Sunday, 27 February 2011

Why i feel its wrong to be cutting international aid to developing countries

A news report today suggests that the UK will cut its international aid programs to several countries a report below suggests.

The UK is to stop direct aid to 16 countries, including Russia, China and Iraq, papers seen by the BBC suggest.

A draft copy of a government review of its £7.8bn overseas aid budget - to be published this week - also reveals assistance for India will be frozen.

But, overall, the international development budget will rise by a third in this parliament, it says.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said spending would be a "good deal better focused".

The government's draft report states that aid spending is good for Britain's economy and safety.

Malaria deaths

It also outlines plans for greater transparency and accountability, with an emphasis on funding programmes that deliver greater results and which, specifically, help girls and women.

Resources will be concentrated on the 27 countries that account for three-quarters of the world's maternal mortality and malaria deaths, such as Ghana and Afghanistan.

Source: Department for International Development document seen by BBC

Whilst the arguements have been made that fairly advanced countries now like China, Russia and India who all have their own space program now is a valid point all three of these countries still have large areas of povety in its working class population.

There are communities and groups of people that never get any help or funding andare left to fend for themselves even in these countries.

Alot of the time when we do send aid to these countries the money just gets stuck at the top and rarely filters its way down to those who need it most.

I do agree with the government that direct funding needs to be better targetted but that shouldnt mean less aid and funding for these developing and some poor nations.

The idea of contributing more to the world food program is not such a bad idea but i do think some of those countries on that list above produced from teh BBC are some very poor countries and i cannot for the life of me understand why we feel they can do without our help. THe likes of Moldova, Angola and Cameroon are incrediably poor nations on the world stage and still have millions in extreme povety and their people often struggle to feed themselves.

I think it was right to protect the international aid budget but whilst it was apparently protected just like the NHS we are still seeing cuts in its budget, so how protected was it really ?

I do think as one of the richest nations in the world Britain has an obligation to help other nations and peoples out i feel.

big gains for the left in Irish general election

The election results are coming in thick and fast now from the Irish Republic after their huge EU bail out and the greens pulling out of a battered government forced a general election. Below i've found some election results and some analysis from the source i found this from. I feel personally this is excellent news and the working class of Ireland have voted back against the big parties by presenting 5 radical left MP's this is excellent news as it will give working people a real say in waht happens now.

Voters have given the main Irish bosses' party a drubbing in the country’s general election. And the radical left has made a breakthrough, getting at least three TDs elected, with more results to come.

The biggest shift is the slump in support for the Fianna Fáil. Its share of the vote fell to less than 15 percent nationally – compared to 42 percent in the 2007 election.

This is the worst ever defeat for the party that has dominated Irish politics since independence from Britain in 1921 and that has been in power since 1997.

Fianna Fáil’s support in Dublin stood at less than 8 percent. They went from 13 to 1 TD in the capital. This is from a party that historically had 100,000 members when the country’s population was 3.5 million. It previously would have expected to get 40 percent of working class votes. Political dynasties that have controlled constituencies for decades are gone and places that have returned Fianna Fáil TDs (MPs) since the 1920s are now looking elsewhere.

The Irish Green Party, which had slavishly propped up the Fianna Fáil government in coalition, was decimated at the polls and now has no member in parliament.

The Irish Labour Party vote rose massively. But its determined lack of radicalism means that it will not look to use that vote to campaign against austerity. Instead, it is likely to go into coalition with the bosses’ second preference party Fine Gael. Sinn Fein gained and looked set to be the biggest opposition party after getting around 18 percent of the vote.

The radical left made a significant breakthrough with the candidates who are part of the United Left Alliance.

Newly elected TDs in the Alliance include Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party, Clare Daly of the Socialist Party, and Seamus Healy of the Tipperary Unemployed and Works Action Group.

Richard Boyd Barrett for the People before Profit Alliance and Joan Collins of the People before Profit Alliance could both be elected, as the counting continues. Other members of the United Left Alliance polled strongly but are unlikely to win a seat.

The vote was so close in Richard Boyd Barrett’s Dún Laoghaire constituency that a recount has been called for tomorrow.

The last government launched a brutal assault on working class living standards after becoming mired in corruption scandals involving bankers and property developers.

A £73 billion bank bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund meant hammering the poor and the vulnerable.

The ability of the union leadership to keep a lid on struggle against austerity has meant the crisis has been predominantly a crisis of parliamentary politics. Fine Gael are not associated with the corrupt pro-banker and pro-developer excesses of Fianna Fáil and have gained at the ballot box.

But both Labour and Fine Gael backed the IMF bailout of the banks. The next few months will see them implement the same austerity that led to the collapse of Fianna Fáil.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The fight has just begun

So as we see councils across the country passing their budgets for the year 2011/2012 it wont be long now untill the first real cuts start to bite in early April. With a national budget set to unviel even more cuts and probably tax rises for fuel and other such taxable items they can get their hands on we are left wondering about the battle ahead.

So far the cuts are happening so widespread and scattered its hard to know where to focus all of your energies. I do think the anti cuts movement do need to step it up a bit over the next few months as the cuts begin to deepen as local communities begin to suffer at the hands of this tory lead government of ours.

A few key dates will be on the 5th of March myself and other comrades will be getting out in protest for the first official NSSN anti cuts body's big scale protest. This will be a joint protest with comrades on teh same day taking their voices and placards down to cardiff where the lib dems are meeting. The one i will be attending in London will be the national conference of labour councillors. To highlight their hypocrisy of putting through cuts in their areas whilst saying they are against the cuts.

We need to make them realise they are just as much to blame for the cuts as the tories and lib dems. Ok maybe they are not the governing party of the country of course but when cuts are being passed down to a local level it is then their choice if they do the tories dirty work for them or not.

I was at the budget council meeting for the stevenage borough council this week which is a labour run council and was saddened to hear that they all voted through the cuts resoundingly. Very sad i thought to myself as i came away from the meeting.

We put up a good if small protest before the setting of the budget but it came to nothing as the cuts agenda rolls on.

Back in the 80's there were labour councils out there prepared to fight back against Margret Tatcher and say no to her cuts. They were almost successful. They even gained 60 million pounds of concessions from teh cuts through a well organised mass campaign and for them days a 60 million addition to your budget was a lot and something to feel very proud of.

This came about due to the role of militant labour in the city who along with Terry fielding and Derek Hatton took a stand against teh government. Along with Lambeth council who a few interesting stories of councillors being expelled from teh labour group there made a admirable stand.

The main reason these campaign eventually broke down was due to a mass purge from the labour right including the then leader neil Kinnock. The isolation of these brave councils, who were not realy brave if you think about it they were just doing right by their residents and people who voted them in.

Which i'm afraid is what we expect of all of our elected representitives sadly a left wing labour council as Dave nellist rightly said at the last NSSN conference is as rare as a poor banker in this day and age.

If one labour council stood up and said they are not doing the tories dirty work and refuse to put through their cuts it will send a message out there that other councils may follow in inspiration. Its all it might take to spark a wave of resistance to teh cuts which will send shockwaves back to Eric Pickles and the tory party. We should not be scared of big fat Eric Pickes coming in and setting our budgets for us as if in between refusing to vote the cuts through a mass campaign linking local anti cuts groups, unions, public sector staff and local charities and workers can rally around and create a mass resistance to Eric Pickes and his nasty tories. I really do think if you do not even attempt to fight back you have no chance of winning. Even if you fail you have still made a stand and stood by your principles.

People talk to me saying you cant set a illegal budget when setting your council budget. But a illegal budget is only when you havent set a budget at all. A needs budget is not illegal at all and is something i'm hugely in favour of.

An needs budget is where you set out which key essential services you cannot loose and what your local community and area needs and cant do without and spend its reserves and borrow in order to save jobs and services as the campaign builds

Councils are able to borrow at a good rate and can do this to bridge the gap in cut in funding. Quite often councils have large pool of funds they can draw on in the emergency/reserve budget that can keep local councils going if they do get stuck.

I found this piece which i have refered back to plenty of times to people in debates over council budget and cuts debates i've engaged in. This is a piece from the socialist a newspaper produced by the socialist party on The 7th of October 2010 and which i feel highlights things brilliantly and explains why councillors should fight the cuts.

IN THE mid-1980s Liverpool Labour council, under the political influence of the Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) and the pressure of a mass working class movement, successfully led a campaign to secure extra resources for the city's urban renewal programme from a hostile Tory government intent on cutting funding.

Subsequently, in an act of political revenge, 47 Liverpool Labour councillors were undemocratically removed from office and surcharged thousands of pounds. Every penny of the surcharges was raised from the labour movement in a magnificent fund-raising campaign.

If any council today showed a milligram of the courage and conviction of the 47 Liverpool councillors we would be living in a better place. Unfortunately New Labour councillors are raising the spectre of surcharge as an excuse for not fighting coalition cuts, but instead for passing them on.

I have done a quick question and answer guide of council law for New Labour councillors worried that the twin terminator toffs - Cameron and Clegg - will come and batter them.

