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Thursday, 30 August 2012

France: difficulties bubbling under surface for Holland

France’s president Francois Holland who swept to power on the back of a growing turn against austerity is already starting to let his voters down. The CWI has always said if you do not break with capitalism you will be forced to meet its calls which call for austerity. France’s economy is not performing well and trouble may be ahead for Holland and the French economy very soon indeed. Hollande, who returned from a 15-day summer break last week, faces an economy that hasn’t grown in three quarters, rising joblessness, a ballooning trade deficit and the task of coming up with a plan in the next few weeks to plug a budget hole of more than 30 billion euros ($37 billion) for next year. The challenges ahead may undermine the rally in French bonds that has allowed the country to sell bills at negative yields for the first time. During Hollande’s first 100 days in office, the premium demanded to hold French 10-year debt rather than comparable German securities fell to the lowest in more than a year. That trend may be reversing. “France’s fundamentals -- rising unemployment, widening current account deficit and budget deficit -- would not support its bonds,” said Jamie Stuttard, head of international bond investments at Fidelity Investments in London, Sovereign debt from France, which was stripped of its AAA rating by Standard & Poor’s in January, got more expensive throughout 2012 -- notably since Hollande’s victory. The rally came as the European Central Bank cut its main interest rate to a record low and reduced its deposit rate to zero as the euro area teetered on the verge of recession and Spanish and Italian 10-year bond yields climbed above 6 percent. Whether or not European leaders manage to reassure investors, Hollande also knows he has an uphill task ahead at home. According to the national auditor, he will have to find about 33 billion euros in new tax revenue or savings by the time his government sets out its 2013 budget on Sept. 24. The budget hole will be larger if the finance ministry is forced to lower its 2013 growth forecast of 1.2 percent. That’s looking likely after France posted a third consecutive quarter without expansion in the three months through June. French jobless claims rose to the highest in 13 years in July as stalling growth prompted companies to trim payrolls, a Labor Ministry report yesterday showed. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declined to repeat next year’s growth forecast in a radio interview on Aug. 22. For the first time since Hollande took office on May 15, a majority of French voters lack confidence in his ability to run France, pollster CSA said Aug. 23. Only 49 percent of the French said Hollande has the capabilities to steer the country, down from 58 percent in May, according to the CSA poll for Les Echoes newspaper carried out Aug. 21 and 22. His predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy had a rating of 55 percent at the three-month mark in 2007. Clearly a lot of the optimism Holland swept to power with from many sections of the left and the liberal left is starting to wain. Holland will be forced to make huge cuts to jobs and services which will bring him into conflict with the mighty French working class who have been somewhat quiet of late compared to their usual militancy they are so well known for. What is clear though is that France will not be immune to outside risks and the chickens of Hollands failure to break with the market and capitalism may come back to haunt him. What is needed though is a mass party of the French working class. The left front in France if it keeps up its upward curve of support and highlight Hollands misgivings I am sure we will start to see the left gain ground in France and hopefully move into action. Let’s hope the French working class remember their famous revolutionary traditions and show Europe how to struggle later this year. I look forward to sharing solidarity with the French workers who certainly know how to strike leading to a near revolution in 1968. Workers must learn the lessons from 1968 and lay the ground for bigger and more explosive struggles on the horizon. With extracts taken from Bloomberg

The Dutch election, will voters turn to the left?

With the upcoming elections in Holland Dutch people are facing a choice of a fairly new party. The socialist party in Holland – no relation to the Socialist party I’m a member of I might add. This former Maoist party no fully reformist could gain big in the coming polls. The polls point to a neck-and-neck race between the SP and the liberal VVD for top spot. The political spectrum remains fractured, with no obvious majority emerging. But if the SP does become the biggest party Mr Roemer should have first shot at forming a cabinet, for the first time in his party’s 40-year history. Tracing its roots to the split between Soviet and Chinese communism, the SP was once proudly Maoist. But it shed its Marxist-Leninist ideology at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, replacing it with messages of solidarity and human dignity. It has since slowly gained ground, going from two MPs in 1994 to nine in 2002 and then 25 in 2006. It slid back to 15 in 2010, but under Mr Roemer’s leadership its popularity has bounced back. Some of this is down to Mr Roemer’s warm and friendly image and unforced man-of-the-people sense of humour that puts him in contrast with other Dutch politicians. But it also reflects a political agenda that responds to the fears of the voters. Without explaining how he would find the money, Mr Roemer promises both to safeguard the welfare state and to share the burden of paying for it more equally. Which I’m sure all sounds very good to Dutch voters who may be willing to give this party a chance at governing. But as Dutch capitalism continues to perform reasonably well in the Euro this can surely only last so long. The SP is not against the European Union, but would slash its budget in half. Nor is it against the euro, only against excessively strict budget-deficit rules (and, by implication, against cuts at home to finance bail-outs abroad). So how the SP would do if fully elected would be interesting as with many refromist parties they could be pushed in eitehr direction furtehr than they originally intended depending on the mass pressure from below. They may end up buckling and pushing through more cuts but we wait and see the outcome of this election. Not given much coverage so far could be quite an interesting one to watch. It is still clear though that Holland too needs a new workers party to provide working class Dutch people with a political voice if the SP does not succeeed in fighting for workers workers should start the process of forminga new mass workers party out of the trade unions. All in all the coming period will be a difficult one for Holland and the Dutch working class as the Euro crisis deepens further into 2013.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Why I’ve taken to reading the capitalist press

Yep you’ve read that correct I have started looking at the bourgeois press the more quality stuff that is. You may be surprised to hear that but there is a method in my madness. I haven’t suddenly chucked my Marxist principles out the window but in fact I’m taking a greater interest in the global economy for several reasons. As a Marxist reading our own material can be great propaganda and agitation material to win over workers but to find out what is really going on out there in capitalism reading such publications as the Economist and the Financial times and the Wall Street Journal to name just a few. These are in the main well put together papers and magazines. They are often pro market of course and do not tell it how it is from the workers perspective. But that is where I need to apply Marxist analysis to understand what is really going on underneath the surface of society and in the economy at large. There is an old phrase that revolutions start at the top and in many ways this is true the tops of the trees begin to shake at first and this sends shock waves to the very foundations of society. Understanding what is happening at the very top of capitalism and the process’s involved just as Karl Marx did in his excellent analysis of capitalist production in the 1800’s can give us a excellent insight into predicting what will happen next in terms of the class struggle. Understanding if we’re in a period of growth or decline and how the economy is going to develop or contract in the next period. Understanding b bourgeois ideaology can be interesting but can also provide us a glimpse of their thinking. The old phrase keep your friends close but your enemies closer applies here. Understanding the twists and turns of the class struggle is key to applying the correct slogans and understanding of what period we are in and how we can best put forward a programme to change society towards a socialist transformation of society. While I don’t read the capitalist press religiously it does pay all workers if they can to take an interest in the wider economy out there to see where we are going and to independently educate ourselves. Watching our own news and our own material will only tell you so much it’s good to get a rounded out perspective on the world and the way society is heading. Its key for all revolutionaries who have a aim in changing society to understand capitalism and how it works this does not mean agreeing with it but to over throw capitalism we must understand it where its weakness’s lie and when it is most venerable. These tend to be the points just before an incline or just after a crash Trotsky’s curve of capitalist development is an excellent piece to get to grip with this idea of when workers can go on the offensive and will be most confident of wins. But we are now in a huge downturn in capitalism and there will be opportunities for workers to come to power many opportunities. We must learn the lessons to be prepared to take those chances when they arise. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history as they say.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Could Keynesian policies solve the global economic crisis?

