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Sunday, 31 July 2011

CWI summer school- world capitalist crisis

This week, CWI supporters from over 30 countries are attending a CWI Summer School in Belgium. As well as comrades from across western and eastern Europe and Russia, visitors are attending from North and Latin America, Nigeria, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

Below, is a summary of a plenary discussion on world perspectives.

Socialistworld.net

Niall Mulholland, from the International Secretariat of the CWI, introduced the wide-ranging plenary discussion on world economy and inter-imperialist relations by explaining how every part of the globe is affected by the deepening economic crisis. Due to globalisation, no continent has been able to escape and none of the fundamental problems have been resolved.

The ruling class worldwide is attempting to keep their priviledges at the expense of the working class and their rivals in other nation states. This means the development of new revolutionary movements and the developing possibility of global tensions and conflicts.

Capitalism is a system of extreme inequality. In the USA the top executives had a 38% increase in their bonuses in 2010, whilst two million people are currently on the verge of starvation in east Africa. Speculation in food prices has catapulted an extra 44 million people into poverty this year alone.

But the famine in east Africa is not an ’act of god’. Scientists believe that the region’s successive droughts may be linked to climate change. Local conflicts and imperialism’s meddling in Somalia have also contributed to the famine tragedy, as has the destruction of traditonal pastoral and sustainable ways of living by big business agriculture.

The environment is a vital part of perspectives today and forms a crucial part of the CWI’s programme, particularly now that the UK, China, Russia, and India all have plans to build more nuclear power stations. Environmental issues can shake governments and even bring them down.

In Australia, the Labour Party/Green government introduced a very unpopular carbon tax. Unpopular because the costs of the tax will be simply passed onto the working class by big business, while carbon emissions are set to increase.

To end famine, environmental disaster and poverty requires the reorganisation of the world economy based on social need, which is becoming more urgent as the capitalist crisis is prolonged.
New recession?

Until recently many economists were talking about an economic recovery – looking at the financial markets and the growth of the economies of Brazil, India and China. Now they have discovered that the world economy is locked in crisis. The global economy is in a period of stagnation but unless there is a fundamental change, the cycles of ’boom’ and ’bust’ will continue. But the general trend is now for weaker, shorter growth phases in a general depressionary period of world capitalism. The wastefulness of capitalism can be shown through one fact alone – global unemployment has increased by 27 million since 2007, to 205 million worldwide.

The barbarism of capitalism can be seen in the thousands who have died in the drug gang related violence in Mexico. Thousands of soldiers are engaged in occupying cities, carrying out torture and killings in the name of the “war on drugs”.

The response of the ruling classes to the 2007/8 finacial and economic crisis was to bail out the banks and launch a stimulus package but that has brought a new set of problems. The government deficits forced a reduction in social spending, while the big corporations, the banks and households are mired in debt.

In the US, Obama’s stimulus package is exhausted. His 2010 tax cuts have been wiped out by the increase in the cost of oil and rents. The bursting of the housing bubble has resulted in a cut in household wealth. There is a depression in the contruction industry and in household spending. US companies are cutting production and sacking workers. Over 24 million people are unemployed or underemployed. The number of people needing food stamps has increased by 50% from 2008 to 2011, so 45 million people – nearly one in seven people in the US - need help to get enough food to eat.

The ruling class everywhere is trying to destroy the social gains won by the working class in the post war period and there are more cuts planned.

The breakdown in negotiations between the Repubicans and the Democrats in the US over the economic programme has alarmed the markets and the IMF has warned that even just a crisis of confidence in US solvency can trigger a new global recession.

The Democrats argue for cuts and a small increase in the taxation of the rich, whilst the Republicans, under pressure from the Tea Party on the Right, only want huge cuts. One third of the republicans in the House of Representatives were only elected in 2010 and are vulnerable to Tea Party pressure, so they fear losing their seats if they go along with the Democrats.

Given the dire consequences of a default, even a temporary default, compromise is likely, but it will not bring a long term resolution to the US economic crisis. The US ruling class have no short term strategy, let alone a long-term solution, in the face of this systemic and protracted crisis of capitalism.

The US workers have no choice but to fight and they have already shown this in Wisconsin in the mass struggle against the right wing governor’s anti-union attacks and social attacks. But the failure to stop these assaults, largely due to the union tops not developing the mass struggle, also illustrates the need to build an independent party and fight for a change in the trade unions.
China

China is also prone to the global contradictions of capitalism. The 2008 crisis resulted in a drop in its exports, which cost 23 million jobs. Fearing social unrest, a stimulus programme was introduced by state directed banks, resulting in fast growth which boosted the markets and which also resulted in rising prices.

For three years, China seemed to avoid the world economic crisis but its overheating economy has created new problems and contradictions, not least huge ’bad debts’. The development of industrial production was dependent on loans from state banks, while local authorities borrowed heavily to invest in infrastructure. By the end of 2010, the debt in local government was equivalent to 40% of GDP.

Property speculation has meant a rise in prices and a surplus of housing stock. Yet millions of people cannot afford to buy or rent.

Brazil, Australia and Canada supply a lot of the raw materials for this growth in China. But that means those countries are vulnerable to a downturn in the Chinese economy. Equally, any slow down would mean an attack on the wages and conditions of the Chinese working class.

The ongoing economic crisis and the relative growing strength of China, sees a stepping up of big power rivalaries and tensions.

The ruling class in Pakistan has been developing increasing ties to China, while their counterparts in India are linking up more with the US – worsening the tensions between those countries.

The US ruling class aims to try to impose compliant regimes in vital geo-strategic regions of the world and to control oil reserves and other vital resources. In Afghanistan they have become reliant on warlords, as the occupation and puppert Karzai government lacks any real popular support. Obama plans to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, but around 70,000 will stay. They also have 50,000 US personnel in Iraq, in 53 military bases.

There is increasing tensions within the Russian elite in the run-up to presidential elections, mostly around economic policy and the approach to the west. President Medvedev is more pro-western and ’free market’ orientated. Both Prime Miniser Putin and Medvedev want to stand in the elections but both are facing falling support in polls. In the context of growing discontent amongst the massses in Russia, the struggle between Putin and Medvedev could become explosive.
Chavez

In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez’s serious illness has brought to the surface the competing factions in the regime. Chavez is still popular due to his social reform programmes, including in health and education. But suppport for the ’Bolivarian’ regime is declining against a background of electricity cuts, corruption, a housing crisis and one of the highest murder rates in the world. A new layer of the ruling bureaucracy is becoming enriched.

Chavez has announced he will stand for another six-year term but if his health worsens and he is out of the country for pro-longed peroids, it can open up a power struggle. This will give a boost to the reactionary opposition. And if the Bolvarian revolution unravels, it will have a big effect on Cuba, which relys on Venezuelan oil.

The only way to defend the social gains which have been won in Venezuela and Cuba, is for the working class to organise in defence of the revolution: taking the economy under the democratic control and management of the working class and spreading the revolution across the Americas.

The polarisation between the rich and poor across Latin America has fuelled the class struggle. In Brazil, there have been battles against corruption and tens of thousands of teachers and students marched in Chile on 30 June in defence of public education.
Industrial struggles in Africa

In Africa, the struggles of the working class have been boosted by the revolutionary movements in north Africa and the middle East. In south Africa, a recent three-week strike of engineers resulted in concessions. South African fuel workers are now in battle. These movements shook the pro-market ANC government but the COSATU trade union federation failed to co-ordinate the strikes effectively and to spread the action to meet the needs of millions of workers and poor.

In Nigeria, a three-day general strike over wages has been called off but this issue has the potential to explode again, given the terrible poverty conditions facing millions.There have also been “unprecented” protests in Malawi, where 75% of the population live on less than one dollar a day.

These examples show the potential for workign class resistance to develop. But there is a big gap between the needs of the working class and the level of conciousness amongst workers worldwide. The CWI aims to link struggles of workers worldwide, to campaign for and where possible help build new mass fighting parties of the working class and to also build the forces of Marxism.

During the plenary discussion, speakers from around the world gave inspiring reports of social and workers’ struggles and also about the development of the CWI.

In Australia, exporting raw materials to China and Japan has resulted in a boom in the mining industry, but also a lop-sided aspect to the economy. Mass conciousness may lag behind Europe and elsewhere but this period of relative quiet will not be maintained due to the crisis that will also hit Australia. The Labour Party minority government is at an historic low in the polls, following the imposition of the carbon tax. If there were an election tomorrow the opposition Right would win but only to launch an even more serious attack on the working class. A European-style revolt could develop in Australia. It suffers the same underlying problems of debt and one third of all jobs are identified as “unstable”.

Malaysia has been a fast-growing economy in recent years but it is not immune to the crisis. Exports of raw material, such as rubber to China, resulted in a 7% growth in 2010. But Malaysia is highly dependent on more powerful economies. Once the country is flooded with cheap Chinese goods, the local market will not be able to compete. Meanwhile the government is looking for further ’liberalisation’ – dismantling price control and slashing spending.

Paul Murphy, a Socialist Party MEP (member of the European Parliament), from Ireland, gave an inspiring report of his recent visit to workers in Kazakhstan. Using his position as an MEP, Paul was able to give concrete support to striking oil workers, who are waging one of the biggest industrial battles of workers in any ex-Soviet country since the collapse of Stalinism.

