my recent twitter updates

There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Homelessness on the rise no answer can be found under capitalism

The number of households declared in need of emergency accommodation in England rose by about 25% over the past three years, new figures suggest. SSentif said some 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless in 2011/12, up from 40,020 in 2009/10. But the data company said spending on tackling homelessness had fallen from £213.7m to £199.8m over that period. Source: Shelter According to SSentif's figures, 6,120 more households were left homeless in 2011-12 compared to 2009-10. It said the highest percentage increase was in the East of England while the North East was the only region which saw a fall in the number of households declared homeless. SSentif's managing director Judy Aldred said some of the results for specific councils had been "quite shocking". "By analyzing the data at council level we were able to highlight some areas that are showing much greater increases than the national average," she said. "In Birmingham, where homelessness increased 25% from 2009-10 to 2010-11, spend dropped from £7.8m to £5.5mn (29%)." Local housing authorities are legally obliged to provide emergency housing for "priority need" groups without a home, such as households with dependent children. In the East of England where I live I have noticed the housing waiting lists steadily rising. Some will say this is due to the rise in immigration, I’d counter that by saying there simply isn’t the homes there for people and a mass council house genuinely affordable homes building programmed is needed today not sometime in the future. We have a serious housing crisis in this country which needs urgently addressing. Figures like this today shows the real impact of benefit cuts, cuts to local budgets and a huge failure of local councils Tory and labour to build enough homes for their residents. Even if you are lucky enough to still have a home the amount of disposable income individuals have to spend now at its lowest level for ten years at £273 a week says ONS. The Office for National Statistics. Just to compound the misery for many. Its time for socialist solutions to this crisis. There can be no solution under capitalism and the market it has proved it is incapable of meeting the needs of everybody.

Why I’m lobbying the TUC with the NSSN on 9th sept

Some may ask why am I of all people bothering to lobby the TUC in Brighton in September and what exactly do we hope to achieve. Well let’s just look at the situation we find ourselves in. We are an estimated 15% into the planned austerity measures with permanent austerity a very real possibility. With little to no opposition in this country with a Labour party who think the cuts are too far and too fast- not that the cuts are wrong full stop or completely unnecessary. I believe that cuts are not needed with an estimated £120 billion of tax evaded every year from the rich and big corporations their money is clearly there. In September with the Olympics still in people’s minds austerity will again be very real for many people having just witnessed a big glorified sports day for the super rich and the dignitaries of various countries not to mention some very suspect regimes including Sri Lanka and others. I myself am in a part time job with poor pay relying on working tax credits to top up my poor wages. I will be marching and lobbying the TUC to call a 24 hour public and private sector general strike. This should immediately follow their day of action and March on the 20th of October this year. Anything less will be a betrayal and a march from A to B will be for nothing. We do not wish to come on October 20th just to hear Ed Miliband we all have to vote labour and things will be ok and then see every labour council up and down the land pass on Tory cuts. It just won’t do. We need action now, today for workers who are losing their jobs today, not tomorrow, today! I’ll also be lobbying as a worker myself the vicious attacks on the disabled who work in Remploy and are also seeing their benefits cut and stopped in many cases’ by the private companies who wish to profit from a crisis not of our making who profit from disabled people being passed fit wrongly for work. It’s a disgrace and something must be done. I am also a young person myself and with currently over a million young people out of work its time young people stepped up their anger and demand a future. Decent jobs, free education, good pay and a future of hope. Many will ask well is a 24 hour strike enough. Probably not but it’s got to be the first step uniting public and private sector workers and others communities to join in to strike against austerity. Marching, talking and railing against the cuts is no longer enough. Bigger larger more militant action is required and if the TUC won’t lead it the NSSN is waiting in the wings to launch the fight back with rank-and-file pressure from below. So please join us as the TUC bureaucrats meet in Brighton to discuss platitudes and talk about how bad things are let them know with the NSSN that time for talking is over we want to see action and action on a mass scale. Let’s harness the latent power of the labour movement and let’s see workers finding their power once again. To change society for the many to find a life in.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The dangers of left wing nationalism and the limitations it poses

As the crisis in capitalism deepens the search for an alternative to austerity will be posed one form it can take could be nationalism and you may think three is only right wing nationalism and jingoism but there has and will be again left wing versions putting the nation state first in a left sounding rhetoric attempting to pose as anti austerity. In Ireland our comrades will be well aware with Sinn Féin who if they continue their course as posing as anti austerity and anti bailout will be sure to gain mass support. Like in Wales currently with the Plaid Cymru party they both look to play themselves as left of centre opposing austerity which given the scale and the depth of the crisis will gain them some support. But as we in the socialist party who oppose all forms of nationalism and jingoism and racism we look to unite workers across borders and believe whilst these left wing nationalist parties may well gain support in the short term due to their perceived radical edge they will eventually be exposed in the eyes of the working class due to their limitations of simply only appealing to workers in their particular country. This creates an interesting issue for us Marxists who look to unite workers we have to tae a careful tactful approach to dealing with left wing nationalists as they can be won over to Marxist ideas for sure but we must approach them in the right careful manner. Looking more closely at the welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru we can start to see their limitations and areas where we can expose them in the eyes of the working class to draw them apart from nationalist ideas. The election of Leanne Wood, a radical, republican, anti-capitalist woman, as leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru makes a sharp change from the party's more conservative leadership of the past and could attract trade unionists and young people to Plaid. Leanne has identified as a socialist and trade unionist and is chair of the PCS union group in the Welsh assembly. She has been prominent in support of many workers' struggles, anti-war demonstrations and anti-cuts campaigns. Her election as leader opens up the prospect of a more robust approach by Plaid in taking up social issues and in calling for independence. She has ruled out any coalition with the Tories, has been prominent in opposing cuts in public services, criticised the capitalist European Union and clearly opposed nuclear power, traditionally supported by Plaid Cymru because of the power stations that were at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd. Her election will make Plaid Cymru, at least on the surface, appear as the radical alternative, especially as the "two Eds" - Miliband and Balls - have said a future Labour government would maintain Tory cuts. It will put Welsh Labour under pressure as Wood accuses them of "sitting and waiting" while Wales sinks under the cuts. During the leadership election Plaid Cymru's membership increased by 23%. A thin but significant layer of young people were drawn into Plaid by Leanne's campaign. Voting for cuts However, while being the most prominent politician in Wales in support of workers in struggle, Wood does not have confidence that a mass movement can defeat the cuts or change society. For example, she opposed the 'needs budget' strategy put forward by a number of trade unionists and Socialist Party Wales that would involve mobilising a mass movement in support of a Welsh government refusing to carry out Con-Dem cuts from Westminster. Reluctantly, she supported a budget that included some cuts. And while calling for an economy that serves "our people rather than the market" and "a role for the state in the economy", Wood does not propose clearly socialist policies. She favours a "social economy" rather than a socialist economy. She supports decentralisation and cooperatives rather than nationalisation and calls for "a robust economic infrastructure that can shelter us from future economic storms". Wood has linked independence with a campaign for social justice that could resonate with many workers. Most working people have opposed independence partly because of the weakness of the Welsh economy, especially since the destruction of industry by Margaret Thatcher's Tories in the 1980s. But the prospect opening up for the Welsh economy - already valued at only 74% of the UK per-head average - with massive benefit cuts, regional pay and huge public service cuts, is to sink to eastern European or Greek levels even while part of the UK. The Con-Dem government plans to cut Welsh public sector wages by up to 18% through regional pay. When challenged by a TV commentator that independence would impoverish Wales, Wood replied: "Well we have that already within the UK." 'Cooperative islands' Support for independence currently stands at about 10%, but as Scotland moves towards an independence referendum in 2014 and the economic situation worsens in Wales, this is bound to rise. But Leanne's model of a string of cooperatives, islands of socialism in a stormy sea of capitalism, cannot possibly make up for the past destruction of industry and mining now to be accompanied with public service and welfare cuts. The tidal waves of capitalism would overwhelm these tiny cooperative islands. A weak, independent, capitalist Wales could withstand the forces of global capitalism even less than Greece or Ireland. Only a socialist Wales linking with workers in Scotland, England, Ireland and the rest of Europe can hope to defy the rigours of the capitalist markets. Plaid Cymru - a radical party? While Leanne Wood publicly supported the Occupy Cardiff camp, Neil McEvoy, the Plaid deputy leader of Cardiff council (supposedly on the left of Plaid), and denounced occupiers as extremist. He agreed that the camp should be moved from Cardiff Castle's grounds before the police used tasers and horses to break it up. Plaid-led councils have carried through big cuts in schools and privatisation. Plaid-controlled Caerphilly council has attacked facilities for Unison. A Plaid councillor has attempted to start a witch-hunt against Unison activists in Carmarthenshire. Whether Plaid's significant conservative section will accept a radical campaigning party remains to be seen. They could form a drag on Plaid's move to the left and even attempt to undermine Leanne Wood. A split or series of splits is possible given the breadth of ideas and cross-class support in Plaid. So this is all things which we will have to confront in time and develop a strategy too but something which will grow as this crisis in capitalism and the nation state begins to feel the strain of national interests With extracts taken from the www.socialistparty.org.uk and Plaid Cymru article written by Dave Reid a full timer for the socialist party in Wales.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The them and us London Olympics

Tonight sea’s the start of the London 2012 Olympic games the opening ceremony to be watched by billions worldwide apparently. But while the rich revel in their wealth as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and more and more forgotten about. This really will be one of the most class divided Olympics ever.
Just take the living conditions for cleaners employed during the games.
One toilet between 25, one shower between 75, overcrowding and leaking roofs - these are the conditions facing the cleaners employed at the Olympic site. Most are migrant workers who have come to Britain specifically to work at the Games.
In stark contrast to the luxury of the Olympic village, they sleep in overcrowded metal cabins on a site that's been flooded so badly they have to use pallets as stepping stones. One told the Daily Mail that the site is "like a slum inside". When they arrived they were told there was no work for two weeks but that they still had to pay £18 a day 'rent'.
Many who came from poor countries with no prospect of decent work turned straight around and went home when they saw the facilities.

