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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Scargill launches party manifesto
Arthur Scargill
Scargill: His party will field 161 candidates
Miners' leader Arthur Scargill has pressed for a cash injection for the NHS through a huge cut in defence spending in his Socialist Labour Party's general election manifesto.

Withdrawing the UK from the European Union and restoring the link between pensions and earnings are other proposals in the manifesto, which was launched on Monday.


Mr Scargill has shown himself for what he is: an extremist

Peter Mandelson
Mr Scargill, National Union of Mineworkers president and Socialist Labour Party general secretary, is set to challenge former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson in Hartlepool.

Speaking on the eve of London's May Day demonstrations, he backed "direct action" against capitalism.

He says the party will put up candidates in 116 of the 641 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales.

Four-day week

The manifesto includes plans for a four-day working week to tackle unemployment, with all non-essential overtime banned and voluntary retirement with full pay at 55.

It also proposes increasing the national minimum wage from 4.10 to 7 per hour.

Dissolution of the monarchy, abolition of the House of Lords, withdrawing troops from Northern Ireland and a united Irish state are also on the party's wish list.

Other policies include:

  • Cutting defence spending by 16m a year - including scrapping the Trident missile programme - and earmarking 15m of that money for the NHS.

  • Taking railways, buses and airlines into public ownership through a 10-year, 100bn programme funded from subsidies currently given to Railtrack and from a levy on oil companies' profits.

  • Giving an extra 5bn a year to education, with private schools abolished.

  • Building one million new or rehabilitated homes a year, with the 15bn boost funded by a levy on banks' profits.

  • Abolishing VAT and introducing higher taxes for higher earners, including a 70-80% rate on incomes above 250,000.

  • Doubling corporation and capital gains taxes.

    Mr Scargill, who also accused the Israeli government of pursuing Nazi-style policies against the Palestinians, said Labour was little different from the other two main parties.

    "They are all members who support the capitalist system," he said.

    Issues not personalities

    He promised his own contest against Mr Mandelson would be fought on issues not personalities.

    He accused the former minister of being an "unmitigated disaster" as trade secretary.

    As thousands of protesters were expected to converge on central London for May Day demonstrations, the miners' leader voiced his support for "direct action" against capitalism.

    Peter Mandelson
    Mandelson faces a challenge from Scargill
    The introduction to the new manifesto says: "Socialist Labour supports people young and old alike, who take direct action against world poverty, nuclear weapons and civil nuclear power, the arms trade, live animal exports, open cast mining and the motorway madness which is destroying our environment.

    "We are committed not only to winning seats for socialist policies in parliamentary and municipal elections, but to extra-parliamentary action which is taken because politicians refuse to listen."

    Asked if his party approved of vandalism, he replied: "I oppose vandalism, and that is why we oppose capitalism, because capitalism causes vandalism, it's a vandalistic society."

    Mr Mandelson criticised Mr Scargill's comments, saying: "Mr Scargill has shown himself for what he is: an extremist who is prepared to give more support to a bunch of violent anarchists than a democratically elected Labour government.

    "The people of Hartlepool will speak for the whole country when they reject him and his madcap policies at the general election."

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    See also:

    02 Feb 01 | UK Politics
    Scargill to stand against Mandelson
    02 May 00 | UK Politics
    In defence of direct action
    22 Feb 00 | Labour centenary
    Arthur Scargill: Party purged of socialism
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