Kazakhstan is the richest country in the world in terms of its natural resources per head of population, but nearly all the money goes to the ruling elite. The oil workers labour in desert conditions, with very hot summers and very cold winters.

The workers are striking over wages, for the right to form independent trade unions and for the release of their union’s lawyer, who were jailed when the dispute began.

Thousands of workers have been on strike for two months with no strike pay and many have to support a family of eight or nine people. Some have been on hunger strike for 40 days in protest at the bosses.

The full force of the state has been used against the workers. Hundreds have been, in effect, locked out and some have received death threats.

Paul Murphy was warmly welcomed at mass meetings of the striking workers and he was able to help in negotiations with the management. Expecting a token visit from a compliant MEP, the top management were shocked when Paul argued vehemently on behalf of the workers.

All of this was reported prominently in the non-government Kazakh press, which helped to boost the confidence of the workforce. The task now is to build support internationally. Paul promised the company that if they did not begin meaningful negotiations there would be a massive international campaign against them.

Meanwhile, the Kazakh government know this is not just an economic strike – it is inspiring workers across the country.
Environment

One of the big questions facing the working class worldwide is the environment. Pete from the Socialist Party (England and Wales) explained that the National Academy of Sciences in the US concluded that emissions of greenhouse gases “stabilised” since 1990. But a 40% cut is needed in the next ten years to tackle global warming.

There has been a massive export of pollution to China. Between 2002 and 2008, greenhouse gas output in China rose from four to seven gigatonnes.

China consumes half of the world’s cement, coal, steel and iron ore and it is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The majority of Greens argue for a huge cut in consumption, condemning workers in China and other countries like India to eternal poverty. At least the Green Left activists blame the world’s imperialist powers for this situation.

The Chinese government opportunistically echoes this argument. It develops renewable energy sources but as a part of a profit-driven attempt to become the world’s leader in renewable energy.

The CWI argues that there is no long term solution to the environmental crisis on the basis of private profit. Competitive markets downgrade the environment. We need a democratic plan of production, in harmony with the environment, throughout the world.

There were many other interesting contributions to the discussion, including from Hong Kong, France, Bolivia, Venzuela, Brazil, Israel, Russia, Nigeria and India.

Tom from the US explained how the protests in Wisconsin were a small indication of the fighting spirit of workers; an upsurge from below against attacks on the trade unions, pensions and other social benefits. The protests included thousands of unorganised workers and young people.

The election of right-wing governors, last November, has escalated the attacks on workers. The Democrats in many areas are using the Tea Party as a cover for their attacks on workers.

In Wisconsin, Socialist Alternative supporters called for a one-day general strike, whereas the union leadser argued that further action would “risk losing popular support”and refused to build the action.

But Wisconsin was one battle in a war – the next battles will be on a national level. The working class are being asked to pay for the crisis on Wall Street. The CWI is arguing in the trade unions for independent candidates against the cuts.
Ireland

In southern Ireland, Joe Higgins, a Socialist Party TD (member of the Irish Parliament) hit the headlines this week responding to the Fine Gael/Labour government’s announcement of a new €100 a year ’household tax’. Joe Higgins and the Socialist Party call for a mass campaign on non-payment and have called a national forum on 10 September to organise that struggle. This got blanket coverage in the media. In contrast, a Sinn Fein TD, quoted in the press, warned that “a boycott is very dangerous”.

Summing up the discussion, Clare Doyle from the CWI International Secretariat, observed that the CWI has members in more countries than ever before and that there were more of those represented at the CWI School.

It was clear from the discussion that the ideas of struggle and revolution are spreading. Capitalism is in such a deep and prolonged crisis that the ruling elite in every country is worried about the future. One glaring indication of the depth of the crisis is the record price of gold.

Dictatorships worldwide were shaken by the fall of Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia. Futher strikes and protests will erupt, often despite of the trade union leaders. Our task in the CWI is to build our forces and a leadership worthy of the sacrifice and fighting spirit of those workers.



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Nationalise Bombardier to save jobs

Train manufacturer Bombardier has announced the loss of 1,400 jobs following the government decision to award the Thameslink rail project to German company, Siemens.

These cuts will devastate the area; for every job at Bombardier there are four in the supply chain. The existence of the last train manufacturer in Britain, employing 3,000 people in Derby, is under threat.

Around 10,000 marched against job cuts on Saturday 23 July in the biggest demonstration in Derby for decades. It was a protest of the working class, with Bombardier workers marching alongside supporters from all over Derby and beyond.


Large numbers of trade union banners from across both the public and private sectors mingled with homemade ones such as "Save my granddad's job". Workers came from far and wide to show solidarity, but it was Derby people who made up the bulk of the march.

Shoppers applauded the march through the city centre; workers came out of factories en route to signal support. The anger against the Con-Dem government is palpable.

They are blamed for awarding the contract on a basis that did not take into account of the costs of throwing up to 15,000 people in the Derby area out of work: lost tax, extra benefits to pay out and the knock on effect on the local economy.

At the closing rally a range of speakers including Bob Crow, RMT general secretary called for a reversal of the government decision to give 'preferred bidder status' to Siemens rather than Bombardier.

Various politicians were also keen to identify with the workers, including Labour MPs and even the Tory Council leader (although he is making hundreds of job cuts at the council himself!)

Thousands of leaflets were handed out by Socialist Party members and supporters of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) calling for the re-nationalisation of Bombardier and the rail network in order to expand public transport and create a long term future for rail jobs.

On the Friday, the Derby Telegraph had a piece on the NSSN's call for nationalisation of Bombardier quoting Dave Gorton, Midlands co-ordinator: "In the 1970s, the then Conservative government nationalised Rolls Royce to save it.

"They can do the same again with Bombardier. In fact, the whole rail industry should be renationalised immediately".

That nationalisation call has gained an echo in Derby, where Rolls Royce established its first factory. Hundreds of copies of the Socialist were sold and our petitions calling for nationalisation were popular.

One example of how broad the support for that call is was the nun who offered to take some of the Socialist Party petitions back to her convent to get signed!

"I'm buzzing, I feel as though something can change"
Following the demo 100 people went straight to a meeting called by the NSSN on how the fight to defend jobs could go on.

Darren Barber, vice chair of the Bombardier trade union shop stewards committee, got proceedings off to a lively start with an enthusiastic and well received contribution, "I'm buzzing, I feel as though something can change because everyone has got together.

"The mood was dead when the announcement first came, but when the unions start getting involved we started to get some belief. It makes me proud to be a rep."

Alex Gordon, RMT president, in an excellent speech, spelt out his union's position on nationalisation and public ownership and that workers' jobs would never be safe while in the hands of private companies.

His remarks were welcome, coming only an hour after the chairman of Bombardier UK had been invited to speak at the main rally!

Alex congratulated the NSSN and went on to attack the government's economic policies: "The job the Shop Stewards Committee has done to turn round the mood, working with the unions, has turned this into a massive campaign, It couldn't have happened with just a newspaper editor or a couple of sympathetic local MPs who might be worried about how the blame is going to go in the next election.

"The existence of a shop stewards system of organisation is proving its worth."

"[Tory chancellor] Osborne says the 750,000 jobs going in the public sector will be replaced in private industry. What has happened over Bombardier gives the lie to the government's policies. Bombardier was cheaper on the design and build.

"Siemens was cheaper because they don't require credit as the German government has given them a massive loan. The other reason is that Siemens 30-year contact for maintenance of their nine maintenance depots in this country does not recognise a union, one of the worst employers in the train maintenance industry. It is about driving down pay and conditions.

"This contract decision needs to be reversed. But only when it returns to public ownership, benefiting all the people of this country will we be able to solve these problems."

Rob Williams, chair of the NSSN, said: "We fully support the Bombardier workers. It is in all workers interests, whether in the public or private sectors, for Bombardier workers to win. It is important we join up these battles.

"We stand for international solidarity, but that is no contradiction to defending the jobs in Derby. How can any government force a company to invest when it isn't owned by the government?

"Why can't the government nationalise Bombardier just like the banks? It was a Tory government that nationalised Rolls Royce in 1971 overnight to save that company - there is a precedent.

"Except that this time it should be with democratic workers' control and management."

Rob urged all in attendance to plan for the lobby of the TUC in September where we can urge the trade union leaders to call united action in defence of pensions and jobs across the public and private sectors.

Rob concluded: "This is a weak government. We are lobbying the TUC for a 24-hour public sector general strike in the autumn over the issues of pensions and job cuts in public services.

If we win on that will it make it easier or harder to win at Bombardier? We have to say no more 'heroic defeats', let's unite private and public sector workers and win a famous victory here in Derby."

The Socialist Way: “Solidarity Forever”

The Socialist Way: “Solidarity Forever”: "In our hands is placed a power, greater than their hoarded gold Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold We can bring t..."