Compare this to the figures involved with G4S the private security firm brought in to secure the games it would seem they have failed already in managing to fulfil their contract of providing security guards for the games.
• £284m government Olympic contract
• 7 years since they won the contract
• £57m management fee
• 5,000 military personnel drafted in to plug the gap
• 8 police forces drafted in
• £830,000 salary of Nick Buckles, head of G4S
• £21m Buckles' golden goodbye if he's forced to leave



World records will not be the only things broken at this year's Olympic and Paralympic games. Promises for a lasting legacy - affordable housing, decent jobs, increased sports participation, and the rest - are being broken, too. The greatest sporting show on earth has been dragged down by crass commercialisation, and become a test-bed for increased state repression. In this edited version of an article in Socialism Today, Manny Thain reports on the neo-liberal Games.
It all began with a lie: that the London Games would cost £2.4 billion. That figure was never credible. Inexplicably, it did not include VAT or security expenditure. With these costs added, the bill would have totalled £3.9 billion - 20% VAT on £2.4 billion equals £480,000, plus the wildly out-of-control spending on security, around £1 billion.
So far, however, the elastic Olympics budget has been stretched to £9.3 billion. It all adds up to a massive swindle, a rip-off for working-class and middle-class people who stump up the most in direct and indirect taxes.
The government (via taxpayers) is paying £6.2 billion of that, the rest coming from the lottery (an indirect tax on the poorest). Despite assurances that the private sector would part-fund the major construction projects, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, reckon that less than 2% of the Olympics budget has come from private funding.
The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog), the body in charge of 'delivering' the Games, has raised another £2.1 billion to stage the show. Two-thirds of this has come from sponsorship by big business.
Locog gets a contribution from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The rest is from ticket and merchandising sales - again, mainly out of our pockets. Locog is headed by Lord Sebastian Coe, a gold-medal-winning athlete, former Tory MP, a 'world ambassador' for Nike sportswear, and multi-millionaire.
The IOC's main sponsors each pay over £60 million on ten-year contracts. This is capitalism, so in return for that money the corporations wield colossal power. In other words, at this fiercely competitive event, the organisers go to extraordinary lengths to protect the sponsoring companies from competition. It is unlawful for non-sponsors to use the word 'Olympics', the five-rings symbol or the Games' mottoes.
To protect broadcasters' rights, spectators are not allowed to upload images of events onto YouTube, or post pictures from inside the Olympic village on social media. Twitter will block non-sponsors buying promoted ads with hashtags such as #London2012. Athletes are banned from uploading video or audio recordings.
It remains to be seen how strictly the laws are applied to individuals, but the impression given so far is that the authorities really do mean business.
It is impossible to get a breakdown of ticket allocation for all the events. Lord Coe & Co refuse to provide this information. What is clear is that the more prestigious the event, the more the ticket allocation favours officials and sponsors.
The Guardian reported that, of the 80,000 seats available for the men's 100m final, only 29,000 (36%) have gone to the public. For the finals in the velodrome, 2,500 of the 6,000 seats will go to the public.
Even this late in the day you may get a ticket if you have connections with officials from 54 of the world's 204 countries represented at this year's Games - the source of a booming black-market trade. The IOC has been forced to announce that it will investigate, although any report will probably be delayed until after the Games are over. What it shows is the rotten state of world athletics' administration, run by an unaccountable, privileged clique at the top.

The preferential treatment for the 70,000 members of the so-called 'Olympic family' - officials, athletes, media, assorted hangers-on - does not stop there. It is one thing to ensure that the athletes are well taken care off.
They, at least, play a worthwhile role at the Games. It is quite another to roll out the red carpet to thousands of cosseted, bloated bureaucrats and political leaders, some from the world's most oppressive regimes.
They will be given exclusive border control lanes to speed their way through customs. They will be rushed to the sporting venues and hospitality suites along special road lanes, whizzing past the 'little people' struggling through London's traffic. Transport officials have warned of 100 days of travel disruption for the capital's residents.
An extra 585 civil service workers are to be drafted in, while summer leave has been cancelled for existing staff. Yet 880 jobs have been cut from the UK Border Force since 2010 by the Con-Dem coalition government. As soon as the Games are over, the axe will fall again, with a further 1,550 workers due to be sacked in 2014/15, culling staff numbers down by 18% to a total of 6,440.
Of all the legacy commitments, you might think that the aim to increase participation in sports would be straightforward. Half the job will be done by the incredible performances on track and field.
But the government has abandoned its target of getting one million more people playing sport by 2013.
The numbers swimming regularly in 2010-11 actually fell by 435,000 compared with 2007-08, with those playing tennis, football and rugby also falling. Among those aged 16 to 19, overall sports participation fell by more than 100,000 to 825,900.
The Con-Dems have taken the baton from New Labour, whose policy of selling off school playing fields ensures that young people get off to a very bad start. Since 2004, the budget for school sports has been slashed from £216 million to £35 million, with 3,400 sports coaches and coordinators sacked, and grants for 1,300 proposed playgrounds scrapped.
The Con-Dems have put the boot into people with disabilities, in spite of another legacy promise to widen their access to sport. At present, 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week, compared with 38% for non-disabled adults. The government plans to replace disability living allowance (DLA) with personal independence payments from 2113.
DLA is a non-means-tested benefit worth between £20 and £131.50 a week, paid to about 3.2 million people. It helps with the extra costs of transport, equipment, care and other needs. It has been crucial in enabling disabled athletes to participate and compete.

To enable it to do this, Atos Healthcare, which describes itself as 'the UK's leading occupational health service provider', has been brought in to test 11,000 claimants a week under a £100 million-a-year contract.
As a matter of course, Atos passes disabled people fit for work, driven by targets to get 500,000 people off benefits. It has left thousands wrongly denied payment. To add insult to injury, Atos Healthcare is a major sponsor of the Paralympics, paying £62 million over ten years.
Another claim which has fallen at the first hurdle is that the Games will be the 'most ethical ever'. The Independent on Sunday (6 May) reported a survey by Playfair 2012 into sweatshops producing goods for the Games.
It cites mistreatment at factories in the Philippines and China supplying Adidas, and factories run by Next in the notorious free-trade zones in Sri Lanka. None of the factories allow union membership.
Dow Chemicals is a £63 million IOC sponsor and is funding a £7 million fabric wrap around the Olympic stadium. Dow continues to deny any responsibility for the 1984 toxic gas and chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, which killed up to 20,000 people, and injured hundreds of thousands. Legal action is still being pursued in the US and India by victims and their families.
The Olympic Park has also been the focus of many protests by construction workers blacklisted in Britain, with effective trade union organisation kept off site.
One legacy guaranteed by the London Olympics and Paralympics will be a further strengthening of the repressive powers of the state. The security operation behind the Games is the largest in the UK since the second world war.
Alongside 13,500 troops and thousands of police officers, there was to be 48,000 private security staff. The company G4S was to train 23,700 personnel and should have had 10,000 on duty in a contract said to be worth £284 million.
The Games will boost the privatisation of security services, further undermining any accountability to local communities.
Central to an understanding of the Olympic/Paralympic Games swindle is seeing how the bid was won and the stitch-ups that followed.
Before London won the Olympic bid, the Chelsfield property company had plans to build a huge shopping complex in Stratford, in the east London borough of Newham. In 2004, it was bought out by three companies: Westfield, the world's biggest shopping centre operator, Multiplex, which built Wembley stadium, and the Reuben Brothers, property/asset dealers who made a fortune in Russia in the 1990s.
Public support is considered to be critical to any successful bid. So, the Olympic Bidding Committee (OBC), then chaired by Lord Coe, asked for the backing of Telco (The East London Communities Organisation - now known as London Citizens).
With members throughout the East End, including the support of around 80 community and religious groups, Telco had a bit of clout. It drew up an 'ethical Olympics agreement', including demands for affordable housing for local people, education, health and jobs on the London living wage. The agreement was signed in 2004 by Lord Coe, Ken Livingstone (then mayor of London), and Labour London Assembly member John Biggs, deputy chair of the London Development Agency.
The OBC was wound up once the bid had been won - with the plans to regenerate Stratford a major selling point, and including benefits to the other 'Olympic boroughs': Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest and Greenwich. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) quango was set up in 2006 to plan and develop the facilities after the Games. It refused to meet Telco or recognise the agreement on the grounds that the ODA had not existed when the agreement was signed!
Meanwhile, Westfield had bought the other companies out. It passed the housing rights on to the developer, Land Lease. By this time, the subprime mortgage crisis was looming. The Land Lease deal collapsed and Westfield was stalling on work on the shopping centre.
As the New Labour government was preparing its £50 billion bailout and part-nationalisation of the banks, £5.9 billion of public money was pumped into the Olympic project to bail it out, too. The government agreed to finance the athletes' village, taking Land Lease on to manage it. Westfield was given £200 million of public money to pay for roads leading to the shopping complex.
Again, money taken from taxing working-class and middle-class people was handed over to some of the wealthiest property and construction companies in the world.
When the 500-acre Olympic Park reopens after the Games, in 2013, it will be named the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It is the first park to be built in London since Victorian times and the first to be called a royal park since then. But London's eight royal parks were created in 1851 with the passing of the Crown Lands Act.
This transferred parklands owned by Queen Victoria into public ownership. In contrast, the Olympic park and its contents will be run privately.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) is the quango that oversees the park. Chaired by Baroness Margaret Ford, it has already sold the athletes' village to a consortium led by the Qatari royal family, and plans to sell off the other bits of the park.

