Twelve comrades have directly contributed to this ongoing work. We have had one Zoom public meeting on the NHS and working Zoom meetings on the environment and on women.
The work on updating these policies must be ongoing and we need the website and Facebook to reflect these policies. We also need to present them to an open members meeting.
There are sections not yet included like economics, mutual aid, Brexit, internationalism and I am suggesting that this is circulated to the members but it also goes in sections on to the website in linked posts.
Please send suggested amendments asap.
Upwards of 660 people will die today of coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of NHS workers will be at work.
The virus is not contained as yet and the preparations for a second wave are pitiful.
And the poor will die in greater numbers than the rich, Black Asian and minority ethnic people will die disproportionately.
The climate crisis rumbles on unaddressed, though the earth breathes a little easier for the shutdown.
Another cohort of workers mainly low paid women will be looking after our elders in the care homes with little equipment and little access to medical help.
Many thousands are dying and many thousand more are ill from the virus. Other with different illnesses have struggled to get help.
The country is in semi-lockdown. Much non-essential work has continued, spreading the virus still further
Meanwhile, New Zealand had two cases yesterday. A country the size of Scotland has defeated the virus and labour has a clear lead in the polls in New Zealand. Kerala in India has also managed the crisis well so far. South Korea has done better than the UK.
A series of financial and economic storms crash overhead.
Brexit deals have still to be negotiated, there is an oil price crisis and many economists predict a major world recession.
The Labour Party is moving to the Right, though the left-wing of labour is not dead. In the deafening silence from the new leadership, the voices from the left can still be heard at times.
The trade unions are largely passive, with honourable exceptions.
Grassroots mutual solidarity has mushroomed.
The general election saw a right-wing libertarian government representing the hedge funds the oligarchs and the very rich.
Their management of the health crisis has been catastrophic but their news management and spin remain powerful.
This government and others of the far-right like Trump Bolsonaro Orban Duerte and others ride roughshod over the workers, dividing them by racism, anti-migrant sentiment and conspiracy myths. The deployment of xenophobia seems a precursor to conflict, economic political and possibly military between the US and China.
Popular protests were spreading across the world in the months around the General Election and before the pandemic.
As the government presses for a premature lifting of the lockdown, before the pandemic is contained then struggles will spring up in this country, in novel and unexpected ways.
The Coronavirus has been allowed to rampage through the Residential Home sector due the failure of the government and management to protect both staff and residents. Residents within Homes and other service users with support needs are among the most “at risks” groups; many with underlying health conditions or are extremely frail due to age. It was not until the 15th April that Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, announced new measures to protect people working or living in this sector. The government must be held to account to ensure that staff in residential homes have full Personal Protection Equipment available with training on its use, staff and residents are tested, and residents must have access to primary healthcare professionals (community nurses, GPs, occupational therapists, palliative care, dental care, GPs) whether they are Covid-19 positive or not like anyone else.
Residential and other support services required fundamental reform before this current crisis, but the horrors that are unfolding are a testament to what happens when profit is placed above people as a priority. This sector along with other support provision has to be returned to social ownership and control as well as being fully funded. A monstrous scandal is growing during this crisis depriving many residents of medical care during this virus crisis. Residential homes have been forced to accept discharged patients with the virus into settings where isolation is extremely difficult. Social Care has long been underfunded privatised, and the fabric used for speculation by the hedge funds that own them. Many homes are staffed by women on low pay, have inadequate training and qualifications as a result of poor in-service education. Pay for support and care workers must be upgraded
Social Care extends to people who live in their own or a family home, either through the support of agencies or Personal Assistants. Many service users rely on support workers who travel to their homes, thus running the risk of spreading the infection. Austerity cuts to the funding of Local Authorities, the ending of the Independent Living Fund and the tightening of the criteria for services, has reduced support packages to minimal levels and forced many to rely on additional unpaid informal carers such as family and friends. Disabled people living independently and employing the services of PAs have also been badly impacted upon by this crisis and will feel the economic crisis that accompanies it. While the private sector in the care business struggles, charity provision is also under threat, as few charities operate without some state funding.
