Unity! Communists at the TUC
Wednesday 15 September 2010
Yes Mervyn, it’s a capitalist crisis Gordon Brown famously thought he had abolished capitalist ‘boom and bust’ but c apitalism has proved him wro n g. Every twitch of the stock market creates a panic, double dip recession threatens, bankers have drunk deeply at the well of public funding and are back to their unregulated ways. The capitalist world is in deep and continuing crisis—a crisis of finance and of production, each aspect feeding the other.
Just under a quarter of the British people voted for the Conservative-LibDem coalition. Thus the political basis for a ‘solution’ to the economic crisis at the expense of the working class is very narrow. Both Simon Hughes, and yesterday the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy voiced disagreement with the strategy of cuts. The trade unions and the Labour movement can be at the centre of a huge movement of the British people to stop this government in its tracks. But the case for an alternative strategy must be made at every level, national and local. And this
must have a local and community dimension with mass action in every town and city. Among the contenders for the Labour leadership both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, and of course Diane Abbott propose, with different emphases, some kind of alternative. It is Blair’s heir David Miliband and Andy Burnham who hark back to the policies of Labour’s first disastrous chancellor Philip Snowden in echoing most clearly the ruling class approach of “fiscal rectitude’ and cuts in benefits and public expenditure. continued overleaf
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Inside Cuts that will damage bus services D o n’t attack Iran! Free Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian prisoners Groucho!
Unity! TUC Conference 2010
This crisis is global but it is also made in Britain, by Britain’s ruling class. It is set against decades of decline in manufacturing—with the loss of over six million jobs since 1965, more than four million of those since 1979, and more lost during the period of the New Labour government. While we sit here listening to Mervyn King tell us that wage cuts are necessary (with the implication left unsaid that profits are sacrosanct) the Bank of England predicts that lost global output could reach a figure between £42 trillion to £140 trillion, between £1.25 trillion and £5.2 trillion in the Britain, as the effects of the crisis continue. In Europe, manufacturing output is down 20 per cent since the beginning of the recession. Depending on banking and financial services means any recovery will be ‘weak, fragile and uncertain’. And that is just what the IMF says. The financial crisis resulting from 30 years of ‘financialisation’ with the progressive dominance of the
finance sector over the productive sector is a sign of the terminal decrepitude of the capitalist system. ‘Financialisation’ means lack of investment in the ‘real economy’, and the further undermining of workers’ incomes, and has resulted in the the renewed threat of a double dip recession. Gordon Brown played a leading role in the co-ordination of the main capitalist states and their central banks in massive fiscal, economic and political intervention that has resulted in enormous costs – over £7 trillion – one fifth of the entire globe’s economic output and just under £1,800 for every man, woman and child on the planet. But this crisis was created by bosses and bankers and not by workers. The cost should be born by them. Making the rich pay for this bailout must be the basis of our political approach. To pretend that any other course of action can be followed without harming the interests of our class is dishonest. And to believe that such crises can be abolished without abolishing the system that creates them is an illusion too. Congress earlier in the week set the stage for a renewed offensive in defence of the living standards of the British people. Every success in this fight opens up the possibility of more fundamental change in which the working class is returned to the centre of political life and the road to working class political power is opened up.
Join the discussion ‘Another Britain is Possible – Build a Working Class Movement to Challenge the Bankers, Bosses and their Government’ Available now the domestic resolution for 51st Communist Party Congress at http://www.communist-party.org.uk
Cuts that will damage bus services
by Graham Stevenson The ConDem coalition government has declared its intent to make cuts of 25-40% in ‘non-essential’ departments. The Department for Transport wants to make £500 million in savings across public transport expenditure. The government hints at the removal or a cut in Bus Service Operating Grant. Formerly the Fuel Duty Rebate, it is essentially a tax concession to bus operators who receive a 75% refund but there is talk of a cut to 25%. The subsidy originated when buses were in the public sector but privatisation has seen a range of forms of such income valued by the share quoted companies that now dominate the industry. Unsurprisingly, most bus employers are unenthusiastic about this and other ConDem cuts. Unite is supporting a joint campaign with Stagecoach and environmental groups against any cut in BSOG.
