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Pat Wall

Bradford – Worse Than the Thirties

(May 1983)

From Militant, 20 May 1983. p. 7.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Below, Militant reprints the speech made by Pat Wall, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bradford North, in an address recently made to Labour Party workers following his formal adoption as candidate:

This election is the most serious and important since 1945, when the election of the Labour government led to the post-war reconstruction of Britain and the massive expansion of our health, education and welfare services. The problems we face today are even more serious than 1945 and in many ways worse than those experienced in the hungry ‘30s.

Merely to blame the situation on the world recession is to say that our living standards and the future hopes of our children will be decided by international finances and large multinational companies, most of whom are based outside these islands.

As a socialist, I cannot accept that it is beyond the wit and intelligence of Man to solve the problems of hunger, poverty, unemployment or the even greater problems of peace and war.

Here in Bradford North, 30,000 are unemployed; there is 50% male unemployment in some of our own housing estates.

Unemployment restricts lives

Yet, frightening as these figures are, they are as nothing compared with the toll of human misery that unemployment brings to our people. Mass long-term unemployment brings broken homes, battered wives, neglected children, more violence on our streets, more burglary and crime in general and for millions years of grinding poverty.

The unemployed, along with old, the sick, the disabled and single-parent families are forced to lead restricted and often isolated lives on poverty incomes which prevents them from fully participating in the economic, political, cultural and social activity of our society.

Socialist Planning

It is absolutely vital that the very first task of an incoming Labour government should be to launch a massive programme of public works to begin to reverse the intolerable lengthening of the dole queue. And that through socialist planning we should seek to rebuild the wealth-producing section of the British economy.

This government has cut the real level of payments to the unemployed, the sick, threatened to ‘claw-back’ from the pensioners and is considering a vicious attack on women and children by introducing ‘means testing’ into the payment of child benefit.

This government of hard-line right wingers has trebled council rents, doubled the price of gas and reduced its grants to local government, placing additional charges on already over-burdened rate payers. This government of hard-faced bigots condemned many of our black fellow citizens to second-class citizenship, divide families and threatened more deportation.

The next Labour government faces enormous tasks. Re-building a shattered economy, restoring the cuts and expanding our health, education and welfare services, abolishing nuclear weapons, opposing all forms of authoritarian dictatorship throughout the world by championing the struggles of the poor, the hungry and the oppressed.

Ninety years ago a small group of dedicated socialists, mostly Marxists, founded the Independent Labour Party in this city. A group which included such giants as Fred Jowett, Keir Hardie and Frederick Engels, all believed in a fundamental and radical socialist transformation of society.

In the main they were poor working men and women who gave their lives and what little finance they had in the struggle to better the lives of their fellow workers. Not one of them would have expected they had a divine right to any public office or position.

Socialism stands for all that is best in life, for replacing fear by hope, narrowness and meanness by generosity and compassion, poverty by plenty, exploitation by co-operation and jingoism by comradeship.

It is the rank and file of the labour movement who will win our victory, having returned myself and the majority of Labour candidates to Westminster. You must insist there is no backsliding in our socialist convictions, that we work just as hard for our people as the Tories have for the wealthy over these past four harsh years.

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Last updated: 2 April 2016