Environment, Agriculture and Food
Left Unity is an Eco-Socialist party. There can be no solution to the economic and social problems we face without also addressing the issues of climate and environment, no solution to the issues of climate and environment without addressing the issue of ownership and control, and the need to eliminate poverty and exploitation.
We recognise that bad outcomes from the climate crisis are inevitable, and some, like last year’s wildfires in Australia, are already upon us. We need to channel resources into creating resilient systems instead of lining the pockets of the rich, need to come up ways of keeping people healthy and alive when catastrophic weather events happen, as they will with increasing severity and frequency. We need to support the development of solidarity and mutual aid organisations across the country (we can learn much from Cuba in this respect).
The organisations that provide the things we need must be democratic, well run, and structurally resilient and difficult to steal from us. We are learning in this Covid-19 crisis how such organisations could work, and how they must not be allowed to work.
We have to break down the system that is killing us. We need to start creating ways of doing and owning things that are run by organisations under workers democratic control.
Left Unity recognises that the climate crisis and environmental disruption are global issues, that need an internationalist response, and that we must fight them alongside the workers of the Global South.
Left Unity recognises the climate and environmental crises as issues disproportionately affecting women. Young women are leading the fight for the climate, women suffer in climate and weather emergencies in highly gendered ways.
Climate change matters to people at work, and those seeking work, so matters to trade unions and local communities – Left Unity is both Red and Green, and works to ensure that people and communities take and benefit from action to protect the planet. Workers must not be abandoned, as Thatcher abandoned the miners after the closure of the mines. Only the skills and efforts of the working class can change industry – it is not possible without the workers. New jobs, with decent wages, must be created in sustainable industries and public service, with full union recognition. During the coronavirus crisis, we have seen factories quickly repurposed for socially useful production. This is a tiny indication of the road we must follow. We need a national plan of socially useful, climate sustainable production, drawn up democratically, and large-scale industry publicly owned and controlled.
Left Unity rejects capitalism’s inherent drive for industrial growth, and calls instead for a Red and Green new deal. We want investment in renewable energy technologies and alternative materials, in energy-efficient sustainable construction. We want investment in health, social housing, social care, in allowing time to raise our children, to spend with friends and family, investment in education, research, eco-friendly district and social heating solutions, in the arts and leisure, rather than in polluting and unsustainable industries that dominate under capitalism.
Employment should allow for personal health and growth, rather than growth for profit alone. We call for the re-purposing of industry for social good.
Left Unity recognises that the climate crisis is upon us and that there is no choice but to adapt and change. This will require unprecedented effort and the ending of capitalism.
Left Unity believes the focus of agriculture must be feeding the people and sustaining and developing the agricultural workforce, rather than maximising private profit. Value, educate and heed the workers in agriculture, including the very many women across the world whose labour sustains the majority of the population in the global south. We call for a global move away from overproduction of meat and dairy, and the extensive and unsustainable production of environmentally destructive crops such as soya, that facilitate it.
The despoliation of the environment and the global mass extinction we are in the midst of, are intimately linked not just to capitalist industrial overproduction, but to agricultural production and distribution. Global agri-business has driven millions from the land, and into overcrowded slums. Sustainable subsistence farming has been replaced by intensive monoculture of less genetically diverse crops, and widespread deforestation and habitat destruction. In intensive plant-based agriculture, this means increased use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and GM crop varieties. Intensive production of commodity crops like cotton, soya, and coffee use huge quantities of water, often where the poor cannot access water for the basics of life – 844 million people, about 1 in 9 of the worlds population lack access to clean, affordable water. In animal agriculture (a major driver of intensive production of, for example, soya for animal feed), this means intense overcrowding, appalling welfare standards, and preventive use of veterinary pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics, probably the major contributor to the growth in antibiotic-resistant strains of common infections.
