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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Learning the lessons from the socialist alliance

Just last week we had a excellent discussion at eastern region regional committee on the socialist alliance and the lessons we need to reinforce today in light of what developed at the last TUSC conference. I was not about during the days of the SA but those who were have clearly not learnt from the lessons of history still. The Socialist alliance was set up in the mid 90’s as a reaction to a growing feeling that the left needed to unite. We at the time were swept along by this and the old phrase aimed at socialists all the time is why you don’t all just get together. It’s not as simple as that and I’ll try to explain why here. In the socialist alliance which at first was made up of socialist party members and a few other independents on the left looked to contest elections on a federal structure initially. Until 1998 this was fine but when the SWP got involved seriously for the first time things changed. While I respect many in the SWP their general manner and approach to working with others on the left is a lot different to ours unfortunately. The SWP felt that a situation that we need demands a party and put forward calls for the SA to move to a more party based structure featuring a one member one vote set up. This was forced through eventually and this enabled the SWP along with a few other groups on the left involved at that stage including socialist resistance to pack the meetings and get their agenda through in affect putting them in control of the organisation. While one member one vote sounds democratic it really isn’t and we should not be afraid to stand up and say this. This move was the start of the end for the SA as it enabled factions in the SA with larger numbers to dominate. With TUSC we are still at an early stage with a federal structure with an elected steering committee with all having a vote and a veto. We do not feel at this stage moving towards a membership system will solve all our problems. For a start is it really fair giving a small left group with about 80 member’s equal weight in terms of voting as a trade union like the RMT who represent 80 thousand odd members and were democratically elected by their NEC to represent their members at the TUSC conference? At this stage we need to be taking the argument into the trade unions and setting up TUSC supporters groups inside the unions to get the name out there this coupled with standing TUSC candidates as widely as we possibly can next may in the county council elections will start to draw more workers in our direction. I don’t accept the argument that getting poor results at this stage is a sign we have failed. We will get some better results and some not so good. As we know as Marxists things do not progress in a straight line and there will be set backs but also times we can make big steps forward. The significance of the RMT fully supporting TUSC now financially and politically is key. But we must look to get more trade union support individual members and official structures involved. TUSC is not the final product it’s a working progress. But one we must be careful with and look to build where we can. If we look back in history the early labour party was a set up of federal partners from the co op to the trade unions Fabians society etc they didn’t go to a full membership system for a long time not until 1918 Individuals had to join via one of the affiliated organisations - yet are people really saying it wasn't a 'party'? On electoral activity, in fact, the early Labour Party had the approach that the affiliated organisations were to be "left free to select their own candidates without hindrance, the one condition being that, when returned to parliament, the candidate should agree to form one of the Labour Group there". We want to participate in an alliance of equals, with the right to conduct our own activity with our own ideas and methods, while working in common where we can. We believe that the new forces that will emerge to fill the vacuum created by the crisis of working class political representation - community campaigners, trade unionists fighting austerity and privatisation etc - will also wish to preserve their autonomy, while working with others. But that means we need an Alliance, with a federal constitution, and not a structure that allows the domination of any one organisation. While the SA was a step forward in one sense it also tech’s us some important lessons that simply uniting the left will not do it may make some of the smaller left groups feel warmer being in a bigger organisation but does it really help us advance the need for political representation for working people towards a new mass workers party anymore? I don’t think it does. While the trade unions are not perfect their members are rank-and-file working class people who we need to be attracting in this coming period not worrying about membership cards or whether we have a vote or not.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Working class struggle returns to Greece

This fantastic article below posted on the CWI website gives a excellent account of the current state of Greece and how a socialist programme could be fought for and could transform the situation there.you can find out more at www.socialistworld.net "One of the biggest strikes and demonstrations in the recent period in Greece took place on Wednesday 26 September." Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI Greece) The Greek working class has put up an incredible struggle against the vicious austerity measures raining down on them. Since 2010 Greece has been rocked by 17 general strikes, three of them lasting 48 hours. A prime minister has been removed and a government brought down. After some quiet months a one-day strike was called for 26 September. The following day Andros Payiatsos, leader of Xekinima spoke to the Socialist (Paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales). Xekinima is the Greek section of the Committee for a Workers’ International. After a quiet summer is the Greek struggle back on the agenda? One of the biggest strikes and demonstrations in the recent period in Greece took place on Wednesday 26 September. There have been small sectional strikes all along but nothing on this scale in the recent months. We estimate about 100,000 in the streets of Athens, which is big, and many tens of thousands in other cities in the rest of Greece. The mood was good on the demo. It was quite determined and rather optimistic – this is in contrast to the mood in the previous period. After the victory of New Democracy in June and the formation of the new government a lull developed because there was a feeling of ‘we can’t get rid of them’ following the elections. But this lull was partially overcome by the size of the demo. Also the Greek people are watching with intense interest what is taking place in Spain and Portugal. This has given them hope. The Guardian newspaper reflected some of the anger: Echoing a view held by many Greeks, Penelope Angelou, an unemployed mother, said passing the measures would be tantamount to a "parliamentary coup". “These parties were given our vote back in June because they promised to re-negotiate the terms of the loan agreement," she said, referring to the onerous conditions of the bailout accord Athens signed with its "troika" of creditors — the EU, ECB and IMF – earlier this year. "We are all tired," she said. "This is the third year of non-stop cuts and tax increases which have made us poor and divided us as a society. And they have not solved our problem. The recession is going from bad to worse.” Given the situation people must have little confidence in the government? New Democracy is in deep crisis and its supporters are deserting the ship. Samaras was elected on the basis of forcing the Troika to renegotiate the memorandum but in fact he’s heading in the other direction. Is the effect of austerity on people’s lives a factor? It’s a desperate situation for the masses because the situation already is extremely bad. According to the EU statistics of July 68% of the population lives below the poverty line – this is a staggering figure. But it’s realistic – we know because we live here. It’s the first time they are giving the figures that reflect the effect of their policies. Unemployment is now officially at 23.6%. This official figure, of course, hides all those who have just given up looking for a job. And youth unemployment is an unbelievable 55%. So this is an absolute catastrophe for Greek society. Then, in these conditions, they try to impose further cuts of €11.5 billion in the course of two years – this is more than 5% of the GDP of the economy. Unsurprisingly there is a mass exodus into migration and into the countryside; back to the villages where people can survive by living with their families and maybe cultivating a bit of a living from the land. All the youth are thinking of leaving the country. It’s a mass phenomenon – there are no youth, particularly university students who can see any point in staying in the country – although they want to stay in the country. Even left activists who want to stay and fight – they have no options as this is not just poverty – this is absolute emiseration. Can you comment on reports that the opposition movement has reached the police and army? For the whole of September we have seen protest action by state forces. Sections of the police have gone on strike including protesting against the riot police. Yesterday there was a press statement by the firefighters who said we refuse to be used by the state to suppress demonstrations. This is a he crisis in society and in the economy and it is even reflected in the security forces and we have seen demonstrations by army officers. What way forward does Xekinima suggest? We call for a clear plan of a programme of repeated sectional and general strikes and mass occupations of workplaces with the concrete aim of bringing down the government. This is the slogan we have used for the past weeks and especially yesterday. It is going down very well. You can hear it everywhere. We especially appeal to the public utility unions which are at the centre of the storm. The initial response of the Greek people to the call for a 24-hour general strike was, ‘this is nothing, this is ridiculous’, ‘we can’t bring the government down with one 24-hour general strike and they won’t come down even with one 48-hour general strike’. ‘We need something much much more than that’. So there is a mass tendency in the direction of an all-out strike. If the union leaders were to call it they would get a huge response – but they won’t. They just want to let off steam. You can also say now that nearly the whole of the left – excluding the majority in the leadership of Syriza – accepts the programme (which we initially posed from the beginning of 2010 when the debt crisis came to the fore) that the debt cannot be paid, that the banks have to be nationalised, that the commanding heights of the economy have to be nationalised, and it has to be put under democratic control of society. It’s also accepted by millions of people whether they take part in the demonstrations and strikes or not. The question now is how to build a movement on the ground to bring the government down and to replace it with a left government which will be pushed by the mass movement to implement this programme. We also explain the need for the whole of the Southern Europe to be united in huge and unbeatable/invincible struggles. Golden Dawn has been rising in the polls. What does this signify? Golden Dawn did not take part in yesterday’s demo - they never take part in workers’ demos, only some of them on the side of the riot police. But that does not mean they are not a factor, they are the only force in society which is rising in the polls. Apart from Golden Dawn, all the parties are falling in the polls. While in some polls Syriza is now the most popular party because New Democracy has fallen more, the fact that the left is also falling in the polls is something which should warn the parties of the left. But at the same time it’s correct to say that Golden Dawn itself may have gone through its, let’s say, golden period. They’ve been using violence since 6 May elections every day – attacking migrants, attacking lefts, attacking LGBT people, etc. This has been creating an impression that they are a very determined force which contributes to why people go behind their banner and support them in the polls. But it’s starting to consolidate a resistance. For the first time we have had a number of counter demos that have pushed them back which is very important. This is the first time they are starting to feel defeat. On one occasion we had migrants mobilising against them and pushing them back when they tried to attack them. This is very important, but needs to be linked to a wider movement. Xekinima’s national initiative to build mass anti-fascist local committees and campaigns is very successful with some fantastic effects. We think that the movement is beginning to respond. We hope that we’ll be able to push them in a corner but at the end of the day the perspectives for GD and the far right mainly depends on the role of the parties of the left. We are fighting to push these parties in a more leftward and determined direction, while at the same time striving to build support for Xekinima and the ideas of revolutionary socialism – this is the only way the crisis can be solved. Greece – the unfolding social tragedy The savage austerity policies, implemented in Greece by the ruling class, the government and the Troika of the EU, ECB and IMF have already had disastrous effects on the lives of millions. Living standards have crashed as a result of mass unemployment, the onslaught on wages, and tax rises in combination with the huge cuts in social welfare and the complete destruction of social benefits and the social state. With no exaggeration the Athens Doctors Association wrote to the government of the danger of a humanitarian crisis taking place in the country if the ‘new’ austerity measures of €11.5 billion are implemented. Nikos Kanellis, Xekinima, CWI in Greece, writes of the impact of austerity on the lives of those who bear no responsibility for the crisis. Public health collapses The public health system is being destroyed day by day. Public hospitals are often short of the necessary materials for proper and safe treatment of patients. There is a shortage of nurses and doctors and tens of clinics in different hospitals are closed because of the cuts. It was reported that patients at the Leros mental health hospital were malnourished because public funding fell short of covering the food needs of the hospital. This is not the only such case. Pharmacists refuse to give any more medicine on credit as the government refuses to provide the necessary funding to pay back old debts. Pharmacists say they cannot buy new medicine from big medicine dealers whose policy is upfront cash. Those who suffer from serious and permanent conditions and diseases (such as diabetes, heart conditions, or cancer) need hundreds of euros every month in order to stay alive. The Athens Doctors Association reported that numerous people who have no health insurance visit the Social Clinic of Athens (organised by the Association and the church) for free medical treatment. There are cases of people who were diagnosed with cancer but could not afford to be immediately operated on. They even reported pregnant women who put their life and their child’s life in danger because they could not spend the €800 that are needed for a cesarean. Mass unemployment and poverty At the same time poverty is expanding day by day on a mass scale. Millions live close or under the poverty line. According to an EU survey last July, a staggering 68% live below the poverty line – compared to 21% back in 2009! According to recent research by the GSEE (Greek TUC) the real income of working class people has returned to the level of the late 1970s. This is not only the result of mass unemployment, which has now officially reached 23. 6%, or 1,168,761 people with 1,000 people losing their job every day. Young people and mainly women are the more affected as youth unemployment is 53.9% (for people between 15 and 24) and 62.1% for women at the same age. Given the fact that 59% of unemployed search for a job for more than a year (long-term unemployment) it is no exaggeration to speak of a ‘lost generation’. Young people, the most dynamic part of society, are out of production and this pushes greater and greater numbers to take to the road of migration. 25,000 Greeks migrated to Germany alone during 2011 and this tendency will develop as the social disaster spreads. Workers in vice-grip of poverty Poverty does only have to do with unemployment. More and more workers are unable to make ends meet as their wages are slashed. The minimum wage is now around €480 a month (since the second memorandum, voted on 12 February) and for those under 25 and on ‘training schemes’ 430 € a month. It is also officially estimated that around 400,000 people work but they are not being paid on time and in many cases this would mean getting paid with a delay even of three or four months or nine months. According to the GSEE only 10% of the workforce in the private sector are being paid on time. Now the Troika and Greek ruling class demand that workers in Greece work six days a week and up to 13 hours a day. This means that working hours per week will rise from 40 to 78 and at the same time as workers will be less protected from being fired. If these plans are put into practice, on top of all the attacks of the last two years, the working class will be turned into slaves. These attacks have left tens of thousands of people homeless and around 250,000 rely on soup kitchens organised by the church and the charities. In Crete, one of the wealthiest areas of Greece, it is estimated that 8,500 families are dependent on ‘social supermarkets’ in order to cover their everyday food and other basic needs. ‘Social markets’ organised by local councils, charity organisations or left-wing volunteers, distribute food and basic goods for free to the poorest people. Suicides and depression The fear of unemployment and poverty, the debts that are accumulated by thousands of families, the uncertainty of what is more to come in the future are the bases of mass depression among big layers of society. The numbers who ask for psychological help have risen by 20-30% and suicide attempts have risen by 22% over the last two years. The whole society was shocked in late May when a 60 year old unemployed musician committed suicide together with his 90 year old mother, jumping from the roof of the block of flats where they lived. In the letter that was found, the man explained that because of unemployment he was not able to continue to take care of his mother who suffered from Alzheimers and he could no longer stand asking for charity and food from others. In his last poem he condemned the bankers and the rulers for the drama of Greek society urging society to seek revenge and to throw off those in power responsible for this situation. The hope of struggle And actually this is the only way forward, the struggle for the overthrow of the government and the ruling class that turns the lives of millions into a tragedy. Over the past two years millions have come to the streets again and again in 17 general strikes, three for 48 hours, and numerous mass protests. There have also been heroic sectional strikes, demonstrations and occupations. Leftward radicalisation and hope for change was expressed in the elections of May and June with the mass support and vote for Syriza. But until now the working class and mass movement hasn’t succeeded in the struggle to bring down the government, Troika and the rule of the capitalist class. This is in large part due to a lack of a mass socialist and revolutionary party. The building of these forces is the task of all genuine socialists and working class militants.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Rape is no joke join the campaign

