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Rail Fares Only a militant mass movement will deliver the change Britain needs

THE biggest train fare rise in five years is a bitter pill to swallow for commuters who already pay by far the highest prices in Europe for services which are among the slowest and least reliable.

There’s something depressingly familiar about the annual litany of threadbare excuses from transport tycoons and Tory ministers for robbing the travelling public blind.

But that just goes to show how far the left still needs to go in order to change this disgraceful state of affairs.

That isn’t just true of the railways — across the board Britain’s workers are being ripped off, forced to pay through the nose merely to keep a roof over their heads and get to work while pay is squeezed and public services reel from the impact of reckless and irresponsible spending cuts.

Socialists in Britain can be forgiven for feeling that we have made progress in recent years. Before the Corbyn revolution shook the Labour Party, it was unthinkable that a mainstream political party might share the public’s opposition to private ownership of the railways and utilities and commit to extend public ownership.

In 2017, Labour’s straight-talking socialism was rewarded at the ballot box, as the party defied the entire political and media establishment — including many of its own MPs — to end the Conservative majority in the House of Commons and win the biggest increase in its vote share since 1945, despite a relentless campaign to vilify and misrepresent its leader, promoted by broadcasters and all newspapers except this one, from the moment he stood for the Labour leadership.

Since then, the government has limped from crisis to crisis.

It has lost ministers in scandals ranging from allegations of pornography on office computers to freewheeling foreign policy gaffes such as Priti Patel’s bid to hand our aid budget to the Israeli army.

It has so little confidence in its own MPs that it abstains on opposition day votes rather than risk trying to defend its record and was humiliatingly defeated over giving Parliament a vote on whatever Brexit deal its remaining ministers manage to stitch up with Jean-Claude Juncker and his Brussels cronies.

Labour leads in the polls and with the government so dysfunctional the temptation to sit and wait for Theresa May’s administration to fall apart is strong.

But as long as the government lasts it retains the power to inflict pain, poverty and misery on millions of Britons. Another million children are set to be plunged into poverty by 2022 if the May administration is allowed to run its course.

Labour must ramp up the offensive to throw the Tories out of office, continuing to develop its presence in communities and on the streets as the only mass political party in the country.

The message of the election is that radicalism will be rewarded — our country faces a cost of living crisis and working people will see through centrist “solutions” that tinker at the edges and leave the grotesque structural injustices that disfigure our society intact.

In 2017 we celebrated 100 years since the Russian Revolution, an upheaval that changed the course of history and championed principles of equality and social justice that still resonate today.

This year our movement marks 150 years since the foundation of the TUC, an anniversary that should inspire us to build a labour movement worthy of the pioneers who risked life and liberty to stand up for working people.

Let’s fight for a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in 2018 — but recognise that a militant labour movement empowering people in their workplaces is just as necessary to deliver lasting change.


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