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed how neo-liberal capitalism’s massive destruction of the natural world, in large part by its industrialisation of animal agriculture, has left us increasingly vulnerable to not just the spread, but a proliferation of pathogens like SARS-Cov-2, the Covid-19 virus. This intensification process has brought dense populations of genetically very similar animals, with very short life spans (as little as 8 months in pigs, much less for poultry) into ever-closer proximity to ‘wild’ reservoirs of animal disease. This puts intense evolutionary pressure on viral diseases, in particular, to be as infectious as possible to get out of the immediate host before its slaughter and replicate, while not being so deadly as to kill the host or wipe out the host population before it becomes established. This is the likely cause of two SARS type pandemics in the last decade, including Covid-19. SARS-Cov-2 undoubtedly originated among bats and passed through pangolin as an intermediary, but evidence from genetic studies of the virus, suggest its final evolution to become the threat to humans that it is, took place in intensive pig farms in Hubei province, where Wuhan is situated.
The world grows more than enough food to feed a much higher global population – hunger results not from global under production, but from the private profit motive in food production and distribution, and waste. We need an environmentally sustainable food production and distribution system based on needs and not agribusiness profit. In the ex-colonial world, with land, billions could sustainably feed themselves, rather than living hand to mouth a handful of dollars a day. Farming on a large scale need not be destructive of ecosystems and biodiversity. Food distribution can be equitable. Neither can be so while profit and growth dominate. If we are to ensure a sustainable future for the planet, as well as a moving to a Red-Green new deal for industry, we need to end capitalism growth and profit-driven industrialised agriculture. For this to happen, we need an end not just to the dominance of Trans-national Agribusiness and periodic capitalist crises in food production and distribution, but of capitalism itself.
Local food production needs to be supported, in the UK and globally. The long history of the exploitation of the agricultural workforce, must end, with the workforce on the land having decent wages, safe working conditions, and housing near their work. Once again those working the land must be part of communities on that land.
Agriculture accounts for 72% of the UK land area. Landownership in the UK must change, to be more democratic and open. This land is not just used for agriculture and horticulture, but also as a financial asset for the very rich and corporations, as tax write-offs. Less than 1% of the population owns more than 50% of the land. The largest landowners benefit from huge subsidies. We need a new ‘Doomsday survey’, to assess who owns what land in this country, to sweep away the arcane and secretive methods of shielding this knowledge from scrutiny by the public.
Left Unity recognises the key role of water in sustainable human life; “Water is the primary medium through which we feel the effects of climate change” (UN). In the ‘advanced’ economies, as well as the global south, many people are forced to subsist on dirty, poisoned water. We recognise the need to protect water sources, in the UK and elsewhere, from despoliation by ‘Fracking’, agricultural run-off, and industrial pollution. The UK increasingly experiences huge problems from flooding and drought, much of which damage could be avoided with proper planning, such as properly planned abstraction of water from aquifers, and not building on flood plains, if free from the influence of private profit. Rising sea levels due to global climate change are an increasingly significant risk to biodiversity and human communities around our coasts. We need flood risk management that works with ecosystems, not against them.
Now is the time for radical and rapid change in the transport system;
Covid-19 and the natural world
Women hold up half the sky and rather more than half of the NHS and social care. Women are a majority of key workers, a majority of nurses, junior doctors, and most other medical professions, of cleaners and of care staff. They take on most of the care in society, including the informal care.
Women have much of the task of child-rearing and far too much of the housework. Social reproduction in childbirth, in human caring, in protecting and developing our communities, lies with women.
Our society has to be grateful for the invaluable work that women have put in during this crisis. Their contribution must be recognised.
Women are expected to work whatever their caring responsibilities or to go without adequate independent incomes. Though the economy is based around women working, women cannot claim from social security if they have a partner who is working.
There is a motherhood penalty in pay. They tend to manage household finances and organise to make the money stretch to feed more people at home for longer periods of time.
The lockdown has seen an uptick in domestic violence and murder, and in advice to new mums about the danger to babies of their partners reacting badly to a baby crying.