As socialists we oppose all forms of discrimination be it racial, sexual, disability, gender religious or any but something which has made big waves of late is the subject of rape. Now with such high profile case’s as Julian Assange in the media and other figures like George Galloway making such foolish disrespectful comments on rape it is time to take rape seriously and campaign against it and how it is portrayed in society to highlight the affect it has on women and society as a whole. Socialist students have set up a campaign “rape is no joke” in response to many comedians on the comedy circuit using rape as a butt of jokes. We feel this is offensive and should be fought. With comedians these days there is a tendency to normalise jokes about rape. We feel rape is no joke and should not be made light of. Often portrayed as 'ironic' their sexist jokes can actually normalise sexism, making cat-calling, sexual harassment of women and similar jokes somehow acceptable. It can also further perpetuate the bullying of women who call out people making inappropriate jokes as 'prudes' and lacking a sense of humour. How can a woman feel safe walking home at night if she fears that the men she passes laugh about raping women? Socialist Party leaflet: Socialist Party thinks: leaflet This is why I support Socialist Students' new campaign, 'Rape is no joke'. For the 80,000 women raped every year, rape jokes undermine their horrible experiences. Such 'humour' plays a role in the very high number of women who do not report being raped to the police. But women shouldn't have to stand alone against this. We need to stand together against sexism in comedy with comedians who want to sort out the industry as well as students and young people who want to stop rape jokes. Socialist Students is calling on comedians and venues to sign pledges that say: "I agree with the aims of Rape Is No Joke to change the culture of acceptance of rape jokes in the comedy circuit. These jokes add to a wider culture that too often doesn't take rape or rape victims seriously. It is important to make a stand to say that rape is nothing to be laughed at. I pledge to only host comedians who/ agree not to use rape jokes in performances." Sexism But sexism, unfortunately, goes much further than rape jokes. There's no denying things have come a long way for women in Britain over the last century - winning the right to vote, access to abortion, contraception and - in the eyes of the law at least - equal pay. But vicious austerity puts many of these steps forward at risk. 'Rape is no joke' is part of a wider campaign against sexism and misogyny in society. Fear of sexual violence affects women everyday - and can mean women feel scared to walk home alone at night or change their style of dress, their transport routes or their lifestyle through fear of sexual assault. Socialist Women have marched on Slutwalk 2012 to fight for rape to be dealt with as the serious subject it is. We want decent support services and resources. We also want a change in attitude. We face the fight of our lives - to defend the rights and the welfare state that working class women and men built and fought for. Over the years, when women have moved into action on workplace and education issues they start to recognise and challenge discrimination which affects them as women as well as as workers and students. Today women are at the forefront of the battles over public sector pensions and jobs, as well as against the cuts in education. Collective action, such as a 24-hour general strike will also help to undermine sexist attitudes. You can also follow news and campaigns updates on twitter @NoRapeJokes with extracts taken from socialist party leaflets and Helen Patison's excellent piece on www.socialistparty.org.uk

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Solidarity with workers in Europe fighting austerity

As we head out of a relatively quiet summer on the struggles of workers in the main we now enter a hot autumn of struggle this has started in Ernest in Spain tonight as a protest movement has clashed with riot police in Madrid. This blog express’s its solidarity with these protesters and opposes police brutality. Spanish police have fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters attending a rally against austerity. The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament in Madrid. Spanish media reported that at least 20 people had been arrested and more than a dozen injured. The "Occupy Congress" protest comes as the government prepares to unveil further austerity measures on Thursday in a bid to shrink its budget deficit. Spain is in its second recession in three years and unemployment is near 25%, with youth unemployment far higher. The government will unveil the draft budget for 2013 on Thursday and is expected to present new cost-saving reforms to reassure lenders about the state of the country's public finances. Emergency funds The demonstrators - known as Indignants - say "Occupy Congress" is a protest against the kidnapping of democracy. Thousands of people had massed in Plaza de Neptuno square in central Madrid for the march on parliament. But their route towards the parliament building's main entrance was blocked off by metal railings, police vans and hundreds of Spanish riot police. One of the main protest groups, Coordinadora #25S, said the Indignants only planned to march around parliament Mark Smith, who lives near the site of the protest, said: "I saw riot police with their batons charging at protesters trying to split up the crowd." Tuesday's demonstration was organised via social media sites and many young people turned out, says the BBC's Tom Burridge in Madrid - but the protest's public profile meant the police were ready for them. Spain’s at a position now where a quarter of the population are unemployed and many are now struggling to feed themselves. I read earlier this week that 8000 people a day in Greece go to food banks to get fed. This is modern day Europe everyone. Austerity is biting hard but workers are fighting back. In Greece tomorrow there is another nationwide 24 hour general strike things are starting to hot up. Its essential we show solidarity with our European brothers and sisters from South Africa, Spain to Greece the best thing we can do is demand our TUC name the day for a 24 hour general strike in Britain too. Fight fire with fire. With extracts from the BBC.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