If BSOG is hit savagely, these employers will pass on the costs to the public, or if they can get away with it their employees. The result will be fares increases that could lead to a 10% reduction in passengers carried and service cuts, with job losses in some thousands. It is still not clear what the new government’s position is going to be on Concessionary Fares, although it has stated that it does not plan to get rid of the over 60s travel pass. Pensioner groups are gearing up to protect the Freedom Pass and we salute that and will join with them, too. It’s not just local bus services that face massive cuts, the government has announced a list of tram and light rail projects that it had decided to scrap. This has had the effect that French transnational, Transdev, now up for a global merger with fellow TNC, Veolia (formerly Connex), has been axed from the Edinburgh new tram project as part of a drive to cut costs on the troubled £500m project. The job has now been brought inhouse by the council as part of a programme of “logistical and
TUC Conference 2010 Unity! financial efficiencies”. This may be a good move amongst many difficult ones. For, irony of ironies, Transdev is a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), a French financial organisation, created in 1816 as part of those Government institutions under the control of the French Parliament, with the express mission of serving as a safeguard for public funds, including the pension funds of the country’s civil servants. The reshuffling of the portfolios of Transdev and Veolia will see parts of the former – including London operations – sold to RATP, Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, the Paris bus, tram and metro operator ...which currently owns 25.6% of Transdev. If the British state – and by extension Boris Johnson’s London fiefdom – has no interest in preserving something of our public transport system, the French state – and the Mayor of Paris – seem to be fascinated! It’s just that it’s their state and not Britain’s that’s involved. Perhaps the most serious bus industry target to date to be identified as ripe for the ConDem hatchet is the network in London. Boris Johnson’s Transport for London chiefs have already volunteered – without even being asked by the Treasury – a cut of £5 billion. London’s bus market, unlike the rest of the country, runs on a totally contracted market with the private sector. TfL are forcing these to have lower revenue per mile targets. Naturally, this will reduce operating profit margin in one fell swoop, perhaps by around 1.5% when most operators are lucky to obtain an 8% returnin London’s regulated market. Loosing a quarter of their profit will encourage the employers to savage the workforce and the travelling public both. Boris Johnson – at election time – described London’s
busworkers as “the world’s finest”. But not only did he gain few busworkers’ votes, he’s now about to find out why Unite’s London busworkers have the reputation they do. For most of the 20th century they were the former-T&G’s flagship membership. They are now set to claim that title from Unite. And busworkers across the UK will be following hard in their footsteps to defend terms and conditions along with public rights against the slashing aims of the coalition of Tories and the yellow ones. An excellent start to the campaign against cuts has been made in London, with a “Save Our Buses” lobby at City Hall today, addressed by Unite AGS, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone, who Unite is strongly backing in his bid to return to the Mayoralty. The Unite campaign rightly links the interests of the travelling public with those of busworkers. For we know what this means, Ken Livingstone had to win a battle with Gordon Brown’s Treasury to gain enough income to ensure decent services. This first step will be followed by more ‘belt-tightening’. Clapped out buses, cuts in mileage, soaring fares and a thinner service in outer London. Wages freezes, attacks on conditions, buy-outs and mergers resulting in forced moves for busworkers. Meanwhile Arriva plc, where Unite has 16,000 bus members, and one of the biggest operators in London, has been wholly acquired by a 100%-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, the nationalised German bus, tram and rail operation. A start to a reversion to the public ownership of bus and rail has begun in the UK – it’s just that it’s the French and German state that’s at it! Graham Stevenson is National Organiser – Transport of Unite the union and President of the European Transport Workers Federation
Harsh conditions imposed on political detaineesin Iran prompted the recent hunger strike of 17 political prisoners against their mistreatment and the re g i m e’s decision to put on trial the leader of the Tehran Public Bus Workers’ Union Mansour Osan lou. Osanlou was arrested in July 2007 on trumped-up charges. He is suffering ill health and doctors who have examined him have say that he is too ill to remain in prison and should be hospitalised. Despite this, Osanlou was sentenced to a one year’s imprisonment. The Tudeh Party of Iran and the Communist Party of Britain have agreed to coordinate a series of activities in solidarity with victims of the Iranian regime’s repressive measures. They declared their support for the current popular struggle for human rights, justice, democracy, peace and an end to theocratic rule in Iran. They called for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran and for the Tehran regime to fully respect the UN Charter and the UN Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a signatory, and all ILO conventions on workers’ rights.
