Tag Archive for: Scarborough and Whitby

Election Reflection

A letter from the Social Justice Party’s candidate for Scarborough and Whitby and National Secretary Asa Jones reflecting on the General Election and the next steps for the party:

From little acorns

Now that we’ve had a few weeks to recover, it’s worthwhile taking a look at our General Election performance and consider what we do next.

The Social Justice Party stood one candidate in Scarborough and Whitby. I believe it’s fair to say that if the election had been called at a later date, we could have selected a few more candidates and raised funds for their campaigns. In Scarborough and Whitby, we received 285 votes. More than quadrupling the number of known supporters in the constituency, indicating that there is a core of local voters connecting with our manifesto and policies providing a decent platform to build on.

As a very new political party, our campaign faced a number of factors which limited our success. These included a lack of funding, shortage of local activists, a lack of name recognition on top of the election being called so early.

Despite this our campaign managed to: get a leaflet delivered to every household in the constituency; carry out a targeted leaflet drop inviting voters from Osgodby, Eastfield and Crossgates to a public meeting; run a stall in Scarborough town centre and some targeted canvassing in Scarborough and along with support from Redcar and Cleveland Branch in Whitby.

In addition, our campaign team ran a robust social media campaign mostly on Facebook which targeted local voters. This has resulted in a big increase in traffic to our party’s social media pages which we need to make the most of going forward.

An initial SJP manifesto and prioritised policy statements were produced at pace to ensure the SJP had a manifesto for the campaign. Members will get the opportunity to develop our policy platform at the next party Conference in the Autumn.

I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has made our campaign in Scarborough and Whitby possible. What we’ve done is set a foundation for our future endeavours and I have been left with a passion to make sure we do better in the future.

Our next steps

We must now consider what happens next. The S&W Branch will be undertaking a consultation with members and supporters to develop a document that can be used at future elections that provides details about the practical steps that need to be taken but also provides advice around campaign strategy. 

The S&W Branch will also be making preparations for the next electoral opportunity on the calendar which is the Scarborough Town Council elections in spring 2025. This will be the next opportunity for us to build on our support and try and achieve some electoral success.

The National Co-ordinating Committee will be looking into all the various attempts to unite the left, which there is clearly a desire for amongst the left-wing activists I have met across the country over the last few months. The NCC’s goal at this stage is fact finding. We have representatives attending meetings of Collective, Campaign for a Mass Workers Party, For the Many Campaign, the TUSC and Jamie Driscoll’s new project.

Any decisions around the SJP’s relationship with any of these groups or their plans will be decided by the party membership. For the moment, we aim to keep ourselves as in-the-loop as possible with all organisations and parties and develop a detailed understanding of the opportunities that are arising.

I have said for a while that the really exciting stuff will happen after the General Election, we are now at that stage and we need as many people on-board to help us make the most of the next few years.

In solidarity and unity,

Asa Jones

Social Justice Party Secretary

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Socialist candidate backs Mine Workers over job losses

Rumours were spread at the end of May about possible job losses at the Woodsmith potash mine near Whitby, operated by Anglo American. The Woodsmith site began construction in 2017 under a different company with promises of jobs for local people and community investment. The project currently employs around 2000 people. However, with the majority of those roles being for contractors, the amount of ‘local jobs’ being created has never quite met expectations.

Following several attempts from another mining company – BHP – to buy out Anglo American, the decision was made to effectively mothball the project. This has only made the promises of 8 years ago even sourer. To prevent a takeover, Anglo American needs to win over shareholders by maintaining profit growth. The Woodsmith site is still being developed and is yet to produce any material yet alone turn a profit, this has meant cuts to the investment in the project from £800 million per year to just £159 million have been made to maintain profits internationally.

Local Parliamentary candidate reacts

Reacting to the news of cuts and threats to jobs, Asa Jones – the Social Justice Party candidate for Scarborough and Whitby – said:

“For many in our community, the decision by Anglo American to reduce capital investment in Woodsmith and effectively put the project into tick-over mode will feel like an inevitability.