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Latest National Shops Stewards Network bulletin

With the Murdoch Media scandal ongoing, the massacre in Norway and continuing
starvation of growing numbers in Somalia, plus the rise in poverty globally as
the cuts hit, whilst we pay for the bosses’ crisis, it would be easy to
despair. In the UK alone, there has been a rise of those taking anti
depressants to 43% in the past 4 years, with more and more workers and
communities struggling with unsecure jobs, homes and futures. The question seem
unanswered, what kind of world are we living? It could be easy in some ways to
think this was just part of life, something to accept or that theres nothing we
can do to change things. But we can! We are part of the trade union and anti
cuts movement not just to fight for our jobs, services and homes but, within
that, fight the establishments idea that says we can not or do not have the
right to fight, to question or to consider alternative ways of running our
society for the collective benefit of us all, not the tiny minority who work
hard to burden us with their greed and manipulation.

Last Saturday in Derby saw a huge trade union and community demonstrations of
around 10,000 against the closure of Bombardier.
http://www.shopstewards.net/news.129.htm

NSSN midlands held a public meeting with the Vice chair of the Bombardier shop
stewards committee, Alex Gordon RMT president and Rob Williams NSSN organiser.
The nationalisation of the company was called for; something that unfortunately
none of the outdoor platform speakers suggested. http://tinyurl.com/3jysbkj
Shamefully, Tony Woodley of UNITE ended his speech at the main rally with the
call for ‘British jobs for British workers.’ This pandering to the race to
the bottom and dangerous set of nationalist ideas was unnecessary and holds out
nationalism and the ideas of the far right as the torch to follow. It is not a
fight between worker against worker in this country or workers in other
countries but a fight by workers in every country for our jobs and future.

And that is part of the reason we are lobbying the TUC on the 11th of Sep. To
push our leaderships to make use of all the resources, financial, human
publicity to call for a 24 hour public sector strike, to raise the idea more
clearly and openly of co-coordinated action and not to leave it rotting on a
website of motions passed for the virtual world to imagine that because its
written, it will happen, it wont, anything we have ever fought for, takes time,
energy, conversations, meetings, actions, strategies worked out together and
then for each and everyone of us to take responsibility to act together.

We welcome the national support from RMT & PCS for the lobby of the TUC and
Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow will be speaking at our rally, starting at 1:30-3:30
on the 11th at Friends meeting house before we move onto the march and protest
at TUC. Coaches have been booked from Newcastle, Coventry & Stoke so far, other
areas will be organizing to come together on trains and in cars.
http://www.shopstewards.net/sign.htm

Leaflets & Petitions: http://www.shopstewards.net/resources.leaflets.htm
As the volume of work has increased with the number of events and actions we
are involved in we need more finances: Please send in donations and
affilations: http://www.shopstewards.net/affiliate.htm

DISPUTES & UPDATES
Swindon Honda Steward Suspended
The National Shop Stewards Network has just received word that Paddy Brennan,
UNITE Convenor at the Swindon Honda plant has been suspended from work. More
details to follow when we get them, but Paddy's suspension is a provocative
attack on a prominent trade union fighter and by extension an attack on the
right to organise at Honda. We demand Paddy's reinstatement and the NSSN
pledges to do all it can in support of this.

Please text messages of support to Paddy on 07503 174 827 and email letters of
protest to humgen@honda-eu.com. More updates to follow.

EDL & Muslims Against Crusades
The right-wing group Muslims Against Crusades has called a national
mobilisation in Waltham Forest this Saturday; in response, the EDL are
threatening a counter-protest.

Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union is calling on all trade unionists and
anti-fascists to come to Walthamstow Town Square on this Saturday 30th July
from 11am onwards. This is to help the Anti-Cuts Union give out leaflets
promoting working class solidarity, opposing all those forces that create
divisions in the fight-back against cuts, and pointing the finger at the real
fight culprits ie the bankers, the bond traders, speculators and global finance
companies.
We stand for working class solidarity in Waltham Forest against any demands
that workers pay for bankers’ greed, and we will not allow our neighbourhood
and our fightback to be divided along racist or religious lines.

NUJ Strikes
Members of the NUJ working at the BBC will be taking their second 24-hour
strike action on Monday 1st August in opposition to compulsory redundancies of
NUJ members in the BBC. The industrial action will be from 00.01 hours to 23.59
hours on Monday 1st August 2011 and there will be picket lines on a majority of
the BBC sites across the United Kingdom. There will be an indefinite work to
rule from 2nd August 2011.

Coca-Cola Strikes
Workers from Coca-Cola Enterprises have voted overwhelmingly for industrial
action. Staff from distribution centers across the country will strike for 24
hours from 6am on 4 August in a dispute over pay with an offer of 2.3% 4th
August
http://tinyurl.com/3g4n7fy

Save Our Coastguards
Over 200 people packed into Oystermouth primary school, Swansea on Friday
evening (22 July) to hear coastguards and local campaigners make the case for
saving Swansea coastguard station.
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-swansea-coastguard.html and respond to
the consultation on the Department for Transport web site.The original
government proposal was to close Milford Haven station and downgrade Swansea to
a daylight hour’s only service. Now the Con-Dem coalition has done a U-turn
and proposes to close Swansea, the busiest coastguard station in Wales,
although Milford Haven has had a reprieve.

Remploy
Remploy & the Sayce report: Remploy is still the biggest employer of disabled
people in the UK, but it must be remembered that it is not the ONLY employer of
disabled people there are still very many more ranging from factories run by
charities to those run by local authorities.

Birmingham Council backtracks on offshoring: http://tinyurl.com/3ffalzj

Stop bullying disabled claimants, says PCS
http://tinyurl.com/3eppk4a

Support for Korean strikers as they picket Standard Chartered UK headquarters
http://tinyurl.com/3g9vfz9

RMT & TSSA to merge: http://tinyurl.com/42rdngg

DIARY
Sat 30 July
12 - 3pm Croydon Town Centre, North End
GMB to join UK UNCUT protest in CROYDON over cuts and tax dodging at SOUTHERN
CROSS HOMES : http://tinyurl.com/42jmd9w

Mon 1 August 12.30pm
Demonstration against the Health Bill when Health Minister Andrew Lansley will
be at the Royal Hospital Farnborough, Bromley BR6 8ND from 1 to 1.45pm to open
the new stroke unit (which we are not against!). Assemble at car park entrance
to Hospital near Sainsbury’s. Frances Hook Tel: 020 8853 2567

Wed 3rd August
Southampton Council Strike Rally Guildhall Square Southampton 11am
Brighton Stop the Cuts 7:30pm King and Queen

25th July – 12th August News International Wapping – 25 Years on TUC
http://tinyurl.com/3pk37te

11th Sep Rally & Lobby TUC for call for 24 hour public sector strike!
Assemble 1.30pm Friends Meeting Hse, Euston Rd, NW1 for a rally before our
protest.
http://www.shopstewards.net/sign.htm

5th November London March for Jobs
Youth Fight for Jobs is marching from Jarrow to London, starting on 1 October
2011. This is on the 75 anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade, when 200 unemployed
workers took a similar route to raise awareness of mass unemployment
http://jarrowmarch11.com/about/

Join, Get involved, and donate!
http://www.stopcuts.net/affiliate.htm
info@shopstewards.net
07952 283 558

In reply to a comrade on the issue of leadership

A good friend/comrade has posted a excellent interesting article on his blog about the role of leadership and his view that they are not needed to advance our cause as workers.

you can read this interesting post here. http://thesocialistway.blogspot.com/2011/07/who-needs-them-leaders.html?spref=tw

I thought i'd offer a reply and some of my own thoughts.

The comrade starts by stating

say apathetic. But virtually all members of the working class, with the exception of some 'socialists' who like myself are freethinkers, accept without question that leaders are necessary and essential; they cannot envisage a society without them.




Whilst i do agree with this to a degree that we all must become our own leaders to ourselves in a sense i think the idea of casting away all leaders could be a tad premature and risks us throwing the baby out with the bathwater somewhat.

I would suggest that our leaders in order to not be dragged in to a self serving situation which the blogpost i am looking at suggests often is the case. I would suggest that no leader or elected representitive should recieve no more than the average skilled workers wage. Being linked to the same earnings as those who you are representing is key i feel to remaining committed to doing exactly that.

I can understand why a lot of people do think there are many union leaders only in it for their own self interest and career prospects and money gains. But i am not totally sure this is always the case. I do feel their inflated salaries are always pointed to rightly when people are angry at their roles. So i would suggest a flat rate of a average skilled workers wage with the rest they dont take being donated back to the labour movement and the cause of workers.

The comrade then goes on

tes a social void in which the propertyless seek their solution either through prayer, or in the endless quest from a modern day Moses or political Messiahs, supposedly endowed with superior ability and foresight, to lead them out of the morass of their poverty and problems into the land of "solved situations". And of course this never happens.



This has been the case more often than not i agree with this but the role of a leader isnt to just lead people in their chosen direction it is also to raise contiousness within the mass's of workers. Spending time explaining socialist ideas is leading as it is popularising ideas that you wish more people to take up. In affect as socialists we are all leaderstrying to win more over to our cause and to change the world for the better.

But i would just point to the Russian revolution in 1917 where through the strong leadership of lenin and Trotsky the workers were able to feel confident enough to take control of the worlds first ever worekrs state. Although not perfect and a true class-less society initially the feeling was there that this could be achieved .

