We’ve been asked by Manchester TUC to comment on their priorities for the election. Here we go-
Cris Chesha, Candidate Manchester Gorton and Loz Kaye, Candidate Manchester Central
Manchester shows the worrying housing inequality that has grown up in our society. In view of the Beetham Tower people are having to bed down to sleep rough.
On housing the Pirate Party is committed to –
* Affordable homes for all, wherever it is in the country.
* Enabling councils to build affordable council housing.
* New statutory regulation of letting agents.
* A code of practice for letting agents.
* Preventing rent increases for existing tenants from exceeding inflation.
We are fundamentally opposed to the Tory announcement of sell offs of housing association homes at below cost price. And are hugely disappointed that the Labour party was not able to oppose this clearly. This Conservative policy will further reduce the amount of available affordable housing.
Homelessness is also a big challenge for Manchester. Just last December, in freezing temperatures it was revealed that the true extent of rough sleeping is 6 times as much as the official figures.
People who have been vulnerably housed have turned to us for help. But even when someone is about to be thrown out of their house, help is only available after they’ve been chucked out which is too late. This is why we want to see the following 3 actions on homelessness-
Crisis intervention on a local level before people are made homeless- this will save money and help vulnerable people.
A new measure of homelessness and rough sleeping. Even people sitting upright outside in sleeping bags can be excluded from the count of being homeless.
A review of the help that single homeless people get.
2 Social Security
All UK citizens should be able to rely on the welfare system in times of need. We believe the current system is failing and needs to be revitalised. Punative measures only hurt the needy. We would introduce measures to prevent people receiving unfair blocks on benefits.
* We would scrap the “Bedroom Tax”
* We would remove discrimination against young people from the benefits system.
* We would remove the benefits cap, either someone is eligible for benefit, or they are not.
All criteria for eligibility should be considered independently of each other.
3 Anti Union Laws
Trade unions provide a way for workers’ interests to be represented and defended. Trade union powers, including workers’ right to strike to protest unfair work conditions, have been eroded under the coalition government. We would restore the power of trade unions, by reducing the strike notice period to 7 days, and revoking the any turnout requirement for a strike vote.
The right to protest without fear of reprisal is fundamental to a democratic society; we will stand up for this right.
4 Opposing Austerity
We need an economy that works for everyone. In the last 5 years the UK has seen cuts to services, a fall in wages and a cynical attack on the support the state offers those in need.
We can do better. We want to shore up government finances, and increase tax revenues while increasing pay at the lower end of the pay scale. A 50% marginal rate of tax would be added for income over £500k per year.
Austerity is not going to repair the UK economy. We face a number of challenges, from a lack of social housing to poor transport and communications links that can be dealt with by initiating infrastructure projects. Infrastructure projects provide long-term benefit to the UK, stimulating current and future growth.
We would increase the rate of high speed broadband expansion, improve public transport (particularly outside London) and make Britain a world leader in renewable energy. This will allow us to reduce unemployment and provide skills to people who have lost jobs in other parts of the economy.
5 Free Education
We need an education system which delivers a great education to everyone and makes it possible for people of any age to reach their full potential. It means investing in early years, primary and secondary education and removing barriers to higher education by scrapping tuition fees.
6 Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) itself is severely lacking; a full-time job at NMW does not meet the basic cost of living in the UK. People in work should not suffer poverty; we would raise the minimum wage to match the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation, and keep NMW in line with the basic cost of living in the UK.
7 Zero Hours Contracts
It’s important that people can work flexibly, but this must be determined by the needs of workers, not imposed.
Stability is vital. We want to help ensure that employees are
secure in their work by making flexible working more available and preventing
staff from being pushed into zero-hours contracts. We would support legislation
that severely limits the use of zero-hours contracts.
8 Opposing Racism
We must absolutely oppose any attempts to tear our communities apart. The recent political climate has become worryingly poisonous. The Pirate Party is fundamentally opposed to this politics of fear.
9 Rail Nationalisation
Rail privatisation has made a mess of rail provision in the UK. Ticket prices are on the rise, and seats are in short supply. Rail is more highly subsidised now that it was prior to privatisation – since 1985, rail subsidies have increased five-fold in real terms. Profits are increasingly funnelled out of the country via contracts with international providers.
We would renationalise the railways; we would do this gradually; as contracts expired, provision for each area would be renationalised. This to us it the most realistic outcome that wouldn’t bog down the government and our transport system in lawsuits.
10 Unionisation – And A Challenge
Of course it is up to the Union movement and workers to define the future direction of the movement, rather than us.
What we would say is that the Union movement does urgently need to reinvent itself. Not least because it is seen to be so attached to a Labour party that no longer supports its aims. Just take a look at your aims, our responses, and what is in the Labour party manifesto.
We would ask you to be really bold for this General Election. Dare to recommend a vote for Pirate Party candidates. It would certainly make the news in a way that supporting the Labour party wouldn’t.