“Mining corporations have played pass the parcel with the Woodsmith project since its inception and the promises of “lots of jobs for local people” have never come near to fruition.

“The truth is, Anglo American has more than enough money to keep meeting their original investment target of £800m per year, but they have made the decision to cut investment and hence jobs in favour of maintaining profit growth for their shareholders.

Source: BBC News

It was announced this week that of the 360 people directly employed by Anglo American, around half are going to be cut with more reductions in contracted staff also expected. When it came to who he supports, Asa made his priorities clear:

“Unlike other candidates, I will not be meeting with Anglo American executives. I have met and have got to know many people actually working on the Woodsmith project and will be supporting them in their attempt to save their jobs over the coming months.”

Whats the solution?

Just as with the railways or our NHS or water, this crisis has shown how destructive an over-reliance on the private sector can be in industry and resource extraction. There is no lack of money for the Woodsmith project, but through the prioritising of profits – it is working class people who have suffered. Asa Jones was clear about the way forward:

“What most certainly must not happen, is the use of Government funds – our tax money – to subsidise Anglo American profits.

“Polyhalite – just like Iron and Coal – is a part of our nation’s natural resources. We should be nationalising the extraction of all such resources, to ensure that projects like Woodsmith are run in the interests of all people.

“Common ownership of mining would mean projects are run to genuinely create jobs for local communities, it would mean that projects are only set up when they are compliant with our net-zero goals and it would mean we could re-invest the profits of this industry back into our public services instead of the off-shore bank accounts of multinational corporations and their shareholders.”

The Social Justice Party is committed to the nationalisation of public services and the democratisation of other workplaces to give ordinary people power over their own lives where they need it most. This is crucial to not only help facilitate a redistribution of wealth back down to working people, but to also give people a stake in their workplaces and confidence that this country is run in their interests.

Socialist candidate slams Labour for Worker’s Rights U-turn

One of the few redeeming features of Labour’s policy platform was their ‘New Deal for Working People’ which included commitments to a real-living wage, a ban on zero-hours contracts and enshrining a ‘right to switch off’ in law.

But on 1st May, anonymous spokespeople for the Labour leadership began the process of briefing the big-business lobby about its plans to make a series of U-turns on worker’s rights over the coming weeks, in Starmer’s latest attempt to suck-up to corporate interests.

Source: Financial Times

Justice at Work

Taking to social media, Asa Jones – the Social Justice Party candidate for Scarborough and Whitby – slammed Labour for their latest U-turn saying:

On International Workers Day, Starmer is busy briefing the corporate lobby with promises to U-turn on his current pledges to ban zero-hours contracts and enshrine a ‘right to switch off’ into law.

Asa Jones – Social Justice Party candidate for Scarborough & Whitby

People in Scarborough & Whitby need an MP who will fight for justice at work and not cower to the interests of the super-rich.”

As a young person who has worked in the local tourist industry, Asa says he understands first-hand how low-pay and insecure work is contributing to the mass-exodus of young people and families from his costal community and believes a strengthening of worker’s rights and a real-living wage are crucial to making the Yorkshire Coast a place where working-class people can afford to live.

More spin from Labour

Speaking to the Financial Times, Labour insiders described plans to roll-back on the promise to enshrine a ‘right to switch off’ into law by making it part of a code of conduct and exempting small businesses. Labour’s previous claim to ban zero-hours contracts is also said to be watered down over the coming weeks.

Source: Financial Times

Despite these detailed reports of Labour’s behind-the-scenes promises to big-businesses, a Labour spokesperson – speaking to the Morning Star – insisted there would be “no watering down” of the party’s policies.

The Morning Star itself then pointed out that Labour has already watered down its promises regarding a worker’s rights package when it dropped its commitment to ‘fair pay agreements’ covering all industrial sectors and limiting them to just the social care sector. It seems fair to say that anyone trapped in low-pay and insecure work should pay more attention to what Labour does than what its anonymous spokespeople say it’ll do when considering who to vote for at the next election.

Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, who are united in their capitulation to the interests of big-business, the Social Justice Party will campaign on a comprehensive platform of expanding workers rights. Including delivering a real-living wage, the immediate reversal of all anti-union legislation, banning zero-hours contracts outright and promoting worker-led workplace democracy in both the public and private sectors.

Scarborough & Whitby: Asa Jones selected as candidate

On Saturday 23rd March, members of the Scarborough & Whitby Social Justice Party Branch held a meeting at Scarborough Library to select their Parliamentary candidate for the next General Election.

Party members selected 23-year-old Asa Jones to be their candidate. Mr Jones, who lives in Whitby and works for a disability charity, took aim at both the Conservative and Labour Parties:

“Labour and the Tories are now united in their refusal to increase spending on our crippled public services and share an ideological commitment to cuts, austerity and privatisation.

In a speech made before the vote at the selection meeting, Mr Jones set out his vision for the foundation of a democratic socialist economy:

“We need to bring the railways, buses, energy generation and distribution and water immediately into common ownership and under the control of those who know those industries best: the people who actually work in them.”

Justice for the NHS

Asa also focused on the NHS in his speech:

“We desperately need to bring spending on health and social care back up to pre-austerity levels and indeed go even further to make up for the ingrained destruction caused by a decade and a half of Tory rule. We need to remove the private sector entirely from our health services – every pound that goes towards profit is a pound less to spend on patient care. Our overworked NHS staff are struggling to give the standard of care they want to give. This NHS crisis is caused by chronic underfunding and privatisation that was created by the Conservatives and that Labour plan to continue.”

Justice at Work

Mr Jones said it was his own experience of working in Scarborough and Whitby which lead him to seek the Social Justice Party’s nomination:

“I’ve worked in restaurants and pubs and I’ve seen people who work 40 hours a week struggle to get by. People can’t afford to live in their own communities anymore because the opportunities for work are so low-pay and insecure. I will fight for a real living wage, full rights at work for everyone from day one regardless of the type of employment, a ban on zero-hours contracts, repealing the Trade Union Act so that people can actually have power in their workplace and can maintain their own rights.

The path towards owning a stable home and living with security and dignity starts at work and our community desperately needs a representative who will deliver justice in the workplace and who will fight to reverse the mass-exodus of young people and young families from our coast.”

Preventing Climate Disaster

As someone who took part in the school strikes for the climate in 2019, he said he was also proud to represent a party that took the climate and ecological crisis seriously:

“Our parliament declared a climate and ecological emergency five years ago, yet the government continues to license new oil and gas fields when it will do nothing for energy security or lowering our fuel bills. Preventing climate disaster must surround everything we campaign for, so we need radical levels of investment in green industries and upgrading our renewable infrastructure to create new, secure jobs and help deliver us to a net-zero economy. We also need to be committed to modal shift in our transport system, to get people out of cars and planes and onto buses and trains.”

Campaigning Locally to win Nationally

Councillor Tony Randerson – who represents the Eastfield Division on North Yorkshire Council for the SJP – congratulated Mr Jones on becoming the party’s candidate and said he looked forward to campaigning together:

“Asa is passionate about making the lives of working-class people better, his energy and determination is refreshing after 19 years of a disinterested Tory MP who’s too scared to even visit the communities he represents. I pledge 100% support for Asa, whose work ethic is the same as myself and am confident if elected, Asa would make a very energetic, hardworking Constituency MP.

I can’t wait to start campaigning with Asa on building new social and council housing, a reliable transport system that’s publicly owned, decent pay at work and most importantly an NHS that’s fit for purpose, properly funded and completely free at the point of use. In particular, I am grateful for his determination to lobby NHS England for a Dental Practice to be restored in Eastfield – the largest housing estate in North Yorkshire.”

This is just the first of many candidates that we’ll be standing at the next General Election. The need has never been greater for there to be a genuine socialist alternative at the ballot box. The Social Justice Party will be building on the left’s greatest strength: a wealth of experience in grassroots, member-led campaigning to prove the case for socialism in Britain.