The OPLC is to be replaced by another quango, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), with considerably greater powers over a far larger area. This means that a huge part of east London will be run privately, effectively out of the control of local government.
The legacy promise is that up to 11,000 homes will be built in the Olympic park, with 35% of them supposedly 'affordable'. It is unclear how many of those will actually materialise.
Changes brought in by the Con-Dem government in April mean that rent charged for so-called 'social housing' (subsidised housing mainly provided by housing associations) can be increased up to 80% of market rent. This is a massive increase.
Newham includes 13 of London's 15 most-deprived wards. Nearly half the population lives below the poverty line and 70% of children live in low-income households. There are 32,000 households on the council's waiting list. People have no choice but to rent privately.
The consequence is that very little, if any, of the new housing will be affordable to the vast majority of the people in Newham or the other Olympic boroughs.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games are occasions to celebrate and experience inspirational feats of skill, speed, strength and stamina.
They are a chance to participate in a great global party as athletes and spectators come together, watched by millions. The capitalist system, however, only has eyes for short-term profit.
For the multinational corporations, the Games are just an immense merchandising opportunity. They dictate the pace, aided and abetted by the rotten political establishment and corrupt officialdom.


This really will be a them and us Olympic games.

With extracts taken from issue 727 of the socialist www.socialistparty.org.uk

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What hope is there for young people today in Britain ?

The situation for young people looks bleak today. No longer can young people look forward to a career in their chosen field. They will be lucky to even get to go to university to train for such a career.

Today in Britain we face a possibility of loosing a whole generation to the scrap heap. Young people today growing up will be worse off than their parents before, that for me is shocking and a crying inditement of this rotten capitalist system driven by profit not to meet people’s needs.

With EMA cut, tuition fees trebled and education becoming increasingly marketwise it is little wonder young people are left feeling frustrated despondent and helpless. With over 1 million young people out of work or training and continuing to raise this could be if it’s not already a very serious situation.

Quite simply there is just not the job out there it’s not the case that young people are lazy, feckless, work shy or any of the normal rubbish that is flung their way.

Youth fight for jobs is looking to give young people a voice to speak out about the plight of young people.

I featured an article on the austerity games held on Monday in London and this is just one part of Youth fight for jobs campaign to raise the idea of changing society to benefit young people who currently see no future.

The slogan “we won’t be a lost generation, fight for jobs and education” is very fitting and has been popularised throughout the student movement and beyond.

Students, young people and workers need to unite their common struggles groups like Youth fight for jobs which I think are unique as I don’t believe there are any other groups looking to give working class young people a voice again. Currently no political party cares or speaks for them. We need a party of our own a mass workers party putting forward an alternative which puts people’s needs first and ends the drive for profit over everything else.

I can fully understand young people’s anger and frustration at a lack of opportunities with a lack of jobs benefits being cut and being forced to work for your doll are all aimed to demonise young people. Luckily young people in Youth fight for jobs are fighting back and giving a lead.

We call for education to be completely free for all and higher education to be a right not a commodity that can be sold to the highest bidder, likewise with housing young people face a far more harder time getting on the housing ladder we believe housing should be a human right shelter should not be marketised and people’s needs should be met. If there are not the homes then we feel one solution should be to embark on mass real affordable homes not the 80% of market rate the Tories currently claim is affordable, real affordable homes where young people have a place to call their own. This would not only go some way to solving the housing crisis in this country but would at the same time put people back to work in construction industry and home developments making the new homes green and efficient to last in to the future. We have key demands that young people can take up pointing to councils like Southwark where EMA has been reintroduced and say if Southwark can do this why can’t other councils.

Do not accept the money is not there it is. It is locked up in the vaults of big business currently sitting pretty on 800 billion pounds they refuse to invest as they do not see any profitable outlet. We say that money should be progressively taxed and used to invest in public works which pay a good rate a living wage and are socially useful to society. With these key demands i’ve outlined young people can start to see a future a future for the 99% a future for all.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Support the Austerity Games today, giving young people a voice to fightback !

Today takes place the austerity games in London on the doorstep of the Olympic village on Hackney Marsh's. At 2pm today the Austerity Games takes place organised by Youth Fight for jobs a organisation set up in 2009 with official union backing from multiple trade unions and with good solid links to the working class. The austerity games is a bit of fun but also with a serious point to highlight the plight of young people today in London and Britain as we see billions wasted on the corperate Olympic games.

Suzanne Beishon, London organiser, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education

A staggering £24 billion is expected to be spent on the Olympic Games, but young people face little enjoyment and no long term benefit from this costly outlay.

The inaccessible ticketing system means that most people living on the doorstep of the games will be watching the events through TV screens. Promises of jobs, homes and services from the Olympics already lie in the gutter.

An Olympic Development Authority report showed that, from 2008 until 2011, only 1,580 unemployed people got jobs on the Olympic site. Only 205 were from the Hackney Olympic borough.

Rents have soared during the run-up to the games. Landlords seeking to take advantage of the event are forcing people out of their homes if they can't afford more cash.

While council house waiting lists are through the roof, of the measly 2,818 homes that will be left from the Olympic village only 675 will be social housing with six boroughs sharing 107 of those and Newham having the leftovers.

Democratic rights during the games are under attack with exclusion zones that include putting 9pm curfews on under-16s until the start of November, giving the police the right to disperse groups of two or more, and the right to remove anti-Olympic posters and propaganda. As well as this, council tower block tenants face having missiles on their rooftops as part of the Olympic security operation.

While the rich get ready for their costly few weeks of fun, young people face a future of poverty and inequality with rising university fees, the slashing of Education Maintenance Allowance, soaring rents, slave-labour workfare schemes and sky-high unemployment. All of this is to pay for a crisis created by the banks and big business.

We are told that there is no money for jobs and education, while the bill for the Olympics continues to rise. Yet £750 billion is sitting in big business bank accounts as these fat cats see no 'profitable outlets' for investment.

We're getting organised to demand that the fantastic facilities built for the Olympics, instead of being demolished or sold to the private sector, be used to provide genuinely affordable housing and leisure facilities to benefit local communities.

Young people and trade unionists from across the country will be sending teams to Hackney Marshes to compete in the Austerity Games on 23 July, the week before the Olympics.

The games will launch the Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Manifesto, 'A Future for the 99%'. Our athletic events will highlight the plight of young people in the shadow of these expensive and corporate Olympic Games. These include the Race to the Bottom, Job Jump, Property High Jump, Deficit Discus, Hardship Hurdles and more.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AUSTERITY GAMES 2012
Monday 23 July
2pm at Hackney Marshes, Homerton Road, East London

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A future for the 99%
Manifesto of Youth Fight for Jobs and Education
£1 including postage
www.youthfightforjobs.com
youthfightforjobs@gmail.com
020 8558 7947
PO Box 858, London E11 1YG

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In this issue


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Socialist Party news and analysis

March and strik

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Why Marxists warn and fight against imperialism

I’m currently reading Lenin’s excellent work on Imperialism the highest form of capitalism. What a fantastic piece I must say to someone still getting to grips with Marxism and learning about the world and how it really works this piece has been a really top read.

Imperialism is as Lenin quite rightly points out is the heights form of capitalism it is born out of monopoly capitalism which arises as a contradiction to the so called free market. It’s the domination of capital on an international scale breaking out of its national confines to invade and plunder foreign markets in pursuit of greater profits and to see off the competition as much like capitalism does on the national scale.

Imperialism. Imperialism is the epoch of finance capital and of monopolies, which introduce everywhere the striving for domination, not for freedom. Whatever the political system, the result of these tendencies is everywhere reaction and an extreme intensification of antagonisms in this field. Particularly intensified become the yoke of national oppression and the striving for annexations, i.e., the violation of national independence (for annexation is nothing but the violation of the right of nations to self-determination).
This piece which Lenin wrote highlights the role imperialism plays on the world stage and the view which Marxists take towards it. The current state of imperialism is a very interesting thing from what I can understand American and British imperialism would appear to be in decline with the rise of German and Chinese imperialism on the rise in its influence and market share. Germany has done well off the back of the Euro one of the few countries powering ahead still in the world although this cannot last it is for now holding great sway over much of Europe and beyond in some cases. China due to its huge growth in the last period has enabled it to enter new markets in Africa and other parts of Asia Taiwan Malaysia etc. It is the so called strength of eastern imperialism including China which capitalists worldwide hope will pull their system out of this deep crisis it is unlikely to do so as China itself is now slowing and cooling off its growth nod a repeat of the 2008 pumping of the economy by a estimated 12 % of GDP in China is simply not possible any longer. This is a desperate stage for capitalism where it goes from here they have no idea the thinkers part of this system. Hense I think imperialism in the US and the UK for example has taken a beaten of late. The fact that Egypt and Tunisia which were both backed by Imperialism for many years have seen their regimes crumble at the force of the working class is proof that imperialism is not indestructible and immune to crisis’s and defeat. The imperialist backed invasion of Iraq by Western troops in 2003 to remove Sadam Hussein now looks a shattered idea as the idea that only imperialist forces can bring down a dictator has been blown wide out of the water.