Police find time to police the parks but not to warn known offenders.
19 women have been killed by their male partner in this crisis period. The slim network of support for victims was dismantled during the period of austerity
Giving birth during the crisis has been a complicated situation for many mothers who have gone into hospital later than they would have chosen, thereby missing out on pain relief such as Epidural.
Postnatal care physical, psychological and social is inadequate.
Women in the UK suffer food insecurity more often than men and are more likely to go without food to feed their families. The diet of the poorest families is utterly inadequate even before this crisis
We are living in difficult and dangerous times where so much remains unknown. NHS and Social Care staff are on the frontline and are being put at risk due to government policies, lack of testing, inadequate resources and staffing levels. This also places patients and service users at risk; hard decisions could become impossible ones resulting in a needless loss of life. There is a difference between practical choices based upon medical assessment and the practice of determining who lives and who dies based to the questionable assessment of ‘quality of life’ which too often rests on ageist and disablist stereotyping. The word expendable means ‘of relatively little significance, and therefore able to be abandoned or destroyed.’ Within capitalist societies the lives of disabled people of all ages are devalued, the lives of migrants fair little better and the lives of women are undervalued. During this COVID-19 crisis, everyone is at risk because of the virus, but many are vulnerable due to political and ideologically held views. As socialists our position has to be loud and clear: #No one is expendable #testNHSstaff #testSocialCarestaff (From Sandra and Bob)
The work of the NHS and care staff is this crisis is of historic importance
We call for the NHS to be repaired and restored as a well-funded government service, as a national service, without for profit involvement, available to all, providing a comprehensive health care to the highest standards, and linked to comprehensive public health services. Healthcare must be available to all, from preconception to the end of life
NHS staff, not the government, have managed this pandemic, without adequate PPE and without proper testing tracing and isolating procedures They have adapted and changed roles and routines to maximise the attack on this virus.
But the likelihood of a pandemic was well known
A government at best inept and at worst negligent left the country with only the under-equipped NHS staff to rely on to contain this virus. At the cost of many NHS lives, so far they have managed to stop an even worse catastrophe
Faced with the Coronavirus, we need to test, test, test, follow up contacts, isolate contacts and care for them, map the contacts. We have to reduce the opportunities for the virus to infect more people. We need well-staffed and well-equipped hospitals and care for all humans. No system of tracking and tracing can operate unless all humans feel safe to take part. Migrants must feel safe to take part, not to worry that saving lives will cost them their visa.
We need freedom of speech for staff and we need more democratic management structures that consult and heed the staff. We need good representation of patients’ interests and the interests of the communities. No hospital closures, no loss of beds, no privatisation. Incredibly, some hospitals, like Chorley are still being closed during the crisis
The NHS was stripped to the bone before the crisis erupted. Preparation was grossly inadequate.
We support the Keep our NHS Public key demands
Before the crisis, the NHS staff kept the service afloat with a million hours of unpaid overtime. The chronic shortage of staff, rationing of treatments and passing the blame on to the patients (you are too fat, you are too old, you have too many pre-existing conditions), shortage of beds and diversion of resources to big business all helped create this incompetence
The crisis has affected many aspects of healthcare with some treatments simply not being delivered without the immediate threat of death or life long injury
Mental health has been the hardest hit and in the crisis, it has not been ring-fenced but staff have been diverted to the pandemic response. Mental health must be fully funded and be returned to the NHS. The majority of mental health beds are now in private hands. Mental health has been still further damaged during the crisis, with staff moved to support the virus priority areas We will only know the full health cost of this pandemic when the excess deaths totals are published over time
The poorest areas have the highest death rates.
The crisis has affected many aspects of healthcare with some treatments simply not being delivered unless there is the immediate threat of death or life long injury
Left Unity members and supporters will continue to take part in NHS defence campaigns.