The feeling of revolution was strong at the timea nd if this had spread back then to other countries namely Germany or even England we could be living in a very different society today. I wont go into all the reasons why i feel this didnt happen now but just wanted to highlight that not all leaders are bad and some are genuinely wanting to changes things for the betterment of all not just themselves.

I think it is a common misconception that leaders will always betray the working class and we should not bother with them and instead self organise. Whilst i do agree to a point i do still feel there is a good place for revolutionary leaders who have experience and knowledge to ensure we remain united and focused on the eventual goal which is a class-less society where eventually the need for leaders is not nessesary which i do think the comrade i've quoted is looking towards.

Of course therea are good and bad leaders in our movement some we will warm to some we wont but i think by influencing the leadership of various unions and groups we can start to win support for our ideas of socialism.

So i do hope the comrade doesnt mind me commenting on his blogpost as i say i agree with large parts of it but i differ where i can see the benifit of having a strong leadership with revolutionary ideas and morals.

All part of the debate comradely i hope.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Why i feel banning the far right EDL would be a dangerous precedence to set

As i'm sure you are all well aware over the last week or so the far right and their activists have been thrown into the spotlight following the horrific murderings in Norway of young innocent teenagers and the bomb attack in Osl city centre.

There has been increased calls from the EDL to mount demonstrations and march's to stand with the person who performed these horrific actions.

Likewise many are also calling for groups like the EDL who are anti muslim and oppose islam and would be considered far right to be banned from marching and protesting.


Who are the EDL ?

The EDL has now organised around 15 principal figures loosely based around the football firms providing the most support. Not all of those involved are from a football background, and many of the men have yet to meet each other face-to-face. But they are mobilising for each other on trust, using websites including Facebook and YouTube.

The British National Party has distanced itself from the EDL, but anti-racism campaigners have named party activists they have photographed at demonstrations. They add that some demos have included people with a record of football violence.

Each demonstration has led to confrontations. But leaders like Tommy are appealing for demonstrators to avoid drink because they don't want to be written off as racist thugs.

In Birmingham last week, the BBC filmed black and white men alongside each other on EDL's lines.

So if it's not exclusively white, is it just a cover for a wider Islamophobia?

"People aren't against Islam, they aren't against anything else other than the funders of terrorism, the sworn enemies of Britain," says Tommy.

"For 10-15 years these groups have gone unchallenged in our towns and cities. Those days have gone now. We will challenge them. Wherever there are terrorists, we will be there."

Street army

Nick Lowles is the editor of Searchlight, which campaigns against far-right extremists.



Whilst i do not agree with a thing the EDL stand for or their actions at all i do feel that stifling their right to protest as much as we disagree with them and what they stand for would be undemocratic and set a dangerous level of precedence for other protests.


I could see a situation if a call to ban protests by the EDL was stretched to cover all politically motivated or any supposed politicaly motivated protests. Any that are deemed provocative in any such way would be banned.

This is not the country i'd like to live in. Whilst i do feel we should all have the right to protest which is still a very hot potato at the moment especially on the left right now with police brutality called into question on several ocasions i would not like to see riots either. A peaceful protest with banners loud noise and well mannered protest is fine i'd say but trying to stir up racial hatrid or inciting violence is something the labour movement cannot support or condone .

So i do feel going forward that peoples right to protest should be upheld and respected while respecting peoples rightto disagree and form a counter demonstration which we are happy to do on the left to offer people a alternative a working class alternative to unite us all whichever race, creed, religion or nationality you happen to be.

At the end of the day we are all workers and facing the same challenges for jobs, food, housing and living conditions so i feel we would be better placed uniting as the working class than as a nationality or a race or anything i feel it is counter productive and only turns us further against eachother, playing right into the ruling class's hands.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Is the far right on the move in Europe ?

With the shocking attacks on a Norweigian Labour party youth summer camp this weekend where so far 92 youths have been shot dead on a remote island investigations continue of course. We pose the question is far right groups and feeling on the rise again in Europe. This may come as a surprise to many but not to me and many other socialists on the left right now. When a economic down turn happens and finances get squeezed as we are seeing right now people tend to either turn towards the labour movement or this other movement of trying to divide us and blame a lot of it on imigration and religious cults and extremeism.

Lets be clear none of these tactics to divide workers and the working class will work as at the end of the day the working class will know the difference between righta nd wrong. But is a stark warning to us in the labour and trade union movement to get a move on and offer a alternative to the pro captailist austerity we see today.

We will increasingly see workers pitted against other workers in order to divide the movement . Since the tories lost heavily on June 30th which has been conveniently forgotton by the ruling class due to other more pressing issues apparently like the phone hacking scandels an the murdochs grip on power. Which dont get me wrong is big news and spreads far and wide but ith as given the government a chance to get off from the June 30th sstrikes which they were beaten hands down on every arguement they came out with on that day.

It was a massive sign of strength from the organised working class and trade unions. Even if not labour affiliated unions it was still a big sign of strength and sign of things to come hopefully.

But further far right influence has been happening across Europe this month too after the ban in France of Muslim burka's worn by women we see now that in Belgium which i always considered a passive and tolerat country has enforced a similar ban on womens head garments .

This will only increase tensions in communities and marginilise communities unfortunatly.

A law has come into force in Belgium banning women from wearing the full Islamic veil in public.

The country is the second European Union nation after France to enforce such a ban. Offenders face a fine of 137.5 euros (£121; $197) and up to seven days in jail.

Two women who wear full veils launched an immediate court challenge, saying the law is discriminatory.

France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim population, enforced its ban in April.

Belgium's law bans any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street.

It was passed almost unanimously by the lower house of parliament in April 2010.

MPs voted with only two abstentions to back the legislation on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people.

Other MPs said that full face veils such as the burka or the niqab were a symbol of the oppression of women.


Very few Muslim women actually wear full veils in France and Belgium But critics of the law say it could end up excluding women, leaving those who do wear the full veil trapped in their homes.

And they say the measures are over the top - estimates suggest only a few dozen women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of about half a million.

"We consider the law a disproportionate intrusion into fundamental rights such as the freedom of religion and expression," Ines Wouters, the lawyer representing the two women challenging the ban, told the newspaper La Libre.

She has taken their case to Belgium's constitutional court, where she will request a suspension of the law, AFP news agency reported.


Only today after this attack in Norway on organised workers wanting to protest and oppose racism we hear of even more troubles in Luton wher a horrific incident has happened.

Racists have attacked a mosque in Luton, breaking windows and leaving spraypainted graffiti including a swastika and the initials ‘EDL’.

The incident is the latest in a string of arson and vandalism attacks on mosques in towns where the English Defence League – an organisation of racists and fascists – is active.

The EDL was formed after a mob of masked racist thugs ran rampage through Luton in 2009 and its leadership is based there.

The Madinah mosque in Oak Road, in Luton’s Bury Park area, was attacked in the small hours of Friday morning.

The mosque’s imam, Shahid Ahmed, told the Socialist Worker newspaper about the attack. He said:

We locked up the mosque at 11.30pm on Thursday night, everything was fine. When I returned at 4am for morning prayers I found the windows smashed.

The words ‘EDL’ were painted on both sides of the mosque and a symbol [swastika] was also painted on one wall.

Dave Barnes from Luton UAF went to offer solidarity to the mosque after the attack. He says:

We have to stand united against racism. This attack has made us even more determined to organise to get as many people as possible to Tower Hamlets on 3 September to take part in the national protest to stop the EDL marching through the heart of London’s Muslim community.

The picture shows plastic sheeting over one of the broken windows. The graffiti has been painted out (whiter area to left of covered window).


there has been further troubles this week

One year after the closure of Refugee Migrant Justice (RMJ) in June 2010, the other main UK provider of free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and migrant workers has now also been shut down. On 11 July 2011, over 200 workers at the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) were told that their employer was in administration.

IAS workers were organised by the GMB union. Tentative links had been made by RMJ union reps with IAS reps going back a number of years. The experience of our struggle to defend RMJ from closure was no secret. However, on 15 November the GMB announced that 82 jobs at the IAS were also at risk.

So why was no attempt made by GMB and some on the left to draw the necessary conclusions from the closure of RMJ? A potentially successful industrial struggle against the closure of IAS could have been waged.

RMJ closure
Following on from changes made in the way legal aid was paid under the Labour government, Ken Clarke, the Con-Dem minister for justice, completed the job and sent in the administrators to close the RMJ in June 2010. Eleven offices of the RMJ across the country were closed, with the loss of 343 dedicated and highly skilled workers leaving some 12,000 clients without legal representation. Many clients then disappeared through fear that they would be returned to their country of flight and to torture and persecution.

RMJ Unite reps organised a demonstration outside the offices of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in London. Calls were made at that demo by two RMJ Unite reps to occupy the RMJ head office, supported by the national Unite official, and also to forge links with the PCS union in the MoJ.

However, a call to organise a meeting of union reps to discuss this proposal was ignored. Due to a naive attachment to legal niceties a decision was made, during a meeting between lawyers with "experience of occupations" and some London-based union reps, to not occupy but instead "build a broad based campaign". This decision was made without the involvement of union reps and members in other offices.