Much debate is raging in America and among leading economists as to whether Keynesian policies could be an escape route for global capitalism. While we cannot rule anything out in the class struggle when the ruling class get desperate as no doubt they will do as their system grinds itself into a deeper recession and depressions in many places calls for state intervention will become louder and louder from certain economists. One of the most outspoken economists who promote such policies is Paul KRUGMAN who is a Liberal at the end of the day but does speak out and opposes austerity. He doesn’t line up with the working class though lets be clear. Hefundemenatlly supports the capitalist system still but wish’s to see different tactics used. Extracts below are taken from Comrade Lynn Walsh (who is editor of Socialism today) excellent review of Paul Krugman’s recent book full article can be read: http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5904 Political leaders, according to Paul Krugman, have failed to learn the lessons of the 1930s. Through a combination of distorted ideology and economic self-interest they exerted pressure for a return to deficit reduction policies in 2010, undermining the fiscal stimulus policy. Obama lacked the “Rooseveltian resolve” demonstrated by President Franklin D Roosevelt during the great depression. Krugman recognises that Obama faced bitter opposition from the Republican-dominated Congress, but criticises his failure to make the case for a bigger stimulus package. Obama failed to effectively mobilise public opinion behind such an intervention. The result is the current, lamentable state of the US economy. So Krugman has written a tract for the times. Its title suggests that it is a campaigning pamphlet rather than an academic analysis. It is succinct, polemical, and satirical in places, advocating unashamedly Keynesian policies which, in his view, could rapidly end the recession and produce sustained growth. Krugman is a prominent academic economist in the US, but best known for his informative and polemical columns in the New York Times. He is the most prominent of the Keynesian economists (including people like Joseph Stiglitz) who advocate more state intervention to stimulate recovery, and are severely critical of the voodoo economics of the ultra-free-marketeers, now championed by the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and especially by his vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan. Without state intervention in the US and elsewhere to rescue the banks there would have been a worldwide collapse of the financial system. There has been a trend of a turn by the capitalists away from investment in manufacturing and towards ever greater investment in the financial sector. Short-term profits through financial speculation, which tended to concentrate profits increasingly in the hands of the top 1% - or, more accurately, the top 0.01% - became a dominant economic trend. Ultra-free-market ideology was promoted to legitimise the shift. Financialisation changed the structure of the US economy and other advanced capitalist countries. They concentrated more and more on services, boosted consumer demand through the expansion of cheap credit and the boom in housing and financial assets, and outsourced manufacturing to low-cost economies such as China. The Keynesian approach is a very simple looks at things a very one-sided view that things could be different if we just changed our macro economic policy. Of course the crisis is far more far reaching and fundamental than that. The Keynesian argument is that in this situation the state has to step in and stimulate demand. Lowering interest rates (even to zero) is not enough. By borrowing money to finance deficit spending – or by printing money – the state should inject demand into the economy. Increases in the social safety net (for instance, unemployment benefit) and job creation schemes (such as, infrastructure projects) could reduce unemployment and support increased demand. However, in isolating the factor of ‘demand’ as the crucial factor, Krugman fails to get to the root of the problem. The Keynesian idea is that a spurt of state spending will jump-start the economy, creating jobs, stimulating investment, and so on, “until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again”. But it is far from certain (leaving aside capitalist hostility to an increase in the economic role of the state) that a short-term stimulus of this type would actually revive investment and production by the big corporations. Capital investment has been declining as a share of GDP in the US and other advanced capitalist countries since the early 1980s, despite the increased share of profits in national income. The stagnation of capital investment continued in the US in the 1990s and the 2000s despite the high level of demand (which was sustained by credit/debt). Keynes believed that ‘equilibrium’ of the market would break down at a certain point because of the capitalists’ so-called ‘liquidity preference’. In other words, they would save more than they invested, preferring to hoard their cash rather than invest it productively. Keynes explained this through the factor of ‘confidence’, a subjective explanation. In reality, the lack of confidence is rooted in an estimation of a much more objective factor: the prospects of making adequate profits. ARE KEYNESIAN POLICIES now ruled out? Some people undoubtedly think so. “In the current market environment”, says a Deutsche Bank analyst, “there is no room for using a Keynesian-type expansionary fiscal policy to boost demand in countries with low growth – the markets will simply not accept such a strategy”. (International Herald Tribune, 10 January). Global financial markets are now far bigger than they were in Keynes’s time, or even before the 1980 neo-liberal ‘revolution’. In 1980 financial assets (in reality, credit/debt securities) were equal to one year’s output of the global economy. By 2006 such assets amounted to four times global output. This scale gives speculators – the so-called ‘bond-market vigilantes’ – the power to speculate against any governments that carry out policies of which they disapprove. The bond traders, moreover, are reinforced by ultra-free-market ideology, which now dominates the thinking of capitalist governments and international agencies such as the OECD. Despite the deepening of the current world recession, they really believe that unfettered markets will produce growth – and mass unemployment and impoverishment of sections of the working class will not dent this growth. The kind of policies advocated by Krugman, if effectively implemented, could cushion the downswing in the US and elsewhere. But they would not overcome the underlying problems of capitalist accumulation. In any case, many Keynesians feel that it is already too late. For instance, Keynes’s biographer, Robert Skidelsky, writes: “At last, opinion is starting to shift [in favour of Keynesian policies] – but too slowly and too late to save the world from years of stagnation”. (The New Republic, 12 July) Yet things can change. The capitalist crisis will produce social explosions and eruptions of class conflict. In the US, for instance, in the event of Romney winning the presidency and implementing the policies advocated by Ryan, they are likely to provoke an even worse slump. (It is possible that even a Romney-Ryan presidency would be forced more by pressure from big business to temper its crazy ideas with more pragmatic policies.) Explosive movements of the working class and deep social crisis will, under certain conditions, push capitalist governments into adopting Keynesian-type measures to avoid a mortal threat to their system. Keynes himself said that his policies were designed to avoid revolution. When it is a question of saving their system, the capitalist class will, at least temporarily, make concessions to the working class. To reduce mass unemployment they may well adopt public works programmes. They will be forced to repair the social safety net. But such policies will be a temporary expedient. They will not be a return to the long-term, sustained Keynesian policies of the post-war upswing, when the state increased its intervention in the economy and developed an extensive social welfare infrastructure. Keynesian policies may buy time for the ruling class but they cannot resolve the crisis of capitalism. How, as socialists, should we regard a stimulus package or programme of public works? In the face of mass unemployment and the prospect of prolonged economic stagnation, the leaders of workers’ organisations should indeed be calling for a massive programme of public works to provide jobs and stimulate growth. To be effective, a public works programme would have to be on a much bigger scale than that proposed by Krugman. It would mean the refurbishment and addition of new infrastructure, especially homes, schools, hospitals, community facilities, etc. Workers should be employed on a living wage with full trade union rights. Effective economic stimulus would require a big increase in social spending, increasing pensions and other benefits. Tax rates for the wealthy and big corporations should be substantially increased, with a levy on the uninvested cash piles of big companies. Effective measures should be taken against tax evasion and avoidance. It has to be recognised in advance, however, that the capitalists will vehemently resist a bigger role for the state and increased taxation. A programme to provide jobs and stimulate growth would require the mobilisation of the working class. Moreover, increased taxation in itself will not be sufficient to develop the economy. The dramatic raising of the living standards of the majority of the population would require the resources (additional real wealth) created by increased production. The banks and finance houses would have to be nationalised (not bailed out and propped up at public expense), and run under democratic workers’ control and management. This would ensure the credit required to develop all sectors of the economy. There would also have to be capital controls to prevent any flight of capital. Such measures would undoubtedly meet the entrenched resistance of the capitalist class. State intervention in favour of the working class would unavoidably pose the question of the takeover of the commanding heights of the economy, to form the basis of a democratic plan of production (run by elected representatives of the workers and the wider community). Any government carrying out such a policy would need an international perspective, collaborating with the workers’ movement in other countries to develop socialist planning at an international level.

Why I continue to fight for socialism

As things go from bad to worse around us and the cuts seem unending. The crisis in capitalism is ever deepening it is so easy to think oh well this task is far too great for us to change anything and besides we have no power anyway. Wrong, I believe there is huge potential now more than ever even back in 1917 there were not the similarities in the situation as there is today. All over Europe workers are facing much the same attacks if one countries working class came to power this could easily spread like wild fire. I continue to believe in the need to change society to a socialist society When the majority of people on the planet continue to live on less than a dollar a day struggling to feed themselves quite clearly capitalism for me and a growing number of people is a bankrupt system. Change in society is happening constantly we believe as Marxists in historical materialism where capitalism has not always existed and it won’t always exist now. As Marxists we look at the world differently we look at it as a process and the development of human beings through the ages is littered with revolutions even capitalism was brought about through revolution in many countries like Brittan and France to start with breaking with feudalism. There are still elements of feudalism still remaining today such as nation’s monarch’s these play a role in capitalist society to maintain rule and so called order. Why am I still plugging away spreading the ideas of socialism true socialism not the bastardised versions of Stalinism or reformism. Revolutionary Marxism with a aim to change society not just tinker with the system but remove it for good to allow everyone the world over to live healthy, happily and safely breaking from exploitation need for pocession greed or any other form of capitalist nightmare. Capitalism cannot be reformed towards socialism and capitalism itself can never meet everyone’s needs it is a system designed on the basis of the drive for profit for a few who own the means of production. Class’s in society which are often misunderstood by many all revolve around the means of production if you don’t own the means of production and are forced to sell your labour power to work your working class if you own the means of production and ability to create more profit you are a capitalist and apart of the ruling class. Its this part of society we wish to do away with we want the working class to become the ruling class in society in affect doing away with all class’s as Marx put it in the communist manifesto. I believe deep down we are all natural communists and we are living unnaturally under capitalism we are not naturally greedy or exploitative as much as bourgeois historians would like to make out. As Marx described in the early forms of preminitive communism things were shared out equally and people shared in the running of society. Socialism believe would be far more advanced than that as the science an understanding we have gained ever since we will take with us. The fight for the winning ideas and the correct ideas is key to myself and others I don’t believe we will ever achieve full equality under this current system and genuine democratic socialism is needed to benefit all of us. If many people realised why they work and that by working they produce the huge profits for their boss’s I doubt they’d be so keen on working instead of believeing the story of working hard for that next holiday. People are gradually waking up and will be won over to socialist ideas in the coming period I’m sure of it. I’m always happy to debate anyone and enjoy doing so an arena where we can debate ideas and tactics is needed. A new workers party is that arena. I was once a member of the labour party to my eternal shame these days no young person looks towards the labour party for guidance or support. It’s a spent force for workers and young people alike. Its time to fight to change society and through the socialist party I’ve been inspired and given the confidence to attempt to do so. The coming period will be difficult but will open up many opportunities which workers can take we have to be ready, ready with the ideas and the practical solutions to the way out of the current crisis, personally we’ve had plan A, plan B and C its now time for plan S, plan SOCIALISM ! On an international basis.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The hidden political agenda behind the fall in GCSE results