The pandemic crisis and the broadening the role of trade unions
The current crisis and pandemic are seeing the national trade union leadership engage with the government with regards to supporting workers affected by the economic fallout. However, this represents a partial political opening for the labour movement. There is a greater need for trade unions to keep pushing on, and highlighting, the importance of the role of key workers both in the public and private sector. The growing recognition of the role of both skilled and so called ‘unskilled’ workers in sustaining the very foundations of society and the economy must be central to trade union politics and communications. Established and new independent trade unions are beginning to highlight the importance of working people in a broader and more imaginative manner showing how issues such as health and safety for workers are important to the welfare of society as whole given the role they place. It is also important for trade unions to broaden their presence in communities as a pivotal aspect of the work they do. UNITE has a community representative programme – for example – but much more could be done in terms of community links with social movements, working with foodbanks and support centres directly through volunteering, and creating greater solidarity across generations. The trade union movement is well placed to organise again around the Peoples’ Assembly and similar organisations – moving its focus in such a way that it does not use its membership resources just on internal Labour Party politics and institutional politics.
Schools should only reopen with the consent of teachers unions and on scientific advice including reviews of how children are affected by the virus and the best available knowledge of how children of different ages can transmit the virus.
Social distancing is very difficult if not impossible in schools, especially amongst younger children. The schools must be democratised for staff and pupils, with any reopening being with full involvement of the staff. Frightened teachers cannot keep children safe
Children and older pupils must be supported at home with full access to online learning and where required printed material delivered to their homes
Schools should stay open for the most vulnerable children and the children of key workers
Many schools have stepped up to ensure children have food during the crisis; schools should be funded to continue to work in the communities
Education is a fundamental human right.
We support the idea of lifelong learning for all. It empowers and informs individuals and allows them to develop to their full potential. It is, therefore, a prerequisite for any genuinely democratic society.
There should be full or part-time state nursery school education up to the age of 6 with emphasis on play-based learning and outdoor activities.
Better for students: Students and teachers are far too stressed by regular examinations. We propose to end constant assessment, testing and grading of students. We value the professional judgment of educators. Scrap SATs and baseline testing and keep examinations to the minimum.
Create a network of mental health hubs with access to professionals to give every child access to school counsellors and support. Increase access to school nurses and health visitors. Reinstate CAMHS( Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) which have been virtually extinguished under Conservative governments.
We believe governments should provide free and healthy school meals for all pupils and staff, and encourage breakfast clubs and after school extra-curricular activities to support learning. Governments should provide grants to help with the cost of school equipment, access to ICT and uniforms. All schools should be inclusive and all young people should be entitled to free, inclusive field trips and educational visits
Special educational needs must be restored SENCOs must be given time and professional education to fulfil their roles effectively. All teachers should have good initial training and ongoing professional development in SEN Funding for individual needs must be adequate and ring fenced. The process of assessment, of legally identifying needs must be more efficient and effective. Local authority expertise to support teachers and parents must be reinstated.
We oppose private education, free schools and academies. Bringing all schools and academies under the democratic control of parents, teachers and local communities via an elected governing body with the technical, legal support from the Local Education Authority. There should be fully integrated within a single, statutory model of school governance, and funded by local authorities according to a national formula.
We need better conditions for school staff. A common rulebook for all schools set out in legislation that guarantees the rights of education sector workers and governs negotiating collective agreements including -pay, career progression and conditions of service. We call for the establishment of a national supply teacher pool available to local authorities and directly to schools.
We say” Scrap all student fees”. State education needs to be funded and free at the point of use, all the way from nurseries to university level. All students should be guaranteed up to six years free further and higher education – and this would include a living grant
There is an ongoing housing crisis in the UK predating the virus. Our people experience homelessness in the streets, in hostels, in bed and breakfast hotels and sofa surfing. Younger people especially experience enforced sharing, poor quality homes and disrepair, expensive rents, short tenancies, flagrant eviction.
There is generally poor maintenance of the housing stock, and homes which are expensive to heat. Democratic control of social housing has been lost. Housing associations are not under democratic control. Council house building is not replacing what is lost
The Grenfell scandal and the problems faced by tenants in the coronavirus crisis show that LA and other landlords have not observed basic safety and decency. Tenants in high rise flats must have organised high-quality cleaning of communal area and excellent standards of maintenance.