How I saw the TUSC conference this weekend

I attended the TUSC conference yesterday in London at berkbank university campus and the day was a very busy and full of debate from various shades on the left. Many who turned up were socialist party members showing our continuous support for TUSC sadly there wasn’t many SWP or other left groups a fair few independents though and that was good to see. What was probably the most significant delegation to the conference and this I feel was quite historic was the RMT union sent an official delegation from their NEC to visit the conference and report back what they heard. In many ways this single fact made this conference worth while. To have a big union of around 80 thousand members now officially backing and playing an active role within TUSC and having fully broken away from the labour party is huge. But what the RMT delegation made clear they will not hang around for forever and a day they demand more unions get involved in TUSC and put their weight behind a campaign for a new workers party which at this early stage TUSC can play a big part in. There is a on going discussion needed how to involve more unions in TUSC and how we can go about attracting them to our banner with more on the left now feeling totally fed up with Labour and their Tory light policies. Comrade after comrade stood up and made the point of labour being a dead vehicle for working people now with Ed ball’s speech at the TUC the other week confirming this. Significantly even Len Mckluskey general secretary of Unite Britins biggest trade union has said now we can’t wait forever for labour to come up wit pro working class policies and those they will judge labours next manifesto if it’s worth continuing to support them. Personally Len makes statements like this a lot and I have no reason to believe he is likely to break the labour link anytime soon. Even still it is significant he has to come out and say this due to the pressure from his members with their anger about labour. The conference was well attended with over 100 comrades in the room this was a big jump on the last few times we have been meeting and shows with the growing anger comes growing calls for action. We know now labour will not reverse any of the Tories cuts and would be cutting if in power too they would cut your jobs and services next week while the Tories cut it this week. So TUSC while fragile at this stage represents a coalition of forces on the left and in unions who recognise the need to from a political voice for the 99% and that fighting with one hand behind our back is not good enough for the size of the battles coming ahead. Much of what was discussed yesterday was non controversial but several comrades from smaller parties such as Socialist resistance no I’ve never heard of them either are making calls for TUSC to move towards a individual membership system with a one member one vote system. While this may sound democratic it actually isn’t as for example with the Socialist Alliance previously one group could block vote a situation and votes themselves as the leaders and you can’t do anything about it. I think its crucial TUSC keeps its federal coalition consensus approach for now. While we recognise the need one day to move to a more party based structure at this stage there is nothing which holds us back in operating as a force on the ground. TUSC branch’s have been set up in various places and there must be found room for them on the steering committee at some point but as for membership at this time I think TUSC is far too fragile and new for that. The need to gain far more trade union support and involvement is key before we even consider such other moves. TUSC has to be there on every protest every single issue campaign a big presence on October the 20th is key too and popularising the name and the brand is key making the point every time we are against all cuts unlike all the other parties out there. Even the greens cannot claim that one anymore since they made big cuts in Brighton. We have a unique opportunity to build TUSC in this next period with country council elections coming up we need to stand as widely as we possibly can. I’ve even put my name forward to be considered to be a candidate in my area to help. So any local issues people know of now do start to let me know. For the BBC to even mention us we need to stand a minimum of 380 odd candidates next year. I feel this is achievable but will be hard going. We must be putting out the call now to any trade unionist, anti cuts activist, community worker, unemployed worker, students and those we come across in the future months to stand for TUSC. TUSC is great as you are not locked in to a set programme we have basic demands which a programme you must agree to first but beyond that your campaign is your own to build and develop how you wish. We will be standing candidates in forthcoming by-elections in Manchester Central Bristol Mayoral election and still considering a candidate for Corby. These elections will give us an excellent chance to expose the pro cuts and pro austerity parties and build our base going into 2013. The chance we have is very eral failure to build a alternative now, a socialist alternative leaves the door open to the far right and the rise of UKIP is a warning to us all on the left there is much we can learn from the rise of UKIP but most of all we must lay down a marker now lay the base for future struggles and battles. TUSC as we heard yesterday is about now and is here to stay. It’s our chance to build it and shape it into that mass workers party if indeed workers wish to take it in that direction. We can’t rule out anything in this coming period but havingTUSC now we can at least provide hope and an alternative for the first time in many years.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Looking head to TUSC conference this sat, building the political alternative

This Saturday trade unionists and socialists who are involved with building TUSC will gather in London to discuss the way forward and where we go from here. TUSC since its inception has had a modest impact with good results and some not so good. For those of us on the left who have drawn the correct conclusion in my view that we do need a political alternative to the 3 capitalist parties in the Tories, lib dems and new labour we do urgently need a new workers party to give ordinary working class people a voice. I’m a member of the socialist party and we have been a big supporter of TUSC since it was set up prior to the 2010 general election. We aim to continue on building on the good work we have done so far. TUSC is better known now but has still not as yet made that breakthrough but we feel confident in time it will do as voters and people who never vote are turned off moor and more by politics today they will be looking for something different. We understand initially many people will be sceptical of us and that is perfectly understandable as why would you think we are any different. But it’s in our actions that we will differ from your average careerist politician. I think it is key we lay down the marker now for a new workers party even if at the moment our votes are not massive its laying the ground work for future struggles to come and by us standing it sets us apart from the others and as more and more strikes, demonstrations and anger appears in society as the 80% of cuts still left to be made are pushed through at the expense of working-class people we will have been there to say there is an alternative. So if you like myself feel like you want to get involved and change how things are in society why not join us this s Saturday in London at ULU for the TUSC conference to discuss the political alternative for the 99%. TUSC conference 2012 Saturday 22nd September 2012, 11am-5pm, Room B34, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E All welcome. Registration on the door £5 waged/£2 unwaged, with a pooled fare for waged attendees capped at £10 (i.e., if your travel costs are less than £10 you will be asked to pay the difference into the pooled fare). Agenda 11am to 1-15pm: TUSC ‘open forum’ - Building working class political representation against the austerity consensus An opening session to discuss how working class political representation could develop in the age of austerity, including the position in the trade unions, what is happening in the Labour Party, and where does TUSC fit in. Speakers include: Alex Gordon, RMT President, and John McInally, PCS Vice-President Plus: representatives of the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party of Britain and the TUSC Independent Socialists Network. 1-45pm to 3-30pm: For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems Preparing for the 2013 elections, including a discussion on the draft TUSC local elections policy platform (see Draft 2013 Local Elections Policy). Speakers include: Walsall DLP Cllr Pete Smith, and TUSC Liverpool mayoral candidate and former ‘Liverpool 47’ councillor, Tony Mulhearn. 3-30pm to 5-00pm: ‘Reviewing TUSC’s structures’ Introducing the ‘Reviewing TUSC’s structures’ commission report (

Marching together on Oct 20 but we must then strike together!

Its little over 5 weeks till the TUC’s mass demonstration on October the 20th. I personally feel a little deflated about it all and a sense of we’ve been here before and we have last year on March the 26th. Another march can raise confidence but this time it feels like the TUC is marching us into the ground and turning us away from any industrial action. This should be fought against all of the way. We need mass industrial action now and after the demonstration. The socialist party and the NSSN will be using Oct 20 as a springboard to press for further action this autumn on fighting austerity. Not a week or even a day now goes by without a new announcement on a new cut or attack on the poorest in society. But it doesn’t have to be this way. They can be stopped! On 30 November last year (N30) over two million public sector workers took strike action to defend their pensions. If this had been escalated, a total victory could have been won, probably terminally damaging Cameron's coalition. Since then, groups of workers in the private sector - the construction electricians, the bus drivers for example - have also shown a huge determination to fight back. Scandalously, though, union leaders such as Unison's Dave Prentis broke up that N30 strike alliance. They signed up to the outline of an agreement that still means most workers will pay more and work longer to get a lower pension. N30, however, gave us a glimpse of the trade union movement's power. The NSSN welcomes the demonstration that the TUC is calling against austerity on 20 October. We will do all we can to get a million on the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast. But we don't think that this alone will be enough to stop this government of the rich. We have lobbied the TUC to call on the unions to follow up this march with a 24-hour general strike of the public and the private sector back on September the 9th in Brighton and will be raising loudly and proudly on the October 20th demonstration for the TUC to name the day now for mass scale co-ordinated strike action. Austerity is a sanitised expression for what is an unremitting class war on our people. The aim is to achieve, on the basis of the cuts and privatisation programme, the biggest transfer of wealth and power in many generations. At its core is a 'race to the bottom' that is ripping the heart out of our communities. It means the driving down of wage levels, massive job cuts, the destruction of the welfare state and the NHS and the public services that provide the basis of a civilised existence for working people. This unprecedented assault can only proceed because of the poisonous political consensus that exists among the major parties - shamefully including Labour - that says there is no alternative to the market and the barbaric proposition that the acquisition of obscene wealth and profit by a tiny unaccountable elite comes before the needs of millions. Those millions are crying out for an alternative. They watch in fear and disgust as one outrage follows another: We now have an opportunity to send out a message of hope - loud and clear - that we intend to harness the full strength of our movement and class to stop the austerity programme in its tracks. The 20 October [TUC demonstration] must be more than another protest march - it must be the platform on which we build coordinated action on the widest possible front across both the public and private sector. Every union here has a legitimate dispute on pay, pensions, jobs, privatisation or a related issue. So, let's hear no nonsense about the difficulties or legalities of organising coordinated action. Let's not fixate about the 'scary words', general strike. Let us rather sit down together and agree a date for joint action and wider campaigning across the trade union movement as soon as practicably possible after 20 October. A 24-hour strike as a start to an effective programme of coordinated industrial action and wider campaigning would irrevocably shift the balance of forces in our favour. How many times must it be said - campaigning works and action gets results. We have recently won thousands of jobs in the civil service by organising action. The attacks are increasing, not abating. Millions are waiting for a lead to fight back. Let's provide that lead. With extracts taken from www.socialistparty.org.uk Articles from issue 733 and 734 of the socialist

