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

Re-writing the script

We are living in a bubble. It cuts us off from the real world, it substitutes politics with tribalism, it offers nothing but a Groundhog Day view of the world and yet the majority of people here seem perfectly happy with it.

The cost-of-living crisis that is having a devastating effect on working people, families, pensioners and the young is being driven by profit taking, dividends to shareholders and plain old-fashioned greed.

Wage demands haven’t caused inflation. Capitalism has.

Inside the bubble

Yet here, inside our bubble, we are, once again without a Stormont Executive

We still have a segregated education system. We’re not building enough affordable public housing but instead happily force people into the clutches of the private rented sector. We have the longest health waiting lists on these islands, while our public services continue to be subjected to cuts, privatisation and profiteering.

Our economy is designed specifically to accommodate multi-national companies and is based on low wages, part time employment and deregulation.

Workers’ rights are trampled on as companies pursue a policy of ‘fire and re-hire’

Just and necessary pay demands are met with derisory offers that fall way short of inflation.  Working people are told they must tighten their belts and do without while  the top 350 companies on the London Stock Exchange  have had a 73% increase in their profits in the last three years.

All the while, inside our bubble, were told that our priorities are border polls and protocols.

Working people have made it possible

Working class people built this society. The infrastructure, the services, the rights, the housing and the health – we made all that, and more, possible.

We’ve had to defend those gains every step of the way. We’ve had to do it in the face of sustained, coordinated and vicious attacks from capital and conservative forces.

It’s time we burst the bubble – it’s time to rewrite the script in favour of those who deliver with their hands and brains for the common good – not for those who leech off our efforts, hive off the profits and divert out attention away from the realities they want to cover up.

The coming months will be a serious test for working people, their living standards, their quality of life and for the nature of the society we live in. It’s not a battle we can afford to lose.

Cost of living crisis – it’s a rip off!

‘Heat or Eat’ isn’t a slogan, it’s the grim and stark reality facing thousands of local families, says Workers Party representative in South Belfast, Patrick Lynn

“We are facing one of the worst cost of living crisis in recent memory, one that will have long term and very serious implications for health and wellbeing. Yet, against that background comes the news that the six big energy companies made a combined profit of more than £600 million and that was before the recent increases in bills”, he said.

“Any economic system that imposes crippling and unbearable financial burdens on ordinary working-class people and uncaringly sees them go to the wall while pricing basic necessities beyond their reach must be challenged and overturned”, said Patrick.

“We have to ask ourselves why we tolerate this. Why do we meekly accept our lot as if it was inevitable and unavoidable?”, he asked.

“All the main political parties support and perpetuate this ‘free market’ free for all. They have no intention of facing up to the multi-national energy companies because they play an important role on their behalf.

We are constantly drip fed the myth that these are ‘international matters’ that no one has any control over – they just happen and, while its regrettable, we can’t do anything about it. Wrong. We can”. Patrick argued.

“Immediately, the Westminster government should impose an emergency tax demand on the energy companies and regulate energy prices. The Stormont Assembly, if it was currently functioning, should fund an energy crisis payment programme”.

“If we are to break free of this economic stranglehold, and all the misery, hardship and poverty it imposes, then the answers lie in bringing energy resources from private ownership into public control and the establishment of a socialist economy. There can be no compromises, there are no alternatives”, Patrick concluded.