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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Putting the people first

by John Maryon

MONEY IS the lifeblood of capitalism. A social system in which success is measured by profit and the accumulation of wealth. Socialism on the other hand puts the security and well-being of the people as an important priority within a more caring, respectful and co-operative society. Socialism strives to create an environment in which all individuals can live a full life of purpose and achievement without the constraints of class or privilege.

Youngsters in Britain today are bearing the brunt of the capitalist crisis with the worst job prospects since the Second World War. This is despite the temporary shortage of lorry drivers and demands for casual workers on the land following Brexit. With the decline in manufacturing and the rise in service industries, the young face an uncertain future with low wages, poor employment conditions with long hours and inadequate pension provision. Whilst some will be fortunate, others face a life of uncertainty and debt with their chances weighted heavily in favour of children from wealthy families.

We are witnessing the emergence of an underclass that is marginalised with poor access to housing, diet, education and health provision. A class for whom lack of proper employment, inadequate skills, increasing levels of mental illness and increasing dependence on benefits all contribute to growing problems of drugs, alcohol and crime.

The New Communist Party calls for a fully funded, comprehensive scheme to provide a range of high-quality apprenticeships. It also demands free provision and support for good-quality higher education up to university degree level to be available for all young people.

There is anger at the growing inequality in our society, leading to resentment by those who only see only a bleak future with little hope for change. Many are unaware that things could be very different; that they could be changed and that there is a much better way to live. Communists must explain to them why the road to socialism is so important and show the need for an effective class struggle to achieve this.

We saw a welcome increase in the numbers of young people becoming involved in politics when Jeremy Corbyn inspired hundreds of thousands of them to join the Labour Party. Sadly, when he was stabbed in the back the movement faltered. Communists must reach out to young people, through the New Worker and social media, to introduce a Marxist-Leninist perspective and to spread the awareness of the need for organisation, structure and democratic centralism, and to be on guard against opportunism and corruption.

The NCP calls for a wide range of measures to help and improve the lives of young people including:

It is not only the young who are forced to struggle under capitalism. After a lifetime of hard work, the elderly face great challenges as they seek a comfortable retirement and to live with dignity. Some may still be fit and well, but others may suffer serious health issues aggravated by long anti-social hours or hard physical conditions of work.

The NCP opposes all attempts to raise the retirement age, and with life expectancy starting to fall calls for it to be lowered to 60 years for both men and women. The NCP proposals also call for a full state pension, calculated on the basis of two-thirds of the average weekly wage, to become payable at that age. All pensions and benefits should be linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI).

In an ideal socialist world, as we age and loose stamina our working hours would gradually be reduced, giving more time for rest and leisure without any reduction in wages. It would be a voluntary arrangement. Under socialism it would be paid for by using a proportion of the surplus value generated from a life’s work.

Another important issue for the elderly is their health care and security. Wherever possible they should be helped to stay in their own homes with modifications provided by social services, such as ramps, alarms and hand rails. Adequate NHS funding should be available to enable district nurses to keep a regular watchful eye on the health and well-being of older folk. The government may say they are short of money, but they spend freely to send aircraft carriers to stir up trouble on the other side of the world. The NCP calls for those day centres that have been closed to be re-opened and for chiropody services to be restored. The NCP also calls for drastic action to reduce waiting list times for procedures such as hip-replacement and cataract surgery so that those who are retired can live a more normal life.

If living at home becomes impossible then good residential homes must be provided that not only provide medical care but also promote creative activities to keep their patients fit and alert. The increasing reliance on private care home provision has been costly, with the need being regarded as a business rather than a service. The NCP calls for the urgent restoration of council-run homes. The practice of treating care as a social service matter allowing huge funds to be charged can see a life’s savings vanish within a short period of time. And there must never be a repeat of the tragic events that allowed COVID‑19 to take so many grandparents’ lives.

There are still many battles to fight, and the NCP fully supports pensioner groups fighting on a wide range of issues. The NCP also calls for the free bus pass scheme to be extended to trains and underground services. Winter fuel payments must be defended and adjusted to keep pace with escalating energy costs. And the £10 Christmas Bonus, which has remained the same since it was introduced in1972, should be increased in line with inflation to become more than just a measly token.