Monday, 17 September 2012

Socialist candidate in the USA making big impact

In the US this autumn many will ask who should we vote for ? there is a clear need now fora new party, a party representing the interests of the 99% and the working class. As Socialist alternative in the USA we are running candidates where we can. Below is a interview with one of our candidates running against a democrat and exposing their role as a second capitalist big business party. Interview with Kshama Sawant in Seattle Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US) Kshama Sawant, a Socialist Alternative candidate in Seattle, is challenging Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp in the general election for Washington’s 43rd Legislative District. Sawant achieved unprecedented primary election results that had her winning second place in both Positions 1 and 2 of the district. She took some time out from campaigning to talk to Justice newspaper. Kshama Sawant Q: Why are you running as a socialist? I believe that if we’re going to effect change, we have to be bold. That means not hiding behind false labels. More and more people, when asked, will tell you that they prefer socialism over capitalism. And it is obvious why: Capitalism has failed the 99%, whereas socialism stands for genuine democracy and equality. A better world is possible! That better world starts with the working class, the 99%, realizing that we are powerful! I am running as a socialist to show that there are alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats, both of whom represent the interests of the giant corporations. I’m calling for independent candidates of the 99% to run against the corporate politicians in every race! This is just the first step for us in a process of building movements challenging the power of the 1%. Q: What does a socialist candidate offer that a Democratic Party candidate does not? I will be a voice for everyday people in Olympia. Unlike my Democratic opponent, I will put the interests of the 99% first. Look at the money. My campaign is completely funded by ordinary people; meanwhile, my opponent has received tens of thousands of dollars from corporations and the super wealthy. After seeing where his money comes from, it is no surprise that he has consistently voted to slash the budget for social programs like health care and education. I will not only fight to reinstate and expand programs such as Basic Health, but I will also make sure that true single-payer health care is on the agenda in Washington. I will fight to make a quality education available to all, not just to those who have the means to afford it. I will make expanding mass transit and green energy a priority. Unlike the Democrats, I will fight for taxes on corporations and the very wealthy in Washington, who currently benefit from the most regressive tax code in the country. With this revenue, all of these programs can be easily funded. Another difference between myself and the Democrats is that I strive to help build movements. As an Occupy Seattle activist I worked to do just that. History shows the only way real change has been achieved is when people work together to make it happen. The Democratic Party functions to stifle these movements. We’ve seen it time and time again, with the antiwar movement of the early 2000s to the labor union struggle in Wisconsin last year. Q: What do you say to those claiming you can’t change anything through corporate-dominated electoral systems? I don’t think history shows that to be correct. Look at how the Canadians won universal health care. Canadian workers began running independent candidates and eventually built the New Democratic Party. The party grew in popularity, threatening big business and Canada’s main political parties. It became clear that for the ruling class to retain their electoral power, they’d need to give some concessions, in this case universal health care. Ultimately, it’s mass movements that bring about fundamental change. During a presidential election year, many more people are paying attention to politics. Running in elections allows us to reach more people with our ideas and effectively build the movement, particularly when there is such anger with both the Democrats and the Republicans. Examples from history show that it is possible to build working-class parties that do not function as electoral machines like the two major corporate parties. Instead, they are parties that work for the interests of ordinary people, fighting for jobs that pay a living wage, for free, universal health care, for affordable housing, defending pensions and protecting the environment. We need a party of working people, and running candidates that challenge the corporate politicians is the first step toward building that party. Q: What is the most important message you want to give to others thinking of challenging the two main parties? Now is the time! There is increasing support for breaking from the two-party system. This anger at the Democrats, in particular, is evident in the strong showing for our candidate in the primary elections earlier this month. We won over 9% of the vote against a well-liked Democrat, Jamie Pederson, in position 1 and over 11% o f t he vote in position 2 as a write-in candidate against the more vulnerable Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp. These votes show how people are angry at the two corporate parties and are looking for an alternative to challenge the status quo in electoral politics. Winning both races, itself, has increased the media attention and the number of people wanting to get involved with the campaign. The unusual election result gave our campaign the opportunity to switch races and run against the second most powerful Democrat in Washngton State. Running against the House Speaker will provide our campaign with a larger platform from which we can inject our ideas into the stale debate on how to address the economic crisis gripping the state. When I’m out talking to people in the 43rd District I ’m hearing that working people, the unemployed, youth and the elderly are increasingly finding that capitalism isn’t working for them. After hearing me loudly proclaim, “Stop the budget cuts; elect a socialist candidate,” one guy told me, as he backtracked to our table, “Budget cuts are a ***! I NEED one of those [leaflets].” There is real openness to socialist ideas. Many youth and workers have said, “Socialism, YES!” when they meet us on the streets. So, it’s obvious that ordinary people are energized by a campaign that isn’t beholden to corporate America and is speaking out for the needs of the 99%. We need to build a mass movement, independent from both big business parties, as an initial step to break corporate control of U.S. politics and to start transforming the country and the world!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Unemployment the stark reality for many Socialism is the alternative

As part of tomorrow nights lead off at Harlow Socialist party I thought I’d give a brief over look of unemployment, the facts, the causes and the long term effects of unemployment. Currently there are 2.5 million people officially out of work in Great Britain with a million of those being young people. Unemployment statistics published show that the number of people who have been unemployed for more than one year is up 27,000 in the last three months, reaching a total of 887,000. The number unemployed for more than two years is 428,000, up 5,000. 'Back to work' schemes contracted out under the 'work programme' to companies such as A4e - which, despite being stripped of one this week, still holds government welfare contracts worth tens of millions of pounds - are supposed to help people who have been out of work for long periods. The figures also reveal that there are almost six unemployed people for every job vacancy in our economy. The number of vacancies fell by 7,000 to 457,000 in the three months to April. While employment in general increased, the number in full-time employment fell by 13,000 to 21 million. The number who work part-time but want full-time work was up 44,000 in the last three months to 1.3 million - a 149,000 increase since last year. There are also 590,000 people doing temporary work who want a permanent job, up 10,000 in the last quarter. A slight fall in the most recent set of unemployment figures hides the reality facing millions. The fall has only occurred because of an increase in part-time work. And the number of people claiming unemployment benefit is still going up. By the end of 2012 almost a million people will have been out of work for more than a year. There was a slight fall in the number of young people unemployed as well. And yet more young people than ever are now long-term unemployed - showing the failure of the Con-Dems' 'youth contract', aimed specifically at this group. Recent figures showed that the number of unemployed young people across Europe has increased by 50% since 2008. The long term affects of unemployment are staggering if you are long term unemployed as a young person you are far more likely to face unemployment again at an older age. The mental side of unemployment is huge too the number of people who are diagnosed with depression or other such illnesses is shocking when you look at the long term unemployed. We can also look at the under employed. The part time workers who are working part time jobs many taking on two or more just to make a decent wage to live off of. These workers are those who are class as under employed as wish to work longer hours for better pay but are not able to due to lack of jobs. The Socialist Party demands: • An end to job cuts, save our public services • Scrap all slave-labour workfare schemes, a day's pay for a day's work • A minimum wage of £8 an hour for all • Open the books - when company’s claim they can't afford to keep workers on, they must show us where the money has gone! • Massive investment in a programme of public works to create socially useful jobs See www.youthfightforjobs.com As unemployment soars Britain will still have the longest working week in the European Union. The previous New Labour government and now the con-deems today have consistently fought for the right to opt out of EU laws limiting the working week to a maximum of 48 hours. More than four million workers in Britain work longer than that each week in order to make ends meet. This is the lunacy of capitalism - millions thrown on the scrapheap while others work their fingers to the bone. By introducing a 35-hour week with no loss of pay - in other words sharing out the work - it would be possible to dramatically decrease the number of unemployed while simultaneously improving the quality of life of working class people. If this was combined with a massive increase in public services it would be possible to eliminate unemployment. This would allow us to develop a vastly better public transport system, build more housing, and train and hire more teachers, doctors and nursing staff. For example, up and down the country building workers are being laid off. Meanwhile there are five million people, two million households, who are desperate for social housing. Why can't the two be matched up with a massive high quality, affordable, council house building programme? This idea immediately raises the need to nationalise the major building companies under democratic control.