The mass’s when they unite and bring dictators to their knees such as in Egypt although not a fully developed situation there now with the SCAF still holding the power there shows that workers and the mass’s are finding their voices and their power which has laid dormant for years is now finally being realised again.

The fight against imperialism has to be international much like the struggle for socialism. A national struggle will always be supported by other workers around the world as we all face the same oppression but a global effort to replace capitalism is what is needed more. Ending capitalism will bring an end to imperialism and exploitation. Growing ideas and building the ideas of Marxism around the globe is key to understanding imperialism. Reading Lenin and Trotsky on the matter is very helpful too I’m still learning and always will be learning. Understanding the way capitalism works and doesn’t work is key to bein a Marxist but applying it to the class strugglea and a programme for winning workers to the ideas to change society is far more important though. This is what the socialist party does day to day and will continue to do to realise a better more equal society for the 99%.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Quebec: Student strike movement reaches turning point | socialistworld.net

“Most powerful challenge to neo-liberalism” in North America

Brandon Madsen, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US)

Last week, 400 socialists from across Europe and all around the world met in Belgium at the CWI Summer School. Below, Brandon Madsen reports on the commission which dealt with Quebec and the inspiring student movement taking place there.

Socialistworld.net
In response to rising tuition fees, Quebec society has been shaken to the core by four months of student strikes, which have garnered support from trade unions and been linked to far-reaching anti-austerity demands.

Though student involvement varies – with some striking indefinitely, some for a specific time, and others remaining more passive – student support for the movement has been nearly overwhelming. At the movement’s peak, the demonstrations turned out an estimated 310,000 students: that is, three out of every four students in Quebec.

The Guardian journalist Martin Lukacs describes the mass movement in Quebec as “the most powerful challenge to neoliberalism on the continent”. The symbol of the “red square”, originally used by unemployed workers in 2003 and then by students during the strike of 2005, is a ubiquitous sign of solidarity in what is being called the “Quebecois spring”.

It all started in the spring of 2011, when Education Minister Fine Beauchamps cynically attempted to sell a 75% increase in tuition fees over the next five years as a ‘cultural revolution’, ostensibly justified because it would bring Quebec tuition fees closer to those charged in other Canadian provinces.

The young people of Quebec have responded by showing Beauchamp and the rest of the neoliberal regime what a real cultural revolution looks like. Under the pressure of the determined mass demonstrations, Beauchamp resigned in May, and the movement has continued.

Amid all the excitement and inspiration, important questions remain: what is the balance of forces in this struggle, and what can bring it forward to victory?

‘Largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history’
CLASSE (the main radical student union) put out the call last autumn for strikes starting on 13 February of this year. The first major actions took place 16 February, when students joined together with workers and activists to blockade the streets surrounding stock market buildings.

From the beginning, the demonstrations were linked to a rejection of all austerity measures being carried out by the government. The 16 February demonstrations included three main demands: no increase in tuition fees, no increase in electricity charges, and no to all fees for health services.

The government’s complete intransigence and outright rejection of all student demands only poured fuel on the fire of the movement, which reached its first peak between 13 and 22 March. All supposed offers for negotiations have been non-starters designed merely to stall for time. Many of the offers in these “negotiations” are actually worse than the Education Minister’s initial proposals (for example, adding in cuts to education programmes on top of fee increases).

The Liberal Party in Quebec, concerned about the upcoming provincial elections which will take place this coming fall, have since tried to use “chaos in the streets” hysteria to distract voters from the numerous corruption allegations against them. It is estimated that as much as three quarters of the financing for the main traditional parties of Quebec is obtained illegally. By taking a hard line against demonstrators, they hoped to apply pressure that would divide and potentially break up the movement while simultaneously courting the “law and order” vote.

In line with this strategy, the new education minister Michelle Courchesne immediately proposed and proceeded to ram through a repressive new anti-protest law known as Bill 78, which went into effect on 18 May, mere days after Courchesne took over from Beauchamp. As a “special law” which specifically targets the political rights of the demonstrators, Bill 78 not only restricts education employees’ right to strike but more generally inhibits the freedom to protest on or near university grounds. It requires that all demonstrations receive approval from the police before taking place.

Far from curtailing protests or breaking up the movement, however, the law has stirred up even more outrage in broader layers of society; the protests in defiance of the law were the largest yet, with up to 500,000 marching in Montreal in ‘the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history’.

Historical roots of the student strike
Bruno-Pierre Guillette from Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec), who introduced the CWI School commission on Quebec, began his remarks by comparing the student strike movement today to the ‘Quiet Revolution’ that transformed Quebec in the 1960s and 1970s.

Like the current ‘Quebecois spring’, the Quiet Revolution was an expression of a profound social crisis in Quebecois society. Despite never reaching the numerical size that today’s student strikes have at their height, these earlier movements had strong revolutionary currents within them. They were able to transform the political landscape and win reforms which improved the lives of millions. The Quiet Revolution marked the beginning of a powerful student movement, and between 1968 and 1977 there were major strike actions, most notably in 1972, which was one of the largest working class rebellions in North American history.

The development of a more secular society and the welfare state was accompanied by the rise of a stronger Quebecois national identity. The industries of health care and education, which had previously been in the hands of the Catholic Church, were taken over by the provincial government; corresponding Ministries of Education and Health were created. The civil service was unionized and electricity production and distribution were nationalized. There was massive public investment in infrastructure and education.

The years 1988-89 marked the decline of the student movement in Quebec as a call for a general student strike was unsuccessful. The Quebec Federation of College Students (FECQ), created after the experience of the failed strike, quickly took a turn towards collaboration with the university bureaucracies and bourgeois politicians and away from independent struggle. Today this organization continues to pursue a collaborationist policy and maintains ties with the centre-left nationalist Parti Québécois (PQ).

Still, there was another student strike in 1996 which resulted in a 10-year tuition freeze. Since then, both the PQ and the Liberal Party have been actively complicit in carrying out austerity measures. In 2005, the Minister of Education decided to change scholarships into student loans (which, unlike scholarships, would have to be repaid). This resulted in a massive student strike, which was successful in stopping this measure despite the heavily co-opted main student federations being used as a tool of the government against the radical wing of the movement.

It is only because of these earlier movements that Quebec’s tuition fees are so much lower than the rest of Canada’s to begin with and now the government is attempting to eliminate the hard-won gains of the past all in one fell swoop.

The tuition freeze expired in 2006 and fees have been on the rise ever since. The average Quebec university student now graduates with C$14,000 in personal student debt. This reality has served as the backdrop to the current struggle and provided the combustible material that allowed for the explosive movement of today.

The role of police repression and Bill 78
Bill 78 was the attempt of the Quebec ruling class to contain that explosion. This attempt has so far profoundly backfired on them; turning up the heat and pressure has only made the explosion more powerful.

Since the passage of Bill 78, support for the student movement in broader society has only increased. Layers of workers and activists who took part in the demonstrations previously are now coming out in defiance of the law because they are enraged by its assault on basic political rights of individuals to organize and protest.

Nonetheless, because of Bill 78’s highly repressive and undemocratic nature, it is a danger to all future movements. As such, it is urgently necessary to fight to overturn it.

Due to this law, it is now legally forbidden to have spontaneous demonstrations; everything must be reported to the police eight hours in advance or the protest is deemed illegal. Police now have the power to order changes in the timing, location, itinerary, and march routes of demonstrations. Protests or pickets within 50 metres of a university building are now illegal.

As for the right to free association: if a student society decides to support the strike, it can not only face steep fines (up to C$125,000 per day), but be legally dissolved and forced out of existence. Individual participants can be fined up to C$5000 per day and leading organizers up to C$35,000 per day.

In the last four months, the police have arrested 3000 people in what have been termed “preventative arrests”, meaning that those arrested have not actually committed any unlawful acts (implied: yet). One tactic used by the police has been to simply block off a section of street filled with demonstrators and arrest everyone indiscriminately.

These arrests have been widely condemned both within Quebec and internationally. Ten people have been seriously injured by the police in these arrests, and according to activists in the movement it is only a matter of good luck that no protestors have been killed yet.

Students need to build concrete links with workers and unions
Although there is a “truce” for now over the summer, the students have elected a strike committee that will vote on whether to take further strike action in August, which seems likely. In order to fully defeat the neoliberal austerity policies of the government, however, it will require spreading the struggle to the organized working class of Quebec.

The basis for the working class to play a leading role is there. The current attacks have not been limited to targeting students: there are plans for a new “health tax”, and healthcare subscription costs have already gone up by a factor of eight since 2010. Workers across the province are fighting against layoffs and workplace closures. Rent and utility prices are rising while wages stagnate. In Canada, more broadly, Canadian Pacific Railway workers are planning a 72-hour strike for their pensions, while the Canadian federal government tries to pass its own “special law” like Bill 78 to make that strike illegal.

The situation is ripe for the anger of the working class to be channeled into active participation in this ongoing movement. Though workers have individually taken part in the demonstrations out of the strength of their own anger and convictions, organized support from workers’ unions has been limited mostly to lip service, so far.