The two parties also expressed their admiration for the brave stance of the Iranian women’s movement in the current struggle to expose their oppression and work towards a democratic and equal future. They expressed grave concern about the treatment of women by the Islamic government in Iran and condemned the endemic discrimination against women in employment and all aspects of economic, social and cultural life. The Communist Party and the Tudeh Party of Iran unreservedly condemn the barbaric punishments meted out to victims of the country’s legal system. The parties called for an end to all forms of discrimination against women and an immediate cessation of all barbaric and medieval tortures and executions. The two parties also emphasised their total and unequivocal opposition to any external intervention in Iran under any pretext. They stated that such adventures serve only to strengthen the hand of the theocratic regime in further extending its repressive rule. This is already proving to be the case in relation to recent sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the European Union. Sanctions have been used by the regime as an excuse to crack down on the opposition, blaming them for the unstable conditions in the country. The Tudeh Party of Iran and the Communist Party of Britain emphasised that the future direction of political developments in Iran can and should be decided only by the Iranian people themselves. Neither theocratic dictatorship nor intervention by any foreign power should feature in the future of the country..
Unity! TUC Conference 2010
Free Marwan Barghouti Free all Palestinian political prisoners Without justice for the Palestinian people there c an be no peace in the Middle East. The US gives $70 million dollars a day in military aid to Israel. This underpins Israel’s violent flouting of international law, its illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall that divides Palestinian lands. US, British and EU support for Israel is a vital element in imperialism’s strategy to dominate the Middle East. Communists support Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and call for the establishment of a two-state solution which would create a viable Palestine based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a right of return for refugees in compliance with UN resolution 194. The Communist Party condemns the concept of a ‘Jewish state’ which threatens the future of the 20 per cent of the Israeli population who are non-Jews and entrenches Zionist racism. Communists fully back the TUC campaign to boycott Israeli goods from illegal settlements and call for an end to British investment in Israel, the export of arms and materials for the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Israel must dismantle its ‘secret’ nuclear weapons capacity.
The piratical Israeli interception of the Gaza aid convoys has brought home to millions that Palestinians live in an Israeli prison house. Palestinians cannot leave Gaza or the West Bank unless the Israeli military permits them. If they leave they have no right of return and many have been prevented from returning to their homes, families and jobs. But many Palestinians also experience the inside of Israeli prisons. Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories following the 1967 war over 650,000 Palestinians – one in five of the population – have been imprisoned by Israel. At the last count Israel held over 7,000 prisoners. Around one in twenty are children and there are dozens of women in captivity. Over three hundred are detained ‘administratively’. The Israeli jail population includes 25 members of the Palestine Legislative Council. More than two hundred prisoners are from East Jerusalem, near two hundred from territories annexed in 1948 and over seven hundred from Gaza. get the new Communist Party broadsheet Free Marwan Barghoiti and all Palestinian political prisoners
On Britain by VI Lenin
Women and Class by Mary Davis
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Is Mick for the chop? I only ask because three necessarily anonymous but wellplaced centre-right types have expressed concern that for the umpteenth year the right wing list for the TUC general council looks like a flop. And it is the hapless Mick Leahy who carries the can. Gone are the day’s when the battle for seats was a bruising left/right contest. And this is not the only setback for the poor man. That coveted seat in the Lords still eludes him. Socialism is back Odd that the only contenders for the Labour leadership to take up the Morning Star’s offer a free column in TUC week are Diane Abbot and Andy Burnham. Comrade Burnham showed a bit of nouse in deploying the forbidden ‘S’ word thus proving the old saying that social democracy in opposition espouses the cause of the workers and in government ... Management discretion Bad luck for Unite’s Derek Simpson who arrived too late to secure a place in the standingroom only hustings for Labour leader and went off in a huff when the stoic steward steadfastly refused to admission. But consolation in the free Cuba Libre cocktail at the CSC do.
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