For a genuine free press

While many will still be reading various editions of our printed press and think the recent article by Laurie Penny or Owen Jones is of the cutting edge radical form of our printed press we just have to remember who actually owns these papers and who’s interests do they ultimately serve. As I say you may well read a radical left wing piece from the fore mentioned authors but be under no illusions we do not have a free press at all. Notice how many stories were anti N30 last year and how much in favour. I do not have to bring up the statistics to show you workers interests are not represented fairly in our media at all. You may think like I once did the BBC a fine establishment a cornerstone of media ethics. Yes the BBC likes to hold a line of impartiality and in some respects they are but be under no illusion if the state was ever under threat or if workers were taking up their class position against the government of the day of which they did last year on numerous occasions including the biggest strike day for many years on November the 30th. It can be under no doubt who the BBC and others who claim to be independent who’s side they are on. They will line up with the boss’s 9 times out of 10. We must never forget who owns these media outlets and who ultimately controls what they publish and produce at the end of the day. With the recent uncovering of phone hacking within the news of the world and deeper into News international the idea of a free press has remerged. As socialists we do not accept that there can be a free press under capitalism as we live today. Even with a Levison style enquiry the results and recommendations will not be enough to bring a bout a fair and open free press. AS Trotsky said way back in 1938 in the free press and the working class Theory, as well as historic experience, testifies that any restriction to democracy in bourgeois society is eventually directed against the proletariat, just as taxes eventually fall on the shoulders of the proletariat. Bourgeois democracy is usable by the proletariat only insofar as it opens the way for the development of the class struggle. Consequently, any workers “leader” who arms the bourgeois state with special means to control public opinion in general, and the press in particular, is a traitor. In the last analysis, the accentuation of class struggle will force bourgeois of all shades, to conclude a pact: to accept special legislation, and every kind of restrictive measures, and measures of “democratic” censorship against the working class. Those who have not yet realised this should leave the ranks of the working class. Trotsky went on to detail that only under socialism can a free press truly become free, democratic and fair to all The real tasks of the workers’ state do not consist in policing public opinion, but in freeing it from the yoke of capital. This can only be done by placing the means of production – which includes the production of information – in the hands of society in its entirety. Once this essential step towards socialism has been taken, all currents of opinion which have not taken arms against the dictatorship of the proletariat must be able to express themselves freely. It is the duty of the workers’ state to put in their hands, to all according to their numeric importance, the technical means necessary for this, printing presses, paper, and means of transportation. One of the principal causes of the degeneration of the state machine is the monopolisation of the press by the Stalinist bureaucracy which risks transforming all the gains of the October revolution to a pile of ruins. Trotsky concludes that workers need their own press and only a truly independent democratic form of a communication press can succeed and bring the news other day to the mass’s democratically and fairly. It is essential to wage an unrelenting battle against the reactionary press. But the workers cannot leave a task they have to fulfil themselves through their own organisations and their own press, to the repressive fist of the bourgeois state. Today the government may seem well disposed towards workers’ organisations. Tomorrow it may fall, and it inevitably will, into the hands of the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie. In this case the existing repressive laws will be used against the workers. Only adventurisms who think of nothing but the moment’s needs can fail to guard themselves against such a danger. The most efficient way to fight the bourgeois press is for the workers’ press to develop. Of course, yellow papers like El Popular, are unable to undertake such a task. Such papers have no place among the workers’ press, the revolutionary press, or even the bourgeois press of good reputation. El Popular serves the personal ambitions of Mr. Tolerant, who himself is in fact in the service of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Its methods: lies, calumnies, witch hunts, are methods a la Tolerant. His paper has neither program nor ideas. It is evident that such a sheet can never strike a resonant chord in the working class, nor win them over from the bourgeois press. So we arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the struggle between the bourgeois presses starts with the eviction of the degenerate leaders from workers’ organisations and in particular from the liberation of the workers’ press from the tutelage of Tolerant and other bourgeois careerists. The Mexican proletariat needs an honest press to express its needs, defend its interests, broaden its horizon and pave the way for the socialist revolution in Mexico. This is what CLAVE intends to do. So, we start by declaring an unrelenting war against the Bonaparte’s pretensions of Tolerant. In this effort, we hope for the support of all advanced workers, as well as Marxists and authentic democrats. Last updated on: 20.4.2007 Under socialism the press would be shared out to those who win the most in elections and beyond if you win a low turn out in elections as pro capitalist leaders would under socialism as their ideas being bankrupt we wouldn’t exclude them we would give them as much as their vote suggests and a section of the press to put their views across. Of course we would be well on our way towards socialism by this point but the freedom of the press goes hand in hand with democratic reforms and rights of the people to present an alternative at any opportunity, even if it is wrong and would throw us back. Exposing this and showing we are open to democracy will shine through and show eared on the correct path to true democratic socialist society. To benefit the many not just the few. Which means the working class needs its own press a weekly socialist paper which we produce known as the Socialist is key to transforming ideas and building a alternative toe the so called free press which is not free at all. Only if it was held in the workers hands the hands of the many could it be democratically free to all.

Why I joined the Socialist Party not the SWP

Firstly I’d like to say to any SWP readers of this blog this is not meant in a sectarian putting our party before yours kind of post but a realistic reflection on why I join a party which in numbers is slightly smaller, less of a web presense, less well known perhaps and what some would say has less going for it. Well firstly I was in the labour party briefly at best for a spate of a few months. I’ve been criticised by some such as Owen Jones who brings it up every time we debate that I was a labour party member and yes I admit it I did vote for Ed balls in the leadership elections. I’ve never tried to hide that fact. We all make mistakes we all are naive when first getting into politics. I was only 21. I’d just started getting into politics and felt at the time Ed balls was making the right noises in opposing the cuts. How wrong was I!! I have since realised my error but do not dodge any difficult issues I realise I was wrong, so be it. We can all be duped in our early days in politics and I certainly was. We are not all brought in to politics with the perfect outlook the absolute pure class perspective and no blemish’s at all. I admit it I was wrong, wrong to ever think labour were any alternative wrong to think Ed balls stood against the cuts and wrong to think parliament can deliver change in any form. Whilst saying that I accept many will be taking a similar route to myself at this very moment and accept those who feel alienated by the cuts and the onslaught of attacks on the working and middle class’s today and make the decision to get involved. I realise many will opt for the line of least resistance to say I’m involved I oppose the cuts and will unfortunately join labour. I understand this. I was there. I was that person I describe. I thought Labour opposed the cuts. I was however wrong, very wrong. In politics I do not see a problem with admitting you were wrong, as long as you admit that honestly and up front is fine. It’s then what you do after that which counts. If you say oh well I was wrong but carry on as before what do you learn? Nothing I feel Whereas I took a conscious decision to leave the labour party. A decision not taken lightly by many today but for me it was an easy choice. I’d looked on the internet for more left parties/groups I first stumbled as I’m sure many do across the SWP. Whilst in the labour party moving more to the left singled me out for much abuse, you’re a communist, a leftie, a trot were the jibes levelled at me. Another was if you’re too left your let the Tories win we can’t allow that. I ran into the bureaucracy of the labour party I admit. I was feeling more and more my class instincts and said openly to a CLP labour party meeting I oppose all these cuts. To the local labour party councillor on Herts Country Council, Sharon Taylor, Leader of Labour run Stevenage Borough council who I raised this issue with. I said I oppose all these cuts why should we be making any cuts. Should we not take as our base line as opposing all cuts. She gave me as Sharon is known for a load of spiel on why we can’t fight all cuts and that to appear credible and not militant and to regain power we must conform to what we are being asked. I fumed I was not happy but kept this in check I walked out of that meeting astonished and angry that these are labour party officials who will not and do not see any way of fighting the cuts. Even at a local level. I was angry and this field my desire to fight the cuts even more finding out in the middle of this disability benefit were to be cut and labour would not fight these cuts was the final straw for me. I had to leave but to where Many see the SWP as the biggest and most vocal force on the left even still today. Many feel if you leave the labour party to the left you will join the SWP Well I didn’t. I read their website I still subscribe to their daily emails but I did not however join them. Why was this? You may ask Well locally the SWP have nothing, But that is not my sole reason, I joined the Socialist party formally Militant and I do still believe the majority who stuck with the SP are the true founders of Militant and live on in its name in class, action and programme. Programme is a big part of my reason for joining and continuing to be a member of the SP. I did not just join as I think they have the right policies and demands to win elections. I took a different outlook I knew the SP were not simply about winning elections they were about more than that. That more was about changing society I have wholly brought into their ideas and am well I’d like to think so a advocate of their our ideas and I would now consider them my ideas too as till date I have not disagreed with anything we have said, done, or acted on. This may change as we are a democratic organisation and disagreements do come up as much as outsiders may doubt this but we do disagree. But instead of other parties expelling and disciplining those who do disagree we debate democratically and try to come to some sort of arrangement and a position to move forward. We do not write anyone off we feel that any working class person can become a Marxist and understand our ideas but at the same time we realise a minority of the class, the most advanced layer will be won to our ideas. It’s what we do with those ideas which matters. I daily try to raise the ideas of genuine socialism now. Since my transition and it was a transition not a brainwashing or anything I reject that I came to my own conclusions in time and I stand by that. I do believe we need to change society and only the working class has the revolutionary power to do that and that the Socialist party with its international across the globe featuring over 42 sections in the CWI is best placed to carry this task out for the betterment of the human race.