If I don't vote for these cuts and annoy the government I will be surcharged and lose my home?
Oh no you won't! The power of surcharge was identified as wrong by the Nolan Commission and abolished as part of the 2000 Local Government Act. The only possible remnant of this system is if a councillor personally benefits from any financial losses incurred by a council.

But if I go against the cuts I could be barred from office.
If you do not "have regard" to financial advice given by your council's chief finance officer and fail to explain the reasons for not going along with his or her advice then, according to their statutory duty, you could be referred to the standards board for breach of your council's code of conduct which could bar you from office for a period.

But it would not be easy for a finance officer to do this if, like Liverpool, you took a stand as part of a mass campaign to defend your services and communities. Remember it is the local people who put you where you are, not unelected finance officers.

Margaret Thatcher's vicious Tory regime only moved to surcharge the Liverpool councillors after the 1984-85 miners' strike ended and Liverpool council was left isolated by the Labour leadership. If the twenty other Labour councils that had pledged to defy the Tory government had not crumbled at the first hurdle, the government would not have been able to surcharge the Liverpool councillors. On the contrary, the government would have been swept from office.

But the government will just take over and send in commissioners to run things.
Despite the threat, it did not happen in Liverpool. Instead the Labour Party, under the spineless leadership of Neil Kinnock did Thatcher's dirty work for her in witch-hunting the district party. Recently, the only notable time when commissioners were sent in was in Doncaster following a media storm about the running of social services.

For a weak coalition government to try this against a council fighting to preserve services, and especially one with local workers mobilised in support, would be an entirely different matter.

Naturally all this would depend on mobilising support but tens of thousands supported the councillors in Liverpool on mass demonstrations. This organised fightback actually won extra cash for services.

The next Labour councillor who tries to back away from saving local services should recognise that by voting for massive cuts they will in effect be voting to abolish themselves. After all, if the services go, what is the point of having these surplus-to-requirement back bench councillors anyway?


Local democracy
Just how responsive to local people was the Militant-influenced Liverpool city council? London Evening Standard journalist Simon Jenkins recently wrote:

"The most distinctive feature of the militant Left's rule of Liverpool in the Eighties was its impact on urban renewal. Responding to the local public, the council smashed most of the hated towers to the ground and left neighbourhood groups to plan their replacements. The result was no more decks, stairwells and broken lifts set in windy parks, as dictated by professional architects. Instead people decided to revert to terrace houses, like those taken from them in the Sixties. It was an object lesson in democracy."

A far cry from today's councils!

So as the cuts austerity project rolls on by the tories and attacks fall on the ordinary good people of this country this is just where the fight begins.

Lastly i do hope you can join me on the protest for an alternative on the 26th of March in central London where myself and hundreds if not thousands will be marching against the government and telling them there is another way.

Lets keep the fight going to preserve our public services before it is too late!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

How the innocent tax payer will subsidise the privatisation of the NHS

just came across this horrifying article in solidarity magazine online where Unite the union has uncovered plans for a sneaky way the tories are giving leg up's to their rich private health care friends.

The government is planning a 14 per cent ‘NHS privatisation tax’ to help private healthcare companies take-over great swathes of the health service, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Thursday,17 February).

Unite, which has 100,000 members working in the health service, said that the 14 per cent includes taxpayers subsidising the corporation tax that the private healthcare companies will incur on the profits they make on their NHS contracts. Other elements include ‘help’ with pension provision and building costs.

Unite research has discovered that the Impact Assessment – which accompanies the Health and Social Care bill – indicates that private providers will be given a 14 per cent ‘leg up’ – for every £100 they spend in the new NHS ‘market’, the taxpayer will be made to refund them £14.

Unite’s National Officer for Health, Karen Reay said: ‘If this is mirrored across private healthcare company contracts worth hundreds of million of pounds, the taxpayer subsidy could be immense.’

‘In a nutshell, this is a NHS privatisation tax specifically designed to help private healthcare companies gobble up lucrative NHS contracts for the benefit of their shareholders – some of the very companies that have donated £750,000 to the Tories since David Cameron became leader in 2005. There is a clear conflict of interest here.’

Healthcare companies that have financially supported the Tories include the TLC Group, IC Technology, Sovereign Capital, as well as the wife of former chairman of Care UK (which gets almost all of its business from the NHS). Private hospital chain, Circle sponsored a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference addressed by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.

Karen Reay said: ‘This will be a national scandal if MPs don’t step in now and modify this deeply flawed bill. What we are seeing is a potential ‘smash and grab raid’ on already hard-pressed taxpayers.’

Unite said that the reason that the bill has been structured in this way is that the NHS does not pay corporation tax on its activities; that private companies want public funding for providing pension provision for the staff they employ; and these firms complain that the NHS already has buildings in place, that they would have to provide.

Karen Reay said: ‘The NHS is currently enjoying its highest public satisfaction levels since 1983 – the public obviously like what a state-funded universal service, free at the point of delivery, is delivering. So why are funds going to be diverted from patient services to pay for the coalition’s NHS privatisation tax.’

Unite is also challenging claims made by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg that there will be no subsidy to the private sector to allow them to make a grab for NHS contracts.

Karen Reay said: ‘According to our research, this is definitely not the case – private companies will be receiving substantial support from the taxpayer. Therefore, the question has to be asked: ‘Is Pinocchio the latest recruit to the Liberal Democrats?’

Well done to Unite my union as it goes for uncovering this bit of news. I feel this will be a absolute disgrace if the governemnt allow this to happen. It is giving back handers to their friends in the private sector. Many of whom funded David Cameron's attempts to become tory party leader in 2005. I am totally against privatising the excellent NHS but this story sickens me. The lengths tories will go to appease their rich benifactor friends is astounding.

We must not allow this to happen and must expose them for what they are doing and get them to re think like they did with the selling off of our forrests.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

From banks to blood

So i've been inspired to write this blog post by a fine comrade i follow on twitter called@ leaveitmark well worth a follow if your not already. She is a good friend of the socialist way who i have hosted and re blogged some of his excellent work on this blog in the past too.

The idea from this blog post has come from the recent events in the middle east and north africa. The helplessness we humanitarian socialists feel in the west. We live so far away and feel our governments do not represent our views anymore.

We are left wondering how we can help our brothers in these countries under such oppressive rulers. I have been following events in Tunisia, Egypt and now with colnel gadafi and his fightback against the anti governments protests in Libya.

Quite often the mainstream media outlets like the BBC and Sky news will not show or tell you the whole story. As journalists are banned from entering Libya we can only go by what we hear through independant sources.

Before the internet was taken down by colnel gadafis government to oppresse his countries people even more lots of videos of amatuer videos posted on the website You Tube showing some horrific human killings. I heard of one you tube video of a whole hospital being bombed to the ground by gunships, this to me is a mindless act of revenge on his own people for having the bravery to stand up and fight back. The bloodshed has been terrible. We still dont know the total death toll and i suspect it will continue to grow as colnel gadafi
looks to hit back at anti government protesters who have taken several towns along the eastern border.

What has saddened me most about all this tradegy of human lives lost to the hands of a evil dictator intent on crushing the rebellion of people wanting a new fresh start similarly to what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia is the fact that we as a country in Britain have funded this mad ruler for years and years arming him with weapons in exchange for oil which the ruling class's seem to fascinate over. The UK once had its own storage of oil off the coast of Britain in the north sea we did sell all this off for profit and now find ourselves buying up oil from rogue arab states around the middle east doing dodgy deals.

This press release from

ebruary 2011
CAAT condemns empty words from Government as arms sale drive continues

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) today condemned the Government's reaction to revelations about UK arms exports to the Middle East. It calls on the Government and UK companies to withdraw from a controversial Middle East arms fair which starts this weekend and for fundamental reform to the UK's irresponsible arms export policy.

Yesterday it was revealed that the UK Government had approved the export of goods including tear gas and crowd control ammunition and sniper rifles to Bahrain and Libya, as well as a wide range of other military equipment to authoritarian regimes in the region.

CAAT calls for an immediate arms embargo to the region, for a thorough review of why such exports were ever licensed in the first place and for fundamental reform to the UK's irresponsible arms export policy.

The UK must cancel its participation in the IDEX arms fair which starts this weekend.

The Government's arms promotion unit, UK Trade & Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) will be exhibiting at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), the largest defence and security event in the Middle East and North African region. The UK arms industry body Aerospace|Defence|Security (A|D|S) claims that 10% of exhibitors will be from the UK and says “our sizable presence at IDEX 2011 shows that we mean business.” IDEX takes place from Sunday 20th – Thursday 24th February, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Sarah Waldron Campaigns Coordinator at CAAT said:

“It is astounding that the government is still insisting it has a responsible arms export policy while, in the same breath, admitting that it was happy to supply authoritarian regimes with the means to crush dissent.

Far from seeking to restrain arms sales, the UK government actively promotes them . While this policy stands there is no prospect of meaningful arms control.