Connected to this are union officials’ ties to the PQ. While it is the Liberal Party who has been leading the charge for austerity and against the demonstrators, the PQ does not have any principled disagreement with them. The main difference from the Liberals is they might bring in a few superficial reforms in attempt to take the wind out of the movement instead of a one-sided cracking down. To oppose neoliberal policies effectively, the workers and their unions but be able to act politically independently from all pro-capitalist parties, including the PQ.

For the moment, the student movement’s main call to workers has been for them to use sick days to come out to demonstrations rather than take actual strike action. At the same time, they have raised the general idea of a “social strike” of all who oppose austerity. The ability to organize this type of strike action, societal in scope and political in character, is precisely what will determine the success or failure of the movement to achieve fundamental change in the long run.

If the students remain alone at the end of August, when the government intends to force them all back to the universities, this will not bode well for the movement’s success.

Will unions join student struggle?
So the key question hanging over the movement in the period ahead is: when classes start again in the fall, will the unions rise up and join the movement and full partners, or will they stand aside and allow the strikes to be crushed?

The decisive factor in this situation is the degree of rank-and-file organization, activism, and political consciousness within the unions. The only way that the unions will be mobilized to enter the struggle in full force is by a relentless push from below. This type of development can be encouraged by bold calls to the unions from the student movement. Socialists, in particular, have an important role to play in popularising the idea of a united anti-austerity fight back amongst all sections of the movement.

This is the work that Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) is doing right now, concretely by calling for a 24-hour general strike as the next step to bring together workers and students against austerity, for free education at all levels, and for decent jobs for all to combat youth unemployment.

Regardless of what happens in the fall, the raising of consciousness this movement has brought about cannot be erased. Together with the Wisconsin uprising and the advent of the Occupy movement last year, the picture is becoming increasingly clear for all to see: class struggle is back on the agenda in North America.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Eurocrisis melting pot CWI summer school discuss's developments and perspectives

The most crucial discussion at the CWI School 2012, held last week in Belgium, with up to 400 participants, was on Europe. This was introduced by International Secretariat member Peter Taaffe and there were a number of excellent contributions from the floor, as comrades grappled with real and immediate situations posed for socialists internationally. Kevin Parslow from the Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) summarises the plenary session.

Socialistworld.net
The world crisis had coined a number of new words: ‘grexit’, ‘spanic’, brixit and others, to represent different possibilities in the crisis. But what nobody could do on a capitalist basis was under-write or solve this crisis economically. Not even German capitalism, as Chancellor Angela Merkel confessed, has unlimited resources. In the 1920s, the Dawes Plan, underwritten by US capitalism, saved Germany and Europe for six years until the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression; it was the economic price paid to prevent revolution. Now, no power in the world can act in a similar fashion to solve the European crisis.

The European capitalists have created the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to bail out struggling economies. But the combined debts of Spain and Italy, next in the firing line, amount to €2.8 trillion, six times the resources of the ESM! Economists and politicians say a collapse of the euro is inconceivable yet the same was said of the Soviet Union. In both cases, the capitalists could not see how the situation could go on but could not envisage its collapse! In the case of the euro, the staggering events brought on by the world economic crisis will drive its demise; Peter pointed out that there have been 70 currency collapses since 1945.

The CWI had predicted from before the euro’s creation that it carried within it all the seeds of its own destruction. What had brought it into being and how it lasted so long was due to the prolonged boom up to 2007. But the profound economic and political crisis, rocking all capitalist institutions, means the eurozone is staggering from one crisis to another.


Northern Europe not immune
Northern Europe has been affected by the crisis, with youth unemployment reaching 28% in Sweden. Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, as Arne Johansson of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna pointed out, once a blueprint for the welfare state and social democracy, is now a model for neo-liberalism privatisation of public services under its right-wing government and books are being written over the demise of the ‘Swedish model’. Oil workers have taken strike action in Norway and the crisis is so acute in the Netherlands that the left-wing Socialist Party there is heading the opinion polls. Even mighty Germany will not be immune; although in a boom, partly due to a long-term devaluation of the euro compared to the deutschemark, the government parties have been rocked by bad results in the regional elections.

Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union have also been devastated by the crisis, which has caused political and economic upheavals in Hungary, Romania and elsewhere. The intervention of the CWI in Kazakhstan has shown the possibilities for winning support for genuine socialist ideas in former Stalinist countries.

But it is mainly in southern Europe where the social, economic and political situation is most acute, with Greece in the vanguard and Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and others not far behind.

Greece
Greece accounts for less than 2% of eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) yet it is important for the capitalists in Europe, the working class and the CWI. We are watching avidly as our Greek section grapples with the task of giving leadership in the face of a five-year depression, terrible social conditions, worsening by the day and a society forced backwards by the barbarians of the European capitalists, represented by the ‘troika’ of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. In the recent general elections, the majority of Greek voters, although with reduced turnouts, voted for parties against the austerity packages imposed on them. However, the electoral system, which gives the winner of general elections an extra 50 seats, has allowed the right-wing New Democracy to form a pro-austerity government with the ex-socialist PASOK and its split, Democratic Left. Already, this government has called off attempts, if it ever meant its election slogans, to renegotiate the austerity package accepted by previous governments and will press on with further cuts.

Our Greek section faces great challenges, defending the working class from the attacks, putting the right demands which take consciousness forward and pursuing the correct tactics, to win over the most combative workers and youth to genuine Marxist ideas. The situation was explained graphically by Nikos Kanellis and Nikos Anastasiadis of our Greek section: the regular demonstrations in the centre of Athens, the general strikes which failed to defeat the austerity measures, and the effect of the elections as a ‘political earthquake’, which lifted the depression after the failure of the general strikes. Syriza had gone from 4% of the vote in 2009 to 26% in June 2012 and it was attracting to its ranks ex-PASOK supporters, which could have its dangers in pulling Syriza rightwards. In fact, a lack of decisiveness, particularly on the euro, in the last few days of the election campaign may have cost Syriza victory.

Greece will default on its debts at some stage and will be ejected from the euro. The question of a new currency will be posed. The euro has been associated with modernity compared to the old drachma but how will workers be defended if Greece (or any country) is forced out? Therefore, we have not called for ‘Get out of the euro!” but workers, although feeling the euro was a step forward, will not tolerate years of eurozone-imposed debts and will push to leave in the future.

Some capitalist economists – such as those in Deutsche Bank – have raised the idea of a double or parallel currency to run alongside the euro for a period. This would have the effect of driving down living standards through internal devaluation. The break of Argentina from the dollar-peso peg at the turn of the 21st century was accompanied by parallel currencies but this excluded whole groups of society from the monetary system and was accompanied by the reintroduction of barter. There was some discussion on this question in the school and this will continue further.

These points raised discussion in the meeting as to the best demands to put to workers. However, as Lynn Walsh of the IS pointed out, whatever becomes of the euro, socialists in Greece have to demand cancellation of debts, nationalisation of the banks and industry, a rejection of austerity, control of foreign exchange and trade as part of a socialist plan as the only way to defend workers’ living standards.

Golden Dawn threat
The far right in Greece, in the form of Golden Dawn, gained about 7% in the two general elections this year. The rise of the far right and reaction throughout Europe is the other side of the coin of this period to the rise of socialist ideas. Whereas the crisis will force workers to the left, the far right will also gain when the working class organisations do not give a strong enough lead, as has already been seen in Greece, in Hungary with Jobbik, with the votes for the Front National in France and other far-right parties in Europe. Having the correct ideas to take on the far right, which means taking up the social problems they exploit to gain support, is vital for CWI sections.

Other alternative formations have also sprung up where the traditional parties of both right and left have been discredited by their pro-capitalist austerity policies. The successes of the Pirate party in Germany and of the comedian Bepe Grillo’s movement in Italy show the discontent with ‘old’ politics throughout Europe.

The situation in Greece has elements of civil war about it. It is not a coincidence that there have been comparisons with the Weimar Republic in Germany between 1919 and 1933, and particularly the austerity regime of Chancellor Brüning that led to the rise of the Nazis. However, we have to caution that the idea that the capitalists can go directly to military rule or fascism is wrong. The working class will have a number of opportunities before that is posed but socialists need to warn of the dangers if the working class fails to take power.

Spain
Much of the focus of attention recently has passed to Spain, where a situation reminiscent of that prior to the civil war was developing. Austerity measures have provoked a massive reaction, typified by the Asturian miners’ march to Madrid to protest at the slashing of coal subsidies. Prime Minister Rajoy had sent a text during European summit negotiations, protesting at proposed harsh measures, which said: “Spain is not Uganda”. Unfortunately for him, it was pointed out that Uganda’s economy was growing while Spain’s had contracted! The banking crisis had led to guarantees of €100 billion directly to the Spanish banks yet this would do nothing to solve the underlying problems of the economy and the Spanish government would probably need a separate bailout.

The crisis in Spain has also raised the issue of national question. The autonomous regions control almost 40% of public spending and austerity policies will come up against the anger of the nationalities and regions, particularly in Catalonia, the Basque country and even now in Andalusia. What could develop is left nationalism, with struggles against austerity fusing with nationalist sentiments. This conjuncture may also arise in Scotland and Wales, and other European countries. The task of Marxists is to put forward a programme on the national question that links it to the struggle against capitalism and towards socialism.