Friday, 14 September 2012

New employment laws, benefiting no one

The new proposed employment laws Vince Cable is looking to introduce will benefit no one. Won’t benefit companies who complain of too much red tape as will be found out in other ways and it certainly doesn’t help workers whose rights see further erosion under this con-dem government. Business Secretary Vince Cable has proposed a cut in how much workers can claim for unfair dismissal at employment tribunals. He will consult on plans to cut the limit on compensation payouts to a maximum of 12 months' salary. He also wants to bring in settlement agreements, in which staff agree to leave without being able to go to a tribunal, but get a pay-off in return. Proposals to make it easier simply to fire workers will not be made law. The suggested changes come on top of others made in April, which limited unfair dismissal claims to workers who had been in a job for two years, rather than one as before. Sarah Veale from the TUC told the BBC that the proposals were still wrong. "The clue is in the term 'unfair dismissal'," she said. "If people have been unfairly dismissed, this means the employer has done something wrong and its right that the tribunal should then decide what sort of compensation the person deserves," she said. Furthermore, employers need to be aware that this cap will not apply to claims brought against them in discrimination cases, where the cap on payouts is unlimited." Which is good as many businesses will be gunning for union reps as trying to victimise any workers looking to stand up for others. Whether this will water down the chances of unions and union reps fighting back we will have to see but clearly the government has it in for workers still and this is just another attack on the working class. Many of these changes were dreamt and thought up and compiled by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft who we all know a few months back wanted business’s and the boss’s to have the ability to fire any staff on the spot without any comebacks or any legal misunderstandings. This kind of free market thinking of hire cheap and fire cheaper is what free market capitalists dream of and must be opposed every step of the way by unions and workers alike.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hillsborough the truth finally is outed and highlights shameful role of the state

The report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel has ripped aside the tangled web of lies and cover-up woven by the South Yorkshire police, the government and the army of lickspittles in the press who denigrated Liverpool and the victims of the man-made catastrophe in 1989 that was Hillsborough. Kelvin McKenzie, then the editor of the Sun and Murdoch's bag carrier who peddles his poison to the highest bidder, was the most vocal with his tissue of lies about that tragedy. 96 football fans lost their lives, those deaths affected thousands of people. Many continue to suffer extreme trauma as a result of their experience. Some suffered personality changes and went to an early grave. The families of the 96 greeted the report with relief and euphoria. Having campaigned in the face of impossible odds for 23 years, this was to be anticipated, but the relief and sense of victory and exoneration throughout Liverpool was palpable. This fight for the truth has united Liverpool and Everton fans alike. Fans who oppose each other in a football sense came together as football fans feeling a huge injustice over Hillsborough. Yesterday was a shocking day and a groundbreaking day in many ways. The independent report uncovered some very startling home truths on South Yorkshire police and the wider role of the state. Trevor Hicks of the family support group, who lost two daughters, reported that three family members fainted when evidence was revealed by the panel that with the correct support from the emergency services 46 of the victims may have been saved. This information added to the sense of anger and outrage which permeated the city. A question uppermost was that, of the 48 ambulances which rushed to the stadium, only two actually made it onto the pitch. Even the tops of the ambulance service were implicated in the subsequent cover-up. The police, the Sun, with Thatcher and her government implicated in the cover-up, were subject to excoriating condemnation. McKenzie's apology and the Sun's later apology was contemptuously dismissed for the hollow gesture that it was. There can be no doubt that the instructions for the cover up came from the very tops of the state machine. The brutal anti-working class culture of the South Yorkshire police force which played a leading and pernicious role in crushing the miners in their struggle to defend their jobs and communities was laid bare by this report. Michael Mansfield QC, who assisted the families, clearly identified the link. The police authorities revelled in an atmosphere of impunity which flowed from the anti-working class outlook of the then Thatcher government. Liverpool was also the city where the Militant-led socialist council in the mid-1980s had resisted the attacks of the Thatcher government by mobilising the support thousands of working class people. By falsely accusing Liverpool football fans as being drunken hooligans, the ruling classes also intended to denigrate the city's tradition of militant struggle. The next stage of this campaign will be to call for those implicated in this cover-up to be subject to the criminal law. Even the chief constable of the South Yorkshire police has been compelled to accept that those engaged in unlawful activity will be subject to prosecution. Cameron's frank admission of the cover-up and his apology surprised many. But if he had attempted to continue the cover-up his government could have fallen, he had no choice in the face of the evidence but to admit the truth. Parallels can be drawn with French author Émile Zola's article J'accuse (1898) in which he exposed the role of the French state in the anti-semitic frame up of Alfred Dreyfus. The furore which followed brought down the government. Not only are the families to be applauded for their courage and tenacity in the pursuit of justice, but a debt of honour is owed to them for showing that working class people fired with courage and determination can render the forces of the state accountable. The police officers involved in this awful cover up who colluded with the state and politicians at the time should not be allowed to get away with this. The Hillsborough victim’s families have the truth now, now they want justice and I and the socialist party fully support their fight.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Learning the lessons from the other September 11th

While many around the world were paying their respects to the victims of 9/11 the attacks on the twin towers and the terrorist attacks in America in 2001. Many working class people were also paying tribute to the other September the 11th. The 11th of September in 1973 when in Chile in South America a brutal suppression lead to tragedy after a popular socialist government was defeated. IN SEPTEMBER 1970, Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile. His Popular Unity (UP) government - made up of large workers' parties (Socialists, Communists) and smaller middle-class parties - defeated the conservative Christian Democrats (CDs). Hopes were raised of a 'parliamentary road to socialism', tackling capitalism through peaceful, constitutional means. Three years later, these dreams lay in ashes. Militant reported in the issue of 14 September 1973: "After three turbulent years of social crisis and economic chaos, the Popular Unity government ... has been snuffed out under the iron heel of the military. "All the hopes, all the sacrifices of the Chilean workers and poor peasants during this period, have come to nothing. The armed forces have seized power in Chile by a military coup. The capitalists have used their military power to destroy the reforms instituted by the 'Popular Unity' government." These reforms included efforts to raise the living standards of the poorest, to ensure full employment to the workers and land to the peasants. Why were the Chilean people's hopes dashed? For three years, articles in Militant explained how, even in a country known as the "England of Latin America", the ruling capitalist class would not take such attacks on their privileges lightly. Since 1920, Chile's 'constitutional' army had organised nine coups! In February 1972 we warned: "Chilean society teeters on the brink of crisis. The question is posed: will the workers and peasants succeed in guaranteeing the gains of Allende's government, by pressing forward to socialist revolution, or will the reaction strike with ferocious vengeance...?" The Allende government nationalised the huge US-owned copper industry with little compensation to the owners. However large parts of the economy were left untouched, so were the judicial system, the media and vitally, the armed forces. Allende was allowed to take office only if the UP promised to leave the armed forces as they were, with the officer caste left in control and all the privileges of the army tops left intact. Rank and file members of the armed forces were even forbidden the right to join a trade union and freedom of political association. Revolutionary programme CHILE'S RULING class did not move to crush Allende early in his rule. Both they and US imperialism feared an explosive reaction from workers and youth both in Chile and in the rest of Latin America and even in a USA traumatised by Vietnam. But Allende held the masses back from defending their revolution with phrases warning against 'provoking reaction'. "Allende thinks", said Militant in February 1972, that "he can 'neutralise' the generals - the faithful servants of the capitalists, by flattering them and praising their 'Chilean respect for democracy'." Militant stressed that a peaceful transition could only be guaranteed by "a bold revolutionary programme" including setting up "peasant committees to take over the land... A decree on land nationalisation would legalise the accomplished revolutionary fact. "Workers' control of industry... to prevent factory closures. Industry should be nationalised with minimum compensation on the basis of need. Action committees... should be set up by the trade unions to force landlords and traders to reduce prices and rents." Finally, we wrote "A workers' militia, based on the unions, should be set up to defend the workers' gains... Allende should appeal to the army rank and file - the workers in uniform - to set up soldiers' committees. Faced with a powerful movement in the army, the generals would be suspended in mid-air." Militant explained how Chile's ruling class "could not be overwhelmed by using its own state", that "It was necessary to raise the workers' organisations, most developed in the form of Soviets (workers' and peasants' committees) to state power, completely paralysing and dismantling the old state in the process." The ruling class used their economic control to sabotage the economy and build opposition amongst small businesses such as the private lorry owners. Then, Militant said: "after a sufficient period of 'anarchy' the generals will be able to step forward as the 'saviours' of the country". We argued that "only the working class, fighting on a clear socialist programme, can really defend the interests of the small proprietors... grant cheap credit to the small farmers, the shopkeepers... to develop their businesses until voluntarily they would agree to form co-operative enterprises, eventually merging with state industry when they could see this path would lead to a better standard of life for them." Sowing illusions BY JUNE 1973 the armed forces were disarming workers, searching for arms in the workers' districts and factories and taking action against sailors affected by revolutionary propaganda. That month the counter-revolution attempted a premature coup. Militant reported: "The Chilean bosses and their blood-brothers in the army general staff understand fully that premature attempts at a coup would, without doubt, provoke a mass uprising which would endanger the whole system..." As an article in The Guardian said "If so far the Chilean army has held back, the explanation is... not any peculiar national tradition, but the formidable strength now acquired by the labour movement". Militant commented: "This is the explanation for the abject failure of the coup attempt... on 29 June. It was suppressed by 'loyal units' of the army within two and a half hours - just in time. For as news of the coup spread, thousands of workers struck, occupied their factories and, leaving armed pickets on the gates, marched on the Presidential Palace. "Here was a movement which could have put an end once and for all to the threat of reactionary tyranny. But Allende appealed for a return to work and riot police were sent in to break up the milling crowds. Only this cowardice, this treachery, this total lack of perspective, enabled the bosses to gasp for breath once more. "Only the blocking of the movement of the masses as a result of this betrayal emboldened the road hauliers enough to raise their heads in defiance of the UP! "Even then, the magnificent Chilean workers called a 24-hour general strike on 9 August to ... support the UP against the "road hauliers' blackmail". There is no shortage of courage or willingness to fight. What is lacking is leadership." Appeal Militant finished this article with an appeal to the "left wing, especially the Socialist youth" to "fight for committees of action for the defence of the rights of the workers and the defence of the revolution to be set up in every factory, workers' district, and armed forces." These forces, we said, should "be linked locally, in the districts and nationally together with all workers' organisations to provide the necessary framework for pushing forward the revolution and defeating the counter-revolutionary plots of reaction." We ended by demanding: "Arm the workers! Expel the capitalist ministers, civilian and military, from the UP government. For a socialist Chile!" However the UP leaders' response to this coup threat was to bring three military chiefs and the commander of the Federal Police into the Cabinet. Just weeks later, the generals and commanders were using their state forces to crush Allende's government and end the reforms. On 9 September 1973, just two days before the coup, half a million workers marched past Allende on the balcony of the presidential palace - most of them were demanding arms to defend the gains of 1970-73. But tragically, as Militant said after the coup, Allende and his government "failed to organise workers' councils of action and to arm the workers and appeal to the rank and file soldiers, sailors and airmen to set up committees." They gave "support to the reactionary officers, Generals and Admirals of the armed forces. "Allende sowed illusions in the 'neutrality' of the army caste and the acceptance by the capitalists of the Chilean constitution. This was the fatal error of policy for which the workers and peasants of Chile are paying in blood and suffering." The coup led by General Pinochet saved capitalism in Chile by plunging the workers, peasantry and middle class into 17 years of dictatorship, murdering at least 5,000 political opponents and torturing hundreds of thousands more. Future generations of working-class revolutionaries must learn the lessons of Chile 1970-73. With extracts taken from the Militant and the socialist.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