Fight all cuts!
An occupation of the RMJ head office with the continuing provision of free legal advice, together with a call to the wider trade union movement and the refugee community itself for financial and other support, would have provided a beacon of resistance to cuts in legal aid. This would have been a concrete defence against attacks on the poor, vulnerable and dispossessed under the Con-Dem onslaught. Indeed, some not for profit organisations and charities also under threat were waiting in anticipation for a lead on how to fight anticipated cuts.

Our unsuccessful struggle to defend the RMJ was the first skirmish in a battle against a divided but intransigent Con-Dem government. But the lessons of our struggle must not be lost. No 'broad based' campaign can replace a determined working class struggle to defend our jobs and services.

If we learn the lessons of past struggles the question is not whether we can beat this government but with what do we replace it.
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On 9 July, the divisive, far-right English Defence League (EDL) planned to 'invade' several towns and cities to hold marches. Socialist Party members were part of the mass opposition that attempted to mobilise against the EDL's poisonous ideas. In Plymouth the Trades Council, which comprises local trade union branches, organised a 'festival of diversity' that attracted 500 people.

The Socialist Party marched under the slogan: "Jobs, homes and services not racism!" We aimed to show to the people of Plymouth that there is a real socialist alternative to the far-right politics of hatred.

In Halifax, where the EDL also 'invaded', socialists stood firm in arguing with EDL members who tried to accost them and managed at least to make some of the marchers consider what they were saying.

Unemployment, poverty, lack of decent social housing and the harsh effects of savage Con-Dem cuts to jobs and services are the breeding ground for people to be targeted by the racist EDL. The Socialist Party campaigns for policies of job creation, house building and investment in public services and aims to build a real socialist alternative.


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Take over Murdoch's press!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The absolute relentless drive for profit

I have a good friend who is a comrade of mine who has recently seen himself made redundant from a well known pharmaceutical company around the world. The drive for profit within this certain company which i best not mention just in case is so great that a compulsory redundancy program has had to be enforced. The fact that my freind who is a very good union man who is a union rep at his place of work standing up for good honest workers who do not wish to go and have no choice has been victimised.

My freind now has found himself out of thi company and looking for a new job. But i do not like the way these big global business's goa bout their work. Attacking any who stand up for the workers and do not like the way the workers are pushed from pillar to post and the way they are treated. I cannot blame them i always side on the sides of the workers even if my view is described as "black and whiteW" sadly this is how the capitalists want us to appear. Sadly black and white is the only way the capitalists will only have it. That the workers are the things we can get rid of to protect their profits not taking a less of a profit for one year to keep our good hard workers on.

To me as a socialist i just do not understand the need for more and more profit beyond that that will do you over nicely. I am of the view that as long as you can get by and live ok and a little bit more that is enough why do you need anymore. It is a terrible thing that humans have become greedy and profit hungry in times of capitalist greed but i do think it is the system we live under which fuels this emotion rather than people themselves.

I truely believe under a different system of society say socialism that a message sent out from the top that profit is not all what it is about rather than providing for peoples need would filter down throughout society much like the message that more profit more greed is good in society like we live under today sadly.

The example of my friend working for a well known pharmaceutical company which makes 8 billion pounds a year and 8 thousand pounds per employee is quite enough i'd say and craving more just exposes the system we live under in my view.

I feel the victimisation of union reps during these times will only increase sadly with the crisis of capitalism increasingly too. The fact that any workers are willing to stand up now and be counted must be to the bravery of them workers. The capitalists are looking for scape goats and will crack down heavily on any worker willing to stand up.

Sadly this was my friend at his last job willing to put his head on the line to stand up for other workers. Does he get any tahnks or credit ? no sadly not but from me and this blog he will always do so. If any union rep or member is prepared to stand up for waht is right and take on the management i comend them.

Not enough unions or union members are taking up the battle against management and the system as yet. On the 30Th June we had 750,000 + public sector workers out on strike but this is just the start. Getting a class based contiousness back in to workers is the start. Instructing them who the real enemy is is key too. The fact that profit can so often go before workers needs and rights is not on in my view and the socialist society i invisige would be based on peoples need far before the need for anyones profit.

What good is peoples profit at the end of the day when people are starving and cannot feed themselves due to the insuficient wages the workers recieve. It is time to be countedand time to stand up for waht is right.

It is no time for half hearted reforms or half baked compromises we know exactly what we are aiming for as revolutionary socialists lets spread the word and influence others who wish to join with us against the battle of profita nd need of all.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Capitalism stuck in a blind alley

This excellent article below is from this weeks socialist, the socialist paper from the socialist party of England and Wales. It is by Peter Taaffe the general secretary of the party who sums up how capitalism lies in Britain today and how it has no answers to the crisis it finds itself in apart from making the working class pay.

'Murdochgate' is in effect Britain's Watergate - it has acted as a catalyst for all the gathering discontent that exists with the government and the system it defends. The News of the World (NoW) web of intrigue links the government, particularly David Cameron, to what some have called "institutionalised criminality" including the police.

As Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian commented: "No wonder the [Metropolitan Police] was so lethargic in investigating hacking: why look too deeply into the affairs of people who represent either a meal ticket or a future paycheck?"

Freedland compared this crisis to the revolutionary movement in Romania in 1989 when the Stalinist dictator Ceausescu was booed at a mass rally in Bucharest. This led to a revolution which overthrew him and his system.

Sarah Brown, wife of former Labour prime minister Gordon, invited Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World, to a 'pyjama party' at 10 Downing Street even after that paper had threatened to run an exposé on her son's health! Brown himself attended Brooks's wedding, alongside the rest of the New Labour glitterati.

David Cameron also hosted News Corporation figures at Chequers, the prime minister's country home, estimated in 2007 to have cost the taxpayer £1,738 a day to run. Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch's son James and others were entertained there.

The trigger to the crisis was the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. Just to say the words 'they hacked the phone of a dead school student' produces nausea. A single incident can encapsulate all the doubts, all the horror in relation to the capitalist system.

Miliband


Labour leader Ed Miliband was on the ropes after the self-inflicted damage of repeatedly condemning the public sector pension strikes, provoking enormous anger. Even the question of his leadership was discussed within New Labour.

But he seized the time, recognising that the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone was a defining moment. By openly challenging Murdoch, he tied his fate to destroying the authority of Murdoch. As a result, he has gained a certain kudos.

Will it last? That is unlikely, no more probable than Barack Obama's ratification of the assassination of Bin Laden guarantees him a second term as US president. It is the economy, the bread and butter issues, which will shape the outcome of the next US election.

The BSkyB deal is finished. It doesn't mean that the Murdoch empire is finished yet. But as the Financial Times (FT) points out, if they had tried to carry the deal through the repercussions against would have been even greater.

News Corp's British newspapers are not its main asset internationally, with its Fox TV network, spewing out right wing propaganda, still making huge profits in the US. Nevertheless the company's share price has fallen 20% following the scandal.

As a result of his cosy relationship with Murdoch, Cameron is desperately struggling to maintain his position. Miliband, like the man who milks the cow only to kick over the bucket, undermined his new-found popularity by agreeing a common parliamentary position with the Tories and Lib Dems.

And, of course, he too previously danced to the tune of Murdoch, quaffing champagne at his summer party only weeks ago. For the three capitalist parties, Tory chancellor George Osborne's "We're all in it together" never sounded so appropriate.

However, we socialists and working class fighters like Scottish socialist Tommy Sheridan are not and never have been 'in it'. The Socialist Party took the political position that the case against Tommy was a frame-up. We, and all those who stood by Tommy, have been proved correct.

Following the Murdoch revelations, in particular around the role of Cameron's "friend", Andy Coulson, former NoW editor and central to the trial in Scotland, there has been a sea-change in Scotland, especially amongst the working class. The general feeling expressed on the streets and on radio and television is that Tommy Sheridan was framed and should be released immediately.

Brooks's departure and the sensational resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Stephenson, while welcome, are insufficient. We demand not a judge's but a workers' inquiry. The TUC should front it and the print unions, journalists and printers who were sacked at Wapping should form the basis of an independent inquiry by the working class.

30 June

Much to the relief of Miliband, Cameron et al, the magnificent strikes of 30 June have been temporarily pushed out of the media spotlight by the drama of this crisis. But from the point of view of the working class and ourselves, this development has been the most important event in Britain in the last period.

The capitalist press jeered that, in the light of the convulsive movements in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, there didn't seem to be mass protests in Britain. This was even after the epic 26 March mass demonstration! Two days before the biggest trade union strikes in recent history, the Guardian ran an article: "Where is the anger now?"

Teachers, it was argued, don't have the power of the miners or other industrial workers who went on strike in the past. We argued otherwise, especially today, where so many parents work full-time. Schools occupy a crucial position. Teachers coming out on strike have a massive indirect effect on workplaces and industry.

In the strike and its aftermath, the government lost the argument over pensions. Perversely, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude claimed the voter turnout for strike action showed that civil service workers in the PCS union were not with the leadership.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka challenged that if Maude and the government really wanted to know trade union members' feeling, they should wait for the 30 June strikes. He also argued that the government should remove the ban, introduced by New Labour in 1999, on online voting for strike ballots.

