It’s about Public Ownership – not about protecting profits

The cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills will not be solved by handouts, tinkering around the edges or populist sound bites.

They have real and life changing consequences from an increasing reliance on food banks, fuel poverty, financial pressures, physical and mental health crises and malnutrition to hypothermia.

How often does it have to be said? How loud do the demands have to be made? Taking our utilities into public ownership could, at a stroke, alleviate the human misery and suffering currently being experienced by young and old alike.

In the past year energy bills in the UK – where oil, gas and energy are all owned by multi-national companies- have increased by 215%. In the same period bills in France – where the government owns the gas companies and is the major shareholder in the main electricity provider – have risen by just 4%.*

What this current crisis of capitalism has shown, once again, is that short term measures result in short term and limited solutions. Another crisis will evolve and working people will be forced to bear the brunt, pay the price and shoulder the blame.

Thousands of working people across all sectors are being forced into taking industrial action in defence of their standard of living, terms and conditions of employment and the future and safety of the services they provide. They are being met with the full and organised force of hostile politicians, willingly supported by the mainstream media, and a growing list of apologists for profiteering multi-national companies.

It will require a disciplined, co-ordinated and class-conscious response if we are to counter and overcome these attacks on our living standards, services and quality of life.

Only fundamental change to the current economic system can address the cost-of-living crisis, runaway inflation and the erosion of workers rights. Taking public utilities out of the clutches of private profiteers and into public ownership and control would be a first important step in that direction.

* Sources: Ofgem, Enerdata, Ecoscope, Politico, Guardian

Grotesque attempt to rewrite history

To argue, as Michelle O’Neill has done, that the Provisional IRA’s bloody campaign was justifiable and unavoidable is not only a lie, it is yet another grotesque attempt by Sinn Fein to rewrite history.

Unfortunately, that is a project that has brought them some reward. Such is the ‘greenwashing’ of the period of The Troubles that today, twenty five years after they ended, a generation of young nationalists, which knew nothing of their terror, butchery and ultimate futility, blithely chant pro IRA slogans as they play out their odious tribal rituals.

Michelle O’Neill and the Sinn Fein machine knows exactly what they are doing when they glorify three decades of atrocities, sectarianism and barbarity.

They are playing to their own gallery, consolidating the lowest denominator in their support base and, using very specifically tailored language, constructing a counterfeit history in which everyone else is to blame.

It is worth remembering that the Provos were no friends of the Civil Rights campaign. They opposed it, they attacked it, they condemned it. But they did not support it. Nor did they support the efforts of all those who were working for a better and more democratic society.

They rejected the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 only to, eventually, sign up to the Good Friday Agreement twentyfive years and three and a half thousand deaths later.

The only inevitability about the IRA’s actions was that, like all forms of militant nationalism, British and Irish, they will always revert to the elitism of violence rather than join with others in a united approach to tackling the injustices of society.

There was no justification for what the IRA did over three decades. There is no legitimacy in its glorification or in attempts at its justification today.

Hugh Scullion is Chair of the MId-Ulster Branch of the Workers Party

Labour no longer a Party of the Left

Its failure to support striking workers, its sacking of the Shadow Minister for Transport for joining a picket line and the announcement by its current leader Keir Starmer that it should no longer be a party of protest has confirmed that Labour is not a party that will defend the interests of working people.

At a time of crisis in the cost of living, rising inflation, stagnant wages and the erosion of workers’ rights, the Labour Party elite has set its sights on winning power at the expense of working people engaged in a daily struggle to survive.

A Labour party that ignores workers when it’s in opposition is not going to champion their cause if it gets into government.

The Starmer Labour Party is all too familiar. We saw ‘New Labour’ set the scene for today’s abandonment of working people.

Labour is again saying ‘we don’t need working people’. The reality is that working people don’t need them, Now, more than ever, working people everywhere need a workers party.

Assaults at Work

The rising number of attacks on workers as they go about delivering vital public services is a disgrace. It is inexcusable and abhorrent.

Recent attacks on Translink workers, and on a member of the public in one of the incidents, has highlighted the issue – but when that fades from the headlines the problems will still persist.

Nobody going to or from their work, or while they are at work should be subjected to any form of abuse: physical, verbal or sexual. Yet for thousands of people that is exactly the case.

More than 5,000 nursing staff were attacked at work in the first six months of last year. Ambulance crews, some now wearing body cameras, are subjected to an average of two assaults a day. In the past year paramedics have been attacked with a sledge hammer, knuckle-duster, a crow bar and a hatchet.

Public services are not the only targets. There are also an increasing number of assaults on retail and delivery workers, many reporting high levels of verbal and physical abuse. Several pieces of legislation currently deal with attacks on workers but they need to be updated and strengthened.

All workers deserve respect, support and protection. We all have a responsibility to ensure that happens.