We need a strong left-wing, socialist party; this is the solution suggested by the candidate for the London Assembly. According to him, ending the crisis would require the working class to unite in clear opposition to right-wing and traditional parties.
He will vote for Ken Livingstone for Mayor of London because he believes that he is the only candidate who can defeat Boris Johnson, although he will do so with little enthusiasm as it will still be a vote for the Labour Party.
However, he has a very clear position on the importance of immigrants, advocating that they do not have anything to do with the economic crisis and understanding the terrible prejudices that must be changed, and that in order to achieve such goals the left-wing must unite.
Candidate for the London Assembly as a member of the Trade Unionist and Socialists Coalition (TUSC) party, Nick Wrack comes from a long political career on the left. He was a founding chair of “Respect”, a political party taking the lead in socialism, arguing in opposition of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has joined with other leftist organisations.
His political career has shaped him as a speaker of clear ideas, opposing the current situation where nations are leaning towards right-wing policy and intensifying austerity policies.
Nick Wrack affirms,“we need to have a party that will impose a programme in the interest of ordinary working class people”, a class made up mostly of immigrants that is now threatened by growing racism and xenophobic sentiment that has been sparked by the current economic crisis.
According to Wrack, who has long been a defender of civil rights, “all immigrants should be welcome, they should be given sanctuary and treated with dignity and respect”. He has demonstrated his stance in his career as a lawyer, taking part in controversial cases including that of ex-soldier Joe Glenton, who faced charges for desertion when he was called to Afghanistan for a second time.
In this current situation of a seemingly never ending economic crisis that has triggered an international policy of austerity and privatisation, deepening the social crisis, affecting mainly the working-class, Nick believes that socialism is crucial because “ capitalism cannot solve the problems we face”.
Similarly, with the lack of political choice, given that the major parties support the austerity measures, he believes that TUSC is the first step in creating a party that represents a different socialist choice, a socialist view, against cuts and privatisation which are “a direct attack on the working class”.
As a candidate for the London assembly, Nick Wrack proposes an alternative, left-wing, radical, inclusive view that will effectively stand up to the right-wing government. He shared these ideas with The Prisma.
Do you think the left wing is an option now, despite the impression that the media and right wing give of its ideas?
In Britain across Europe and across the whole world there is a profound and deep and devastating economic crisis that is affecting every single ordinary person. The only people who are unscathed are the rich, the super rich, the bankers and the big business people. Ordinary people are being affected through unemployment, through low pay, services are being privatised and the future for the children of the planet is being taken away from them.
The right wing and the media try to present the argument that this is necessary in order to go forward, and they characterise the argument of the socialists, the left, as being old fashioned and out of date and of no worth. But in actual fact in this system, in this situation, the ideas of socialism, of Marxism, are really the only ideas that can explain what is happening and are the only ideas that can chart a way out of this crisis.
If that is the case what must be done?
The left has been weakened over the last thirty years but it needs to get organised and it needs to be confident, and it needs to take its ideas out to working class people everywhere and explain that the root and the cause of this crisis is capitalism, and the answer is not to try and make capitalism fairer or better, or to improve it, but it’s to fight to get rid of capitalism and to replace it with what I call socialism, which is the common ownership of the resources of the planet and a democratic society in which the decisions about how to invest those resources are made democratically by the people, not by a tiny few who make decisions in their own interests.
Realistically what do you think is the solution to find a way out of this crisis?
I think that first there’s different parts to answer that question. First of all, the working class, through its organisations, through its own collective struggle needs to resist every single attack that is being carried out to living standards, on its rights and on the future for our children. All the cuts needs to be opposed. The privatisation that is taking place needs to be stopped. But we also need a political alternative, and that means working class people forming a party. I want to see a united socialist party that brings together all sections of the left, all sections of working class society into a party that will champion the position of working class people in the face of this austerity attack. All the parties at the moment in Britain and as far as I can see it’s the same across the world, all the main parties support the same austerity programme.
But austerity is going on and nothing has been really done to stop it. What could be done to stop it?