On 30 June, workers massively answered the strike call. Far more than voted for the strike, in the NUT, ATL and UCU teaching unions and the PCS, participated in the hugely successful strike and demos. The strike represented a big defeat for the government and the employers' propaganda barrage. Maude then refused to appear on TV on the night of the strike to argue his case for attacking pensions.

Change of tack
Significantly, the government then changed tack. As we go to press, it appears that a deal including a 12-week consultation period is being dangled in front of local government trade unions. This is a blatant attempt to undermine the campaign for a four million-strong one-day public sector general strike in the autumn.

It wasn't just the government and the employers who were frightened by the power that was shown on 30 June; the conservative officialdom - the right wing within the trade union movement - also took fright. Dave Prentis, general secretary of the largest public sector union Unison, was manoeuvring behind the scenes.

Both Prentis and the government believe that they can arrive at some kind of a deal by limiting the increase to contributions of workers to the Local Government Pension Scheme, thus evading strike action. In other words, there is an attempt by the government with the connivance of right wing union leaders to counterpose negotiations to mass struggle.

Of course, if a victory can be won through negotiation all well and good. Workers do not support strikes just for the sake of it. But in this battle the government is most likely to be pushed back through action.

The government now wants to reach an agreement; if 50% of contributors are forced to opt out of the local government scheme, which amounts to tens of billions of pounds, it could fold. Together with other factors this could trigger a stock exchange collapse, thus enormously aggravating the current economic crisis.

Prentis is trying to ignore pressure from ordinary union members. The left in Unison must step in. Unison members face savage job cuts and attacks on wages, with the 'fire and rehire' approach to undermining workers' conditions, as attempted in Southampton, Shropshire and Labour-led Waltham Forest, for example.

The demand for a recall conference in order to press for a fighting programme of national action must be raised. Support for such a programme is inherent in the localised but ferocious battles that are developing across the country; in Southampton rubbish piles up on the streets but support for the strike by council refuse workers remains high.

There is now a visible and appreciable hardening of the mood of the working class. It is true that, as Murdochgate has shown, the ruling class in Britain is capable of bending in the face of hostile social pressures. But working class resistance to the cuts is also stiffening and a strong leadership can be decisive in securing victories.

Inequality
It is clear that capitalism, based as it is on the werewolf-like search for profit, is not able to escape this present impasse easily. In fact everything the capitalists have done, including the huge stimulus packages, has not solved the situation.

The relentless search for easy profits over the last three decades has accumulated massive problems for capitalism. Rising inequality is basically a growth in the share of the wealth taken by the bosses and a diminution in the share taken by the working class.

Median wages in the US were actually stagnant or declined for 20 years before this crisis. Cheap goods from China, cheap debt and low inflation went some way to softening the situation. But these factors have now changed or are likely to soon with, for instance, a slowdown in the Chinese economy, which could even become part of the worsening situation.

We are now supposed to be in a recovery! We have the phenomenon now of long-term permanent unemployment; 850,000 people in Britain have been unemployed for 12 months or longer. That's an indication of the sickness of the system.

The government claims to be in favour of 'job creation' yet 84 people are chasing every job in Merthyr Tydfil. This indicates the incapacity of capitalism in a 'phase of recovery' to be able to deliver jobs. In effect, we are in a double dip recession.

The international economic position is even more explosive now than earlier this year, compounded by the programme of 'fiscal consolidation', cuts in living standards. The potential for another Lehman Brothers-type event on a European scale is rooted in the situation. There's not just a sovereign debt crisis, but another potential banking crisis aggravated by Credit Default Swaps - the insurance on defaults - which are hidden in the system. The euro, in its present form, is doomed.

In general these factors mean that capitalism is stuck in a blind alley even if there's some economic growth. However, in Britain, estimates suggest only 0.1% growth in the last quarter. That is, as the figures show, insufficient to absorb the labour of the working class. All the targets of the government, even the most pessimistic, lie in ruins.

There is no question that elements of a pre-revolutionary situation exist in many countries, certainly in Greece. But some of these features exist in Britain also. The capitalist class is beginning to see the seriousness of the situation.

The consequences of the crisis can be seen in every single sector. The high streets have faced carnage with shops shutting daily; even the likes of TJ Hughes discount stores - a landmark in Liverpool, founded in 1912 - have closed their doors.

The dilemma and the stupidity of British capitalism are summed up in the sell-out of Bombardier in Derby. Thirty years after the Specials first performed their song, Derby could be reduced to a 'Ghost Town'.

For workers facing the loss of their livelihood, it's not enough for the trade unions to express opposition - they also have to consider occupation to prevent job losses and the movement of machinery out of the factory.

When you get library workers in an east London borough threatening to bring sleeping bags into work to occupy their libraries against closure, it is an indication of the temper of the mood and the possibilities that are developing.

The collapse of industrial investment is ominous. The Con-Dems' promise, their 'ark of the covenant', was that huge job losses in the public sector would be offset by the private sector. There is no possibility of this taking place.

Yet the public sector has been slashed and we face the cheap sell-off of public assets on an industrial scale. This year alone almost 3,000 contracts have been awarded to private firms.

Privatisation
The government's recent public services White Paper spells it out. Only frontline police, the judiciary and the army will not face outsourcing. Privatisation for the capitalists flows from their huge surplus of liquidity. There is no profitable enough outlet for it in industrial investment. The capitalists think that only by dismantling the state sector can there be any way out for capitalism.

But for the government this is not straightforward - every measure they take rebounds on them. Their plans for a cruel and, as the Socialist described, unworkable cap on benefits to £26,000 a household will result in 40,000 families losing their homes. Local authorities are expected to house them. What's more, we now know they have been aware of this for some time.

But the ruling class is, for the time being, locked into the policy of 'austerity'. Take the situation with housing. There is massive homelessness and growing unemployment, including among construction workers, yet bricks and mortar lay idle. Instead of public investment in house building as recommended in a recent Sheffield Hallam University study, we have the return of 'Rachmanism', the super-exploitation of tenants in squalid conditions by slum landlords. There is a catastrophe in education and in the NHS, where privatisation and £20 billion of cuts are going ahead.

It is impossible for the working class to remain dormant. The Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire agrees with the Socialist that the government might not last the year. If the Con-Dems do manage to struggle on it will be mainly due to the incapacity of Labour and the trade union leaders to press home the advantage now.

Can Labour be changed? It is being changed - but not into a vehicle for struggle. Miliband, Peter Hain and others in the Labour leadership are proposing subsuming the remaining elements of the party into a 'movement', dissolving the branches and diluting any remaining power from the trade unions.

Nonetheless, defections by New Labour councillors and splits cannot be ruled out. Under the pressure of working class movements, the most unlikely types can be forced to act.

And the working class is moving to the left, socially if not yet politically. Thousands have joined the unions in the wake of the 30 June strike. The middle class is also affected. Every promise to them has been broken; their houses could be 'repossessed' to pay for care in old age and their children, denied not only this inheritance but also an education and a future, will be radicalised.

In this context, a determined opposition, even a small, but independent new workers' party, based on struggle, with a socialist programme could be decisive.


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News International scandal

Force Cameron out!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The "Youth of today"

It is tough growing up in the world today. The youth are under huge pressures now more than ever. With 1 million unemployed as we stand it is no wonder so many young people are angry about the situation they find themselves in.

Coupled with the fact next year the 9 thousand pounds a year of tuitian fees will be brought in. This as i have previously talked about on here will fule a new sense of anger in students as they look for alternatives and see very little.

The things that havent been discussed about the increase in tuitian fees is the added pressure that will go with that. The cut in higher education funding will affect the choices students and universities have in what courses they can do.

It is a bleak choice for students and young people at the moment growing up in a world where nearly every night there is bad negative news on the tv stating which country is needing a bail out of its debt next. They then hear how much debt they will be in if they do try and fulfill their ambitions at university . All this must make them feel like they are up to their neck in debt and no way out of this cycle.

This is not fair. On a young generation which hold the key to moving us all forward in many ways as they are the future are being victimised from all angles.



We see only this week even further evidence with the jailing of Charlie Gilmore from the magnificent students demonstrations last year in December. Many were arrested and detained against their will in kettles and there are legal proceedings going through against that and the police who kettled young students younger than 18 for excessive lengths of time and without food or water or toilet facilities. This is not on in my book it is bad enough to submit anyone to this sort of treatment but leta lone under 18's.

There is increasing attempts by the ruling class to clamp down on political protest from young people as we have seen with the handing out of harsh sentances to protesters who although acting a little stupid to say the least have been given harsh sentances. Like the 32 month sentance to Edward Woodwood for dropping a fire extinguisher off the top of Conservative HQ. Not excusing these students but i can totally understand the anger they feel and were hitting back due to their lack of opputunities from this government inflicting cuts and privatisation and less opputunities to them as a result.

What options are they left with when they feel they have no voice in a political sense. Not one of the main political parties speaks their language anymore. It was said the Lib Dems did support students and played very well on this fact last time at the election but this can no longer be true due to them selling out their pledges to vote with the tories for higher tuitian fees.

This was met with huge anger andaggression from many students and young people who just weeks before had seen their EMA decimated which is another vital component of a students life today giving them the chance to get to school and college and pay for their education materials.