The UK must cancel its participation in the IDEX arms fair this weekend, end its irresponsible arms exports and stop using taxpayers' money to promote arms sales.”


This little press release sums a lot of the British current policy is to sell deadly arms to rogue leaders around the world in exchange for resources such as oil or important allowances.

I for one believe that the British ruling class's who have been up to these dodgy back hand deals for years now have blood on their hands. They bring great shame on the british people for pulling our name through the dirt with all these deals they carry out behind our backs. We never get a say whether we should support a foreign dictator or sell arms to them. This sort of democracy never happens. I do wonder why? I imagine it would never happen that would be why. Most british people have a sense of the world and would not tolerate this i'm sure of it but alas we have no say in such matters. Such deals are left to the ruling class's at the very top, the ones who hold all the power and most of the worlds money to decide our futures in many ways.

As my mum said to me earlier what if colnel gadafi went off his head and on one of his mad rants decided to use his military might we have armed him with against us if we fall out with him which we seem to be doing now rightly so. The guy is completely unstable and unpredictable as shown with his attacking of his own citizens.

The title of this blogpost was titled from banks to blood which i feel is very apt for what is currently going on at the moment as the constant drive for profit be it through arms or oil or even playing with peoples lives is just highliting to me how far the ruling class's will go to preserve their capitalist state of society.

I think going back to the title of this post the role of banks and ethical banks could be brought to the front here with our banks in the west still holding money from dictators from the ex president of Egypt apparently his funds have now been frozen but why only now ?

We have surely known about these regimes

for decades now so why cant we block them off from storing money in our banks and not funding their dirty horrible habbits and buying up more arms to use against their own people.

I do think that a ethical bank needs to be created or formed that does refuse to do business with any of these evil dictators around the world. Perhaps we could stop them in their tracks a lot sooner this way.

We do owe it to the people of these countries to send our solidarity and stand by them against these tyrants even though the powers that be in our country decided they were good enough to stay there for years. This is no more apparent than our very own Tony Blair has been photographed on several ocasions shaking hands and coming across all very friendly with colnel gadafi. This to me just smacks of complete hypocrisy by someone who is now a appointed middle east envoy i'm still not sure by whom exactly probably himself as he does seem very keen to be teh policeman of the world sorting out every countries troubles and thrusting his own brand of democracy on these nations.

I personally feel helpless living back in the Uk while all this is going on out in the middle east i wish there was more i could do to help the people on the ground facing hardship every day.

I think its a fine effort from Malta who have offered their country as a safe havan to disaffected Libyans looking to flea the humanitarian crisis and colnel gadafi's iron fist.

I do think if there is anyway the United Nations can possibly step in and help civilians wishing to leave the country to a neighbouring safe havan they should do so. I think the international response to colnel gadafi and his cronies in the middle east so far has been one ofa passive nature not getting too involved. But as i have said in previous blogposts and i raised at the last debating society i attended you can bet your bottom dollar that America and Britain and other major world players will be plotting behind the scenes with what will happen next in terms of their own national interests of capital and investments in the regions as we do tend to rely on their oil a lot. With threats to cut off oil supplies and pipelines this must worry western governments greatly especially if their economy starts to stall due to lack of oil.

So in conclusion i say that we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the innocent oppressed people of these nations. Stand by them in solidarty and offer any support we possibly can as no one deserves to live under such rule and i for one cant even begin to imagine how awful things must be on the ground there.

The real reason for David Cameron's recent trip to Egypt

We've seen on our news about the revolutions in Egypt and other Arab states but our British Prime Minister David Cameron has become the first leader of any country to visit the nation but all is not what it seems.

David Cameron’s decision to fly to Egypt for talks with leading government and opposition figures is not, as he states, to ensure “a genuine transition from military rule to civilian rule”. It is to safeguard the geo-political balance which was present under Hosni Mubarak.

It is no surprise that Cameron is reportedly accompanied by personnel from no less than eight different defence firms.

This geo-political balance includes Western economic interests, such as access to oil and weapons sales.

Israel’s interests also are central. The West was far quicker to praise the military’s statement that they will honour the Israeli Peace Treaty, than the bravery of the protesters.

Then there is the related goal of limiting Iranian influence in the region. Alarm bells must already be ringing after Iran has decided to test the waters (literally) by asking to sail ships to Syria through the Suez.

Lastly, there is the presence of US military personnel in the Sinai and Cairo which helps to underwrite all of the above goals. US troops are stationed at the West-Cairo Airbase whose former commander, incidentally, was a Mr Mubarak.

The West wants to make sure that these advantages are maintained.

This is why Cameron is so eager to visit the country before democracy has been established, even though he risks legitimising the current military rule. It is why he has neglected to talk to anyone from Egypt’s most popular opposition party: the Muslim Brotherhood, as they will not acquiesce to Western interests.

Democracy which doesn’t align itself with Western demands is likely to be condemned, as it was when the Palestinians had the audacity to vote for Hamas.

Cameron’s arrival signals the start of a wave of Western officials attempting to retain influence.

Senior US diplomat William J Burns is already there and no doubt others will join him soon. The ugly scramble to preserve the geopolitical status-quo has begun.

I think this is pretty hypocritical of Mr Cameron who he and his government ministers have been frantically condeming the riots and attacks by the leaders out there before the fall of Mubarac. But now this news surfaces, Smacks a little of political opputunism from before really.

This guy never ceases to amaze me how much nerve he has got. To fly in the face of what he has just said to do more U-turns than a learner driver he should be ashamed of himself really. Then again his is the so called next in line to Tony Blair they say so following in his footsteps what do we expect.

Why i'm pro union

I am a recently joined member of Unite the Union in Britain and feel quite strongly in the role of trades unions.

I feel that they are one of the greatest collective groups of people power still left in the world. Many countries are denied rightst o form a union check out these little pieces of infrmation on treatment on workers wanting to form a union.

In the Philippines, Dole -- with the help of the military -- has been doing what it can to crush the independent, democratic union chosen by the workers. This includes making death threats against union leaders and having the army visit workers' homes. In less than a week, an election will take place. Dole (and the government) needs to be told to respect the decision of the workers. This is urgent -- please take a moment and send off your message today:

Meanwhile, in Turkey workers employed at the Indian-owned company Polyplex are facing dismissals for trying to have their own union. More than 20 have already been sacked. Polyplex must start respecting trade union rights too. Please add your voice to the international outcry here:

And finally, in Pakistan the Swiss-owned company Syngenta has sacked the leader of the union there, who is also President of the National Federation of Pakistani Chemical, Energy, and Mine (PCEM) Workers' Union. Tell the company that in Pakistan as in Switzerland, it has to respect workers' rights:

These are all examples of countries cracking down on union involvement within workers.

Back here in the Uk it has been no coincidence that the selling off of factories and manufacturing industries the coal mine closures and other large factory worker plants have been sold off has coincidided with the decline in union membership take-up. The tories are dead scared of trades unions and their influence in a work place. They actively discourage workers from joining one or even allowing one. Their greatest fear is that the workers get together and realise their class struggle and form a militant style revolution in the work place. This frightens the tories to bits as they dont want anyone standing up and having a voice in the shop floor.

I know many union members at my local trades council and therea re fewer and fewer of them now. This is a sad state of affairs but unsurprising in many ways.

The way the right wing media in this country has bombarded the unions with negative press and what can only be described as union bashing from the tories in parliament and beyond does nothing to help their image to teh wider public.

Now this hasnt decimated the movement totally as there is still a estimated 6 million trades union members in the UK as we speak myself included. I feel this figure could rise as we become under increasing pressure about our jobs in the public and private sectors.

As well as union bashing from the usual suspects the tories and right wing press the ones you wouldnt e xpect it of would be Labour MP's and Labour party members.

Countless times now i have read pieces attacking unions and their right to strike and express their democractic right to strike.

Even Ed Miliband has been out saying he doesnt agreeing with strikes that are irresponsible. Shaking off that "red Ed" tag well and truely there ay ed ?
where is Ed's principles once he was elected by a lot of unions to become labour party leader back last september he now feels it is ok to attack the movement which served to get him elected. Very sad to hear.

It will be interesting to see if he does keep his pledge to march along side us on March 26th in London at the big TUC march for the alternative. From the sounds of it he was, then he wasnt, then he was and now he'll maybe just be speaking at it. Talk about flip flopping. But then again what would you expect from someone who seems to want to identify with the Lib Dems and offer them a place in his party and policy forming.

But back to unions i am a firm believer in workers rights. Allowing people to use the last democractic right anyone has which is to withdraw your labour should not be under-estimated. It is a vital role unions can play in the fightback against this right wing tory lead government.

I must say Unions are not perfect like any organisation of course and i can target critisism at them like anyone else can such as the TUC's sluggishness at responding to the cuts and not organising a march on parliament before christmas of 2010 instead putting it way back to March the 26th, for me that is too lat and a lot of the councils will have set their budgets for the coming year by then.

But on the whole unions do a very good job at representing workers.