NSSN lobby demands a 24-hour general strike

'TUC - name the date' By editor of the Socialist Sarah Sachs-Eldridge Given the weather forecast Brighton was the obvious destination on Sunday 9 September. But for up to 1,000 trade unionists and anti-cuts activists, boarding early morning transport from as far afield as Wales, Plymouth, Manchester, Yorkshire and Birmingham, and coming from all across the south and east of England, the appeal wasn't just a day in the sun. With the TUC holding its 2012 Congress in the seaside city this was a chance to demand that the official leadership of the labour movement steps up action against a long winter of austerity, threatened, if we don't stop it, to last for years. The march, rally and lobby organised by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) called on the trade union leaders to coordinate action in a 24-hour general strike. History in the making Closing the magnificent rally Rob Williams, NSSN national chair, described those attending as 'history makers'. Despite attempts by soon-to-be-replaced TUC general secretary Brendan Barber to pour on cold water, all the news around the Congress featured the question of a general strike. Even before the coaches departed, it was clear that momentum for coordinated strike action was building. The delegation for Unison, the biggest public sector union, we learned through Twitter, had voted to support the Prison Officers' union (POA) motion, 'Motion 5'. It says: "Congress accepts that the trade union movement must continue leading from the front against the uncaring government with a coalition of resistance taking coordinated action where possible with far reaching campaigns including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike." Earlier on, Brighton's sun-seekers may have been a little surprised to see hundreds of trade unionists marching - but the placards, banners and chants made it clear what we were about: "Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses - if these are things that you don't like - join the fight for a general strike!" Even some of those sent to police the march couldn't hide their sympathy for our demand. Why is such action needed - and so supported? There isn't a worker, benefit claimant, young person or pensioner who doesn't know about austerity. In the autumn sunshine activists described the cold cruelty of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Outdoor rally and march Even earlier, at the pre-march rally starting just after 1pm, Phil Clarke from Brighton Trades Council welcomed us to a city whose workers have been serious about fighting cuts. 10,000 marched on the 30 November public sector strike day. The demand for further coordinated action was hugely popular. Katrine Williams from the Wales Shop Stewards Network and NSSN steering committee chaired this rally. Martin Powell-Davies, member of the national executive of the NUT teaching union, outlined the government's campaign to take education back to the 19th century under Michael the 'grade-snatcher' Gove and his 'free school' movement. Nancy Taaffe, a library worker sacked through the cuts, celebrated the victory of the working class of Waltham Forest against the racist and hooligan English Defence League. But, she warned, the far right cannot be beaten by mounting counter-demos against them alone. She explained that the working class must be at the centre of that fight to show that the way to defeat poverty and austerity is through a mass united movement of the working class - not the hatred and division of the EDL. On behalf of Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Claire Laker-Mansfield pointed to the gross hypocrisy of pampered David Cameron talking about the 'privilege of getting work experience' through the government's slave labour workfare schemes. How far is this from the PM's own privileged youth? Steve Hedley, recently elected assistant general secretary of one of the most militant unions, the RMT transport union, spoke next. Following on from Claire he pointed out how young people had broken the right-wing consensus when they protested against education cuts - but that action by the organised working class was necessary to win the battle against austerity. President of the PCS civil service union Janice Godrich thanked the NSSN and made it clear that lobbying the TUC, the trade union leadership, is a crucial task for the left. She said she would not have believed that there could be a tied vote at the general council, a traditionally conservative body to say the least, on a motion calling for a general strike to be considered. But there was, and, she finished, the task for the TUC now is not only to consider such action but to deliver it. "Join the union, join the fight - build a one-day general strike" rang out, as the ranks of trade union banners and NSSN placards processed through the city. So too did appeals for support from labour movement veterans, such as former Liverpool Labour councillor Tony Mulhearn and former Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist. And the march swelled as it made its way to the rallying point at the Metropole hotel on the seafront. The trade union crowd Linda Taaffe, NSSN national secretary, welcomed us and set out the task of the rally. This was not an opportunity to recount statistics that illustrate the horror of the Con-Dems' austerity programme, appalling as they are; this was a chance for us to set out what we are going to do about it. Linda, referring to the crowd that booed Tory Chancellor George Osborne at the Paralympics, described the rally as representing an even bigger and much more powerful crowd - the trade union crowd of six and a half million people. This crowd was also very vocal - spontaneously applauding bold demands for mass action. The first speaker was Brighton activist and member of Unison's higher education group executive (HESGE) Shona McCulloch. She explained that, given her union's attacks on socialist and left activists, she had to speak in a personal capacity. She smashed the idea put forward by right-wing trade union leaders that 'strike fatigue' had set in after the superb action on 30 November. In fact the opposite was the case as the HESGE proved by voting to ballot for two days' strike action over pay. RMT general secretary Bob Crow was up next. He made it absolutely clear that his union was backing the POA motion. He also ridiculed claims that the trade union movement was dead saying he saw a lot of lively corpses marching on the 26 March TUC demo last year. But, he argued, more was needed. "Demos are fantastic for raising consciousness... but the only thing the Con-Dems will understand is economic austerity from workers" in the form of generalised strike action. He finished by demanding that the TUC not only vote for general strike action, but that a date is named as soon as possible after the 20 October demo. Solidarity A victim of the cuts followed. But Mark Holloway, convenor of Remploy in Barking, east London, showed huge determination to fight back, as have his comrades, by striking across the country. He explained that Remploy workplaces represent much more than factories: they are "small communities" and give families and carers much-needed respite. The standing ovation Mark received was testament to the huge solidarity for the Remploy trade union fighters. Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA prison officers' union, explained that the Remploy closures were part of his union's motivation when they put forward Motion 5. When the Con-Dems are tearing the fabric out of society while bailing out the banks, the trade unions have a responsibility to give a lead. It's not the first time the POA has called for a general strike, but this time, he explained, they have sought wider trade union support with the aim of letting both the government and New Labour know that enough is enough. With regard to the anti-trade union laws Steve explained that there was no intention to be reckless and risk sequestration - but that the best way to get rid of that repressive legislation was by pushing it aside. Unison NEC member April Ashley, speaking in a personal capacity, made an appeal for solidarity with striking miners in South Africa. Earlier a Belgian rail worker had brought solidarity greetings from his union and a message of support was given from the Conlutas left trade union federation in Brazil. Strikes can win As at the June annual NSSN conference Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, explained the importance of the NSSN's lobbies. Last December when the right-wing leaders of the TUC and unions such as Unison and GMB sold out the 30 November strike he and the left union leaders appreciated the support outside as they argued to continue coordinated action. Mark confirmed support for general strike action and said that as soon as the teachers' unions set a date for strike action in the autumn, the PCS would meet to organise to join them. He gave very concrete proof of how effective it is to challenge the cuts - 1,000 jobs created in HMRC where strike action has taken place and 1,100 in the Home Office. Huge applause met his final remarks: the Tories appear to be having internal difficulties. The best thing we can do on behalf of the people of this country is, when they're down, to kick them! Steve, an electrician and Unite member, spoke about the campaign against the Besna contract, which threatened pay cuts of around 35%, but led to unofficial action and the seven construction companies backing down. Strategy Rob Williams explained the approach of the NSSN to fighting the cuts and the misery they bring. "We welcome the 20 October demonstrations - we'll do whatever we can to build for a million on the streets in London and Belfast and Glasgow - but we are right to ask the question of what comes after. "What is necessary to resist the 85% of Con-Dem cuts still to come?" He referred to the disgrace of on average one food-bank opening every week, saying: "If you're looking for a reason [to strike] this week - let's have one on pay, or pensions or privatisation, or redundancies - but let's coordinate." "So if teachers could be taking action, and if the PCS could be taking action, and all those in the middle of a four year pay freeze could be taking action and we put the call out to those in the private sector to coordinate their planned action - eg workers at a Remploy factory, or the sparks if the bosses don't honour the agreement or the rail workers or the bus workers - it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could go out on strike on the same day." He called on the hundreds of TUC delegates, trade union leaders and activists and anti-cuts campaigners in the huge room to take the NSSN's model motion back to all the regions, workplaces and union branches. Summing up the NSSN's tasks Rob said we have to "say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done." Fight is on Linda was then able to close the rally on a huge positive with the report that Unison's delegation, possibly meeting in the same hotel and hearing the cheering from the indoor rally, had voted to join the pro-strike consensus. At this news of Unison being shifted to the left the rally rose to its feet. The significance of such action, only the start of what is needed, cannot be underestimated. It would be the first general strike since 1926 and would transform the situation. It would allow working class people to sense their power and strength as the most significant social force in society. Kicking out the Con-Dem coalition, fracturing and isolated, would be an obvious next step. Following the rally, the lobby of the TUC a few doors down outside the Brighton Centre was a celebration of a historic day. The fight to get a coordinated 24-hour general strike is definitely on - and we had all played a part. The chant went up: "TUC - name the date!"