We as socialists must show that there is a light and a chance for them to engage in class struggle but not turn to such dangerous tactics of anarchism. We would much rather they built up their anger and developed a good sense of collective power with their fellow students and took strike action, occupations and demonstrations on a mass scale. This is far more effective when organised properly.

The collective power of the organised working class cannot be underestimated. The trade unions and students need to merge into one now really as we aer all facing attacks from all angles and united we stand divided we fall.

The fact that there have been politically motivated arrests and jail sentances is all designed to put young people off protesting. This will not work as the harder they come down on them the stronger their views against the state will become. We must be there to channel that into a positive action rather than a negative one though.

This autumn many young people are reinacting the Jarrow to London march

"Youth Fight for Jobs is organising a march from Jarrow to London in October, in the footsteps of the unemployed seventy-five years ago. They marched for the right to work, to be able to have a job. It seems this government is forcing millions today to do the same. We will set off on 1 October, a day before the start of the Conservative conference, and arrive in London 5 weeks later on 5 November. We are calling on the anti-cuts movement, student activists, trade union members and unemployed workers to support our march."

Youth Fight for Jobs was launched in January 2009 to combat the effects of the recession on young people. It is supported by Unite, RMT, PCS, CWU, UCU, Bectu and many local trade union and student union groups.


We stand shulder to shoulder with these young people in their fight for a better opputunity in life.

THE RIGHT TO A DECENT JOB FOR ALL, WITH A LIVING WAGE OF AT LEAST £8 AN HOUR
NO TO CHEAP LABOUR APPRENTICESHIPS! ALL APPRENTICESHIPS TO PAY AT LEAST THE MINIMUM WAGE, WITH A JOB GUARANTEED AT THE END
NO TO UNIVERSITY FEES. SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN TO DEFEAT FEES.


These are just some of the basic demands young people want today we as the working class must support them and make them feel they are not alone and we as the workers are all in this together and together we can win.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

TUSC conference 2012, London mayoral elections and the future

Today i attended the TUSC conference. For anyone who didnt know we are TUSC- trade union and socialist coalition set up 18 months ago to give working class people a voice and a alternative to the main 3 capitalist parties.

You can view our website and learn moer about TUSC here.
. Find out more about TUSC at http://www​.tusc.org.​uk/


TUSC is made up of the SWP and teh Socialist party as it stands with other independants affiliating too to use it as a banner to stand in elections against the cuts. All cuts. One of our unique selling points is the fact that we are different and do offer an alternative. A working class alternative which has not been seen on ballot papers for sometime.

The conference today was to discuss the past year of this con-dem government and what is next for TUSC.

There weer some brilliant speakers from the Socialist party and the Socialist workers party aswell as leading figures in the trade unions such as PCS and the RMT.

a very engaging discussin was had by all comrades and lots of tactics and ideas were shared. Some trying to offer a way forward others looking back.

But all in all it was a very positive conference with plenty to look forward to. Much of which i have previously talked about on this blog. SO do please look back over those posts if you can on TUSC and the formation of a new workers party, which we in the socialist party are firmly behind.

This is due to the fact we do not believe the labour party offers a solution for workers today. Not one Labour party run council voted against cuts this year and didnt even come close to discussing voting against the cuts.

So now as we learn nearly 43% of people now do oppose the cuts there is clearly the base there to tap into to build support within the working class which have no political voice at all today.

We do need a socialist being able to reply to the arguements being put by the main 3 capitalist parties and offering a alternative.

I myself am very much behind the idea of a new workers party as a point to base our struggles around and to lead the way.

In Greece right now the lack of a working class party to lead the struggles is one of the main reasons the working class resistance has not brought about a change as yet it is still the cuts coming through. The lack of such a party is very evident across alot of the Europe if not the world today.

The question is often put to us that the lesser evil is the labour party and we should back them. We disagree even when the Labour party was first formed back in the 1900's there were many who condemned it and said it'll never work and many stuck with the liberals at that time.

What rings true to me is that things can move very quickly indeed. I mean who can imagine just two years ago the Rupert Murdoch owned News of the World was Britains best selling paper now it is gone. Gone from our high streets and our homes. So things can change extremely quickly in times like this we need to be rady for any eventuallity .

We dont know for certain but this con-dem government could fall this year or next if pressure if put upon them so great splits appear. We need to be there ready with a alternative. As as we speak it would be the Labour party under Ed Miliband who would become our Prime Minister.

Much was said about the Labour party today. Not sectarian but truthful hard facts of all Labour councils pushing through cuts.

Workers will still vote for labour but only to keep the tories out. This is contiousness we are having to deal with. But if you dont explain to people labour are offering much the same as the tories and there is a alternative, a real socialist alternative then people will never break the habbit.

There is millions of people who dont even vote. Many ex labour supporters millions since 1997 which Labour still trumpet as their proudest year in recent times who simply do not vote for anyone.

They havent gone to vote for the tories or teh Lib Dems. They ahve stayed at home. Its these workers we can win overa nd draw in to the struggles as the situation intensifies .

OOne ofthe biggest debates to come out of todays meeting and differences are there between comrades on whetehr to stand for the Mayoral election next year where it is being billed as ken Livingstone vs Boris Johnson.


People will see this as a left v right fight but it is not as simple as that. Ken although we are being told to back him by the SWP as we want Boris out will do well to remember Red Ken's last time in office. There was privatisation on Thameslink and lots of jobs cut on the tube to name a few of his red credentials being blown apart.

So the question was asked do we as the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition or under a different name if Unions were to come on board with support, be that the RMT or PCS who are thinking of standing their own candidates possibly too.

My position is yes we definatly should. In London if you stand for Mayor your automatically mailed out in a booklet to all London residents who are on the voters list. This i a massive chance for us to gain publicity and get our message out there. There is an alternative and we can be that beecon for workers.

I certainly think although alst Mays election results were possibly not fantastic and we didnt win any seats we have laid down a marker for future push's on the electoral front. As at the time the cuts were just on paper now people are starting to see jobs going and services closing i do feel we would see a different result now and next year forward.
So lots of positive discussion today and lots of room to improve and move into a broader platform for workers to stand up and be counted.

The ruling class is on the offensive lets join them by taking them on and winning i say.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Do we want choice ?

So we hear it nearly everyday, David Cameron trying to sell NHS reforms or privatising large parts of our public sector. This is the tories real plan for our public services. But the word Cameron and Clegg and his con-dem buddies seem to want to use is this word "choice". Apparently we all need choice now on what hospital providers we use. This in otehr words is saying we need to be able to choose a private company offering you something for a cheap price. But this is all well and good but why should we pay for public services which we pay for anyway out of our tax's well most of us not including much of the ruling class who evade tax.

But the use of words has been very clever by the tories over the last years or so. To get labour out of power and bring about a shift in peoples minds they convinced many people we needed change. That labour were out on their knees and we needed something fresh. The use of the media which has so famously gone up in flames this week in the tabloid press especially with the News of the world helped trumpet.

But i wanted to know with our public services do we really want choice, i mean really ? surely most people in this country i'd have thought would settle for a brilliant top class service, free at the point of use and paid for by their tax's. Its tried and tested and works well. Even if it is not perfect it works largely well. SO where does David Cameron get this idea we now want choice in our services ?

I believe like many that this is a smokescreen for privatisation and inviting his private sector mates in to make a quick buck on our NHS and public services.

Quite simply we do not need choice. We just want a good well funded NHS which is free at the point of use and provides good health care.

Afterall that is what it was set up to do in the first place. Not to become a market for private companies to make money out of us.

The failiure of privatisation is very clear you do not have to look much further than the likes of Railtrack and Southern Cross care homes to realise that when profit comes before care and need then it is a recipe for disaster and sloppy service ultimatly ending in failiure.

So Mr Cameron we are happy with our public services, they may need better funding and a few tweaks here and there but on the whole they are fine they do not need a choice based system or a profit making excersise involved either.

The role our public services play is a key part. Our fire brigade and police and council workers do a excellent job. Lets not destroy the great jobs they do.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fire engines for sale, Is this the private sector they want to sell more of our public services to ?

In a excellent article published by the FBU Matt Rack the general secretary of the Firebrigades union sums up many of our feelings on this blog on privatisation and the horrors of the grim realities of this system.

AssetCo, the private owners of London and Lincolnshire’s fire engines, are on the brink of collapsing under debts of £140 million. The High Court will today hear the future is either liquidation, administration or a takeover by Saudi-backed Bahraini investment bank called Arcapita.

The move comes on the day the coalition spells out its plans for greater involvement of the private sector in public services, including the fire service. The Fire Brigades Union said the AssetCo saga flags up the dangers of involving the private sector in public services.

London Fire Brigade privatized the ownership and maintenance of London’s fire engines and 50,000 pieces of rescue and safety kit in 2001. AssetCo has a similar arrangement with Lincolnshire fire service.

The Fire Brigades Union says the news underlines the dangers privatization poses for emergency services. Debtors could seize assets and the fire engines and kit could be forfeited to creditors and sold off in full or part to any fire service in the world.

In the event of a takeover fire brigades have no control over who their fire engines are sold on to. Internet search engines throw up enough material about Arcapita to be of serious concern.