Francois Hollande won the French presidential elections, and the Socialist Party the assembly elections, promising some concessions, but nothing on the scale of Francois Mitterrand’s presidency that nationalised 38 banks before forced to reverse his policies in the early 1980s. The scepticism towards all parties was shown by the much lower turnout for the elections. The vote was more against Sarkozy and the UMP than pro-Socialist. The significant factor was the rise of the Front de Gauche led by Mélenchon.

Left parties
As the CWI explained from the mid-1990s, the move of the old social-democrat and Labour parties throughout Europe to openly embrace capitalism would leave a space for new formations to put forward socialist ideas. Parties such as Rifondazione Comunista in Italy grew in the 1990s but fell back when they failed to develop clear socialist policies. But the crisis has spurred the formation and enlargement of new left formations, including the Front de Gauche, the Socialist party in the Netherlands, Die Linke in Germany and others. Syriza has been pushed into a position where it is openly challenging for government and could form the next administration in Greece when the current one falls, as it most likely will and probably not after long. The CWI has orientated towards these formations and, while not necessarily mass in numbers yet, electorally they represent a force and workers and youth will join them, or similar organisations, in the future. The CWI will be present in these organisations to give a clear socialist direction to them.

Peter also referred to the situation in Ireland, where the United Left Alliance, including the CWI section, the Socialist Party, now has 5 TDs (members of parliament) and is leading the mass campaign against the household tax. Sinn Fein, the party of Republicanism in Ireland, could become the largest party in the South at the next election, and a stronger socialist contingent could also be elected. As Joe Higgins, one of the Socialist Party TDs pointed out, the Socialist Party has come under attack in sections of the right-wing press, using a spurious pretext of the TDs’ ‘expenses’ for supporting the household tax campaign. The government is intimidating non-payers of the household tax but this campaign could be as big as the poll tax in Britain, which led to the downfall of Prime Minister Thatcher.

Similarly, Britain’s coalition government is riven with divisions and there has been an upsurge in strikes in the public and private sectors. The National Shop Stewards Network is playing an important role in galvanising the trade union movement and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is beginning to make small but important moves forward on the electoral plane.

Europe has become “ungovernable”, as it enters its ‘Japanisation’ phase, a long period of depression. “How much pain can the countries under stress endure? Nobody knows. What would happen if a country left the eurozone? Nobody knows. Might even Germany consider exit? Nobody knows. What is the long-run strategy for exit from the crises? Nobody knows. Given such uncertainty, panic is, alas, rational. A fiat currency backed by heterogeneous sovereigns is irremediably fragile.

Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do.” This was the gloomy prognosis for capitalism of Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. It shows the extreme pessimism of the European capitalist class.

Trade union militancy
Peter concluded that Marxists must root themselves in the situation. The current young generation will be the ‘lucky generation’. For 50 years, the pioneers of Marxism in Europe have seen marvellous developments but would give it all up to participate in current events. We can now look forward to the socialist revolution which is developing in Europe and worldwide.

In his reply to an excellent discussion, Tony Saunois of the IS remarked on the increase in trade union militancy. The general strikes that have taken place have tended to be protests, which some right-wing leaders of the trade unions have been only too eager to choke off. Not yet have these strikes raised the question of power for the working class. This will come in the future, as will the need for workers to get organised politically, either in broad mass formations or revolutionary parties directly. At the moment though, there is still an anti-party mood in most countries of Europe.

The tasks of the CWI include building our own sections but also to fight for new mass parties with demands to transform these new organisations as part of the struggle to transform society. In that way, our sections need to grow into bigger parties and shape events. Tony said we are in a protracted crisis and in a race against time. The key question for the CWI is to face up to the challenges and build our forces to transform society

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Supporting striking disabled Remploy workers

Today thousands of hard working disabled workers who work at the Remploy factories across the UK are taking strike action to defend their jobs. They face loosing all of their jobs and being thrown on to the scrap heap. The socialist party and the NSSN stand shoulder to shoulder with all taking action today.

None of the Con-Dem cuts are necessary but this cut is particularly vicious. For a paltry saving, the government is prepared to throw hundreds of disabled people onto the scrap heap.
Any claims that this is to stop segregation make your blood boil - where are the jobs, where is the support, for these workers to make a transition to a "normal" workplace?
One GMB member explained: "I worked in a different factory for seven and a half years before coming here.
I hated it - I was constantly bullied. Coming here has been great for me. I've worked here for 21 years. I'm much more comfortable here, I've made friends."
A lot of the people working at Barking have family members who are also disabled or in need have support. What was worrying them was that if Remploy factories close, it's not only themselves who suffer, but what future will there be for their families?
One said: "Just because we have a learning disability we're treated like second class citizens - we can be kicked out and shouldn't be seen and shouldn't be heard".
Paul said: "I've been on eight or ten protests to fight for our jobs here. We marched to parliament. But this is the first time I've had to go on strike. We've got no choice."
At lunchtime today the press are meant to be coming and workers from some of the other Remploy factories also under threat in London are coming over for a rally.

By Paula Mitchell



Barking GMB steward condemns Remploy closure plans
Barking Remploy GMB shop steward Mark Holloway spoke to The Socialist:
"This dispute is about the closure of the Remploy factories. The government has made a decision that Remploy will close.
"There are 54 Remploy factories nationwide. They produce a good standard of goods. It will cost thousands of disabled people the opportunity to work and condemn them to a life on social security.
"Remploy provides an opportunity for disabled people to work in an environment that is safe and which understands their special needs, and gives them an opportunity to contribute to the local and national economy.
"It is far better than a life on benefits. Remploy factories are like small communities. A lot of people have leaning difficulties and are challenged but they feel safe and they make friends and do a day's work.
"Remploy work also gives respite to the parents, carers and social workers that have to look after them."

On Thursday 19 July Remploy Unite members in Portsmouth joined the picket lines to show their opposition to the threat to jobs.
Rosemary has worked at Remploy for 35 years: "This is my life. If this place closes, would we get other work? This was a job for life. It it closes it will effect everything, including our pensions."
Gary added: "Can't remember the last person they took on. People want dignity, a wage; people have a right to work.
Cameron says we sit around drinking tea. That's not true. If we haven't got work here we do maintenance and cleaning duties. What Remploy needs is investment in new machinery and new contracts."
The Unite steward in Portsmouth Remploy said: "Our members want security and to know their future. We need to get people back into work.
"We have young people here on eight week work experience; they should be offered jobs here. I've worked here 34 years.
"Whoever takes over here wants to reduce disabled people to 51% of the workforce. I've been amazed at the support here today."



This fight is not going away the cuts will continue we are only 15% in to the cuts project. Its time we all stand up and fight. The socialist party needs your support and so do these workers who are some of the most vunrable in society. We send our solidarity and support to all workers taking action today.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Outsourcing police dogs, are there any limits to privatisation?

In Hertfordshire the latest plan to cut spending on police is this new idea to outsource police dogs and limit their use.

Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the police clearly this is significant if the police are feeling angry about cuts and are not being protected by the state. Police should have full trade union rights like other workers and have the ability to withdraw their labour like anyone else.

For a full democratic society police should be accountable to the wider public. Privatising parts of the police and outsourcing areas such as trained police dogs is just one part of this trying to undermine police officers doing their jobs.

SPECIALIST police dogs will be outsourced and handler numbers in Hertfordshire slashed under plans to cut the budget by £1.1m.
Slicing the budget by almost a third would mean police dogs for Herts, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire would be based 48 miles (77km) away from Hertford, and only be available 18 hours per day, according to a report to a police authority meeting on Friday (July 20).
The report read: "To achieve the most operationally effective unit, it is proposed that a model based upon 24 dog handlers will provide resilience, a level of flexibility and peak demand overlap. It will provide savings of approximately £1.1m (32 per cent of current budget).
"A model of 24 constables is considered the optimal number and will provide resilience both within the unit and to LPC [Local Policing Command] areas.
"Based on substantive levels of research and consultation, it is evident that the dogs unit could be reduced effectively by introducing a defined remit based upon four core areas of activity."
One Herts dog handler, who asked not to be identified, told the Mercury: "The resources are already stretched. We can’t provide any decent level of service because of the cuts that have been made. To think that we could cover three counties with 24 constables is stupid because we can’t cover two counties with 24 now.
"We’ve been kept completely in the dark and I don’t feel at all valued. This process absolutely stinks. The figures that have been looked at have been manipulated to suit.
"It’s an absolute nonsense. I hope that the police authority sees through it and sees sense."
East Herts chief inspector Gerry McDonald added: "Police dogs offer me reassurance, an ability to run faster than my officers and track people. They’re often used for drug detection and firearms recovery. It’s daily business for us.
"I’ve got a whole menu of options and police dogs are another opportunity. I don’t know what the impact will be yet but the constabulary’s not going to let me down."


with extracts from the Hertfordshire Mercury

Monday, 16 July 2012

Spain the next epicentre of the Euro crisis?

Whilst many of us have been watching Greece and the recent elections which electrified the left across Europe with the fantastic result of Syriza who came a narrow 2nd mainly down to the fact they turned to the right and watering down their programme just before the elections meant they fell short of a majority.

But now the situation of the Euro crisis seems to be moving closer and closer to the centre of Europe Spain is the next on the markets hit list it would seem.

Spain which is the 4th biggest economy in Europe would del a huge blow to the EU project if it falls.