Yesterday saw the first fall in GCSE results for England in a very long time. Analyst after Analyst have tried to work out why this is. The latest GCSE results show a fall in the pass rate in the top grades across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time since the exams replaced O-levels and CSEs 24 years ago. Teachers have claimed examination boards have marked pupils too harshly, especially in GCSE English. Mr Gove has denied that pressure had been put on exam boards to change grade boundaries amid criticism that exams were becoming easier every year. But its clear to me GCSE’s are not getting any easier contrary to what people tell young people every year. For me there is a clear political agenda behind the drive to force results down. If results are lowered and this in turn reflects badly on a school the government use’s official bodies such as OFSTEd to publish negative results for a school and to deem it a failing school this add’s to the pressure on the teachers, staff and head teachers alike. This is very convenient as the government is pushing the whole idea of academies and by lowering standards in many schools it can force many more schools to go down this route bringing private money into our state schools allowing schools to employ teachers who are not qualified and standards are not the same. This for me is the real reason behind the drive by Michael Gove to make exams harder and force down the amount of students getting top grades. To in affect create two tier systems in education once again. Mr Gove has spoken of his desire to restore O-levels in England in place of GCSEs, with less academic pupils taking exams similar to the old CSE. This again would divide students from those who are moor academic than others and push those who may not be but can in my view still contribute hugely to society to end up feeling like failures. Its all part of a capitalist system designed to create winners and losers in society. Where those who win win big and those who loose out loose out big time. This furthers the gap in society in my view and should be opposed.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The lessons from the Coryton Oil refinery dispute

A few months have passed now since we were heading down to Coryton and Basildon way almost every other day. The National Shops Stewards Network and the Socialist Party played a big role in mobilising quickly and effectively in the last few weeks of the dispute supporting workers but I thought I’d look at the lessons we can all learn from this dispute where ultimately the oil refinery is to close and many will loose their jobs. I feel personally this was not a dispute that was beyond winning. The union involved at the refinery Unite knew about the plans to sell off the refinery and turn it into a terminal way back in January of this year but sadly they sat on this hoping something would come up. This was hugely naive in my view as this Tory government isn’t interested in saving jobs for the economy you just have to look at what they are doing to the public sector at this very moment. Only months after we saw the Sparks successfully push back and defeat the big 6 Besna and JIB contracts wanting to drive down wages in the construction industry we see the Coryton dispute emerge as a chance for workers to again enact a defeat on the boss’s. Sadly it wasn’t to be on this occasion. I think much of the union officials were genuine and did want to win the dispute for the workers but many things stood out for me. I think in a phrase it was too little too late the action. Only in may was a meeting called to discuss what a be done to save the refinery. When the union itself had been sitting on this since January its not well enough frankly. The background to the dispute: Coryton is a major oil refinery on the Thames estuary in Essex. It refines about 20% of the region's fuel, and is a major supplier of aviation fuel for the south of England. The plant's parent company went into receivership in January and has been in the hands of Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) ever since. In May it came out that PWC was intending to sell the refinery to a front operation for the Shell Oil Company, whose plan is to dismantle the refinery and set up a terminal for the import and storage of refined fuel on the site. This would mean the end of about a thousand employees' and contractors' jobs. We always thought that to win workers must reach out to other workers at the other refineries around the country this was never successfully linked up. The Union seemed to be more focused on lobbying the department of Energy in London after the public meeting. Ok this was a grand idea to lobby but it didnt get to the heart of the real action needed to win. Another thing stood out to me was the fact that the convener on the site for the union had received his redundancy and had stepped down we found out on the day of the planned blockage of the tankers leaving the refinery. This action had a limited success but to win it needed to be done on a much larger nationwide scale. We as socialists always look to link up struggles and the Coryton wasn’t on its own on this there will be many more Coryton’s to come we felt and the need to link up with other refinery’s in the country was key to winning. Linking disputes and building solidarity is a big part of a Marxist and the NSSN played an important role in this. Coming away from the dispute and listening to the workers now without jobs there was appreciation of the likes of the NSSN and socialists and we were given special thanks for coming to support the workers. There was much criticism of the labour party and the union tops from some workers a sense of frustration with a too little too late strategy were felt. Much can be learnt from this dispute and I hope lessons are learnt for the future. Coryton oil refinery in Essex is closing, which will involve the loss of 800 jobs. This is a profit-making concern which has provided 20% of the supply of petrol and diesel in London and the south east. It is the only refinery in the south east. The government has no interest in this refinery as it is small fry and its decline has been relatively silent. But it accounts for the majority of the employment in Canvey Island and south Essex. It has been brought down by the debt and bankruptcy of its parent company. There are people working there who have lost pensions and are close to retirement age. Many will never find work again. There are also contractors there who are not included in the calculated 800 job losses and have also lost money. The government ignores this and the fact that it could be a profit-making concern again. All in this entire dispute was a quick one with us mobilising quickly and effectively as the NSSN. I think we can be proud of our intervention given our limited resources. We need to use disputes like this to build the NSSN and to build a bigger network of rank-and-file trade unionists willing to go beyond the confines of the law to defend workers in struggle. The thing that gives me confidence is the role the NSSN can play in this. Do check out http://www.shopstewards.net/ And on twitter @NSSN_anticuts for updates on workers in struggle and how to get involved.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Keep profiteers out of our NHS! Mass movement needed now!

High-profile NHS hospitals in England are to be encouraged by the government to set up profit-making branches abroad to help fund services in the UK. An agency will aim to link hospitals such as Great Ormond Street with foreign governments that want access to British-run health services. Investment would have to be drawn from hospitals' private UK work, but with profits ploughed back into the NHS. A patients' group said the move was a "distraction" at a time of "upheaval". The drive, building on an initiative first started under the Labour government, is set to be be launched by the Department of Health and UK Trade and Investment this autumn. The BBC understands the initiative is unlikely to involve regular district or general hospitals but would target world-renowned hospitals like children's hospital Great Ormond Street, the Royal Marsden and Guy's and St Thomas'. 'Benefit patients' It would mirror schemes such as that of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, which in 2007 built a unit of the same name in Dubai. In 2010, Labour's Health Secretary Andy Burnham set up NHS Global to help the health service make the most of the global market for healthcare and the coalition now wants to build on t This is a continuation and a first sign of what the health and social care bill passed this year by the con-dem government is going to do to our health service. Quite clearly many capitalists here in Britain and around the globe see the NHS as a world institution and a huge opening for a big profiteering exercise here. Take no notice of labour either though they were the ones who brought in such ideas of a global NHS and Andy Burnham their shadow health secretary was the one who over saw this so we will take no support or lectures off labor they are up to their eyes in PFI and marketisation of the NHS. We must be aware of what is going on arm ourselves with the facts and join up local campaigns with a national campaign to save our NHS which truly is under threat now. If it wasn’t before it is now. Trade unions have been pathetic on this so far a national campaign linking up all unions’ workers, anti cuts groups, save NHS groups and anyone else who wishes to throw their weight behind saving this. But be under no illusion this is going to take a huge effort. As I tweeted on twitter last night it was mass working class pressure and action which won the NHS for the working class it’s going to take a similar mass pressure and militant action to win this back. This must be part of the NSSN’s calls for a 24 hour public + private general strike. It’s time to step up the fight now redouble our efforts to save the NHS and stop all the cuts and remove this government intent on taking back all the gains we’ve ever made.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Going over the edge Euro style

With what has seemed a relatively quiet summer on the whole for European markets the turn from the august holidays back into September is sure to raise questions about the long term sustainability of the Euro and certain countries to remain inside the Euro for much longer. With Spain and Greece teetering on the edge. The newly formed Greek government need to find 13 odd billion euros in cuts and savings to remain in the Euro I personally cannot see how they will be able to do that so the question is what will fall first the Greek economy or the Greek government under huge pressure from Berlin and at home with mass opposition now to austerity any further attempts to force austerity in the direction of the Greek working class could see this very weak government fall very quickly indeed. The question will then turn to then what with Greece ultimately likely now to leave the Euro how will this affect the rest of the Euro zone. No one knows it would seem it is all much unknown. Capitalist leads cannot see how the Euro can be sustained but they equally can’t imagine how it can break up. But I am increasingly becoming convinced it will now. The global economic crisis now 5 years in this month looks to be stubbornly stagnating world economies most have not recovered their output since 2008. With only three of the G7 countries (Canada, the US and Germany) have got back to their pre-crisis peak of production. Now US growth is petering out, while there is either stagnation or recession in the euro zone (with Germany now sliding into recession). In 2007-08, the housing mortgage crisis triggered a worldwide banking and financial crisis. Now the sovereign debt crisis holds both European governments and the major banks in the thrall of financial turmoil. Greece and Spain in particular are like time-bombs which could detonate a major explosion at any time. The new prime minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras, leader of New Democracy, is now demanding that the implementation of austerity measures already agreed in return for two bail-out packages should be postponed for two years. It is estimated that this would require a further €20 billion in bail-out funds. On this, as on everything else, the euro zone leaders are divided. Hollande and others are in favour of giving Greece more time, while Merkel and others are opposed to any relaxation of the austerity measures. In reality, the only issue is timing: the debts piled on to Greece supposedly to provide a way out of its debt crisis, are unsustainable. Despite New Democracy’s narrow victory, there will be further explosive movements of the Greek working class and middle class against the barbaric austerity measures being imposed on the country. It is clear that the giving Greece more time to pay off its debt will not ultimately solve the situation it is becoming clearer to European capitalists that Greece simply cannot continue within the Euro and pressure is mounting for it to be forced out. Forced out, default either way I cannot see it continuing with the Euro for too much longer now. Capitalist leaders fear the break-up of the euro zone, which would have incalculable repercussions in Europe and throughout the world economy. But the contradictory forces bottled up in the euro zone are working in the direction of partial break-up, if not total break-up somewhere down the line. The outlook for global capitalism is indeed gloomy. Since April/May this year there have been growing indications of a new downturn in the world economy. There are a number of overlapping and interrelated elements of crisis: The burden of debt: The high level of public and private debt and attempts to reduce debt (‘deleveraging’) is restricting the flow of credit and depressing consumer demand and investment. For the OECD area, government budget deficits averaged -2.1% during 1999-2008. In 2009 this shot up to -8.1% and is still currently -5.3%. The aggregate national debt for the OECD area has continued to increase, and is now 108.6% of GDP. Household debt (gross debt-to-disposable income) is also very high. For the euro area, for instance, the pre-boom level in 2000 was 85.3% but is now 107.9%. Company debt continues to be high. For non-financial companies (debt-to-GDP ratio) was 78.8% whereas it is now 96.8%. For financial corporations the debt ratio is even higher: it was 269.1% in 2000 and is now 381.7%. These figures are unsustainable on the basis of weak or completely stagnant growth, and carry the threat of increasing defaults in both the household and company sectors. Mass unemployment: Unemployment remains catastrophically high. This is an effect of the downturn, but reinforces it through weakened consumer demand, reduced tax revenues, and increased costs of unemployment benefits. In the EU (27 states) there are 24.6 million unemployed men and women, of whom 17.4 million are in the euro area (17). This is a jobless rate of 11% in the euro zone, 10% in the EU. In a number of countries the situation is much worse: in Spain the unemployment rate is 24.3%, in Greece 21.7%. Youth unemployment for both these countries is a catastrophic 50%. Global unemployment is a devastating indictment of capitalism. According to the ILO there are now 200 million jobless people internationally (up from 175 million in 2000). There are 75 million young people unemployed, an increase of four million since 2007. A joint ILO/OECD paper for the G20 summit in Mexico says “G20 countries would need to create 21 million jobs in 2012 in order to return to pre-crisis employment levels…” “If unemployment continues to grow at the current rate of 1.5%, it will be impossible to close the approximately 21 million jobs gap that has been accumulated across the G20 since the onset of the crisis in 2008”. (ILO press release, 16 May) The ILO director general warned (30 May) in coded language of the threat of a social explosion due to mass, long-term unemployment, especially of the youth. “The austerity-only course to fiscal consolidation is leading to economic stagnation, job loss, reduced [social] protection, and huge human costs, undermining those social values which Europe pioneered. While trying to reduce the public debt, unsuccessfully by the way, a social debt is building up that will also have to be paid”. Big corporations hoard cash: While some companies (especially small and medium) are hit by the credit squeeze, big corporations internationally are hoarding cash rather than investing it in new productive capacity. In the UK, non-financial companies are estimated to be holding £731.4 billion of cash reserves. In the euro zone, cash hoards are estimated at around €2 trillion, while in the US non-financial companies hold more than $2 trillion in cash and other liquid assets. The big corporations evidently cannot find sufficient opportunities for profitable investment. Its time for an alternative. A socialist alternative. Working people around the globe create the wealth for the 1% its time we owned that wealth and it was used to benefit the many not just the few. With extracts taken from Lynn Walsh’s excellent article in Socialism today “riding the double dipper” http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5829