The timing of the end game of the AssetCo saga – on the day the Government is spelling out even greater involvement of the private sector in running public services, shows the coalition is out of touch with the dangers of privatization.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary said: “It was a monumental blunder to hand key operational assets over to the private sector. The saga is unfolding in the High Court on the day the Government sets out plans which pave the way for greater private sector involvement in the public sector.

“When you involve the private sector you do not know what crisis awaits you in the long-term. AssetCo has not provided a solution and expertise they have delivered a crisis and uncertainty.

“We’ll hear a lot about competition and innovation from the coalition today. What AssetCo shows is the unacceptable face of the private sector and the disaster it can bring.

“The public demand certainty from the public services they rely on. What has been delivered in this case is a financial mess and utter chaos.”

FBU press office 0208 541 1765 or mobile 07736 818100

Is a new workers party possible, What is next for TUSC ?

So in my previous post of this two part series we looked at the possibilities of the Labour party being regained by the workers and the chances for a workers representation on a mass scale in politics.

We drew the conclusions that at the moment regaining the labour party would be difficult but not impossible but also very unlikely.

SO you ask what should we do instead. As working class people still have no voice on the political stage while they are being hit by cut after cut day by day.

So we in the socialist party support the idea of a new workers party. Much similar to how the labour party was started. By trade unions forming a alternative to what was the status quo back in the early 1900's with just tories and liberals to choose from.

Both these parties at the time were thought to be the same much like we have today with the 3 main political parties tories, lib dems and labour are all very similar.

There is currently no one standing up for the working class hense why these cuts are going through so easily so far. With some resistance from trade unions doing the best they can with limited room for action with the hrshest anti trade union laws in europe constantly hovering over them.

This year TUSC not a new workers party i must stress is a umbrella which is funded by individual trade unionists backed by Bob Crow and his union the RMT. We stood nearly 200 candidates across the country in the last local elections in may polled over 25000 votes across the country. Given this was only our first 18 months in existence and we have practically no profile at all this was very encouraging.

This saturday is a conference in London to bring together all who stood in this years elections under the banner of TUSC- against all cuts i might add where no other party did. To come together to discuss the way forward for TUSC and the possibility of a new workers party.

Conference of TUSC candidates and campaign organisers, Saturday 16 July, 11am-4pm, ULU, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY, Registration fee £5 waged/£3 unwaged.

The Socialist Party participates in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC www.tusc.org.uk) an electoral alliance involving leading militant trade unionists from the RMT, PCS and NUT.

TUSC plays an important role, enabling trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand candidates against the pro-austerity consensus of the capitalist parties.

For the Socialist Party TUSC is also part of a campaign, which we have waged for well over a decade, for the trade unions to stop funding Labour and to begin to build a new party that stands in the interests of working class people. Both the objective need and potential for such a party has never been greater than it is today.

At the 30 June London strike rally Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the ATL, the most 'moderate' union to take part in the strike, attacked the Labour leadership which is "laughingly called an opposition". She called on trade unionists to 'do it for themselves' (see pages 8 and 9), receiving the biggest cheer of the whole rally.

If any platform speaker had argued for trade unionists to do it for themselves - by striking but also by standing in elections on a clear anti-cuts programme, it would have had a huge response.

This year's PCS conference agreed that, within the next twelve months, a full membership ballot would be held "to decide whether the union could stand or support candidates in national elections".

If that ballot is passed it will be a major step forward for the trade union movement and would open the possibility of a trade union based electoral alternative on a wider scale.


All TUSC candidates have signed up to the following local election platform:
Oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions - we reject the claim that 'some cuts' are necessary to our services.
Reject above inflation increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
Vote against the privatisation of council services, or the transfer of council services to 'social enterprises' or 'arms-length' management organisations, which are first steps to privatisation.
Use all the legal powers available to councils, including powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations, to oppose both the cuts and government polices which centrally impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
When faced with government cuts to council funding, councils should refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing government cuts on - while arguing that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the cuts is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that the government makes up the shortfall.

The list of TUSC sponsors continues to grow, reflecting the enthusiasm of many workers that, at last, there is a prospect of a trade union rooted challenge to the 'savage cuts' pro-capitalist consensus of all the establishment parties.

Many trade union leaders, however, still clinging to New Labour, don't see the situation in that way. This, of course, will have an effect amongst some rank and file trade unionists also, who are increasingly apprehensive about the unlikely prospect of the Labour party fighting for their cause following the 30th June strike by 4 public sector unions. The NUT, UCU, ATL and the PCS.

Surely in this situation, the argument goes, trade unionists should back the 'lesser evil'?


This is a strong arguement often in workers minds when voting. This was one of the main reasons why TUSC may not have polled so well as we thought it might in may of this year. Workers still feeling that clinging to labour is still better than letting the tories in. Thisis a sad reality of workers contiousness at the moment and something we must deal with as we go on.

The Socialist Party believes that the Labour Party has now been totally transformed into New Labour, which bases itself completely on the brutal logic of capitalism. Previously, as a 'capitalist workers' party' (a party with pro-capitalist leaders but with democratic structures that allowed the working class to fight for its interests), the Labour Party always had the potential to act at least as a check on the capitalists. The consequences of radicalising the Labour Party's working class base was always a factor the ruling class had to take into account.

Now the situation is completely different. Without the re-establishment of at least the basis of independent working class political representation, the capitalists will feel less constrained in imposing their austerity policies.

TUSC will not fully provide the necessary alternative but it is still an important step forward. Above all, by drawing in the most combative sections of the working class in defence of jobs, public services and workers' rights, it can help to prepare the necessary forces to take forward the argument for a new political vehicle for workers in the post-election period. Not to do everything possible to help that process is a mistake.


TUSC has attracted support from many RMT members but has also sharpened political debate in the union. No doubt New Labour apparatchiks are looking on for any opportunity there may be to undermine a militant trade union leadership, in the same way they aided the Blairite candidate who unseated the left wing general secretary of the Aslef train drivers' union in 2003. In this context, the enthusiastic participation in TUSC in a personal capacity by leading trade unionists - in the RMT and other unions also - is highly significant. It is a clear signal that 'non-political' trade unionism will increasingly be seen as 'not an option' when the axe men are coming.

Role of trade unions
A new mass political vehicle for workers, a new workers' party which could fill the present vacuum, will not necessarily develop through the official structures of the unions. It is certainly unlikely that a majority of the larger unions, at least nationally, would initially embrace a new party - in the same way that the biggest unions remained wedded to the Liberal Party in the early days of the Labour Representation Committee (the forerunner of the Labour Party).

But big events loom, as the next phase of 'the great recession' unfolds, which will relentlessly pose before trade unionists in struggle that there must be an alternative. TUSC can play a critical role in developing this consciousness.

Trade unions are still the basic organisations of the working class, which gives them enormous social weight. It is not for nothing, for example during the British Airways dispute or the postal workers' strikes, that the capitalist media routinely denigrate the unions as 'holding the public to ransom' or 'crippling the economy'. For long periods, it is true, the formal structures in some unions can atrophy, with limited participation by rank and file members, but even these unions still possess social reserves.

For the Socialist Party the importance of TUSC lies above all in its potential as a catalyst in the trade unions, both in the structures and below, for the idea of working class political representation. It can also play a role in drawing together anti-cuts campaigns, environmental campaigners, anti-racist groups etc. It is, however, only secondarily a vehicle for developing 'left unity', in other words, of socialist organisations collaborating for specific goals, or 'left regroupment', the bringing together of different socialist groups into one organisation.


TUSC HAS been established as a federal 'umbrella' coalition, with an agreed core policy statement but with participating candidates and organisations accountable for their own campaigns. The steering committee welcomed the support of a number of socialist groups, including the Walsall-based Democratic Labour Party and its councillor, Peter Smith. Amongst the first tranche of TUSC candidates approved, are members of four different socialist organisations, including Socialist Resistance and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

The admission of the SWP to the coalition was not automatic, however. TUSC is a federal coalition but each component, its candidates and participating organisations, will be scrutinised, certainly by New Labour opponents inside the trade unions. With this in mind the record of the SWP was questioned and will be continued to be i feel.

THE FOUNDING of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in February 1900 was greeted by The Clarion, a popular socialist newspaper of the time, as "a little cloud, no bigger than a man's fist, which may grow into a United Labour Party".

TUSC is certainly not a new LRC, which itself was not pre-ordained to develop into a mass party. It contested just 15 seats in the 1900 general election and affiliated union membership halved in its first year.

But the capitalists' offensive then against the workers' movement, typified in the Taff Vale court decision to open up the railway workers' union funds for strike damages, compelled the unions onto the political plane.

The period ahead will be no less turbulent than then, in fact more so. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is today just a modest step on the road to establishing independent working class political representation but its potential role, as it fills out or as a precursor to future developments, could be immense.

So to conclude i feel that TUSC as a umbrella for further developments towards a new workers party is just one step. A modest one at the moment but certainly has raised workers contiousness that we have spoken to in stevenage at least. This has not automatically transfered into votes first time out but we have created a base now. A base to build on and contacts to work on.

I as others dont believe TUSC is the new workers party but is certainly a good step towards such a idea. When we have a labour party today not worthy of its name carrying out big savage cuts at a local level doing the tories dirty work for them.