It’s Up the Poll! 2015: The Communist Party of Britain and Tameside

A look at the policies of the Communist Party of Britain with a Tameside angle.

For the tenth part of It’s Up the Poll! 2015, we shall be looking at a party where the phrase “not dead yet” seems to apply to many people. Though standing in one ward, their importance in Tameside’s history shouldn’t be neglected.

The British wing of the Communist Party has Tameside links. Its longest serving General Secretary, Harry Pollitt, was born in Droylsden. He served the UK branch from 1929 to 1955.

Since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, the Communist Party has been regarded by some as an anachronism. Today, it has abandoned the sickle from the hammer and sickle in favour of the dove for its logo (representing peace and workers’ power). Though never the property of the Communist Party of Britain, The Morning Star newspaper (owned by The People’s Press Printing Society) is erroneously referred to as the CPB’s journal.

In the 21st century, the Communist Party of Britain’s aim remains a socialist path. A move which has stood the test of time on social and economic grounds. In the former, the last government’s 2012 Welfare Reform Act, with the global financial downturn in the latter.

Tameside’s only candidate for the Communist Party of Britain is Paul Ward, who will be standing in the Audenshaw ward.

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Arts, Culture and Sport

With greater investment thanks to the Communist Party of Britain’s redistributive policies, self-improvement and enrichment through the arts, culture and sport could be fostered. This could have a positive effect on the borough’s amenities. Not only its playing fields and swimming pools.

Increased levels of disposable income and liveable rates of Social Security benefits could be beneficial to Tameside’s theatres, cinemas, public houses and football teams.

Crime

Democratic control of legal institutions and the UK’s police forces is favoured by the Communist Party of Britain.

Defence

The Communist Party of Britain favours cutting UK military spending to average European levels. Any monies hitherto spent on arms could be diverted to social programmes – such as restoring Tameside’s lost youth services.

Democracy

The most part of the Communist Party of Britain’s democratic aims entail restoring any powers that Tameside MBC had lost after 1979. This may entail the restoration of Greater Manchester Council abolished in 1986.

Greater devolutionary powers could be given to Scotland and Wales with English federalism eschewed in favour of restoring lost municipal powers.

The CPB would also like to scrap the House of Lords and break up media monopolies (as detailed in our look at the Green Party and Labour manifestoes). Instead, an English chamber on English only matters could be the House of Lords’ replacement along with devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

Like the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, they favour proportional representation at all local and parliamentary elections (using the Single Transferable Vote).

Economy

Likely to be popular among voters is a halt to all privatisation with public sector investment an alternative. Slated for nationalisation is the borough’s utility companies and other previously publicly owned bodies.

With the National Minimum Wage on target for a rise to £8.00 per hour in 2020 (if Labour wins the General Election), the Communist Party of Britain favours a NMW at half median male earnings (£242.50 per week). This could rise to two-thirds that figure (£323.01 per week). Even at half the median rate, a significant rise in tax income could be generated for HMRC with take up of working age benefits much reduced.

The CPB also proposes equal pay audits, regardless of gender, disability, race and age range. Like Labour, they also propose the abolition of Zero Hour Contracts and The Bedroom Tax which have had an adverse affect on the borough’s populace.

All anti-Trade Union laws including The 1984 Trade Union Act and, for example, any legislation which forbids secondary picketing, could be repealed.

Public sector pay – which has fallen further behind private sector levels in the last three decades – could rise towards pre-Thatcher levels of renumeration.

Education

As with the TUSC and Green parties, the Communist Party of Britain would like to see Audenshaw School rejoin the Local Education Authority system. Any private schools within Tameside, religious schools and other academies could follow suit.

Tuition fees in Further Education and Higher Education could be scrapped with student grants phased in.

Environment

Like the Liberal Democrats, the Communist Party of Britain favours some mix of non-renewable and renewable energy. Though the CPB accepts the former as a short-term solution, it favours long term investment in the latter. In public ownership too.