Friday, 17 August 2012

Solidarity with Lonmin's miners

From: www.socialistworld.net, website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI Stop Lonmin's massacre of striking workers at Marikana, South Africa DSM (CWI South Africa) [See also statement of the DSM: For a general strike to end the Marikana massacre] At least twelve workers were shot dead, and many more injured, on August 16 as a massive police and army assault was launched to crush a strike by thousands of workers at platinum miner Lonmin's shafts in Marikana outside Rustenburg, in addition to at least six mine workers who were killed in clashes earlier on in the strike which began August 10. Two policemen and two mine security guards were also killed in the near-civil-war-like conditions. It is clear that the Lonmin bosses, backed by the entire big business elite and its servants in the government, the police and army are hellbent on restoring order at any cost. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI in South Africa) appeals for socialists and trade unionists internationally to protest against the massacre that is now being set in motion. . The background is that thousands of workers at Lonmin, the wolrd's third largest platinum producer, went on strike in demand of an increase from their current R4000 poverty wages to a R12500 living wage on August 10. The strike was initiated by workers belonging to AMCU, a break-away union from the dominant National Union of Mine workers (NUM). It appears the strike, which grew in numbers to involve tens of thousands of workers, was attacked not only by the infamously brutal mine security but also by the NUM, which attempted to force workers to break the strike. This provoked mistaken retaliations such as the torching of a car which led to the death of the two security guards on Saturday and the killing of two police officers on Monday. This has given the government an excuse to restore "law and order", and Lonmin's rapidly falling share price, through what is nothing less than an orchestrated massacre. The area is under siege, with the battle clearly being prepared for in the last couple of days. Lonmin withdrew from negotiations which had been agreed for August 15 stating that the matter would now be "in the hands of the police". No longer able to rely on containing the workers through the NUM leaders, the bosses have now resorted to brute force. By drowning this uprising in blood, the bosses may win a battle but not the war which has been brewing on Rustenburg's platinum mines for years now. As a result of the global economic crisis, the platinum price has fallen drastically and the bosses are desperate to make the workers pay. That is why they are resolved, with the backing of the entire ruling class, not to give an inch to the bold strike launched by the Lonmin workers. . The Rustenburg region is the world's largest platinum ore deposit and the recent closure of shafts by some mines have alerted its tens of thousands of workers to the urgent need to fight back. In doing so, increasing numbers are turning their backs on the NUM - once one of the proudest, most militant trade unions in SA but now, through backdoor deals with the bosses, investment companies and an alliance with the capitalist African National Congress-government, it is so discredited that its leaders only dare to address workers protected by guns, life guards and police armoured vehicles. Seeking a way forward, many workers have gone into AMCU, and with the NUM, backed by management, defending its turf, a tense stalemate has been established this year. The DSM is calling on workers in both unions to demand united solidarity action, beginning with a local general strike, involving all the platinum shafts and the bitterly poor local working class communities. We also call for a national general strike to end the shooting of striking workers, and for a campaign of rolling mass action for the nationalisation of the mines under workers control and management. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We appeal to comrades internationally to send protests to the Lonmin head office in London: Lonmin Plc, 4 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7YL Tel: +44 (0)20 7201 6000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7201 6100 Email: contact@lonmin.com Please send copies to the DSM, dsmcwi@gmail.com MODEL PROTEST LETTER: Attention: CEO Ian Farmer and Chairman Roger Phillimore, I/ we .......................... call on Lonmin to intervene to stop the massacre of its striking workers at Marikana, South Africa immediately. A yet unknown number of striking workers were shot dead on August 16 by police in an orchestrated confrontation which was the direct result of Lonmin's withdrawal from negotiations with the workers who are striking for a living wage. We demand that Lonmin steps in to call on the police, army and mine security to withdraw and initiates new negotiations with the representatives chosen by the workers on strike. We demand that Lonmin withdraws its threat to dismiss all striking workers with immediate effect. We demand the full satisfaction of the striking workers' just demands Only such steps could possibly take away from the fact that Lonmin is currently part of orchestrating a mass murder on largely defenceless workers in defence of its share price. Yours ... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PROTEST IN LONDON: Friday 17 August, 17:30 Outside the South African High Commission, South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

ATOS and the Paralympics, a marriage of sick proportion

Below I republish a short article I have submitted to our party’s paper the Socialist they will no doubt change it about to fit the paper but I’m posting it here for the unedited piece of my own words. Disabled people should be able to enjoy sport too. I’ve watched closely the news and reports and reaction of the Olympic Games over the last few weeks but now attention Turns to the Paralympics. Disgracefully private vultures ATOS are one of the games main sponsors. Only a government and a system happy to make disabled people pay the price for the failures of a capitalist system can think having a sponsor such as ATOS is ok. The company who are paid and make big profits out of removing disabled people from benefits and finding them fit for work. Having this company as one of the main sponsors is sick in my opinion and rubs those who have been on the raw end of ATOS and their techniques nose’s in it somewhat. Only the other week on a BBC Panorama episode the rigid rules to which ATOS work and apply a system which’s designed against disabled people lead to tremendous strain and stress on the person being assessed. Constant assessing and appeals only makes peoples worries and lives worse with the unknown factor not knowing if they’ll be able to keep their benefits to live or not. In one horrific case one man with a heart condition who struggled to breath was unbelievably found fit for work by ATOS and several weeks later sadly died due to heart failure. ATOS are paid h are given huge contracts by this con-dem government who like the last government see fit to punish the most vunrable in society for the failings of a capitalist system in one of its deepest crisis’s ever. I’m registered blind myself and attend a gym once a week I’d love to go more often and engage in a lot more sports but the costs are astronomical . British Blind Sport to be fair do do a fair bit in promoting blind people taking part in sport and I am really pleased to hear my old college the Royal National college for the bind in Hereford will be hosting the blind football. But this is all very well but for many disabled people the chance to take part in sports on a regular basis or to simply exercise to some extent is becoming increasingly difficult with less and less funding from local government and central government alike during these times of austerity.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Time to renationalise the railways, let’s do it properly this time

With today’s news of further huge fare hikes for the good commuter of this country getting to work will be set to become more expensive than ever before. I believe now is the right time to renationalise our railways bring them back under democratic workers control this time. Boot the profiteering boss’s out and have workers who know the railways run this. This is the RMT’s policy and I strongly support it. The amount by which rail fares could rise from January is to be revealed, with some commuters set to see rises of more than double the rate of inflation. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation - expected to remain at 2.8% - is used to calculate the rises. Some English fares will rise by RPI plus 3%, while in Scotland they will go up by RPI plus 1%. Wales has yet to set a figure for its increase. The extra money is helping to fund huge investment across the network. There are no fares increases currently planned in Northern Ireland, where fares are not linked to RPI. The figures for planned rises in England and Scotland are an average across regulated tickets, which make up half of all fares. These regulated fares include season tickets and off-peak intercity journeys. Some passengers could see their journey prices rising by more than the average, as train companies are allowed to increase them by more, as long as they cut ticket prices elsewhere. BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says passengers and taxpayers used to split the cost of running the railways, with both sides paying about half each, but successive ministers have cut the amount of government funding and that has resulted in regular fare rises. The latest rise will mean fares in England will have gone up by more than inflation for 10 successive years, resulting in some of the most expensive train journeys in Europe, our correspondent adds. It is essential working people have a good railway to rely on it would actually be far cheaper to run the railways this way the cost to passengers would be far less too as workers would set the prices at a fair rate as the need to make profit would be gone. Instead focusing on a good reliable service that meets the needs of the passengers and the country and economy as a whole. There is a great need for socialist economic planning of the economy nationalising the railways could be the first step to taking the commanding heights of the economy into public ownership running for people’s needs not the profits of the boss’s.