The leaders at the top do sometimes need reminding who they are there to defend and fight for, their members not just themselves but on the whole i've met some very good union members during my time knowing the movement.

Lastly i do think certain unions should maybe consider their relliance on funding the labour party so religiously. I know this may not go down too well with everyone but labour do not represent working people anymore. Working people have no real voice or anyone who represents them ias a political force despite waht you may think of labour today. They dont but unions who do and can continue to fund labour a capitalist sympathising party to the hilt. Why ? i still havent worked that out either. I dont see what is in it for the unions. I really dont think their membership would be greatly affected if they pulled out of backing labour. I do think eventually a new workers party is needed to give ordinary working people a say in politics again and to represent them nationally and on issues that affect them not a party which focus's on big business and bailing out banks.

I do intend on doing a blog post on the need for a new workers party at somepoint but it needs a lot of thought but i do think in the meantime TUSC, Trades Union Socialist Coalition is doing a good job in being a stepping stone towards that eventual goal.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Leader of the NUS Aaron Porter to step down at last

SO news is breaking that the president of the NUS Aaron Porter is to not stand again for re-election in April. After months of dithering and inaction Aaron has taken it upon himself to stand down. This will be greted with relief from many students across the land who now see Aaron as a student hate figure. I do not personally have anything against the guy think he's alright as a person but as a leader of a movement of students he has ultimatly failed. It has not been a easy job of course with the unleashing of a radicailasation within students with teh hiking of tuitian fees to university.

The farce with Lib Dem ministers who signed a pledge not voting for raising of tuitian fees.
What also didnt help his cause was an internal NUS memo urged students to stop protesting against fees and described elements of the Government’s package as ‘progressive’. Vince Cable bragged about this on the BBC’s Question Time, giving Aaron the kiss of death
To date, the NUS Presidency has proved a fairly pain-free launchpad for a glamorous political career that ends in a Labour Cabinet: ask Jack Straw, Charles Clarke and Phil Woolas. Yes, you can expect a bit of sniping from the left, but in the past NUS Presidents have relished it while being easily able to marginalise radical elements.

But Aaron Porter chose the wrong time to be a Blairite at the helm of the student movement. If the joint NUS/UCU demo on November 10th had been half as big, Porter would still be in office. But it lit a torchpaper. No-one on left or right had a real sense of the burning anger on campuses and in sixth forms across the country. Unlike previous generations, many of today’s young people feel they have no future; they feel lied to and betrayed by a cynical political elite; and they believe they’re up against a Government with no mandate.

I do actually feel sorry for Porter in a way he has obviosly been thrusted into a difficult situation he wasnt prepared for but i do think he could have done a lot lot more.

I fully expect him to turn up in a safe labour seat though one day as a MP. He has the air of a careerist polititian to me and that wouldnt surprise me to see him as a MP one day. But for now the NUS must move on and try to fidn its next leader who can harness this growing anger within students at all levels. It will be a tough job for anyone stepping into it. I dont envy them but i do hope they get the right person for the job as the next few years could be crucial.

Why we must not let David Cameron privatise our public sector

In a article in todays Daily Telegraph the Prime Minister outlines his plans for the future of the public sector as he puts it. I will be countering his thoughts and offering some of my own. Here is the article below.

A White Paper, due to be published in the next fortnight, will set out an automatic right for private sector bodies to bid for public work.

Decision-making power will be given back to professionals – who have in the past been hampered by red tape – while people will be able to have more control over the budget for the service they receive.

The changes could ultimately see many functions of the NHS – from operations to walk-in triage services – being run by private firms. All schools could be run by charities or private sector companies, as could municipal services such as maintaining parks, adult care, special schools or roads maintenance.

Outside providers would be offered payment-by-results contracts, which would earn them more as they increased the quality of services.

Downing Street said the plans illustrated that Mr Cameron was prepared to go far further than any recent prime minister – including Tony Blair – on public sector reform.

The only exemptions will be the judiciary and the security services. All other public services will be expected to open up to private competition under the plans, which the Government hopes will slash

bureaucracy, improve the quality of public services and save money.

However, they are likely to be fiercely opposed by Labour and the trade unions who will interpret them as a return to the era of privatisation and a cover for Coalition spending cuts.

In his article for the Telegraph, Mr Cameron says standards in public services – on cancer survival rates, school results and crime – have been slipping against comparable countries for too long and that “complete change” is needed.

“We will create a new presumption – backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication – that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service,” he says.

“Of course, there are some areas, – like national security services or the judiciary – where this wouldn’t make sense. But everywhere else should be open to real diversity,open to everyone who gets and values the importance of our public service ethos. This is a transformation: it ends the state’s monopoly over public services.

“Instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in individual public services – as we are now doing with schools and in the NHS – the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly.”

Some of the changes to encourage more competition are already being introduced through education and health legislation.

However, when taken with the new Open Public Services White Paper, Downing Street believes the plans are a “battering ram to break open monopolies”.

In his article, Mr Cameron says the new principle of diversity will be married to a “new presumption that services should be delivered at the lowest possible level” to give people more choice over how their public services are being administered.

He says: “Working from this presumption, we will devolve power even further. For example, we will give more people the right to take control of the budget for the service they receive.

“In this new world of decentralised, open public services it will be up to Government to show why a public service cannot be delivered at a lower level than it is currently; to show why things should be centralised, not the other way round.”

Mr Cameron said that his inspiration for these reforms could be traced back to when he and his wife, Samantha, were caring for their disabled son, Ivan.

He says: “I never understood why local authorities had more control over the budget for his care than Samantha and me.”

The state will still have a role to play in ensuring “fair funding, ensuring fair competition, and ensuring that everyone – regardless of wealth – gets fair access”, he says.

But he adds that “these important responsibilities for central government must never become an automatic excuse for returning to central control”.

The White Paper will set out principles that will “make it impossible for Government to return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly”, he says.

“The grip of state control will be released and power will be placed in people’s hands. Professionals will see their discretion restored.

“There will be more freedom, more choice and more local control. Ours is a vision of open public services – and we will make it happen by advancing some key principles.”

The plans to privatise large parts of the public sector could well cause unease among some of Mr Cameron’s Lib Dem Coalition partners.

Found at

I am personally shocked by these revelations firstly who does David Cameron think he is to start a war on the public sector ? what gives him the mandate to do so ? was this what people voted for ? i'm pretty sure they did not.

We can all tell well i hope we can tell waht Mr Cameron is really after with his plans. A total selling off of the public sector, the state as he likes to call it. It is planning to go further than Maggie Tatcher ever did.

How can people sit by and let this radical overhaul just happen ??

I certainly wont be and i hope Labour and the Lib Dems find their fight that they have lost for years now and protect what they created.

I dont buy all this hogwash by the PM of that privitisation brings greater efficiency it is simply unproven and increased competition for services is not what people want. What people want if free to use public services that they pay their council tax's for not something they have to pay to use. They are known as local public services for a reason for the public to use not private companies to make a quick profit out of.

How people cant see his ideaology here now i really dont know, the cat is well and truely out of the bag and we must stop him before its too late.

I personally have no faith in Ed Miliband to use any of his political power to stop this happening. He needs to stand up and oppose thsi properly. Its all veryw ell standing up at conferences and telling us this is wrong waht David Cameron and his government are doing but what would he do instead ?

We have heard nothing from him and his party on his alternative so far. So we have to assume he would do the same to a degree.

I think this will anger many public sector trades unionists and this is intended to i feel. David Cameron wants a reaction from the unions. Rial them up and get them on the defensive so he can then slap more anti trades union laws on them turning them against the public. Its a very clever game he is playing but i can see it and i dont know why so many others can not.

It is an absolute demolition of the public sector not a revolution. The only revolution going on is the selling off of our services to his mates in the private sector. I for one will do all i can to not let that happen.

I do hope the trades unions use all their power and resources to oppose this and say to Mr Cameron and his cronies on March 26th we will not let you do this. We will fight to the very end to protect our services.

The people dont want this so why is he going through with this ? Because he thinks he can and because he is facing pressure from his party and other private sector friends waiting in the wings to make a quick profit out of our beloved services.

So please lets not let this happen I plea to the Labour party and the Lib Dems to properly oppose this by joining the March on 26th of March in central London where we hope to send a clear message to the government that we as the public will not tollerate this.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

In support of the strikes in Egypt

Egypt's ruling military council says it will not tolerate any more strikes which disrupt the country's economy.

State television carried a statement in which the military said strikers would be "confronted".

Egypt's huge public sector has been hit by stoppages by groups including policemen and factory workers.

The army statement came at the end of a day in which millions of Egyptians had celebrated the victory of their revolution one week ago.

Cairo's Tahrir Square was again at the centre of events, with an estimated two million people gathering there to celebrate the removal of Hosni Mubarak and to pay tribute to the 365 people who died in the uprising.

The demonstration was also intended as a show of strength - a reminder to the current military rulers to keep their promise of a swift transition to democracy

By evening, the gathering had become a huge party, with music, singing, dancing, fireworks and food.