Acorn and the London Renters Union are beginning to organise tenants to defend their rights
The increase in domestic violence during the lockdown shows that women must be able to evict violent partners, have adequate shelters, and good alternative accommodation if needed.
High-quality accommodation, adapted to disabled and elderly people is needed more than ever. Good quality housing for multi-generational households must also be addressed. Every person needs to be able to access green spaces for exercise and relaxation
Build a million houses. Renovate and retrofit a million existing houses to environmentally sustainable levels. Take back the land banks. End homelessness and bad housing. Commandeer the empty speculative homes. Introduce Rent control and long tenancies.
There must be Rent-holidays for the duration of the crisis and until employment levels return to normal. Safe accommodation allowing self-isolation must be provided to all who need it, with appropriate support for those who are vulnerable, need food etc. Democratic control of social housing must be reintroduced
No return to sleeping on the streets. Benefit restrictions that reduce access to housing must be changed Housing first model to be implemented so the cycle of drug use and homelessness is broken.
Council debts to the government should be written off and councils financed to build good council housing.
The building workforce must be unionized and proper apprenticeship systems developed. This will significantly offset rises in unemployment
Left Unity stands with migrants and refugees.
The Coronavirus crisis in the UK opened to the background of the appalling Hostile environment for migrants and refugees. A further crisis was brewing for EU migrants living here.
Even many of the doctors, nurses and cleaners working in the NHS were (and are) denied free health care for themselves and their families
The government deigned to say that the families of NHS workers, doctors nurses and ancillary staff, who die in the crisis, can stay in the UK!
Some of the worst restrictions and impositions on migrants were lifted at the outset of the crisis but poverty, detention and restrictions on liberty and the right to work remain for many migrants and asylum seekers
Across the globe war and poverty are driving millions to move, yet the response of wealthy countries, who often fund the wars and the economic system that impoverishes and destabilises countries, has often been to block their borders to poor refugees. Rich migrants can get Golden visas. The camp in Calais, though “cleared” remains and is a disgrace to the UK government, In Greece the situation in the migrant camps is appalling despite the huge efforts of Greek and international volunteers. In the huge refugee camps in Bangladesh and Lebanon the pandemic poses a huge threat.
Left Unity calls for universal health care for all humans living in or visiting the UK
Left Unity calls for the ending of the Hostile Environment, of detention, and on restrictions on where people live. Left Unity calls for family reunification policies, and for the free movement of people.
The care sector
Coronavirus has hit our elders very hard in the care home sector. Staff in the homes must have PPE and testing patients must have access to healthcare from doctors like anyone else. Care for our elders must be fundamentally reformed, returned to social ownership and control and fully funded. A monstrous scandal is growing during this crisis depriving many elders of medical care during this virus crisis. Care homes have been forced to accept discharged patients with the virus into a setting where isolation is very difficult. Eldercare has long been underfunded privatised, and the fabric used for speculation by the hedge funds that own them. Low pay poor qualification poor in-service education. Pay for care workers must be upgraded Care extends to younger disabled people some living in care homes or living supported in their own of a family home. Care workers who travel between clients’ homes are a lifeline to many. However, austerity cuts to the levels of care funded by the Local Authority reduce such care to minimal levels and rely on additional unpaid effort from carers. Charity provision is also under threat, as few charities operate without some state funding. Disabled people living independently and employing the services of PAs are also badly impacted in this crisis and the economic crisis that accompanies it.
May 5th 2020
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Left Unity is a member of the European Left Party.
Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.
Online – Tuesday 2 June, 7:00 pm
What’s going on: Fatal Inequalities and Covid-19
NHS Staff Voices public meeting – speakers include: Gary Younge – journalist and campaigner, Dame Donna Kinnair – RCN, Dr Sonia Adesara – Keep Our NHS Public and NHS Staff Voices
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