Monday, 13 August 2012

5 years into the crisis any signs of improvement ?

Some date the crisis to August 9 2007, the day it became clear that Europe’s banks were up to their necks in US housing debt. The ECB flooded markets with €95bn of liquidity. It seemed a lot of money then. We have since seen a lot lot more money pumped into the banking system to plug the huge gaps that will not go away. 5 years into one of the biggest capitalist crisis’s ever possibly eclipsing the great depression in the 30’s industrial output has still not picked up. There is no country in the world that this crisis has not affected in some shape or form, Be they strikes, demonstrations, cuts, austerity tax hikes everywhere is being affected to some extent. China is sufficiently alarmed by the flint hardness of its "soft-landing" to talk up trillions of fresh stimulus. The European Central Bank is preparing to print “whatever it takes” to save Spain and Italy. Markets are pricing in an 80pc chance of yet more printing by the US Federal Reserve in September or soon after. The world remains in barely contained slump. Industrial output is still below earlier peaks in Germany (-2), US (-3), Canada (-8) France (-9), Sweden (-10), Britain (-11), Belgium (-12), Japan (-15), Hungary (-15) Italy (-17), Spain (-22), Greece (-27), according to St Louis Fed data. By that gauge this is proving more intractable than the Great Depression. Investors were pulling money out of America’s $2.5 trillion money market industry in panic. This was the long-feared heart attack in the credit system, even if the economic malaise behind it did not become clear for another year. The original trigger for the Great Recession has since faded into insignificance. America’s house price bubble -- modest by European or Chinese standards -- has by now entirely deflated. Warren Buffett is betting on a rebound. Fannie and Freddie are making money again. Five years on it is clear that subprime was merely the first bubble to pop, a symptom not a cause. Europe had its own parallel follies. Britons were extracting almost 5pc of GDP each year in home equity by the end. Spain built 800,00 homes in 2007 for a market of 250,000. Iceland ran amok, so did Latvia and Hungary. The credit debacle was global. If there was an epicenter, it was Europe’s €35 trillion banking nexus. Stephen Cecchetti at the Bank for International Settlements concludes that debt turns “bad” at roughly 85pc of GDP for public debt, 85pc for household debt, and 90pc corporate debt. If all three break the limit together, the system loses its shock absorbers. “Debt is a two-edged sword. Used wisely and in moderation, it clearly improves welfare. Used imprudently and in excess, the result can be disaster,” he said. Right now it’s the working class that is being saddled with this mountain of debt and being forced to pay through what seems like endless austerity. This what we are living through now austerity is the norm now before the crisis it was a debt field credit boom which was unsustainable and many knew this but were unprepared to speak out. Marxists knew this as we understand the fundamental workings of capitalism. Karl Marx uncovered this in the 1800’s. Many modern economists turned to Marx when the financial crash happened saying ah ha Marx was right. They are no longer saying that as his analysis of capitalism was far greater than they can imagine and get their pro capitalist heads around. Their system is bankrupt and has no life left in it. It will continue but at the expense of the 99% the workers. It will drag itself with its claws to life again sucking the life out of workers for life. We must not let it bring itself back to life. As Marx correctly pointed out there is no “final crisis” in capitalism it will not collapse on its own it‘ll find a way to recover most likely at the expense of us, ordinary working people. It must be over thrown and only the working class has the power to do this. I read in the Telegraph today that even one of their writers is suggesting debt needs to be written off. We can fully support that that is one of the things we’re calling for. Make the rich pay, cancel the debt, Nationalise the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, and put controls on capital flows in and out of the nation as first steps towards changing society towards a socialist world... With extracts and references from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/9471018/Five-years-on-the-Great-Recession-is-turning-into-a-life-sentence.html

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The potential for Socialist Students

The socialist party has had various student organisations and even back to our militant days we were always heavily involved in the Labour Party young Socialists. With the success of youth Fight for jobs which is still only a few years old itself Socialist Students is our party’s latest attempt to gain a voice for students on university and college campuses up and down the country. I’m excited about this prospect with Hertfordshire University set to have its new society set up for the new academic year. There are already successful socialist students societies set up and functioning across the country you may wish to check some of them and our website out at http://socialiststudents.org.uk/wp/ the potential for recruits and the spread of socialist ideas is vast in today’s world young people especially are out there newly radicalised looking for answers to why they are having to pay huge fees while the most wealthy in society walk away with golden goodbyes whilst being able to bring the world economy to its knees. We aim to answer your questions and allow you to have a voice on campus and beyond. To join the fight to change society for the 99%. Student’s politics I’ve been told is a messy affair with lots of bitching and infighting within the scene but as Socialist students we are not interested in the sectarian nature of what is thought of as student politics. We’re here to provide a voice, an arena for discussion and to get students organised in what is one of the most difficult times for students ever. With the tripling of tuition fees and the cutting of EMA there is plenty of reasons for students to be angry and want to hit back. We advocate a constructive fight back putting forward an alternative of free education and support for all students whatever background you are from. What We Stand For Education  Abolish tuition fees. Write off student debt.  Restore EMA. Campaign for full living grants to cover the living costs of all students in post-16 education – including those at university.  No to higher and further education funding cuts. Defend every course, job and service.  No to academies and Free Schools.  For exam boards and all other privatised services to be taken back into public ownership – no repeat of this year’s exam mistakes fiasco!  Stop the marketisation and privatisation of universities in Britain. No to the government’s white paper and a two-tier Higher Education system. No university should be allowed to go to the wall!  Lift the cap on places and publicly fund the expansion of high quality higher education.  Build local anti-cuts campaigns and ‘Youth Fight for Education’ groups in every school, college and university, linked on both a regional and a national level.  Support action taken by education workers to defend their conditions and our education –their fight is our fight.  For the transformation of Students’ Unions into fighting organisations, with bottom-up democratic structures.  For a fighting NUS.  For education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels – a socialist education system. Work and Welfare  Support the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign.  No to mass youth unemployment- for a decent job for all.  No to the government’s slave labour ‘workfare’ schemes. For decent training opportunities and apprenticeships for young people which pay at least the minimum wage, with a guaranteed job at the end.  No job losses in the public or private sector. When private bosses claim they can’t afford to maintain jobs, we say open the books. Let us see where the money has gone.  For nationalisation of companies threatening closure, under democratic control with compensation given on the basis of proven need.  Fight for a minimum wage of at least £8 an hour as a step towards a living wage.  No cuts to housing or other benefits.  End lower benefit rates for young people – for the right to Job Seekers Allowance at 16.  No to ‘workfare’ and slave labour internships. For decent jobs paid at least a minimum wage of £8 an hour.  Support the National Shop Stewards’ Network anti-cuts campaign which fights all cuts to jobs and services  The immediate re-opening of all youth services that have been closed, including reinstating sacked staff. Rights  Defend the right to protest. No to the victimisation of student protesters. For the right to organise in every school, college and campus.  No to ‘kettling’ and police violence on demonstrations.  No to racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination.  Fight the far-right racist BNP and EDL. Jobs, homes and services- not racism. Build mass campaigns to defend communities.  No platform for fascists in education.  Rape is never the victim’s fault. For a mass campaign against sexism.  No to reactionary attacks on women’s rights.  Defend and extend abortion rights.  No to the three main bosses’ parties. For a new mass workers’ party that fights in the interests of ordinary people. For International Solidarity and Socialism  For solidarity between working class and young people across the world.  Solidarity with the Arab Spring – No to western intervention – it is on behalf of big business and capitalism.  No to war and imperialist intervention. For the Immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.  End the siege of Gaza.  No to Trident nuclear missile replacement  Support the Sri Lanka Tamil Solidarity campaign – for the right of all people to self-determination.  No to environmental destruction. For a sustainable democratic socialist plan of production that won’t destroy the planet.  No to capitalism. For a socialist world, where the big monopolies are taken into public ownership, the economy is democratically planned and resources are used to meet the needs of all humanity.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Surprise surprise numbers of students applying to go to uni are down

