h

Roemer re-elected to head party list for general election: 'Only the SP can close the gap'

25 June 2016

Roemer re-elected to head party list for general election: 'Only the SP can close the gap'

Foto: SP

The SP is the only party which can close the enormous gap which has opened across society, said Emile Roemer, following his re-election by the Party Council to head the list for next year’s general election. “There is a yawning gap between the small group which does very well for itself and the rest of the population,” Roemer told the Party Council, which is made up of every branch chair and a few ex-officio members, and is the SP’s supreme decision-making body between National Congresses. “If the SP gets into power, then the Netherlands by 2020 will look completely different. With more democracy, more power for ordinary people. Because as things stand people have no longer any say over their work, their school or their neighbourhood, so we will make sure that they regain a voice.”

According to Roemer the British demonstrated last week what happens when the political elite systematically ignores the views of the people. “You can’t get away with pampering multinational and subsidising banks and at the same time make the people pay,” he said. “You can’t get away with ignoring the people for years and years. That’s why the Netherlands will have to negotiate afresh for a Europe that doesn’t force countries to destroy themselves with austerity. For a Europe of cooperation and not of diktats. A Europe that is in service to the people, and not to the market and the currency. And then put the that new treaty to the people. That is democracy!”

Roemer returned to his own country’s situation to close his speech, calling for a health service accessible to all, regardless of income as an important aspect of “closing the gap.”

The main points of Emile Roemer’s speech to the Party Council:

“We have an exciting week behind us. The British decided this week to leave the European Union. We can safely call that a turning point in European history.

“The British demonstrated last week what happens when the political elite systematically ignores the views of the people. The Eurocrats who in recent decades have worked towards a European superstate have got their comeuppance.

“This came as a surprise to many, but not to me. You can’t get away with rigging up a European Union that forces countries to impose harsh austerity and demolish people’s certainties. You can’t get away with pampering multinationals and subsidising banks and at the same time make the people pay. You can’t get away with ignoring the people for years and years.

“Anyone who sees their income permanently falling short of what’s needed in order to live; who sees carefully constructed social provisions being demolished; who sees that our health care is becoming a playground for businesses, and who sees that the gap between rich and poor is only continuing to widen, has had it up to here with the elite.

“I’m speaking here about the elite of unworldly politicians who keep on dreaming of a federal Europe, of Eurocrats who think that Brussels really knows best, and above all of an economic elite of representatives of big business, the financial world and all the lobbying groups that belong to them. They have not only lost sight of the human scale, they have sacrificed the human scale on the altar of the market. You could knock me over with a feather when I hear (Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup chair Jeroen) Dijsselbloem, in the wake of the Brexit, talking about the ‘Fundamentals of the economy’. Politics, Jeroen, you do for people. Not for banks and investors.

“The Eurocrats not only didn’t want Brexit, but also any change at all in the direction of the European project. For them, this is all the more reason to push still harder. In doing so they are widening the gulf between themselves and a growing group of people who want to see a different Europe., driving a section of the population into the hands of the extreme right and putting cooperation in Europe in jeopardy.

“A different Europe means first and foremost a Europe in which national democracy is given sufficient space; where there is no place for an undemocratic European Commission; where the internal market is contained; where budgetary policy which imposes the erosion of social policy and demolishes is no longer imposed.

“That’s why we also want to see fresh negotiations in Europe, a new deal, a new treaty. On a slimmed down Europe. On a more democratic Europe. A Europe that doesn’t force countries to destroy themselves with austerity. A Europe that promotes cooperation instead of laying down diktats. A Europe that is in service to the people, and not to the market and the currency. And then put the that new treaty to the people. That is democracy

“……Ordinary people have less and less control. Not over Europe. Not over the housing association. Not over school or work. Not over our economy.

“There is a yawning gap between the small group which does very well for itself and the rest of the population who get the pain from the political establishment in The Hague, but none of the gain dreamed up by The Hague and Brussels.

“Power must go therefore to the people!”

Roemer then turned his attention to the domestic scene. Tenants must control their housing associations, which in the Netherlands are a major and longstanding source of affordable accommodation. If top salaries and bonuses go through the roof, then workers must be given influence in their companies’ policies, via their own appointees on the board of directors. If students and lecturers are rendered powerless in the face of administrators, the SP will make them the bosses in education. There should be a millionaire tax. Moves to ensure that people were paid a living wage, to tackle tax avoidance by multinationals and ensure that the biggest firms paid their fair share.

Ghetto formation, discrimination and racism will not be ignored, because the struggle against racism and exclusion goes hand in hand with the struggle against social inequality. Recognising this means that you guarantee for everyone good education, sufficient income, an affordable home and health care. “Because we are together in the Netherlands.”

Roemer spoke about the petition for a National Health Fund which had already gathered almost 40,000 signatures, a total which was growing by the day. Such a fund would get rid of the so-called ‘Own Risk’ payments which meant that people can often no longer afford the care and treatment they need.

“Closing the gap, that will be our line of attack in next year’s elections. In health care, in education, and also in Europe. We are going to do that because we have proved that we can. From Amsterdam to Maastricht. From Groningen to South Holland. Where the SP is running things, people are better off.”

Roemer closed his speech with a rallying cry to his fellow SP members . He believed in the SP, he said, “Because we are the Netherlands’ most active party. Because we have the best ideas for closing the gulf and for making the Netherlands more social.”

Candidates were being chosen and goals debated and adopted. The National Health Care Fund, with no ‘Own Risk’, “because no-one who is ill deserves to be fined...”. Higher wages “because you should be able to support a family from your salary.” More local policing “for safer neighbourhoods.” Smaller classes. Tax avoidance would be tackled. Investment in solar energy and the closure of coal-fired power stations.

With the SP in power, the Netherlands of 2020 would look very different. The SP doesn’t have “cautious ambitions, but makes revolutionary proposals to truly change our country. More democracy, with more power for ordinary people. Capital subjugated in favour of democracy.

“I'm looking forward to it. Let’s make it the kind of campaign we’ve built for the national health care fund.”

See also:

You are here