But the military statement struck a more sober tone.

Economic damage

The weeks of protests had already damaged the country's economy, with banks, offices and shops frequently closed, and the tourism sector badly affected.

Workers, inspired by the political protests, have also been staging strikes to demand better pay and conditions.

The military statement pointed to "some sectors that have... organised stoppages and protests, disrupting (economic) interests, halting the wheels of production and creating difficult economic conditions that could lead to the deterioration of the nation's economy."

"They will be confronted and legal steps will be taken against them to protect the security of the nation and citizens," the statement threatened.

I would just like to say i support the strikes in Egypt and the military now are sending out a worrying tone to their messages. Clamping down on strikes and campaigns for better working rights and conditions is not something that should be shut out without any further thought.

As you may or may not know i'm a pro union person belonging to one of the biggest trades unions in Britain today, Unite and i feel that union rightsand rightst o strike should always be protected.

There is still a element of protesters who still feel their demands have not been met by this military group in temporary charge in Egypt and i dont blame them for carrying on striking to get what they want. All this talk of them damaging the economy is a little like blackmail to get them to pipe down and accept what they have. Why should they ? they deserve better than what they have. The actions of workers in striking and taking over factories in Egypt has been simply inspirational that the workers have dared to fight back against the rulers there. I do hope they can hold out and be rewarded for their brave efforts there.
As at the end of the day waht workers gain now generationsof workers will benifit from in the long run. If you dont make a stand now you never will.

The disgraceful treatment of anti government protesters in Libya

I've been reading today of the awful treatment on anti government protesters in Libya now another north African country now facing trouble and as i have said before this domino efffect is not slowing down anytime soon and good on the people of those countries. It is just a huge crying shame the oppressive leaders of these dictatorships are clamping down hard on protesters.

Dozens of people were killed when Libyan troops used heavy weapons during a funeral procession amid unrest in Benghazi, a doctor in the city says.

She told the BBC that at least 45 bodies and 900 wounded had been brought to just one hospital on Saturday, describing the scene as a "massacre".

Human Rights Watch says at least 173 people have been killed in Libya since demonstrations began on Wednesday.

Benghazi has been a leading focus of protests against Col Gaddafi's rule.

Libya is one of several Arab countries to have experienced pro-democracy rallies since the fall of long-time Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was forced from power on 11 February.

Col Muammar Gaddafi is the Arab world's longest-serving leader, having ruled the oil-rich state since a coup in 1969.

Col Muammar Gaddafi has been widely known on the world stage for many years now of course past British governments including the last Labour government have been funding him for years with reported millions of dollars worth of arms for him.

It makes me feel physically sick that we in the UK back these hugely unpopular regiemes in this far flung country just so we can exploit them for cheap oil which we then slap huge tax's on it all rather stinks to me. If anyone ever thought that the last labour government was at all socialist they can be proved wrong. Going into Iraq and declaring illegal wars on countries like Iraq and then backing dictators like Col Muammar Gaddafi for years and years in the face of the brave people of Libya and failing to do anything about it says it all to me.

The ruling parties in every western country are all the same. Only after protecting their own interests whether that be oil or power financially.

I do think this so called domino effect will not slow down and there will i'm afraid be more bloodshed on the streets of these countries as ordinary working people look to stand up and have a voice like they deserve.

Just like in Iran last week where similar scenes were seen we must pay tribute to the fine peoples of these lands who dare to fight for their freedom. I have huge admiration for them. If only the British people would stand up and say no to our ruling class's sometimes and say we dont want you doing this or that etc. Maybe we would have a much better way of things too.

The wave of revolution will continue to grow across Africa and the middle east where will this fall next.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The alternative march TUC 26th of march should be accessable

As many of you who read this blog know i am disabled being visually impaired and as this little piece below outlines we are under heavy attack from this horribly right wing coalition governemnt trying to take apart the welfar state in the name of deficit reduction. It is a complete lie and is an political ideaology so please read this piece below i had forwarded to me today about making this TUC march in central london on the 26th of March accessable to all concerned.

the TUC have agreed to all coaches dropping people off at Wembley on March 26th. For anyone on a low income this will add £8 to the cost of getting to central London, there are also a number of access issues not only for anyone with a mobility impairment. I am sure for those with MH or ND or visual impairments having to crush onto a very limited range of transport with up to 2 million other people will present a problem too.

Please contact and complain about TUC agreeing to people, especially disabled people, being dumped at Wembley in this way.

here is DPAC's email fyi
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) believe it is imperative that disabled and older people are afforded the opportunity to support the TUC ‘March for the Alternative’ demonstration on 26 March in central London. At the latest count it was found that disabled people were facing fourteen separate attacks against our lives and living standards as a result of the Coalition government’s policies. What we are witnessing is our human rights, supposedly guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, being violated by regressive and draconian cuts to benefit and care funding. Increasing numbers of disabled people are being driven to contemplate suicide; with others actually going the whole way. Members of our community are living in daily terror that they will become further scapegoated, demonised and subjected to hate crime violence.

Against this backdrop DPAC demand the right to be fully included in this march and rally as our non-disabled peers would take for granted. As it currently stand the initial planning for the March is creating unnecessary disabling barriers which will both exclude and marginalise disabled people’s ability to participate. So far however the TUC have not responded to any requests from us for support for accessible transport to attend the march and now we have been told that the TUC have agreed (for anyone who can access coaches) that the coach dropping off point will be at Wembley or some other outlying part of London.

As I am sure you are aware the London underground system is one of the least accessible in the world, only one wheelchair is allowed on each bus at any one time, and disabled people cannot afford to pay extra travel costs from an outlying suburb to reach the centre of London. To agree to this as a dropping off point will therefore exclude us from exercising our right to protest.

It is possible to park in central London without bringing London to a grinding halt. When 2 million marched against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, coaches were parked all around Hyde Park and there were no major problems with people arriving or departing from this historic demonstration. Further we are certain that there must be at least 500 or more tourist coaches entering London on any day which does not seem to cause any traffic problems at all.

We have also asked TUC to organise with the police for us to have a static protest in central London for those unable to march but so far have had no response regarding this. We were able to do this very successfully with forward planning at the Tory Party conference protest in Birmingham.

Further we would wish to be kept updated with details of where the march will be going so that we can check its accessibility for our members with a range of impairments.

Both disabled Trade Unionists and other disabled people who attended The People’s Convention last Saturday asked conference to support a motion that the TUC march would be fully inclusive to all disabled people and that all of the required reasonable adjustments would be put in place by yourselves to fully include all of us.

We are willing to work with you to ensure that our full inclusion can be achieved and to assist you in any way practicable. We look forward to your response which we will pass onto our members.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Another world is possible

I just thought i'd quickly post this piece i've just read where a socialist named Phil Gasper who writes for the International Socialist Review a good read by the way i've just subscribed to their monthly emails. Some excellent pieces on Israel and conflicts in the middle east.

But this piece below takes on the age old arguements from the pro capitalists and takes on the arguements that are always slung at socialists when counter arguements are asked to be made. You may or may not find this interesting. I certainly did anyway as i learn more and more about socialism.

Capitalism creates a society that robs most people of their creative potential, says Phil Gasper

PHIL GASPER responds to a supporter of capitalism

In the last issue of the ISR (#74), I wrote a column about Marx’s concept of alienation and why work—which Marx claims should be “life’s prime want”—is typically unpleasant and frustrating under capitalism. My article elicited an e-mail response from someone named Jeff. Here (edited slightly for grammar) is what he wrote:

“I know 5 billion people that would love to have some work, albeit frustrating and unpleasant.
“I also know millions of people that would love to live a commodified existence instead of starving to death.
“If socialists believe they can feed the world better than capitalism can, they have to prove it.
“Either system requires humans to do work, including unpleasant work, to support society, whether it be coal mining, working in a meat -packing factory, or picking corn.
“Industries required to support human existence will never disappear. Mass production facilities are required to support 9 billion people. There will always be mundane, unpleasant work.
“Unfortunately, socialists have never had a way to price labor, goods, and commodities within a socialist economic system, because there is no market. Stalin looked to the West to find a price point.
“Nationalizing certain industries makes sense, but the success or failure still depends on capitalism, which is the source of ongoing revenue and taxation. You are back to square one.”
There’s nothing especially original about Jeff’s arguments, but for that very reason I thought it might be useful to respond to them. Socialists hear this kind of stuff all the time, and every now and then it’s worth reiterating why the common arguments criticizing our views and defending capitalism are so unconvincing.

To begin with it’s worth noting that supporters of capitalism generally make two kinds of argument. The first kind involves claiming that capitalism is a wonderful system that guarantees freedom, democracy, opportunity, prosperity, and apple pie. But when it becomes obvious that capitalism is failing to live up to these promises, its supporters make a second kind of argument. Yes, they say, capitalism may be less than perfect, and in many ways it may even be pretty awful, but it’s still better than anything else. In Margaret Thatcher’s famous words, “There is no alternative.” So criticize the system as much as you like, it’s still the best way to organize the economy. Or so we are told.

