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Terry Fields

Tory clowns have nothing to offer

(July 1991)

From Militant, No. 1050, 19 July 1991, p. 4.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

TERRY FIELDS spoke in Parliament recently about the decline of Liverpool’s industry and against the redundancies put forward by the Labour council. He was attacked by the press and the Labour leadership but few of them reported what he actually said. Militant reprints part of his speech.

CONSERVATIVE MEMBERS say, “I taught in Liverpool,” or “I went through Liverpool on a bus,” but we have lived there all our lives and have seen the conditions of our constituents.

We do not need lessons from Tories representing the ruling class to tell us what is in our best interests. Since 1983, in local and general elections, the people of Liverpool have consistently shown that the Tories have no place in Liverpool politics.

We are asked to attack the trade unions in Liverpool. We are being asked on all sides to sack workers in a city which, on everyone’s evaluation, has been impoverished over decades.

People in my city are trying to resolve the problems, but all that we get is a pantomime from Conservative Members who have no cognisance of the conditions of our people.

They do not know what they are talking about. My father was a docker; he lived and died on the docks. He worked like a horse and was treated like an animal in the pens by them and their class, so they should not tell us about the docks. They have starved the city of finance and they have created poverty, bad housing conditions and unemployment. Now, almost like voyeurs, they are coming back to the scene of the crime.

The Conservatives boast about investment in Liverpool, but they have crippled the city. They understand that I know what they are about and which class interests they represent. I represent my class proudly, standing up to defend workers and the city of Liverpool. We have defended it against all corners. We fear none of you – you have done all you can.

I am sorry about the parliamentary courtesy but when I see my class enemy face to face, I sometimes lose my cool.

We shall not solve the problems of Liverpool in this bear garden or through the Liberals and Tories, but through a Labour Government implementing socialist policies with the same enthusiasm as the Prime Minister and his predecessor have represented their class, the money fellows in the City, the Saunders’ and all those who are screwing my class. We shall never forgive you for it.

The decline in the economy has had adverse effects on the city of Liverpool. That has been mentioned time and again. The Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Blunkett) said in Labour Briefing in 1984:

“The difficulty with the Liverpool situation is that it is unique. Not simply in its financial position, taking over a Liberal budget with a Labour programme, having no reserves or back up funds to survive the coming year, but because Liverpool is a living tribute to private enterprise and Tory policy in the destruction of the economy and industry.”

He went on to say that we should be looking for ways to support the Liverpool councillors in their struggle against the Government as part of an on-going programme by other Labour-controlled authorities to assist and to stand with Liverpool against the Tories.

We are told that Liverpool is a debt-ridden city because of the policies of Militant and the extremists. That is not true. I take as my source the municipal year book, which compares 1980 and 1990. In fact, Liverpool’s debt is less than Manchester’s; it is almost equal to that of Leeds and is exceeded by Coventry’s. Liverpool’s debt is no more or less than that of the majority of local authorities. If we are looking for criticism, we do not need the Tories to tell us how to run a sound economy in our city because they bankrupted the country and continue to do so with their economic policies.

Redundancies are a crisis for Liverpool. I do not believe that it is right that a Labour authority should make people redundant when there are jobs to be done for the council.

The reality is that, in Liverpool, there are unfilled vacancies on the work list. Other vacancies are coming up because of natural wastage, and 500 jobs will be found and (the council) could employ those workers if it wanted to.

We need a Labour Government elected at the next general election – the sooner the better – as a starting point to regenerate inner-city areas.

We must give notice to the incoming Labour Government not to follow the path of the Wilson or Callaghan Administrations, which had to face, on the one hand, the demand of big business and the International Monetary Fund and, on the other, the hopes and aspirations of working people which had built up after 13 nightmarish years of Toryism.

If we are to make any deals, they will not be with those in the City. Let us have our discussions with the working class, the disfranchised, the homeless, the poor, with those who are crippled by the mortgage interest rate and with those small business people who cannot afford to run their factories.

Those people are our wonderful constituency, but we will not control what we do not own. Conservative Members understand that point.

Our programme for the future is the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy, with workers controlling the management and planning for need, not greed.

That is the only solution to Liverpool’s problems. It is the only solution to the problems of the working class. The clowns on the Conservative benches have nothing to offer us that would help to solve our problems.

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