Monday, 10 September 2012

An idea whose time has come

Certainly times are changing; very quickly indeed it feels like years go by in a day at the moment. SO it is no surprise to me that ideas such as workers in struggle once again is coming back to the foreground. It’s been a while since the terms socialism and capitalism were being openly discussed and an idea that we cannot go on like we are. System change or at least the early signs of people discussing things need to change are on the agenda. I was at the NSSN lobby of the TUC yesterday and there was certainly a mood of defiance and determination to take the struggles forward. Whilst I say all this I do not think socialism or socialist ideas are popular in the mass’s of workers minds yet only by being drawn into struggle be that attending demonstrations against the cuts this autumn, taking strike action or coming into contact with a party like the socialist party of which I’m a member of. Consciousness as we know always lags behind but in periods of heightened class struggle which we are certainly in today consciousness can make big leaps and I do think the occupy movement while we have many reservations with the structures and slogans it did show a change or a shift in peoples thinking slogans like capitalism is crisis and the ideas of the 99% and the 1% was a first attempt of drawing conclusions of what is going on in society and the wider global economy. Workers are facing the biggest attack on their living standards possibly ever. What was won since the Second World War the welfare state, NHS, public services including many local services are disappearing under our very noses. Do you think workers will just stand by and watch this happen? No, they won’t and will by their class instincts be drawn into battle with the boss’s. The Tories are in disarray with arguments and splits a plenty in the coalition too we cannot predict what will topple this government or which split could open up as a huge split but increased strikes and industrial action on a mass scale including public and private sector workers which the NSSN supports could be the start of changing things out there. It is a slow process but ideas and people’s ideas are slowly starting to understand the reality of their children’s future being worse than their own. Socialism as we have always said as Marxists will come roaring back on to the scene as an alternative but it won’t just fall into our laps we must fight for the ideas of genuine Marxism of the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. As revolutionaries we will fight for every reform for workers but know that ultimately the system, the system of capitalism must be overthrown no amount of tinkering or reforming the state will do. I’ve drawn these conclusions through being in the socialist party and I am sure in the coming months and years many more will do to. Its no longer enough to say what you are against, we can all say a million and one things we are against but where we differ we put forward an alternative. Things do not have to be this way, Workers can take control of society to run for need of the many not just the few.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Desperate times call for desperate measures by capitalists

When there is panic all around you you have no idea what to do what do you do? This is the question facing leading capitalist leaders in Europe today. 5 years into one of if not the biggest economic crisis in history there is still no solution on a capitalist basis to the economic crisis engulfing Europe and many other parts of the world. Europe is affected far more badly than other areas due to the way it was set up with many less wealthy nations trying to compete on the same level economically as the powerhouses of Germany, Holland and Belgium some of the more northern European nations. But it is becoming increasingly clear to even the capitalists now that Spain will need a full scale bail out very soon and short term ideas at stemming the contagion will just not do. As capitalists think they think short term and long term profit as the Euro crisis burns on engulfing further countries in southern Europe the European Central Bank is coming under increasing pressure to start buying up bad sovereign debt of nations like Spain and to start selling off Euro bonds which are seen as safer investments at this time. These ideas of the ECB stepping in have been held off and held off until now as a fear of using these schemes will create further upheaval in Brussels where German capitalism are reluctant to continue to bail out countries as it is having a affect back home with rising anger as its seen as Germany propping up a very sick Euro. So when times get tough and they re set to this autumn with a warm summer in Spain and Greece turning into a red hot autumn with further strikes, occupations, rising unemployment and further attempts to force through austerity against the working and middle class’s in these nations. Of course I haven’t mentioned Italy and not many have in recent weeks Italy is sure to come back on the menu for needing a full scale bailout at some point. But bail out after bail out will only temper the crisis and provide respite for a time this will not ultimately deal with the real fundamental issues undermining the economies deep down. The ECB will see itself having to play a more hands on roll in the coming months and years as it looks to grapple with the economic crisis does it have the power to prevent a full scale break up of the Euro. I’m not sure it does but when things get desperate desperate measures are often used. We may well see various tactics of short term growth being tried to jump started flagging economies. But and crucially this will have little to no affect as this crisis is not just limited to Europe as I said it’s global. Where will you as a country start trading more with China and the US plummeting southwards too. There really will be no where to turn. As the working class is pummelled into the ground by austerity it is essential in the battle of ideas that Marxist ideas are popularised in the working class and middle class only socialist ideas and the over throw of capitalism can do now for workers. Its going to get to situations where workers may be able to win huge concessions out of the ruling class if the situation gets to the point where the ruling class is faced with reform or revolution capitalists will get desperate when their system is at stake the fact that many of them do not even understand their own system works against them. But as Marx says there is no final crisis of capitalism it must be over thrown you cannot reform it out of existence it will always find a way out of a crisis and that I’m afraid may mean the ruin of the working class. Let’s not see that happen the working class over the globe will have op opportunities to com to power in the coming period. We as Marxists must arm the workers with the ideas of genuine socialism to transform society to meet the needs of the many not just the few.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My difficulties with access to work

I recently found out I had to reapply for Access to work a scheme designed to aid disabled people in work and to enable them to complete tasks to achieve work tasks as any other able bodied person would do. All was going reasonably fine until today when I received a rather stern phone call from one of their advisors. Clearly they re checking up on every single case now and going through your case with a fine toothed comb to see you’re not cheating the system or getting any money you shouldn’t. I must stress now my situation has not changed at all in the 3 years I have been working and my support has remained the same. On the governments own website they state Access to Work - practical help at work Access to Work can help you if your health or disability affects the way you do your job. It gives you and your employer advice and support with extra costs which may arise because of your needs. Check if you qualify for Access to Work. Today I was interviewed over the phone about my claimant I was asked all sorts of probing questions in attempts for the government to save money it didn’t have to pay out to support me in work. I was asked could I get a bus instead of a taxi each week now the taxi I get is only 4 journey’s a week as I only work two days at present and gets me door to door taking a bus which are very infrequent and highly unreliable I’d have to get to work 2 hours early and not get home till 2 hours after I finished work. All for a 3 mile trip. More questions were fired at me could I change my working hours to fit? umm no I’m employed for a certain amount of hours I cant change it I told them they wanted to know every last detail it felt and I came off the phone feeling very shaky and highly intimidated by the whole interview. It felt like I was being accused of claiming for things I shouldn’t or I shouldn’t be claiming for support I should support myself. Now I don’t earn much at work and I only get DLA and working tax credits to make my income up to something near liveable on I certainly can’t contribute anymore than I already am. I pay 50p in every mile for my journey to work and am allowed to claim back the rest and I don’t think this is too unreasonable. I am working at the end of the day part time maybe and it’s not the greatest job in the world but I’m working. If this government want disabled people to work they need to get their finger out and support the properly making the necessary adjustments however much they cost as how else can they expect us to work ? All this rhetoric about scroungers and benefit cheats about the disabled makes us out to be on the fiddle all the time when we’re not the vast majority of people disabled or not just wish to earn a living and live comfortably if that means we need extra support the government or the employer should make the funding available to meet our needs in my view. I thought about it after but didn’t say so on the phone to this advisor that we are not a poor country there is 750 billion pounds of money stashed in the banks of big business not being invested don’t tell me we are a poor country as we are not these companies just refuse to invest this as they see no profit to be made in investing at this time. As socialists we would say there needs to be an immediate 50% levee on that figure to invest in public works, s new schools, the NHS and a programme of council housing building on a mass scale could start to get people back to work and start to meet people’s needs. This incident today reminded me of the ATOS exposure on panorama where they would try any tactic to get your off benefits back into work, I’ve not been through that ordeal and never wish too but this felt similar but ridiculously I’m in work and trying to gain support. The Tories, labour and their dems all talk of getting disabled people back to work and yes to a extent I agree with them where there is a job and a job is needing doing pay people a decent wage for it and employ people on proper terms but and this is the crucial point if you are disabled like myself we do need that little bit more support than others. No sham in that but the money is there and can be used to support us they often just choose not to. Both the government and big business would rather take money back off you or not spend it in the first place. Its hugely hypocritical that they claim to want to get disabled people into work yet when they make it as difficult as possible for them to gain thnecessary support they need to complete work related tasks. I just think the system is wrong and instead of intimidation and threats to cut your support they should be looking to go the extra mile to support disabled people who wish to work. Of course there are those who can’t work and accept that and they shouldn’t be bullied or discriminated because of that fact instead should be allowed to live their lives comfortably and contribute in other ways to society. At the end of the day we work to live not live to work. Perhaps the government who are hell bent on austerity ought to take note of this. A society which put peoples needs before anything else is what we strive for as socialists if people wished to work they should be a ble to and no barriers in front of them. A socialist society would support everybody’s needs not just a few rich individuals who call the shots at present.