The rise in university tuition fees in England is having an impact on applications, an expert panel has said. The Independent Commission on Fees says there has been "a clear drop" in English students applying, compared with those from the rest of the UK. The panel, headed by writer and academic Will Hutton, adds there has been no relative fall in applications from poorer areas. Ministers say there is still "very strong demand" for university. The Independent Commission on Fees is supported by the Sutton Trust, a charity which aims to improve educational opportunities for young people from disadvantaged homes. It is examining the impact of the increase in fees, especially on those from poorer backgrounds. 'Clear drop' Panel chairman Will Hutton, who is an Oxford college principal, said: "Although it is too early to draw any firm conclusions, this study provides initial evidence that increased fees have an impact on application behaviour. "There is a clear drop in application numbers from English students when compared to their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This was all predicted by socialists who said that trebling tuition fees and cutting of EMA will have a toxic affect on our young people in this country. So at last concrete evidence to show that the government are actively putting off people to go. Making university education a right for only the very rich and those who can afford to go. In its first report, the panel draws on statistics from the university admissions service Ucas, as well as a survey of the attitudes of some secondary school pupils. The latest figures from Ucas, for June, showed applications from people in England were down 10% on the same time last year. In Wales, the drop was 2.9%, Northern Ireland 4.5% and Scotland 2.1%. The University and College Union (UCU) said the figures were worrying. The union's general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "Young people not applying for university have few other opportunities with levels of high unemployment and the difficulty securing other forms of education or training. "We need to be investing in our young people, not directing them towards a lengthy dole queue." City and Guilds, the body behind many vocational qualifications and apprenticeships, says it has seen a dramatic rise in applications to higher level courses. It says more than 700 people have registered to do level four courses (equivalent to post-A-level qualifications) this year - up from just under 300 last year. Fees rise to a maximum of £9,000 a year at English universities from this autumn. They had been just over £3,000 a year. Students from England will face higher fees wherever they study in the UK. Fees will also rise in Wales and Northern Ireland but not for home students and students from Wales will be subsidised wherever they study in the UK In Scotland, Scottish students will continue to pay no fees, although those coming from other parts of the UK will be eligible for fees of up to £9,000. The socialist party stands for full complete free education for all. Education should be a right not just a judgement of how many pounds you have in your bank balance. The lies that the government used that this is a fairer system that students wouldn’t be paying anymore are clearly untrue and have been shown to be now. Its time all students united this autumn and got on the demonstrations planned by the NUS turn them into big militant demonstrations and force the government to retreat with its fees and cuts agenda. At the moment education is something which is out of many working class students hands I and many others want to change this for an all round fairer system a truly fair system which benefits everyone.

Will the Euro zone break up?

As with the Soviet Union many capitalists couldn’t see how it could continue but also couldn’t see how it could break up. Many contradictions lay within the Euro zone today not least the nation state and how it fundamentally relates to capitalism. The CWI of which the socialist party is affiliated to predict at its inception the Euro could not last when not if a global economic crisis hit as we are seeing now. Nations will want to protect their own interests and national agitation will increase as a further feeling of trying to save their own backs first. With the news today that one of the fore thinkers behind the Euro project now laying doubt on the project and how long it can last we are left wondering how long it really can last and in what shape or form a break up could come in. Some members of the euro zone may have to leave the bloc as the debt crisis continues, according to one of the architects of the euro. "Everything speaks in favour of saving the euro area," said Otmar Issuing, a former European Central Bank chief economist. "How many countries will be able to be part of it in the long term remains to be seen," he added. His message comes as the ECB warned of a lack of lending within the region. The central bank highlighted the fall-off in money being lent across borders between the 17 countries that share the euro, saying the euro zone is becoming increasingly fragmented. The ECB said cross-border loans in the overnight money market fell to 40% of total loans, from 60% in a similar period last year. A recent report by Morgan Stanley focused on the "Balkanisation" of the euro zone banking system. "Its banking and money team have highlighted how the weaker euro zone economies - Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland - have been progressively starved of credit as banks in the bigger, stronger economies of Germany and France have stopped lending to them," the BBC's business editor Robert Peston said. 'Reforms pending' Mr Issing was a member of the German Bundesbank until 1998 and then worked at the ECB, during the introduction of the euro in 1999 until 2006. Promoting his new book on saving the euro, Mr Issing said: "We are still a long way off saying 'that's it, now we are sure to make progress'. "Substantial reforms in almost all countries are still pending." He added that it was not true that Germany would be better off returning to the deutschmark, saying the euro had been more stable than the mark. "One should focus on bringing the euro back to what it was meant to be: a stable currency, stabilised by an independent central bank, which follows a clear mandate, nothing else, and that the other protagonists, especially national governments, do their homework," Mr Issing said. This is impossible on capitalist lines a stable Euro is looking increasingly unlikely and a break up more and more inevitable now holding it together now looks a feint hope rather than a plan for European leaders. The comments come after France's central bank said that its economy would fall back into recession this quarter. The Bank of France estimates that the economy will contract by 0.1% in July to September. It has already predicted a fall of the same level between April and June. Italy is also set for its third consecutive quarter of contraction, while the Bank of England cut its UK growth forecast to close to zero from about 0.8% predicted in May. The UK is not in the euro zone but is hugely affected by what happens on the continent as a lot of the UK’s trade is with European countries and a break up of the Euro will affect the UK in a big way. Bigger than many economists care to imagine at this point. This could throw the whole system into turmoil and lengthen the crisis even further. What is clear to me is that capitalism has no way out of this crisis and many opportunities will arise for workers to take power. Whether they will or not depends on many factors but there will be the chance we must be ready for it.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

No to turning street lights off at night, putting people in danger, say no to all cuts

Walking home from the pub after closing hours the other night I discovered that I was walking in the pitch dark. I thought a light had gone and reporting it would solve it but stupid I forgot that Hertfordshire like many other counties now is turning off its street lights after a certain time of night. Midnight in our case. Which for many people who go to bed early before midnight will never affect granted but for others who work at night, walking home from the town’s pubs and clubs or seeing a friend late at night will put them in danger. Not only the fact that it’s hard to see anyway with the roads and paths being maintained less now too due to cuts the likelihood of tripping up is increased. Plus the fact that it puts women and old people in danger unnecessarily. I don’t imagine turning street lights off at night saves that much. In our street they have recently installed new efficient lights so surely these would be better anyway and more cost effective. This for me was another small thing I’ve noticed and how the cuts are starting to affect me personally. I am registered blind and do have some sight left which I do use of course. Having a bit of light does help me but now I have to use my cane a lot harder to make sure I don’t trip up. I fear for people who in bigger cities where crime rate is far higher walking home on their own late at night in the pitch dark. Who knows who may be lurking? I don’t wish to scare people but just make people aware of some of the ways cuts are affecting me and others. None of these cuts are needed if we had a government prepared to tax the rich and take the wealth off them and use it to fund public services properly we could eliminate the deficit and put people back to work and run public services properly. For this we need a new workers party willing to put the interests of working class people first. A government based on the ideas of socialism willing to change society in a transitional way moving away from capitalism and ending the greed and wealth of a minority instead allowing the majority to enjoy the worlds wealth and environment which they have never been able to. Cuts to street lighting may seem a small and insignificant thing but to me it matters, as do all cuts, As a socialist I oppose all cuts as we did not create this crisis, It was in the private sector, the banks and their wreck less gambling which we are now paying the price for. Well I say no and reject the need for any cuts. However difficult it is it may not be the popular thing to do, it may be easy for me to stay in the Labour Party say I’m against cuts yet vote for them in the council chamber ring my hands and say there is nothing I can do. When we all know there clearly is. You can roll over or fight. I prefer to fight back. We must to change society for the better.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Council tax benefit cuts, attacking the most vunrable again, all cuts must be fought

Another vicious attack on the most vulnerable has been launched by the Con-Dem government by slashing the amount of council tax benefit people receive. In fact, they want to completely abolish the benefit at a national level in April 2013. Instead, local authorities will be given the responsibility of dishing out the money but with 10% less in the pot. Bob Neill, Tory Local Government minister, speaking on Radio 4 defended it as "an incentive for councils to get people back to work". But where are the jobs many ask? The only proviso that has been set by the government is that councils should pay the full amount to pensioners and 'protect the vulnerable'. As for who is defined as 'vulnerable', that's for the council to decide. There are currently almost six million people who receive council tax benefit. Of these, 62% are under 65 and many have 100% of their council tax paid for them. These changes will mean that people, already living in poverty in many cases, will be asked to cough up something towards it. Every council in England is being asked to consult on the cuts they are making (Scotland has decided to make the 10% cuts elsewhere and Wales is passing the 10% cuts on to benefit recipients). But residents are only being given the choice of deciding who should be forced to pay more. If completing the questionnaire for Harrow Council, you can choose who should get more benefit: those who 'can't work' or those 'who can work but are unemployed'. There is no option for the council to fight this cut from the government. Manchester City Council is looking at cutting the benefit by 15-20% for everybody while others are looking at reducing the savings you can have while still being entitled to the benefit - Waltham Forest is asking if people with savings over £6,000 should have to pay more council tax. Nottingham City Council recently held consultation meetings, two of which took place in the most deprived areas in the city: St Ann's and Bulwell. Each of these meetings had over 30 people at them, mainly unemployed and disabled people who are already suffering from the cruel attacks on benefits and the rise in the cost of living. We were separated into groups and asked who we think should pay for this cut. One woman remarked, "We shouldn't pay anything, what about the bankers and the rich who have caused this mess?" Other comments were unfortunately divisive and were encouraged by the council officers completing the consultation. Blame was quickly diverted from the government of millionaires to single parents, immigrants and people who are long-term unemployed. We must be clear these cuts are no fault of single parents, immigrants or any section of the working class. Councillors instead of deflecting blame onto those already feeling the bite of these vicious cuts are being made to squabble over who should pay up more for mistakes not of their making. Mistakes of the bankers who recklessly gambled away our economy in 2008. The socialist party feels there is great potential to link up disputes locally by uniting all who wish to fight these cynical cuts and there are similarities to the vicious poll tax which Margret Thatcher fell on her sword trying to force though in which the socialist party’s predecessor Militant successfully lead a 18 million strong mass non payment campaign which made the tax unworkable. The Socialist party believes local councils should refuse to pass this cut on and instead mount a fight back and demand the reversal of this cut and the full funding to meet the needs of its most venerable in its community. Already in the press, parallels are being drawn with Thatcher's Poll Tax. There is certainly a huge amount of anger that could be channeled into an anti-Poll Tax style campaign: building in local areas and linking up nationally into a mass campaign, defending people who are being threatened with being taking to court or imprisoned. If there is a discussion in every town and city about how to respond to this cut and the farce of consultations being held by the councils, it could quickly snowball into a campaign. There could be pressure exerted onto the Labour and Green councils to resist this attack and force the government to save council tax benefit! If our councilors refuse to fight, local people should stand in next year's council elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and fight the government ourselves. Which I intend to do if I get the chance. These cuts are not going away wishing them away or blaming Tories will not do we need a concerted fight back today not tomorrow or after 20th October, People are struggling today. With extracts taken from Becci Heagney’s article on http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14982/06-08-2012/council-tax-benefit-cuts