Jeff’s arguments fall into this second category of “lesser-evil” defenses of capitalism. And so far as I can make out, he has three of them. The first is in his opening two paragraphs: it’s better to have a job under capitalism than to be unemployed, and being exploited is better than starving to death. Fair enough. I agree. But this is still a terrible argument. First, people who are starving to death would obviously prefer to eat unhealthy food than nothing at all, even if it’s laced with carcinogens, but that obviously doesn’t mean that there’s nothing wrong with carcinogenic food or that’s there’s no alternative to it.

Second, why are there people unemployed and starving in the modern world to begin with? The fact is that mass unemployment, poverty, and hunger are all byproducts of the way that capitalism operates as an economic system. Marx long ago pointed out that capitalism routinely creates a reserve army of the unemployed, which forces workers to compete for jobs and drags down wages and conditions for everyone.

Similarly, even though we live in a world that produces enough food to give an adequate diet for a population two or three times the its present size, half the world goes hungry because of the way that food distribution is organized under capitalism. Of course people want jobs and food. But to claim that capitalism is vindicated because being exploited is better than starving is twisted logic, to say the least.

However, Jeff’s argument does give me the opportunity to say something about an issue that I didn’t discuss in my original piece. In his writings on alienation Marx emphasizes the way in which alienated labor generates alienation in the rest of our lives. Does that mean that people who are out of work are less alienated?

Of course not. Not only do the unemployed have to scramble to meet even life’s most basic necessities, they also frequently lack even the minimal sense of self-worth and self-identity that having a job provides. Work is a central aspect of our lives. Almost the first thing you are asked when you meet somebody new is, “What do you do?” They’re not asking you about what TV programs you happen to enjoy, they’re asking you about what kind of employment you have.

The unemployed—at least the involuntarily unemployed—have a huge void in their lives, which often leads to loss of self-worth, withdrawal, depression, and worse. For workers, the one thing worse than being exploited under capitalism is not being exploited. But it’s not an argument in favor of exploitation to say that some things are even worse.

Jeff’s second argument is that unpleasant and mundane work is a fact of life, and so we presumably shouldn’t blame capitalism for the fact that work is so often frustrating and unsatisfying. But what this argument entirely ignores is the way in which production for profit systematically makes work much more unpleasant than it needs to be. Even the great eighteenth-century Scottish political economist Adam Smith—who is revered, but rarely read, by defenders of the free market—acknowledged this fact.

In his most important work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith explains how breaking a complex process into a series of smaller, simpler tasks that can each be performed quickly by a single person, can greatly increase efficiency. But he also goes on to point out that

the man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding ... and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to be.... But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes pains to prevent it.
Yes, you read that right—the patron saint of the free market argued that government intervention is necessary to prevent the market’s destructive effects. Seventy-two years later, Marx and Engels noted the same destructive effects in the Communist Manifesto:
Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him.
More recently, in his book Labor and Monopoly Capital (1974), the American Marxist Harry Braverman, showed at length how modern capitalism has used managerial control and technological innovations to increase worker output, while simultaneously degrading the nature of work itself—a point made earlier and more vividly by Charlie Chaplin in his comic masterpiece Modern Times.
More generally, there is typically little incentive under capitalism to improve working conditions, and in fact very often quite the opposite. In a socialist society run democratically by workers, on the other hand, technology could be used to ensure that the most unpleasant, difficult, and dangerous work is mechanized as far as possible, and certainly made much safer for those who have to do it. Even if coal mining continued under socialism (although personally I hope it will be phased out as quickly as possible for environmental as well as health and safety reasons), thousands of miners would not die every year, as is the case around the world today.

But there are two other points that need to be made here. First, what often makes work unpleasant is not the intrinsic character of the physical and mental activities involved, but the fact that those who do the work lack control over both their own work lives and over the larger work process. When people engage in activities because they care about the outcome and when they have a role in determining the goals, they are generally much more fulfilled. Digging a hole for minimum wage for a hedge-fund manager who is having his 20-acre estate landscaped, for example, is a very different experience from digging a hole as part of a reforestation program in which you participate in the decision-making process.

Second, to the small extent to which some unpleasant work is an ineliminable feature of a complex society, it can be distributed in ways that minimize frustration. In the early stages of socialism, those who do perform it might receive additional compensation (higher wages or more leisure time, for example), which would contrast with capitalism, under which some of the most unpleasant work is also the lowest paid. Ideally, though, the work would be distributed equally, so that everyone capable of doing so would perform some portion of it. I might be a college lecturer during the day, but also spend a couple of hours each week cleaning out the bathrooms. The work might still be unpleasant, but it would not be deeply alienating.

The third argument that Jeff makes is that there is no global alternative to capitalism: a planned socialist economy either won’t work because, in the absence of a market it won’t have a way of accurately pricing goods and services, or it will have to model it’s pricing on what happens in outside capitalist economies. This is the so-called calculation problem or debate, first raised in the 1920s and 1930s by right-wing economists like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. The idea is that prices reflect information about supply and demand and thus provide signals that allow economies to coordinate production and distribution efficiently. In the absence of such price signals, von Mises and Hayek argued that it would be either theoretically or practically impossible to coordinate a complex economy, because it would be impossible to gather and process relevant information in real time.

There have been plenty of responses to this argument over the decades, but perhaps the most important thing to point out is that it rests on the utterly false assumption that free markets do a good job of coordinating production in complex economies. Is it really necessary to mention what a good job our deregulated financial system did of wrecking the economy over the past decade and how the system was only saved by a massive government bailout? In fact the history of capitalism since the seventeenth century has been marked by periodic speculative frenzies in which prices lose all contact with the real economy and which have always ended in tears.

Economists like Hayek argued that the market would eventually correct speculative excesses by itself. But the problem is that in an integrated global economy in which banks and corporations are often bigger economic players than most national economies, a market correction can bring the whole system crashing down and precipitate an economic depression. Governments then step in, but always in the interests of the rich and powerful. Socialists argue that the intervention should be in the interests of the vast majority of the population, who do the work that creates society’s wealth.

There is a second serious problem with free-market economics—prices at best reflect only immediate costs to buyers and sellers. They don’t take into account what economists call “externalities”—the broader impact that economic transactions have on society and the environment. This problem has now of course become critical, and it is increasingly obvious that the free market has no solution to the dire threat of catastrophic climate change.

So what would a socialist alternative to this look like? It would have to be based on a model of democratic participation and workers’ self-management, not a top-down command economy of the kind that eventually failed in Stalinist Russia and Eastern Europe. Such a model would take into account social and environmental costs, and would plan production based on meeting everyone’s needs, not on making profits for a small minority.

As the Marxist economist Ernest Mandel once pointed out, “The bulk of current production corresponds to established consumption patterns and predetermined production techniques that are largely if not completely independent of the market.” Mandel argued that “the problem of allocating the resources needed for those products which are by and large known in advance [can] be solved by the associated producers, with the help of modern computers…”

Democratic planning of this kind might never be perfect, but the economist Mike Kidron once estimated that at least forty percent of production under capitalism is wasted, even without taking into account such phenomena as built-in obsolescence and the inflation of consumer demand through mass advertising. Socialism could certainly do a better job than this. In any event, it is urgent that we find out. Capitalism is leading the world to disaster, and that can only be averted by building the struggle for a different kind of world.

Phil Gasper is the editor of The Communist Manifesto: A Road Map to History’s Most Important Document (Haymarket Books, 2005) and a member of the ISR editorial board.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The rising power of Chinese globalisation

So i've just finnished watching this weeks programme of The Chinese are coming from last night which i blogged about last week about how the Chinese were exploiting Africa and African workers in its pursuit of global dominance.

This weeks show was very interesting as they went to South America and Brazil in particular showing the absolute devestation of large areas of the Amazon rainforest where Chinese and Brazilian companies have got together to extract large amounts of whardood out of the forest area. THe programme and the guy who was presenting the show i dont remember his name sorry, Justin i think it was traveled with a Greenpeace activists in a helicopter over the land where such huge deforestation has taken place and still is taking place across Brazil.

The programme also visited a small indigenous tribe in the rainforest, one of the few remaining in the rainforest there in Brazil. Although this tribes land has been protected by the Brazilian government the area of the forest where they do a lot of their hunting is under huge threat from deforestation and charcoal kilns being set up all over the place near where they hunt.

The programme highlited some excellent humanitarian issues and exploitations which stood out for me. The huge iron ore mines some of the biggest in the world are in Brazil and as China demands huge amounts of steel now to build its fast growing econmy and its new cities popping up every dahy pretty much it has turned to Brazil and its better quality iron ore. But the devestation and exploitation occuring for this to happen is just unreal. It frankly scares me what China is doing to places like the Amazon jungle which is effectively the lungs of the planet.

As later in the show a guy rightly said the British in their quest for imperialism with their own British Empire back in the day was just as blunt and devastating in their quest for domination in country after country.

