human beings but for all other forms of life.
The SLP wants to see a world at peace, with liberty, justice and prosperity for all: a Socialist world in which the dreams and aspirations of all those who down the ages have fought for rights and freedoms become reality; a world where leaders are answerable to the people as a whole. These demands are not excessive; they are most moderate. We only want the earth!