Hiroshima, we don’t forget, end the threat of nuclear destruction

The first use of a nuclear weapon against people was sixty-seven years ago today, August 6 1945, when the United States Army destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War. The city of Nagasaki was destroyed by another bomb three days later. Some two hundred forty thousand people, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, died from the attack and its aftereffects. Over the past six decades a historical consensus has emerged: the atomic bombings were by no means militarily necessary. The Empire of Japan, which had begun the war, was by summer of 1945 defeated, the people of its home islands starving, the capital ships of its navy sunk, its army in China about to collapse before a Soviet onslaught. Historians now believe the key motive behind the bombings was political, the American government's goal to intimidate the Soviet Union as generals on both sides looked ahead to the next war. The use of the atom bomb never to have been used again and only ever used by the United States that fine beacon of peaceful lands is a timely reminder to us all the huge destruction and death that a nuclear world can produce. The whole idea of a nuclear war scares the wits out of me. I once visited a disused nuclear bunker in Essex now a museum thankfully really brings it home to you how a nuclear attack would devastate everything and anything in its path. The potential power of a nuclear war could possibly end this planet we live on. It is more the threat of the use of one that scares people I’d say lot of saber rattling went on during the cold war years between the US and Soviet Russia where an arms race ensued. I dream of a nuclear free world, a world which can sustain itself on renewable green energies which can meet the needs of the people not just the ruling class. Now I’m a member of the CND campaign for Nuclear disarmament but these days the CND is not a c campaigning tool it’s more of a front for becoming a labour party bureaucrat which is not what I want. I remain a member as I fundamentally oppose nuclear weapons and the idea of them. I think a socialist world will be nuclear free and a safer world to live in. But just joining a campaign to say we’re against nuclear or signing a petition will never be enough. Only a mass movement of the working class arming themselves with the power and the knowledge to change society on the basis of a socialist society removing the wealth from the 1% and bringing democracy to all for the first time allowing decisions to be decided by the mass’s democratically will put a end to wars, exploitation and the potential for disasters. I for not one minute think this will be straight forward. If changing society was easy they’d have done it already I’m regularly told but it doesn’t make it less of a goal to aim for. A society and a world which offers so much are possible. A world without the threat of nuclear disaster is possible and entirely realizable. Wars are more often than not taken place on the basis of markets and over trade as this global economic crisis deepens lets unite the international working class to oppose disputes and conflicts by over throwing our ruling class’s across the globe to emancipate human beings and uncapping their latent power and knowledge. With extracts taken from http://networkedblogs.com/AG3kg

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The devastation of Remploy and the hypocritical nature of the gov’s policy towards the disabled.

With the governments attacks on the disabled stepping up by the week it seems disabled Remply workers have chosen to take a different strategy and are fighting back. Remploy workers face the possibility of seeing their factories close and being tossed out onto the scrap heap and joining the doll with thousands of other workers at the moment. It’s a disgrace and flies in the face of what the government are saying about disabled people. On the one hand they are encouraging disabled workers with the carrot and the stick approach telling them they must find work or their benefits will be stopped yet on the other hand they are closing down factories and putting good honest hard working disabled people out of work at Remploy. I am as some of you may or may not know am disabled too and feel an extra sense of solidarity with these workers being tossed out of jobs through no fault of their own. All they wish to do is an honest day’s work and is paid fairly for it and the government for some reason only known to themselves feel they are better out of work onbenifits... You start to see the contradiction don’t you its circle and a vicious one at that. Either they want the disabled in work in which case why shut Remploy or they don’t therefore contradicting themselves on benefits and the role of people on benefits. The whole thing is wrong they claim Remploy is ghettoising the disabled many who work there do not feel this and take great pride in their hard work producing things that people need. Disabled people in my experience work hard in whatever job they are in its not the case that they feel isolated from society by working at Remploy if anything they feel more part of society for being able to contribute and add something to the economy and put something back into society. So I for one see the governments approach to Remploy and disabled workers in general is hugely flawed and to me I’ve drawn the conclusion the ruling class see the disabled as a easy target to get their deficit down which they caused by the greedy bankers loosing big time in 2008. Disabled people much like other workers in society should not pay the price for something they did not create. I urge you all to support Remploy workers as they move to other forms of protest sit in protests further strikes and occupations. They need our support they wont get it from the government or the labour party who started the ball rolling on attacks on the disabled its time to fight back and stick together. Join a union and fight back wherever you can. Disabled or not we are all under attack as the 99%.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Poland, class struggle erupts, time for trades unions to step up struggle

Below i republish a article posted to the CWI website www.socialistworld.net about recent happenings in Poland and how being in the Euro has affected the nation in terms of neo liberlaism Combative trade union action needed to prevent a disaster Kacper Pluta, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI Poland) On 1 June the Polish president signed a law increased the retirement age to 67 years for both men and women. This “reform”, which lifts the retirement age from its previous age of 65 for men and 60 for women, is an initiative of Prime Minister Donald Tusk of the neoliberal Civic Platform (PO). From the beginning it met with no social support - in the polls 80% of the population was against the “reform”, which sentences them to longer drudgery. Raising the retirement age will be particularly painful for workers performing the toughest and worst-paid jobs. Already, according to a European Commission report, 40% of Polish men die before retirement (life expectancy is 71 years for men and 78 for women). The vicious nature of this law also applies to women, who would work seven years longer (and in some sectors, such as the railway, 12 years longer than in 2009). The restoration of capitalism placed the additional burden on women of unpaid domestic labour due to deficiencies in the care infrastructure - now this burden will increase further. This attack on the gains of workers occurs at a time when a growing number of workers are experiencing deteriorating working conditions and an increase in the number of “trash” contracts. The government proposed workers a “compromise” under which they will be able to retire at 62 (for women) or 65 (for men) - but the pension will be 50% of the current pension and will never reach the full value! This is when the average Polish pension is about 300 euro and the lowest pensions are about 190 euro per month. The excuse given for this brutal attack on pension rights is the “demographic strategy” and a lack of resources in the social insurance system. In fact, capitalist governments are not doing anything to reduce structural unemployment, due to which about two million unemployed continually fail to pay social insurance contributions. But caring about demography is simply a propaganda fairy tale. The real reason behind the neo-liberal attacks on pensions in Poland and other countries is the naked logic of satisfying “the markets” and their continued efforts to socialize the losses caused by the crisis of capitalism and the increasing competition among workers. In response to the draft pension reform, the Solidarity union leader Piotr Duda began a campaign in March against raising the retirement age. Duda, president of Solidarity since 2010, won his position thanks to his militancy during his leadership of the Silesia region and a promise to end the union’s political clientelism (trading the union’s political support for certain concessions); from now on Solidarity’s success was to be based on increasing its own power at the negotiating table. Within a few weeks Solidarity collected two million signatures demanding a referendum, in which the question would be “Are you in favor of raising the retirement age?” On 30 March the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament) voted on the proposal for a referendum, while several thousand members of Solidarity protested outside parliament. The proposal referendum was rejected by the votes of the coalition government (the neo-liberal PO and the Polish People’s Party [PSL] - the party of professional opportunists, who have sat in four governments since 1989). During the discussion the Prime Minister called the President of Solidarity, Piotr Duda, a little squirt. A new party, the Palikot Movement (RP), also voted against the referendum. RP is the result of the split created by Janusz Palikot a former MP of Civic Platform (PO), who is a businessman and supporter of the free market. In opposition to the right-wing conservatism in PO, Palikot began to group around him popular figures of the left (such as well-known LGBT activists and feminists) under the slogan of anti-clericalism and deregulation of the economy. After his Palikot’s election success in autumn 2011, RP began to preach an amalgam of slogans, drawing on the one hand individuals from the radical left, and on the other hand politicians from the now liberal but formerly Stalinist party, Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) as well as a well-known rich MP from PO, an “expert” on economic deregulation. Despite the anti-war and pro-social slogans, and even slogans demanding state-built factories and the abolition of unemployment, the first serious test of the class struggle has shown the true nature of RP. Members of RP voted against the referendum and voted to raise the retirement age – only 3 of the 43 MPs objected to the government. In public debates, Palikot has joined the ranks of the anti-union propagandists. In opposition to the government’s plans were the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the formally social-democratic Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). The leaders of these parties took part in the pretense of trade union protests. However, in reality when in power in 2005-2007 the PiS government reduced taxes for the wealthiest, and the finance minister was a declared supporter of neo-liberalism. Law and Justice also defends the parasitic open pension funds, which are a form of involuntary tribute to finance capital paid by each employee. The leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, became famous for wasting the record level of support for the SLD government between 2001-2004 by pursuing neo-liberal policies of privatization and imperialist foreign policy in Iraq. In fact, the economic plans which the SLD government had on its agenda but failed to introduce included raising the retirement age. The trade union leaders, Duda of Solidarity and Guz from OPZZ, verbally objected to raising the retirement age and promised to “fight until the law is abolished” and even talked about a general strike. In reality, however, there was no plan of how to lead a struggle that could stop the government. There were a series of protests: women from OPZZ and FZZ (one of the three largest federations) working in schools, hospitals and supermarkets organized a 500-strong protest on March 22. This was followed by a protest of Solidarity on 30 March which was attended by several thousand workers and smaller delegations from other federations. During the first week of May hundreds of Solidarity activists picketed in shifts outside the Prime Minister’s Office, setting up their own “tent city”. The culmination of this protest was May 11, the day that the lower house of Parliament voted on the bill to raise the retirement age. The symbolic gesture of refusing to admit the union representatives into the parliament building (when the public have a right to stay in the public gallery in the voting hall) sparked anger among the protesting workers outside. When MPs were voting to raise the retirement age, the workers outside formed a human chain (also using metal chains) to “arrest” the deputies in the parliament building. Pickets organised by miners and shipyard workers blocked the gates, preventing MPs from leaving the building for a few hours while police, who are angry because their pension rights are also under attack, stood by and did nothing. This led to desperate and unsuccessful attempts at storming the pickets by members of Civic Platform and Palikot Movement (such pathetic actions by the MPs indicated their lack of contact with reality). At the end of the protest the anti-union campaign in the media intensified – even figures from the “left” accused workers of terrorizing, imprisoning and beating MPs. Former President Lech Walesa said that force should be applied against the workers. There was a multitude of calls from supposedly democratic politicians and publicists demanding police repression and restrictions on the right to protest as well as hurling vulgar insults at the union. There then followed a number of local union pickets (e.g. in Katowice and Lublin) and OPZZ and Solidarity protests outside the presidential palace. When the President signed the bill, there were just a few hundred miners, steelworkers and builders protesting. The union leadership failed to prepare a plan that could lead the struggle to victory. If anyone had doubts about the intentions of the government, they should have disappeared on 30 March. Then it became absolutely clear that “dialogue” with the government is fiction and that it did not intend to abandon its plans. Although the Solidarity leaders vowed to fight to the end, they did not take any concrete steps. After 30 March the leadership simply waited almost two weeks before convening. Despite the seriousness of the problem for 15 million workers directly and favourable support from the public (according to opinion polls confidence in Solidarity had increased, with 40% evaluating the union positively, the highest result in 13 years), there was no major mobilization or preparations for a general strike. The largest demonstration consisted of several thousand, while on the demonstration in 2008 against the abolition of special pension rights of employees working under special conditions (about one million workers) there were 30,000-50,000 protesters. The union leaders wasted a whole series of opportunities to call for a general strike (the vote in the Sejm, the Senate, the signing of the act by the President). The lack of effective campaigning by the unions could bring disastrous consequences for the labour movement. The defeat in the battle for retirement rights could lead to a further disintegration and demoralization of workers’ organizations in Poland. Socialist Alternative, CWI Poland, proclaimed the need for a resolute struggle of the labour movement with the announcement of a date for a 24-hour general strike. The main page of our newspaper was devoted to pensions and the general strike for the last two issues, of which about 200 copies were sold during various protests against the pension “reform”. We argued that the general strike is a powerful unused weapon of the working class. Only by using this weapon could the broad sections of youth and non-unionised workers be drawn into the struggle and the government be stopped. Although the union leaders say the struggle continues, every day workers’ faith in victory falters and the need to immediately call a 24-hour general strike is greater than ever. Our demand was often taken up with enthusiasm, but the union leadership does not have the will to work towards its implementation. It is therefore necessary to create rank-and-file networks as an alternative to the union bureaucracy, which would be capable of placing pressure on the leaders and mobilizing independently of their will. Pension reform is a test that the unions are failing so far. Encouraged by their success, the ruling class will make further attacks in the autumn: on pensions for miners and farmers (who operate in different social security systems) and further attacks on education and health care. In the great struggles that the working class is facing, combative organizations of the workers are necessary, with a militant plan of action and a socialist programme to fight the false solutions of capitalism and nationalism.