The Chinese product which we all know so well in Britain today is flooding the worlds markets now and even in say Brazil there are chinese shops selling chinese products to Brazilians. This has a hugely negative impact on the local Brazilian economy and its people. The Brazilians may benifit in the short term from dirt cheap products possibly not of same quality as their own home made products but as with most consumers the cheaper the better it seems.

The rise of China is being felt hugely now in America, The United States as others call it. The impact of a rising China is having a big impact and this was shown when Justin visited a school in California where young pupils aged 10 to 13 were learning basic Mandorin/Chinese for want of a better word.

This practise was met with anger by parents and local campaingers who felt the influence of China is becoming too much and they wanted to fight back. This struck a worrying chord with me as the people they interviewed. Redneck Americans i could only make out were slagging off commonism and Chinas attempt to corrupt young American school children into their ways. This struck me of a little like waht the Tea party would be saying and i expect to hear much more of this in the future. The fact is and a one of the leading foreign affairs speakers in America was interviewed eleuded to it is not that Americans are scared of Chinas commonism it is the fact Americans are more scared of China's capitalism . Very telling really as the fact that America and teh majority of the western world are in economic down turn the rise of China becomes even more apparant when companies based in the UK and the USA for years including many industrial companies are taking their factories to China where the production costsa nd labour costs are so much more cheaper.

So as a result of our global financial crisis which i have blogged about endlessly on this blog countries like the US and the UK will be facing huge challenges to even to compete against the powerhouse that is China.
Another thing which struck me with the American children in the school i mentioned earlier was the fact that this highlights capitalism even more the fact that Americans will go to this length to as the guy even put it who was running the class's to enable the next generation to compete says it all. It is all profit over people now. I really do think America could drive itself into the ground trying to compete with a massive and ever powerful China. I think China is one step ahead of the game in so many ways. It will be hard to see this ever swinging back now. The tide is turning i'm afraid and like it or not China is here to stay and will be the next super power on the world stage.

This is why alot of countries, including our own are sucking up majorly to the Chinese for work and business opputunities. We sent David Cameron our prime minister on a envoy trip with alot of British business leaders in a attempt to bring good things between Britain and China in terms of business relations.

I really dont think China see us as a big player anymore. Its america they have their sights on. This was no more apparent with the Chinese military becoming armed and flexing its military might by investing hugely in misiles and military technology whether they intend to use these one day i really do hope not for everyones sake. But their long range misiles can already reach Taiwan, Japan and even a lot of the South Pacific Ocean. Worrying indeed if this ever gets to anything.

My last point was about this idea of a potential trade war between America and China which i may do a blogpost on itself one day as i think it will deserve one. But just to make the point that America has already started the economic fightback against dirt cheap Chinese workers and products by slapping import tax's on Chinese products. China has retaliated by doing the same to American chicken feed for example so i will say watch this space as i can see a real all out trade war kicking off there in a few years time.

So all in all i've really enjoyed this series of documentaries and i've tried to fill you in on the show if you havent seen it. If you havent yet i do recommend catching it on the BBC I player called The Chinese are coming. really worth a watch about possibly how the world will look in the next century onwards as the balance of power economically shifts eastward.

An unemployed generation

So today the figures were out on unemployment and yet again these figures dont make good reading for anyone be e you a government minister or a young person looking for a job.

UK unemployment rose by 44,000 to almost 2.5 million in the three months to the end of December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Youth unemployment rose to a fresh record high, with more than one in five 16 to 24-year-olds out of work after a rise of 66,000 to 965,000.

The unemployment rate is now 7.9%, with youth unemployment running at 20.5%.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance also increased, by 2,400 last month to 1.46 million.

Prime Minister David Cameron said unemployment, particularly among the young, was "a matter of great regret".

But he stressed that it had been a problem for some time.

The number of people in part-time work because they could not find a full-time job rose by 44,000 to 1.19 million, another high since records began in 1992.

"The latest UK labour market figures provide further evidence that the jobs recovery has gone into reverse," said economist Vicky Redwood.

Long-term unemployment also deteriorated, with 17,000 more people out of work for more than a year, to a total of 833,000.

Other data from the ONS showed that average earnings rose by 1.8% in the year to December last year, slightly down on the 2.1% growth in the year to November.

The figures also showed that unemployment fell in Scotland by 13,000, but rose in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I personally feel we havent felt the true brunt of this unemployment hike the later part of this year 2011 only then we will start to see the true results of this governments terrible attack on working people in this country.

It would be interesting to compare the figures of jobs lost in the public sector compared to bankers loosing their jobs.

Argueably or should i say for sure bankers have done a worse job in brigning the country almost to its knees yet you dont see any banker loosing his or her job about that. Maybe this is waht David Cameron meant when he said he wanted to readdress the balance in society. Completely tip the balance in a unfair advantage to those at the top compared to those at the bottom. Why dont we believe him and his tory cronies i wonder. Oh it wouldnt happen to be the fact all this has happened before. Shrinking of the state is one thing but the state works hand in hand with the private sector often sharing jobs and contracts. So expect the jobless numbers to rocket in the next few years as this tory lead government offers no real alternative for growth.

What worries me most and the title of this post suggests this is that we will have young people growing up today not being able to attend a university due to ridiculously high tuitian fees and very few job prospects around. So we may be seeing a jobless unemployed generation growing up today. That for me is very sad indeed.

Why i'm in favour of prisoner votes

I've been thinking about this issue for a while and i've made up my mind.

I am in favour of giving votes to prisoners in the United Kingdom. I feel that voting is a right not a privillage to people. However bad your crime you have committed and some are terrible i can assure you that having the right to vote should not be taken away from you.

It has no affect on your punishment of serving time at her majesty's pleasure but what it does do is give you a voice. I'm a big advocate of human rights and this i feel is one. For years we campaigned for votes and a democractic society. Now we have it we must not abuse it.

Especially with women who have only been legally allowed to vote since about 1928. This is something we must treasure and uphold in this country.

In many countries such as newly over thrown Egypt many men and women still dont get to vote.

Ok i may not think that voting in Great Britian today may change things dramatically with both Labour and the Conservatives supporting capitailism, something i'm strongly against if you were not aware but as a left winger i do feel that prisoner votes are essential and enabling prisoners to vote can be made part of their overall rehabilitation back into the wider society.

I do recognise there are various forms of crime and each case may be assessed individually still but on the whole i dont think this will harm prisoners or society as a whole and this group of votes is just waiting for a proper left wing political party to grasp hold of and run with. It is as they say there for the taking.

As i've taken a while to come to this decision as it is quite a big issue. I am throwing it out there for everyone who radsthis blog to comment on if you please. I'd be interested to read your views.
I think this goes beyonda purely left wing stance in many ways, it stands as a fairness for all. Something of which as a socialist i am truely in support of. As a classless society i'd loveto see fairness for all in terms of crime and punishment too. Giving prisoners the right to vote is not devalueing why they are in prison in the first place, often for very serious crimes but the right to vote should not play a part in that juditial process at all in my opinion. It is a right, a human right which must never be taken away from a truely democratic society.

sadly underneath here is the Guardian report about the result of the vote in the house of commons last week on the matter of prisoner votes. The article below goes in to various detail about rights of people and various MP's views on votes for prisoners and also the EU's iinvolvement in British politics today. Interesting little piece.

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining a blanket ban preventing prisoners from voting, strengthening the government's hand as it seeks to water down a ruling from the European court of human rights.

Ministers will start drawing up a compromise proposal after MPs voted by 234 to 22, a majority of 212, in favour of a cross-party motion that said parliament should decide on such an important issue.

The motion called for the retention of the status quo in which all prisoners, except those on remand or imprisoned for contempt or default, are barred from voting. Under one option being examined by ministers – who were expecting the strong vote – judges would be given discretion to decide which prisoners could vote.

The non-binding vote prompted Eurosceptics to call on the government to consider withdrawing from the court. Blair Gibbs, of the Policy Exchange thinktank, said: "Now is the opportunity to go to the root of this problem which is the expansionist Strasbourg court. The UK government should use prisoner votes to reassert its authority over Strasbourg, and if necessary, prepare to leave the court's jurisdiction if it cannot be reformed."

The vote came at the end of a lengthy debate in which MPs lined up to condemn a court ruling that called for the lifting of the blanket ban. David Cameron, who gave Tory backbenchers a free vote, invited MPs to deliver a clear signal of their opposition to the ruling by supporting a cross-party motion tabled by Jack Straw and David Davis.

Davis, the former Tory leadership contender, told MPs: "The general point is very clear in this country – that is that it takes a pretty serious crime to get yourself sent to prison. And as a result you have broken the contract with society to such a serious extent that you have lost all of those rights – your liberty and your right to vote.

"So it is not unjust. Every citizen knows the same level of crime which costs them their liberty, costs them their vote. What the court calls blanket rule I call uniform justice."

Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, told MPs that a constructive debate could lead to a more flexible stance in Strasbourg. The court judgment, made in October 2005, had been made in part because parliament had not held a substantive debate on the ban, introduced in 1870. Britain proposed granting the vote to prisoners jailed for less than four years, though judges would have discretion to remove this right.