Its policy for non-renewable energy – transitional fuels – favour clean coal technology instead of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Europe

The Communist Party of Britain opposes a capitalist United States of Europe including an EU constitution. Other facets include opposition to the EU Services Directive and EU labour law reform.

Families

The Communist Party of Britain believes that families shouldn’t be subject to the whims of the bankers and super-rich. They favour progressive taxation which would fund improved Social Security benefits and State Pensions. For the super-rich, an extra Wealth Tax could be imposed on top of the top rate of Income Tax.

Given the derisory amounts paid out for hard-fought benefits – and the rise of DWP sanctions – any marked financial boost to families could see a more vibrant Tameside. The CPB’s proposes a £175 per week State Pension and the retention of pensioner benefits such as free off-peak bus travel.

Foreign policy

The Communist Party of Britain favours expanding trade with the People’s Republic of China, consistent with Conservative party policies to do likewise (see the Airport City development and direct links with China to Manchester Airport). TTIP and TPP, which places untrammelled free trade over sovereignty and social justice is opposed.

Other proposals include the cancellation of Third World debt and the promotion of genuine trade-and-aid policies. Manchester’s recent links with China could provide some benefits for Tameside. Trade with other developing countries could be considered. Withdrawal from NATO and the closure of all US air bases in Britain is proposed.

Health

Like the Labour, TUSC and Green parties, the Communist Party of Britain wants to see the back of Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act. They also favour a National Health Service with the addition of a National Care Service.

Housing

With money funded from municipal and central government enterprise, Tameside MBC could be given more powers to build new social housing. This includes new sheltered housing.

The Conservatives’ Right to Buy and Help to Buy schemes will be scrapped. New Charter’s and Ashton Pioneer Homes’ properties could revert to Tameside MBC’s control.

Immigration

Like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, the Communist Party of Britain would like to see a repeal of all racist immigration laws. Particularly the £18,000 income threshold which forbids less well-off Britons from falling in love with fellows from overseas. They also favour an amnesty for all illegal immigrants and overstayers, preferring to let them settle in Britain.

Social Security

Older families could see the State Pension restored to its pre-Thatcher value. Since its devaluation, the ConDems’ Triple Lock Guarantee has provided a halfway house to this though the CPB wishes to go further. This also includes the introduction of a second contributory State Pension, which could supersede the Workplace Pensions and Stakeholder Pensions.

Any recent changes to the retirement age and the Welfare Reform Bill itself could be repealed. The CPB favours the scrapping of DWP sanctions.

Means-testing on all Social Security benefits could be scrapped.

Transport

A Son of Greater Manchester Transport (or the pre-SELNEC era undertakings) is the Communist Party of Britain’s vision for Tameside’s buses. The borough’s railways could follow suit with the restoration of British Rail. Metrolink trams could be directly operated by Transport for Greater Manchester.

Youth

Tameside’s young people could benefit from well paid employment and more job opportunities if plans to increase the retirement age are reversed. Student loans could be ditched in favour of student grants.

Young people could be better trained for tomorrow’s workplaces; the Communist Party of Britain wishes to compel employers to fund vocational training programmes. At no expense to the student.

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At a more local level…

Once again, our borked first-past-the-post system at local level could stymie Mr. Ward’s chances of retaining his deposit, let alone denting the vote of other parties in Audenshaw. This in spite of the fact that some of the Communist Party of Britain’s policies could go down well with the people of Tameside. Plans to scrap the Bedroom Tax and Zero Hour Contracts is popular with some people of a (whisper it) Conservative persuasion, and UKIPers.

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Next up on It’s Up The Poll! 2015

The eleventh part of our electoral Tour of Tameside will focus the main event itself: Tameside’s Super Thursday, Mossley’s Triple Treat. In other words, at national level, the most closely contested General Election since the 28 February 1974. A local election where tactical voting, according to some critics, could influence the result. Could the battle for free parking have an affect on the local election and Town Council election results among Mossley’s 10,000 citizens?

For our eleventh part will be East of the M60’s Exit Poll covering all three elections. Our exit poll will be open from 10pm tomorrow night, immediately after the polling stations close.

S.V., 06 May 2015.

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