A message from Charlotte

n-CHARLOTTE-CHURCH-large570On Saturday I was one of 250 citizens who met at the Queens Street statue of Aneurin Bevan, to protest the Tories’ austerity measures, with the Cardiff People’s Assembly. Thankfully, it’s my democratic right to do so.  

Many people I know (myself included) received the news that the Tories had won a majority (and that Ukip got so many votes!) with bewilderment. It wasn’t at all what was expected, especially considering that the political conversation, that we’d seen on social media for the past six months, had been overwhelmingly in support of the left-wing parties. There can only be one conclusion: we’ve been preaching to the converted.

It’s all very well for me to sit in my cosy leftie bubble with my baja-sporting friends, spending our free time attending vegan popup barbecues and meeting in art centres to have a bit of a moan about UKIP; we missed the changing climate of British politics. We dismissed the growing support for the rightwing as just a few comedy racists, underestimated the momentum they were gaining, and thought that by retweeting the latest Owen Jones article, we were doing our bit. Wrong!

We need to take the action we should’ve taken before, now! Just because the piratical Conservative party now have a majority doesn’t mean that we’ve lost. On the contrary, it mean we’ve got to fight harder. Personally, I feel I haven’t done enough, and I’m going to change that.

For Andrew R.T Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, to describe my exercising of democratic freedom, as “unbecoming”, really says more than I ever could. Perhaps Andrew thinks I should get back to the ironing and stop babbling on about air-headed notions such as protecting the NHS (a system that Mr. Davies himself has been most mobile in attacking), fighting for a fairer society (a concept that entirely eludes his party), and championing the plight of those in society who are less privileged than me. Perhaps he wants to quiet me because I threaten his status as a wealthy, privately educated, white male.

As for him, and others, denigrating me as a “champagne socialist”, I have to say I’m more of a prosecco girl, myself. I was born in a working-class family who have for generations been active in political protest. I was nine years old when I was first taken to a demonstration by my mother, who at the time was working as a housing officer for Cardiff council.

That was three years before my career as a singer began. I have earned a lot of money from creating music, but I’ve stayed in Cardiff, where my family are, where the people I grew up with are, where my roots are. I could have sacked them all off and moved to LA. I could have made a lot more money by investing in arms and oil, rather than ethically. I could have voted Tory. Christopher Hart for the Daily Mail decried protestors as “enemies of democracy”. Democracy doesn’t just end because we’ve had an election.

Trying to silence the dissenting voice is far more anti-democratic. Mr. Davies sees me carrying a placard as an insult to the electorate, “who have just spoken”. But while he spends his time criticising me, he ignores the fact that there are serious legitimacy issues with David Cameron’s government. Only 24% of those eligible to vote, voted Tory. That’s staggeringly low. And in my opinion it is completely unacceptable.

I am no fan of UKIP, but if I had voted for them I’d be seriously pissed off. The situation, though, is far from hopeless. If you feel at all like me, I beg you to get involved. Find out when a rally is happening in your area. Turn up. As it happens those who set up these marches are, in my experience, lovely people, who care about their communities; not hooligan, memorial desecrating, chodes.

If we pull together then we can’t be ignored. We need to be organised, but most of all we need numbers. There’s a march in London on 20th June outside the Bank of England. Here’s the link: http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/calendar Hope to see you there. Love and cyber-hugs, Charlotte xxx

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Tax dodgers

Tax dodgersTo read the Sun, Mail and Mirror, you might think that our financial problems are due to poor people and immigrants living on benefits.

In reality, benefit cheats account for very little – the big drain on government income is due to very rich people not paying their fair share of tax.

The government and the right-wing press and media run stories against poor people (whether they be on benefits or immigrants or whatever) to divert attention from their own relative affluence (72% of the current crop of MPs are millionaires!).  They want you to vote to allow them to continue to accumulate wealth at your expense and at the expense of the poorest in Britain.

This explains why the government has more officers working away to identify “benefit fraud” than to identify tax dodgers. The benefits cheats routinely face the threat of prosecution and imprisonment whilst, in contrast, when HMRC do discover £ multi-million tax evasion, their policy is not to prosecute but to politely ask for their money retrospectively.

This encourages would-be tax dodgers to try their luck as they’re in a classic “can’t lose” situation. Tax evasion has become yet another way of discriminating against the poor and in favour of the already-rich.

Say no to austerity !

I remember 1945 – when Britain was proportionately more in debt then than today. Despite this, the post-war Labour government nationalised basic industries, created the NHS, expanded secondary and higher education (all free) and invested. No one talked then about Britain being unable to afford to invest.

These measures laid the foundation for the “never had it so good” years of the 1950s and 1960s. What a contrast with today! The Conservative/LibDem coalition has increased student fees, has cherry-picked parts of the NHS and has targetted the less well off, by cutting benefits, instituting the bedroom tax, etc. And we’re promised more to come …..

In practice, austerity cuts real incomes and so reduces taxation revenue – causing government debt to increase! So, austerity make no sense as a financial policy. The coalition has unlearnt the lessons of the 1930s when similar cuts to welfare and benefits reduced personal incomes and prolonged the depression.

I believe the real aim of current government policies is to rob poorer people to pay for tax breaks for the better off (Just 1% now own over 50% of Britain’s wealth and they could pay off our national debt while still remaining richer than the rest of us).

It is tragic that today’s Labour Party has accepted these policies and has pledged to continue Tory austerity measures. The Socialist Labour Party – the genuine heir to the post-war Labour Party – is totally opposed to all austerity measures.