First of all, the working class institutions, that’s the trade unions, primarily, have to resist the cuts, job losses and the pay freezes, they have to resist privatisation. So the trade unions are the first line of defence for working class people, but many working class people are not in trade unions. They should join, but they should also organise collectively – we need committees in every single part of the community who are organised, to explain the effect of the cuts, to resist the cuts, and to link up with the unions so there’s a common working class struggle to resist the austerity measures. But we need to go beyond that, but unless we have a party that argues for fundamental change, resistance would be limited to the workplace or in the community.
Has this crisis spread nationalism and racism and do people blame immigrants for the crisis?
It’s true in this crisis there has been a rise of nationalism across the world. We are seeing as the crisis gets deeper, people blaming immigrants, blaming migrant communities.
The ruling class, sections of it certainly, can always use this easy scapegoat, there’s a crisis, blame the immigrants. There are cuts, blame the immigrants. The National Health Service doesn’t have enough money, blame the immigrants. The left has to be confident and strong in arguing against these ideas. We have to explain that ordinary people, migrant workers, immigrant communities, Muslims, did not cause the crisis in terms of the debt, they didn’t cause the crisis of the National Health Service, or education.
This is a good speech about socialist ideas and the the left, but where does the argument fail and why is racism increasing…
The main reason that these ideas can’t get a foothold is because they’re not presented strongly and firmly enough. There is no powerful voice standing up for ordinary working-class people and therefore in the working-class communities, when they’re facing problems in terms of the conditions of schools or services, or facing unemployment, unless the left, unless the socialists are there explaining what is really the cause. And the real cause is capitalism, are the bosses, people who make the decisions about cuts. The migrant communities don’t decide whether there’s enough money for hospitals. The migrant communities don’t decide whether schools are going to be closed or replaced by an Academy and don’t decide that a factory is going to be closed down here and opened up ten thousand miles away.
The increase in support for anti-immigrant sentiment or nationalist feeling is because the left doesn’t answer those arguments strongly enough and the main reason for that is that we don’t have a strong socialist party here in Britain, the left is divided and weak because of that.
What do you think about the illegal workers? We can count them, hundreds, probably thousands.
In my opinion there should be an amnesty for all so-called illegal immigrants. There’s no real reason why people should not be able to go and come to this country as they please. The rich can do it. I don’t see why ordinary people can’t do it. The fact that London is a centre to which people come from all over the world, is for me one of the great things about London. The fact that you can meet people from all over the world, that there are communities from all over the world, this is for me is a brilliant thing, this for me is great and it’s something that we should celebrate and welcome, and not try to end.
Should there be trade unions for immigrants, specifically for illegal immigrants to find their rights as workers?
I don’t think that there should be separate trade unions. The trade unions should organise migrant workers into their ranks, into the same unions. And I know that some unions are doing that, they’re trying to organise among migrant communities. One of the problems is that a lot of migrant workers are exploited, maybe because of their conditions, or because they don’t speak English so fluently, they end up in low paid jobs, which are not organised and they’re exploited. And we need to make sure that the trade unions organise those workers to stop the exploitation.
Which of the candidates for Mayor of London do you find most appealing?
Well I think Boris Johnson must be defeated, and the only candidate who can do that is Ken Livingstone. So, I’ll be casting a vote for Ken Livingstone against Johnson.
I won’t do that with very much enthusiasm unfortunately, because Ken Livingstone as a member of the Labour Party has no different program himself from Ed Miliband or Ed Balls and the Labour Leadership who have all said that they can’t reverse the cuts and they support the pay freeze and I think that’s a big mistake. The Labour Party has no different programme from the austerity programme of the government, and that’s one of the reasons why some Labour voters have turned to right-wing solutions, because the Labour Party isn’t putting forward a strong resistance. So, it would be better if Ken Livingstone was to say that he’s opposed to all the cuts and that he would use his position as the Mayor of London to fight against the cuts. But I will vote for Ken against Boris.
How do you see the London Assembly elections for you and for the socialists?
On the 3rd of May people have a chance to vote for the trade union and socialist coalition (TUSC) as the only part that is opposing the austerity programme of the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party, who are all supporting the cuts. The TUSC is the only party that says no cuts, and no privatisation. We are the only party that is standing up for working-class people in London. Wherever they’re from, whatever colour they are, or religion they are.
We’re the only people, the only party standing up for ordinary working-class Londoners.
Transcripted by Grace Essex (firstname.lastname@example.org)