Grieve said: "While, of course, members of the House are entitled to express their disagreement with the judgment of the European court – and indeed I have done so myself – the fact that we may be in disagreement doesn't in itself solve the problem.

"In order for the views of this House to be helpful, we need to demonstrate that we are engaging with the concerns of the court and also that we are not just expressing a series of frustrations – although I have to say I have felt rather angry on this issue in recent years. We do have to see whether by a dialogue about what the house considers to be proper and reasonable in respect of prisoner voting we can ensure that we bring our weight to bear as a legislature in terms of the development of the jurisprudence of the court. That gives us the best possible chance of winning the challenges which may then occur thereafter."

The attorney general warned Eurosceptics that Britain would be acting "tyranically" and in breach of the rule of law if it defied rulings from the court. Grieve issued the warning after Claire Perry, a Tory backbencher, asked what mechanism existed to enforce the will of the court.

The attorney general said there was no mechanism, but added: "So one needs to be a little bit careful about this.

"The principles on which United Kingdom governments have always operated is that if there are international obligations which confer a power on the court and the court orders compensation, we will honour those international obligations. It is our duty to do so because without it we diminish our own status in terms of our respect for international law as much as for domestic law. It is a bit of a red herring to suggest that just because it can't be enforced that it is a justification for ignoring something. That would be a fairly momentous change in UK practice."

Britain had to comply with the court's judgments, said Grieve, because it signed up to the European convention on human rights, which provides the legal basis for the court. It underpins the Council of Europe, the continent's human rights watchdog, which has 47 members.

Labour's former home secretary, Jack Straw, denied that the Human Rights Act he introduced was to blame.

"The tension, the conflict, which we have to resolve today can in no sense be laid at the door of the Human Rights Act nor indeed, in my judgment, at the plain text of the convention. Rather, the problem has arisen because of the judicial activism by the court in Strasbourg widening their role, not only beyond anything anticipated in the founding treaties, but also not anticipated by the subsequent active consent of all the state parties, including the UK."

Denis MacShane, Labour's former Europe minister, defended the Strasbourg court. "I believe that peoples of other regions of the world – Africa, Asia, South America – would die to have an ECHR to tell their government what to do," he said. "Populist illiberalism is the new politics of much of the continent. It's a shame to see it arrive in the Commons – I hope our country does not tear up the treaty or quit the Council of Europe."

Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust said the vote did not express the view of the Commons as nearly two-thirds had not backed the ban. Ministers were allowed to abstain, though their aides were free to vote for the motion. "In a free vote, 234 MPs chose to hang on to the 19th century punishment of civic death enshrined in the 1870 Forfeiture Act," Lyon said. "22 MPs voted against the motion. This means just over one third of the total number of MPs in the House of Commons voted to retain the ban.

"Although the vote is not legally binding on the government, the message it sends to prisoners and people working in the prison service is a poor one. The outdated ban on prisoners voting has no place in a modern prison system, which is about rehabilitation and respect for the rule of law."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Socialist Way: Joining the killing machine

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The shameful treatment of RAF pilots being sacked by email

Our fine service men and women do deserve a lot better than this i feel.
This i find quite shocking and verhy slap dash approach to saving money in the defences. I feel as a organisation that has always held itself in high esteem and upholds a traditional and long standing way of doing things.

For the RAF to be quick, rash and uncareful about these redundancies smacks of a bit of panic a little like a fire sale. This article below doesnt say if it was a decision they had to come to quickly therefore a rushed move.

I do think questions need to be asked here if this was the right move and if this could have been carried out in a more respectful manner. Of course i always take waht the Sun has to say but if it is true some pilots were sent these emails while in duty in Iraq. I wouldnt be so sure this is true. Its probably just another sensational sun story but the actual story is quite disapointing way to treat our own men and women on the front line in battle for their country. Wherever you agree with them being there in the first place or not, there is a way to treat people.

Here is the news article if your interested.

the Ministry of Defence and the Army have apologised for "causing distress" after 38 soldiers - including one serving in Afghanistan - were sacked by email.
News of the blunder comes a day after it was revealed a quarter of the RAF's trainee pilots will not get a job in the service due to Government spending cuts.

The warrant officers who were dismissed by email were told it was because the Army also needed to make savings.

The message to the men read: "I write to notify you that with regret, I must issue you with 12 months' Notice of Termination.

"As I'm sure you are aware the Army has to make significant cutbacks and we... are expected to play our part in reductions."

The 38 warrant officers - the highest non-commissioned rank - all have at least 20 years' service and continue in the Army on a rolling contract.

However, The Sun claimed one of the veteran soldiers received the bad news while on the front line in Afghanistan.

An Army spokesperson said: "We apologise for the distress that this will have caused.

All the men have at least 20 years' service with the British Army

"Commanding officers have now spoken the soldiers concerned to ensure that they receive all necessary advice and support."

The MoD has been quick to point out this was not a mistake on the part of civil servants or ministers - but a mistake in terms of sequencing made by the Army.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

America next for the cuts agenda

Barack Obama, the US president, is set to unveil his fiscal 2012 budget on Monday, an election-year plan forged from conflicting needs to cut spending and stoke the economic recovery.

With vast crisis payments and sharply lower tax revenues making it difficult for the government to balance its books, Obama will set out an austerity plan that will help set the tone for next year's presidential race.

It is expected to address widespread public anger that the government is living beyond its means, detailing sweeping spending cuts while including some investments.

To square the circle, Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2012 will seek to cut the record federal deficit, slashing energy subsidies for the poor and freeze public workers' pay.

But faced with high unemployment and an economic recovery that is still struggling to escape the orbit of the 2008 economic crisis, Obama will also give states more flexibility to pay for unemployment benefits.

Most of the projected savings would be achieved through two changes would require congressional approval.

At 2,448 pages and a weight of 4.5kg, the budget will contain something for most members of congress, but plenty more that will be loathed.

Congressional battle

On the eve of of the budget's publication, Republicans have been promoting ever-deeper spending cuts and criticising Obama for not doing enough.

Republicans argue spending cuts will help boost growth, while the Obama administration argues cuts are needed, but should be carefully measured for fear of derailing the recovery.

Obama's proposed budget cuts so far
The plan: Cut $1.1 trillion deficit over next 10 years

Two-thirds of savings to come from spending cuts and one-third from tax increases.

Defence budget: $78bn over five years
Pell Grant Programme: $100bn over a decade

For example, as Obama seeks $53bn for high-speed rail over the next few years, House Republicans are trying to pull back $2.5 bn that has already been promised.

Their budget also includes $1.1 bn cut to Head Start pre-kindergarten education programmes.

Bringing the two sides together is likely to be a long process that takes up most of the year. Congress has yet to approve the fiscal 2011 budget.

"There's no limit to the amount we're willing to cut to help get our economy moving again," said John Boehner, the House speaker, promising a $100bn cut in spending to the 2011 budget, with more to come.

But experts say cuts in discretionary spending, like those proposed by Obama and the Republicans, are just a drop in the fiscal bucket.

"This spending accounted for just one-fifth of total outlays last fiscal year," Augustine Faucher of Moody's Analytics says.

"Even if it had been entirely eliminated - wiping out the budgets for running the government, education, national parks and the like - the fiscal 2010 deficit still would have topped $600bn."

Growing fears

Fears are growing that the inability of the US to get its budget under control could eventually lead to a debt crisis and a possible default that would plunge the globe into crisis.

This week, Ben Bernanke, US Federal Reserve chairman, warned that dramatic change was inevitable.

"The question is whether these adjustments will take place through a careful and deliberative process that weighs priorities and gives people adequate time to adjust to changes ... [or] as a rapid and painful response to a looming or actual fiscal crisis," Bernanke said.

The US budget deficit is currently at the highest levels since World War II, and is projected to hit $1.48tn this year, or 9.8 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the congressional budget office.

This taken from Al jazeera's own english website.

This simply confirms my suspicions that the american president, president O'barma, is no left leaning socialist like the republicans try to paitn him as he is neo-conservative as they come. The guy who above is about to unveail this set of austerity cuts package cannot be socialist if he is. I never thought he was but this new announcement should set the record straight that he is just like any other careerist polititian only out for looking after the well off. nothing ever changes even in the free country of America. Cuts have found their way too. Maybe president O'barma has been spending far too much time with our own Mr cameron and has been convinced by the need for cuts too.

All this only further oppresses the working class's at the bottom of the scale who will feel these cuts the hardest. Just like in Britian this will have a huge impact on millions. I just hope the west, as it does seem to be a western agenda now to cut cut and cut more and more from the state giving to the private sector knows what it is doing and once its cut it cant be returned.

I do feel sorry for the american people now who like us in Britain will be feeling hardship for many years to come.

I do hope the socialist revolution is just around the corner. I've frankly had enough of this boom and bust rollercoaster. I'd quite like to get off now thanks