With a likely exit from the Euro by Greece termed a Grexit the next term to be popularised is known as a Spanic which has all of the ruling class worried as Spain’s one of the biggies one of those quoted as too big too fail. Well if a change in direction is not found Spain is very likely going to head the very same direction as Greece very quickly indeed.
.
As it fell, the Zapatero government was frantically scrambling to avoid a Troika bailout and combat the black cloud of ’risk premium’, which has determinedly mushroomed despite the government’s most earnest servility to the markets. Now, just a few months after Zapatero’s hammering by the electorate and the PP’s rise to power as a ’safe pair of hands’ to bring an end to uncertainty in Europe and the markets, the spectre of “intervention” has returned. This brings home the dramatic (and inevitable) failure of Spanish capitalism, under two separate governments, to put up a wall between the Spanish situation and that of other “peripheral” countries, which have already received bailouts.
The brutal austerity policies, with new measures systematically announced every Friday by the government, have had the same effect in Spain as elsewhere – they have dragged the economy further towards a depressionary spiral. Alongside the conveyor belt of negative statistics and predictions, a social nightmare is developing for millions. Mass unemployment is steadily worsening (over half of youth are without work) against a backdrop of grinding poverty, which is evidenced on almost every street corner. Those who only a few years ago enjoyed regular and seemingly stable work are seen rummaging in dustbins for food.
This flagrant contradiction – between a Spanish capitalism which struggles to remain in the “premier league” and a working class with its living conditions being driven down towards third world levels in a hopeless bid for a ’way out’ of the crisis – is set to be the determining factor in shaping the events of the coming period. To get a glimpse of the intensity of the new class battles which will continue to develop even more widely, one need look no further than the militant struggle of the miners in the north of Spain, who have erected flaming barricades on motorways and railway lines around the country and defended them with home-made rocket launchers, in some towns successfully driving out the police.
An indefinite strike of miners has been underway for days in Asturias and Leon, which has been joined by transporters. Major daily clashes are taking place, with scenes reminiscent of a civil war situation in the mining communities being widely circulated on the internet. These scenes of pitched battles between workers’ pickets and riot police armed with guns firing rounds of rubber bullets will have an electrifying effect in a country brewing with anger and a growing desire to fight back, which is why the strike was blacked out of the capitalist press for a number of days. The deepening of the crisis has generally been accompanied by rising levels of resistance.
The last two months have ushered in the most intense period of mobilisations since the beginning of the crisis. The massive general strike on 29 March and the numerous millions-strong mobilisations around it were followed by over one million marching on May Day and then by another million marching in cities across the country on 12 May to celebrate the anniversary of the Indignados movement. On 22 May, there was an 80-percent-solid strike of the entire education sector. These mobilisations, despite the limitations imposed from above by the movement’s “leaders”; show it is impossible for capitalism to implement its plan of impoverishment without raising an outcry from the working class and youth

One of the main reasons why the markets have been taking for granted that Spain needs a bailout is precisely because they believe that it is not capable of bailing out its own banks. Thus, in a desperate attempt to avoid an Irish-style scenario (where the government was in effect bankrupted by its banking guarantee and forced into a bailout), the right-wing People’s Party (PP) government began to demand a European bailout directly to the banks, without having to pass through the government.
The speed of the latest banking crisis, with the trigger of the collapse and nationalisation of Bankia (the fourth largest bank in Spain), has been breathtaking. Only a few days after Bankia’s chairman vowed that the firm was capable of solving its own financing problems, it was already in need of an emergency nationalisation. The public cost of this “nationalisation” and recapitalisation then went in another few days from 4 billion to almost 25 billion euros. The pathetic unprepared ness of Spanish capitalism for the advent of this crisis is revealed by the fact that their Fund for Orderly Bank Re-structuring (FROB) which was set up under a recent finance reform to provide a ’cushion’ to the banking sector, contained barely more than €5 billion at the time of the Bankia collapse.
In comparison with other peripheral economies, such as Ireland, the relatively low debt-GDP ratio in Spain has had a lot to do with the “unfinished” bank rescue programmes of 2008-2009. But then, instead of learning the lessons of the disastrous international experiences of nationalising bad banking debts, the PP government and European powers seem determined to repeat these situations step by step. The bailout of Bankia alone is set to send public debt up to 90 percent of GDP, above previous estimates. The €100 billion in fresh debt now being taken on by the public finances will send this figure shooting further upwards. How will this “ease the pressure” on the Spanish economy from the markets?
This is being billed as a “soft” bailout, limited to the financial sector and without a Troika austerity programme attached. However, despite the fact that the Spanish government’s policies are already largely shaped by the diktats of the Troika powers, the idea that this bailout will go without a hardening of anti-worker measures is laughable. The conditions put forward by the European Commission for a mere one-year delay of Spain’s 3 percent deficit limit target, which included an acceleration of pension reforms, a hardening of the labour reform and deteriorations to the unemployment pay system, give a small example of the “sacrifices” which will be demanded.
It is true that the size and importance of the Spanish economy gave Rajoy the room and bargaining power to prevent (so far) a Greek-style Troika bailout with all its blood-curdling conditions. Incidentally, this is a crushing blow to the right-wing fear mongers in Greece, Ireland and elsewhere, who base themselves on the idea that the Troika’s bluff cannot be called. But Spain will still be under the ’supervision’ of the “men in black”, as they have been referred to in the Spanish media, with the Troika’s austerity “recommendations” now becoming more like “impositions” with the added instrument of blackmail that is the bailout. Like the others, this bailout will be paid out in tranches (differentially structured instalments); with the threat of funds being withheld if the government “misbehaves”.
Whatever form a bailout of the Spanish banks takes, it will not consist of bailing out ordinary people, but of a disastrous policy of the public shouldering tens of billions of euros in bad private sector debt, ultimately to be paid for by bleeding workers, youth and the unemployed dry. A banks-only bailout also addresses only one of the planks of Spain’s public debt crisis, doing nothing to resolve its fundamental problems - the looming disasters in autonomous regions, for example, which the Spanish state would be equally incapable of responding to. Thus, while the initial bank rescue figure may seem “manageable” to European and Spanish capitalism, it could be a mere attempt at a ’quick fix’ which touches only the tip of the iceberg that is the deep crisis of Europe’s fourth largest economy

?
Capitalism has proven itself to be pathetically incapable of preventing a Greek-style scenario from developing in Spain. The responsibility for evading such a disaster must thus fall to the working class, the youth, and their organisations, starting with a struggle against the lowering of living standards and the dismantling of the welfare state that is currently underway. Ultimately this struggle must be international in scope. The left thus has an historic responsibility to provide a consistent alternative to the road of ruin and misery offered by EU capitalist austerity. There is a climate of fear being whipped up by the media and government as they talk of Spain being cut off from borrowing money and of capital fleeing the country (almost 100 billion has been withdrawn from the Spanish economy since January). But this fear can be turned on its head if it is answered with political alternatives that go on the offensive against the bankers and capitalists.
The 20 biggest Spanish companies have reserves of over 40 billion euros, which are not being invested due to the depth of the world crisis that the profit system is passing through. In order to put this money to work, a revolutionary restructuring of the economy where the main companies and industries are run under democratic public ownership would be necessary.
It would then be possible to halt the flight of capital and invest Spain’s wealth (which the rich and corporations are currently hoarding) in an emergency anti-crisis programme to create jobs and public works. The 29 billion euros destined to be thrown into the black hole of Spanish debt payments this year alone - not to mention the billions paid to buy off property developers’ bad debts in the banks - could instead be put to social use.
The condition of Spanish economy screams the need for such policies, which could transform the situation in Spain and throughout Europe. But only a working-class government operating on the basis of socialist policies would be capable of carrying out this programme in a thorough and consistent way. The adoption of such alternative policies in Spain or another European country would in today’s globally integrated economy be only the first step, one crucial part of an international struggle for a working-class alternative to the capitalist Euro and E


with extracts taken from www.socialistworld.net

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ten Reasons Why Progressives Should Not Vote for Obama

In the latest edition of Justice, the publication by Socialist Alternative our American section of the CWI have published a excellent 10 point critique of the reasons why progressive thinkers and Americans should not vote for Obama Socialist alternative is saying if you wish to vote at all that your vote should go to Gill of the Greens as she is the most pro worker but do raise the demand and the need for a new mass workers party breaking with the two party system which is two parties of big business and bank bailouts and illegal wars in the US.
I myself will be watching the presidential race this year and I’m sure turnout will be down as people have little faith in politicians any longer and America in the belly of the capitalist system this is true too. The occupy movement and the anti foreclosure Stein campaigns have stood socialist alternative in an excellent position and have been growing and building very well. They are in fact our fastest growing section in our 43 section international.
Below I post the 10 reasons not to back Obama and the democrats this fall and the conclusions need to be drawn by the masses for a new party of the left, standing up for workers and sweeping aside capitalism building for a socialist alternative in America.