13 trillion in tax evaded each year by super rich, time for socialist change ?

Below i re publish a excellent article bpunblished on the CWI website www.socialistworld.net £13 trillion hidden from tax by super-richwww.socialistworld.net, 04/08/2012 website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI Take the wealth off the 1%! Naomi Byron, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales), first published in the Socialist A sum of money the size of the US and Japanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) together is being held in offshore tax havens. This enormous hoard could immediately pay off most of the deficits and debt that are being used to justify austerity, and create millions of jobs. Instead it sits in places like the Cayman Islands, making the tax dodgers that put it there even richer. The report by James Henry for the Tax Justice Network, shows that between £13 trillion and £20 trillion has been looted from national economies so that the super-rich can avoid paying tax. It’s no exaggeration to say that we are ruled by the very people that are dodging tax. In Britain ’Lord’ Ashcroft, who was treasurer of the Tory party for years and has donated more than £10 million to its coffers, has most of his wealth offshore so he won’t pay UK tax. The fortune David Cameron inherited comes partly from his father’s use of tax havens. One rule for us... Trust me, I’m a banker - Youth Fight for Jobs Austerity Games, July 2012, photo Paul Mattsson Far from too much money being spent on public services, it is the banksters, speculators, profiteers and tax dodgers who are the cause of the massive debt burden being used to enforce austerity on the 99%. But when Barclays and Bob Diamond are caught fiddling millions, or HSBC seems to be using their massive finances to help gun-running, money laundering and terrorism, they hardly receive a rap over the knuckles. Henry points out that with the sums looted from sub-Saharan Africa, many of the countries there could have paid off their debts entirely. However in this respect the report misses the point - most "highly indebted poor countries" have already paid off their "debts" many times over. But because of the economic power of imperialism and the legalised robbery of the finance industry, the interest alone has now ballooned to sums that would make a loan shark proud. Not a penny more should go to pay for these fake debts. We have always been told that capitalism may be unfair, but it is the best system available because it creates jobs and wealth. This report exposes the big lie that private profits will be ploughed into creating more wealth. The money sitting in tax havens dwarfs even figures like the £750 billion currently sitting un-invested in the banks of big business in the UK. Capitalism is not only creating misery for billions, it is a bankrupt system, incapable of maintaining current living standards let alone taking society forwards. As long as the banking and finance industries remain under the control of the looters, we have no chance of even enforcing the existing puny laws on the super-rich. Public ownership The banks must be taken into public ownership, and run under democratic workers’ control, in the interests of the 99%. Free personal banking, with cheap loans for small businesses and cheap mortgages. The banking system, like health and education, should be run in the benefits of society as a whole, not a minority of super-rich speculators.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Days lost to strike action up, times are a changing

I’ve noticed it as I’m involved in following workers disputes and supporting workers in struggles but for others out there it may not be obvious but there has been an upsurge in industrial action in the last few years. This doesntsurprise me at all but it may surprise some who are not aware of what’s going on out there. Ever since the global financial crash in 2008 and governments across the world bailed out the banks to the tune of billions possibly entering the trillions globally ever since the debts have been transferred to sovereign debt and we the working and middle class’s are being made to pay for a crisis we did not create. Understandably many workers are not taking this lying down and strikes mainly in the public sector as that has been where the attacks are concentrated most have shot up but now we are seeing a rise in private sector disputes as private sector companies see a chance to drive down wages in the private sector even further still. Official figures show that nearly 1.4million working days were lost to strikes in the first eleven months of 2011, a four-fold increase on 2010’s tally. Nine out of 10 days lost to strikes last year were because of unrest in the public sector. Official figures show that the number of working days lost to strikes in the first eleven months of 2011 was 1,373,200, up from 365,000 in 2010. The days lost to strikes are now at their highest since 1990 when 1.9million working days were lost to strikes. Most of the strike days – 93 per cent - were lost in the public sector unsurprisingly. In this year 2012 not a day goes by without a new dispute opening up and a ballot being held in that area of work be that on pay, victimisation of a union rep which has shot up I might add, conditions, pensions, privatisation and much much more in between. This post may seem a bit like stating the obvious but sometimes that obvious point is not even made the likes of the BBC and Sky are reluctant to publish such reports due to the affect it could have on the wider society its no coincidence bourgeois media sources have been reluctant and have been successful in blacking out any news of industrial unrest in Spain with the recent Northern Spannish Miners strikes and battles with police. If this sort of news story got across Europe the ruling class know all too well it’d light a spark in workers minds who are struggling by themselves. Europe is a tinder box with a tiny spark is all that is needed to set the whole thing up in flames. With Spannish bond yields creeping over 7% regularly now it is only a matter of time before Spain requires another bailout a possible full scale bailout this time. With Spain being the 4th biggest economy in Europe this could be huge if Spain defaults on its debts which is entirely possible still going into the autumn and the later part of 2012. This is not bearing in mind the ever likely exit of the Euro by Greece which is becoming more and more likely and inevitable as time creeps by. But the main point of this post is that if the ruling class think they can impose endless austerity on big nations like Spain and Italy which I see being crucial in this coming rough period they have another thing coming. Industrial disputes which are up anyway will shoot up from now on with workers welland truly taking to the stage. The European Working class has been stirred it will now react in the only way it knows and that is in class struggle. Fighting to defend all the gains it has made including various welfare states, wage increases, pensions and a better life under capitlism in the better years which for many was still not great is all under threat now and everything is up for grabs. Many workers know if they don’t fight now they stand no chance of defending their gains the only chance they have of stopping the onslaught is to fight and fight they will. I have faith in workers across the globe. Where workers enter struggle we support them as they are our class and the global workers movement supports and stands in solidarity with you as you will support us when we move into struggle. Workers of the world unite. A better socialist world is possible !