1. Wall Street and Corporate America fund Obama’s campaigns.
His top contributors in 2008 were the same big banks guilty of causing the housing crisis. He awarded these nearly 80% of his donors with senior-level government jobs (telegraph.co.uk, 6/2011).
2. Obama bailed out Wall Street…
The bailouts amounted to more than $16 trillion (therawstory.com, 10/2010). Since then, corporate profits accounted for 88% of economic growth and have now exceeded pre-recession profit levels.
3. ...Not working people, students, or homeowners.
Under Obama, the gap between workers’ wages and corporate profits climbed to its highest point since right before the Great Depression (politifact.com, 8/2011), the number of Americans living in poverty increased to 46 million - a 50-year high (LA Times, 9/2011), the total student debt topped $1 trillion (Wall Street Journal, 3/2012), and home foreclosures are projected to rise to 1.5 million (LA Times, 10/2011).
4. Obama failed to stop massive cuts to education and public services.
His 2011 bipartisan budget deal represented the largest drop ever in U.S. domestic spending, including slashing $493 million from Pell Grants and billions more from education, health, and labour (www.scpr.org, 4/12/2011).
5. Obama allowed insurance and pharmaceutical companies to dictate the terms of the Affordable Care Act.
Instead of sweeping away the for-profit insurance companies that dominate the dysfunctional health care system, he handed them millions of new customers with a government mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance plans. He even scrapped the public option, despite it having the support of 61% of Americans (CNN, 10/2009).
6. Obama has continued Bush’s war policies.
He ended “combat operations” in Iraq based on Bush’s timeline, yet he maintains a significant presence through 9,500 private contractors and 3,000 troops. He also increased funding for military spending, escalated the disastrous war in Afghanistan, and intensified drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
7. Obama has continued attacks on civil liberties.
He signed the National Defence Authorization Act, which allows the indefinite military detention of anyone, anywhere, without charge or trial, including U.S. citizens. He punished more government employee whistle-blowers than any previous president, reauthorized Bush’s Patriot Act, personally oversees a secret kill list that has included U.S. citizens, failed to close Guantanamo Bay, and allows the continuation of the domestic surveillance program against Muslim-Americans.
8. Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president in any two-year period.
He expanded E-Verify, further militarized the U.S.-Mexican border, and utilized the highly flawed “Secure Communities” program as a key part of his crackdown on undocumented immigrants (Reuters, 9/2011).
9. Obama has prioritized the interests of Corporate America and oil companies over the environment.
Obama failed to deliver meaningful action on global climate change at the Copenhagen and Durbin summits. He opened the Arctic and the East Coast to offshore drilling, expanded fossil fuel production and fracking, provided loans to build the first nuclear power plant in 30 years, and welcomed the beginning of construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.
10. Even as the first African American president, Obama has failed to address the social and economic situation of people of colour.
African American unemployment increased more than other racial groups under Obama (guardian.co.uk, 10/2011). African American unemployment stands at 13.6% and Latino unemployment at 11%, compared to white unemployment at 7.4% (CNN, 5/2012). Meanwhile, Obama continues to fund the failed “War on Drugs” while doing nothing to address the mass incarceration of African Americans.

CWI summer school 2012 a global movement on the march!

I have just returned from Gent in Belgium where I have spent the last week learning, listening, debating and developing my skills and my political development.

As you may or may not know I am a member of the Socialist party of England and Wales and we are part of a bigger organisation our international consisting of 43 sections across the globe now.
We are part of what is called the Committee for workers International CWI for short. This was my first ever CWI School and I had been nominated to attend by my region who felt I’d benefit much from this.

I was anxious and apprehensive as to what to expect from the school. Being blind and going away from home is one thing but going abroad with people who have little experience of helping blind people made me worried to say the least.

In the end I had no need to worry I had a fantastic week and all went to plan I thought.

Around 395 comrades from around the world gathered in Gent last week to discuss the world perspectives and where we see the global struggle for socialism heading.

The CWI has made great gains in the last year and can still boost the proud record of being the only international with such wide ranging organisations affiliated and working for our programme no other left group Trotskyist or Marxist can begin to describe their international if they are internationals that’s as anything near ours on size, influence and perspectives for the struggles expected to develop in the next period.

The school which is held at Gent University was opened with remarks on the wider global capitalist crisis engulfing Europe and spreading fast to China, South America and the US, leaving very few countries out there unaffected by the crisis.

The CWI is growing all the time not just in numbers but in influence all the sections present this week had a lot to contribute to the debates.

One of the major discussions which turned out to be one of the most controversial topics of the week was the question on Greece.

We predict and can see no other alternative that Greece will leave the Euro one way or another. This is inevitable now whether Greece are forced out or come out on their own the later less likely clearly will have a huge affect on the rest of the EU and the working class too across the continent.

It is clear to me that Greece faces a huge task now and whether a workers government or a capitalist government are in charge and faced with being forced out of the Euro would have the same problems to deal with.

The idea of a dual currency for Greece whilst in that transitional period is still a hot topic of debate within the CWI the Greek comrades have their differences which I wont go into her I may revisit Greece in the future in fact I’m sure I will given what is coming.


At the CWI School you have what is often described as the cadre the group of members in various sections who have shown determination and willing to develop and learn within the party.

Since joining the Socialist party I have felt inspired to step up my reading of Marx, Lenin, Engel’s and Trotsky and develop my political understanding further. Going to CWI school will do no end of harm to my development in fact I cant tell now but in time I will look back at attending for the first time one of the best things I’ve ever taken party in.

The level of debate and discussion was second to none all had a say if they wished whether that be in a smaller section such as the commissions I attended which were on Left reformism and centrism, The US occupy movement and fighting foreclosures, Israel and Palestine and where the tent movement goes from here, Social media and the role of the revolutionary paper and a section on Rupert Murdoch, a plan for genuine free press with a democratic base.

All of these sessions were fantastic and really well done the level of quality in the debates was something else so well organised and so well put together. The comrades from the international do deserve huge credit for their role in helping to build summer school.


We heard of some fantastic campaigns our comrades in various sections have been and still are in many circumstances such as the household tax campaign which the Irish section of the CWI socialist party Ireland leads the way in fighting back against a unfair tax which looks to make the ordinary working class pay for a crisis it did not cause and being made to pay up for the mistakes of the bankers.

It is clear capitalist m knows no way out and its leaders do not either they’re desperately looking for a way to get out of this crisis and although Marx told us that there will be no final crisis of capitalism this is certainly got all the signs of being far far bigger than the last great depression in the 30’s and we all know how that turned out.

Comrades work from all over the world tackling racism, fascism, homophobia, sexist trends, disabled activism, trade union activities and so on will be very key battle grounds for us in the next period as the capitalist crisis looks set to deepen and worsen as a result. So as the ruling class have or do not see any other way forward they will continue with cuts and austerity which is crippling their system to its very foundations.

There was far too many excellent speech’s and contributions to mention in just one blog post and I will develop more on what I learnt at the CWI summer school in future posts for sure.

In the meantime all new articles and all previous including reports from the school will be appearing on
www.socialist world.net

Quite clearly we are entering a phase of revolution and counter revolution many opportunities for the working class to take power and lead on to a socialist society are opening up. It is up to us now and you if you feel willing to join with us in bringing about a fair, equal and democratic socialist society based on the needs of the many not just the few. For a socialist world!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

World food in crisis why a socialist plan is needed

here is more than enough food on the planet to feed everybody and for no one to go hungry but in this farcical system of capitalism a system based on meeting the profit margins of a few is far more important than meeting the needs of the many.

Even basic needs for the majority of people on the planet cannot be met under capitalism.

THE FINANCIAL speculators and hedge funds that so spectacularly contributed to the financial crisis resulting in the 'Great Recession' have now turned their attention to the international food market with devastating consequences.
These spivs are now trading heavily in the futures markets in food, speculating on prices and causing extreme volatility.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation reported: "Rarely have markets exhibited this level of uncertainty and sudden turns in such a brief period of time. World cereal production, which is currently put at 2,216 million tonnes, is 2% below 2009 levels, 63 million tonnes less than the forecast reported in June."
The UN has warned that food prices could rise by 10-20% next year after poor harvests and an expected rundown of global reserves. More than 70 African and Asian countries will be the worst hit.
Combined with the heat wave and fires in Russia and the floods in Pakistan, this has resulted in the prices of wheat, maize and many other foods traded internationally rising by up to 40% in just a few months.
Sugar, butter and cassava prices are at 30-year highs, and meat and fish are both significantly more expensive than last year.
Larry Elliot in the Guardian has argued that these massive increases are also due to speculators buying up farms in poor countries to profit from China's increasing reliance on imported food. This in turn increases poor countries' reliance on expensive imported food.
International food import bills could pass the $1 trillion mark and the speculators cannot resist getting their noses into a trough that size.
The 2007/08 food crisis saw food riots in more than 25 countries and 100 million extra hungry people. The UN fears similar for the next few years.
As Lester Brown, founder of the Washington-based World watch Institute, pointed out: "The poorest will suffer the most because they feel the effect of price rises directly".
With one and a half billion people globally struggling to get by on between $1 and $2 a day, capitalism has nothing to offer them - not even enough food in their bellies.
But while the world's poorest people are suffering, big business is enjoying a profits bonanza in global agriculture and its associated trade. In the advanced capitalist countries working people are also increasingly struggling with rising food prices.
Socialist nationalisation of the agribusiness multinationals and a democratically run, international plan of food production represent the only way forward for the poor and the working people of the world.


We also as socialists recognise the short term need for food banks but do not see them as the way to solve a food crisis for the poorest people in society.
We are not like new labour that earlier this year our comrades came in contact with one of their new rising stars of the party Stellar Creasy.
. This was recently underlined by an incident involving Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, and one of our comrades.
The Labour MP was collecting tins of food for the poor! When confronted on why she was acting like a Victorian 'do-gooder', collecting from the already poor for the destitute, and not fighting the cuts, she replied: "I'm just the MP -what can I do"!
. Little wonder that polls show that there is little faith in New Labour's ability to control the economy.


Its time for a socialist plan for producing and distributing food to the many taking away the profit motive and putting the need and meeting those needs back into the production of food.